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The Best Dog Life Jacket Review of 2020

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Kurgo Surf N Turf Dog Life JacketPeople may ask: “Why do dogs need life jackets? Don’t they know how to swim?” Some dogs do know how to swim and really enjoy the water, but most dogs are not naturally good swimmers. Even for dogs that are good swimmers, there can be a number of factors that might make it difficult for them to swim. Rough water, bad weather conditions, fatigue, or distractions can all lead to tragedy when a dog is in the water. It’s not just open water that can cause problems for dogs either. Even in a contained setting like a dog swimming pool or a lake a dog can have trouble swimming. That’s why you need to have a life jacket for your dog with you at all times when you’re near any type of water.

Even if you don’t usually take your dog in the water or near the water there should be at least one life jacket for dogs in your first aid kit both at home and in your vehicle. With the number of record-breaking storms increasing each year there’s a good chance that at some point you will encounter a storm that will cause flooding, and in any type of emergency flood situation, your dog will need a life jacket.

Why Do Dogs Need Life Jackets?

Dogs are like people in that their physical condition and natural temperament varies from dog to dog. Even a dog that loves the water, like a Labrador retriever, will have trouble swimming if it is overweight or if it’s an older dog. A puppy can become so distracted by people nearby, boats, and all the noises on the water that it can go under the water in a second, and that second can be all it takes to end in tragedy. Even good swimmers wear life jackets when they go out boating, and your dog should always wear a life vest for dogs too. Or at least there should be a life jacket for the dog on the boat. Some life jackets can be heavy and bulky and make dogs too warm on a summer afternoon. But anytime a dog is near the water there should be a quality life jacket available for the dog. And remember, if You with your pet wanted to ride in a trip to the lake on a car, maybe You need the best dog seat cover to help the car not being scratched.

At A Glance: Recommendations

Best Dog Life Vest For Safety
For safety, our top pick is the Ruffwear K9 Float Coat Dog Life Jacket. It has great safety features, fits true to size, and can provide safety and support to dogs in any type of water situation.

Best Budget-Friendly Dog Life Jacket

For affordability, our pick is the Outward Hound Kyjen Ripstop Dog Life Jacket. This versatile dog floatation device fits a huge range of breeds and sizes and it has all the safety features that you need to keep your dog safe. It’s worth noting that this dog life jacket has a front float that will keep your dog’s head above the water in almost any condition. This dog life preserver is a safety packed performer that won’t break the budget. If you have multiple dogs and need several life vests this is the best choice.

Comparison Table

Product Information
Our Rating:
Buy from:
Ruffwear K9 Float Coat Dog Life Jacket
Ruffwear K9 Float Coat Dog Life Jacket
  • Ease Of Use
  • Telescoping Neck
  • Durability
  • Many Sizes
  • Brand Name - RUFFWEAR
  • Price - $$
  • Material - Nylon, Plastic
  • Weight - 15.2 Ounces
  • Sizes - 6 Options
EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device
EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device
  • Sturdy Handle
  • Wide Straps
  • Easy To Find The Right Size/li>
  • Not Too Hot
  • Brand Name - EzyDog
  • Price - $$
  • Material - Nylon, Plastic
  • Weight - 1 Pounds
  • Sizes - 6 Options
Kurgo Surf N Turf Dog Life Jacket
Kurgo Surf N Turf Dog Life Jacket
  • Great Design
  • Triple Function
  • Dual Handles
  • Brand Name - Kurgo
  • Price - $$
  • Material - Nylon, Plastic
  • Weight - 11.2 Ounces
  • Sizes - 5 Options
Outward Hound Kyjen Ripstop Dog Life Jacket
Outward Hound Kyjen Ripstop Dog Life Jacket
  • Safety Straps
  • Good Visibility
  • Extra Front Flotation
  • Brand Name - Outward Hound
  • Price - $
  • Material - Nylon, Plastic
  • Weight - 11.7 Ounces
  • Sizes - 5 Options

Best Dog Life Vests – Reviews

Here are our reviews of 4 of the most popular life jackets for dogs on the market:

Product Information

  • Brand Name – RUFFWEAR
  • Price – $$
  • Material – Nylon, Plastic
  • Weight – 15.2 Ounces
  • Sizes – 6 Options

This life jacket is our pick for the best quality dog life jacket. The Ruffwear K9 Float Coat dog life jacket is probably the most highly recommended dog and puppy life jacket across the board. It is not the cheapest dog life vest by any means but it does have a lot of great features that make it one of the safest, and most dog owners value safety over cost when it comes to something like a dog life jacket. The price isn’t out of reach even for limited budgets but it is higher than some of the other dog life vests that are on the market right now. The Ruffwear K9 Float Coat gets high marks for:

  • Ease of use: it goes on fast and just goes over the dog’s neck and buckles underneath the stomach like a regular harness.
  • Safety: It has a telescoping neck to make it fit better and it has all interior straps and buckles.
  • Durability: Both the dog life vest itself and the handle on the back are made from super sturdy nylon fabric that will stand up to water, sun, and the elements with no problem. The strong handle is able to lift the weight of even heavier dogs without breaking.
  • Sizing: It comes in a wide range of sizes and fits true to size so it’s easy to pick a size that will fit just based on your dog’s height and weight. You won’t have to take a lot of measurements or guess in order to figure out what the right size for your dog is.

Product Information

  • Brand Name – EzyDog
  • Price – $$
  • Material – Nylon, Plastic
  • Weight – 1 Pound
  • Sizes – 6 Options

This dog life jacket is super buoyant and is fabulous for smaller dogs that need a shorter length vest in order to get the right fit. Some of other pros of this doggy floatation device are:

  • Sturdy handle and a leash clip: This vest can work for dogs from 5 pounds to over 100 pounds securely so even if your dog is large the handle won’t break.
  • Wide straps: The straps on this doggie floatation vest are very wide and they are also wide set to make the vest more comfortable. Even Bully breeds with a deep chest and shallow waist area can comfortably wear this life vest for a few hours. The straps are made of sturdy neoprene that won’t rip or tear and will hold up well in adverse weather conditions.
  • Easy sizing: To find the right size for your dog you just need to measure your dog’s height and girth and have their current weight. Sizes run from XXS through XL so no matter what size your dog is there is a life vest that will fit.
  • Not too hot: Even though the material is sturdy it is lightweight enough that your dog can wear it for several hours even if the dog has a long or thick coat. You should always monitor your dog when the dog is wearing the life jacket but your dog should stay pretty comfortable in this doggie life jacket.

Product Information

  • Brand Name – Kurgo
  • Price – $$
  • Material – Nylon, Plastic
  • Weight – 11.2 Ounces
  • Sizes – 5 Options

One of the biggest pros of the Kurgo Surf N Turf Dog Life Jacket is that it comes with a lifetime warranty. It is on the more expensive end of the range when it comes to dog life vests but overall it’s a solid performing life vest for dogs. One issue that is worth noting is that on small dogs the underside of the vest may not provide great floatation support. But it does have a lot of great features like:

  • Looks great: the jacket style design and bright red color look great and the bright color makes your dog very visible in the water. The back end is more tapered than some of the other dog life vests on the market and makes the vest a little more comfortable for some larger breeds.
  • Triple function: This particular dog life jacket is more than just a floatation device. It also works as a three season dog coat and a rain coat. The inflatable liner can be removed to use the jacket as a rain or snow jacket and a padded layer can be added to turn it into a coat that be used for warmth in the spring or fall or on chilly summer nights.
  • Dual handles: This dog life jacket has two sturdy handles, which can make it easier to grab a larger dog in a hurry if you need to get your dog out of the water fast. By distributing the weight across two handles the vest is less likely to hurt your dog when you’re lifting the dog.

Product Information

  • Brand Name – Outward Hound
  • Price – $
  • Material – Nylon, Plastic
  • Weight – 11.7 Ounces
  • Sizes – 5 Options

This doggie life jacket is our pick for the most affordable but still high-quality dog life preserver. When it comes to price you cannot beat this dog life vest. If you are on a budget, or if you need to buy several dog life jackets and want to find one that is reliable and safe but also affordable this is the one to get. The Outward Hound dog life jacket is well made and won’t fall apart after one trip out into the water. It also has some great features like:

  • Safety release straps and buckles: If your dog gets hung up on the side of a boat, a branch or anything in the water, the safety release straps will break and free your dog. This is a great safety feature, especially if you go kayaking or canoeing and are heading into wooded water areas.
  • Visibility: The Outward Hound Kyjen dog life preserver comes in several bright colors that have great visibility in any conditions. It also has reflective strips that will help make the vest more visible at night.
  • Extra front floatation: In addition to the full body floatation material throughout the vest this particular vest has an extra pad of floatation right by the dog’s head to ensure that your dog is always able to keep his or her head out of the water. That is a fantastic safety feature that most people wouldn’t expect to find on such a low priced dog life preserver.

What To Look For In a Dog Life Jacket

EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device (DFD)
When choosing a doggy life jacket, there are key safety and handling features that you should look for like:

  • High-quality material: Always choose a life vest for dogs that is made out of a rip resistant high-density material that will hold up well in all weather conditions.
  • Ease of use: The life jacket for dogs should be easy to get on and off your pet so that if you need to put it on them or get it off of them in a hurry you can do so safely. Whatever dog life jacket you end up buying practice putting it on and taking it off your dog before you take your dog out on the water so that you and your dog will both feel comfortable with the vest.
  • Handles: A good doggie life jacket must have at least one sturdy handle. Handles will help you quickly get your pet out of the water without being in danger from your pet’s flying feet if the dog is upset or scrambling. Scared dogs, as we all know, don’t always respond to an owner’s command and can be wriggling, flailing, and constantly moving bundles that can be difficult to maneuver. Sturdy handles will allow you to get your dog out of a dangerous situation even if the dog is scared.
  • A good fit: Getting a life jacket for your dog that fits is critically important. It can be tough to find a vest that fits exactly right so look for a vest that comes with adjustable features that you can fit exactly to your dog. A telescoping neck feature is great for ensuring that the vest fits securely to your dog and will adjust to any changes in your dog’s size during the course of his or her life.
  • Interior buckles and straps: While it’s not strictly necessary to use a dog life jacket that has all the buckles and straps on the inside for safety’s sake it is a good thing to look for. That way you can be sure that your dog won’t get hung up on a dock, on the side of a boat, or on any protrusions in the water like branches or rocks.


Every dog owner should have a life jacket for their dog. If you’re not planning on taking your dog out on the water a life jacket will still be useful in a pool if you take your dog swimming. And you should have one in your doggie first aid kit in case of flooding. There are several options when it comes to high quality safety conscious life vests for dogs including some great choices for those on a budget. No matter which life vest for dogs you choose take the time to get your dog used to wearing it so that if you have to put it on your dog quickly in an emergency situation your dog will not panic or feel uncomfortable. If you are taking your dog camping, boating, or out on the water in any capacity make sure that your dog is always wearing a doggie life jacket. Even the best doggie swimmers can get tired, disoriented, or overly excited and that could cause them to be in serious trouble in the water. Don’t take that chance. Get a high quality dog life jacket and keep it on your dog whenever your dog is near the water.


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Images credits: Amazon.com


Jeremy King

Jeremy has been with the site since shortly after it was founded, starting as an occasional freelance content creator. Eventually, he became the full-time team member offering his own opinion as a canine behavior expert.

View all posts by Jeremy King | DogsRecommend.com