Do Dogs Need Life Jackets Near Water

I owned Labradors all my life and the thing that they do the best is swim. Even though they are great swimmers, I learned that my dogs can put themselves in some precarious situations. So I bought Life Jackets for them even though their breed is the best swimmers. Do dogs need life jackets near water?

Yes- Dogs, no matter if their breed is known to be great swimmers or not, need a Life Jacket. It’s an essential tool for their own safety, especially on a boat where they can fall off a moving craft. It is recommended by the American  Kennel Club and the Coast Guard that they wear one.

I love Labs they make incredible pets and are loyal to a fault meaning they would give up their own life for the life of a human that they care about. With no hesitation or thought, they would instinctively do this. I have had some troubling experiences with excitable Labs in water.

Dogs Life Jackets

I also love water. I lived down the New Jersey Shore on the Bay that was in our backyard. I have seen my dogs swim for hours in the Bay and a few times had problems trying to convince them to come out.

They always listened but, what could I say. They love to swim. We had a pool too, so they were always in the water. I know that other dogs don’t particularly care for the water. Just like children dogs need to be trained when to go in the water and when not to. We had a rule with my 2 Labs that they couldn’t go in the pool when the children were in there. It was a safety issue for the kids because my Labs would get so excited to be in the pool, that they would forget they were both over a hundred pounds and could drag you under without intentionally trying to hurt you.

There are whole breeds that can’t swim. Some dog breeds just aren’t built for it, like in the case of the Bulldog. Because of his short legs and barrel chest, a disproportionate size head, and short muzzle means that these dog breeds are Brachycephalic type dog breeds. They have a flat and wide skull shape. In dogs, it is the opposite of the skull shape of long-nosed breeds such as the Greyhound which is called a Dolichocephalia type breed.

Why Brachycephalic Dog Breeds Can’t Swim is because of the way they are built. They appear as though their skull has been severely compressed from front to back. In extreme cases, it may appear that there is no noise present at all. This affects them in water in many different ways. Keeping their heads above any water for any length of time would almost be impossible.


Smaller dogs can have longer hair like the Shih Tzu that can cover their mouths when they are wet and even weigh them down after a while. Smaller dogs are not any good in the water they get too excited and that will work against them. Another dog with this disproportionate size and body shape that keeps it from swimming is the
Bull Terriers’ dense muscle mass makes them heavier and it is harder for them to stay afloat for any amount of time.


One dog that really surprised me was the Boxer. They have a lot of attributes that the Lab and other dogs that you always see in the water. Although they have good long strong legs and are tall and athletic they too are considered to be a Brachycephalic dog breed that has the same skull shape that doesn’t fit with swimming or even floating.

Another Flat face dog like the Pug has shortness of breath and is not able to keep that short muzzle above the waterline. In order to breathe, they would have to raise their heads up which would cause their back end to tuck under their body and sink underwater.

Dachshunds have the same short leg syndrome for their breed and although it has a longer nose will eventually tucker themselves out in no time because of their short, long body stature. make the backyard swimming pool a no go.

This is one of my Labs Buddy. Buddy is half of the problem that I have with dogs who don’t know enough to come out of the water. They won’t come back to the beach or won’t come out of the pool. In fact, he is mad at me because I won’t take him out right now. It’s 17 degrees out outside in New Jersey as I am writing this. Buddy Loves to Swim All Day Long! All year long, don’t matter to him.

My Lab Buddy passed away in March.

Best Dog Life Jackets

The perfect Life Jacket for your dog is one that can fit him snugly so it needs to be measured to fit him/her. It needs the buoyancy or flotation and functionality that are made for humans’ Life Jackets. While it doesn’t seem like much, a typical adult needs only an extra 10 pounds or so of buoyancy to keep their head above water. All things considered, fit and muscular individuals (that probably means your Dog) will need more buoyancy than those with high body fat.

Other factors that determine the amount of buoyancy needed are lung size, water conditions, and clothing being worn. Dog Life Vest is basically the same as people’s Life Jackets.

You want a Life Jacket that your dog can wear and one that they can swim in. Just like an emergency, there won’t be one for 99.99 % of the time you out on the water and that is a great thing. Then when you need it- it will be there for you and your dog.

After all, you want your dog in the water, not on the boat or the beach. Dogs want to be in the water. So make the Life Jacket comfortable. You don’t want him trying to chew it off halfway to the lake or the shore. Get them used to wearing it. Then if something happens, you’ll be prepared.

Some good features of these new types of Life Jackets are Handles—adjustable neoprene straps. The low-profile handles are optimally positioned to help you lift your dog out of the water for any reason. The shell type of Life Jacket is easy to get your dog into. My dogs are bigger, so I use the vest with 2 handles and they work great.

If you are SUP fishing or on any type of motorboat the handles are essential and are engineered to make it easier on the person picking them out of the water without tipping your Kayak or Canoe. You should be able to wash them out and keep them clean. Some of the floatation devices have trim on the outside that is reflective for easy spotting of your dog in the water. That comes in handy


How to Measure a Dog for a Life Jacket


To Size and Fit your dog for the Life Jacket you’ll need a few things:

  • A Tailors Tape
  • Note Pad and Pencil
  • The Sizing Chart

  1. For Length- Measure from the Base of their Neck to the Base of their Tail.
  2. For Neck-Measure at the Base of your Dog’s Neck at the Widest Point.
  3. For Girth-Measure your Dogs Chest at the Widest Point.
  4. Now using those Measurements along with your dog’s Weight you can decide the best overall size that will fit your Dog. If the sizes fall in between then make sure to use the Girth and Weight for the most appropriate size.

To fit the Life Jacket onto the Dog -Slide the Head in first-then close the buckles at the Neck then at the Waist, Chest, and Underbelly. Adjust the Neoprene Straps. You should be able to fit your fingers between the Straps and the body of your Dog.

Best Dog Life Jacket


When you pick out The Life Jacket you are looking to make sure they have the necessary options on the jacket that will make it worth the money. You may pay a little more but it will be worth it in the end. The cheaper ones that don’t have these options, just don’t last. Pack this one away for the season and take it back out next season. So weigh it out carefully it’s only your Best Friend we are talking about. Quality Life Jackets like LANA Pet Life Jacke, Dog Life Jacket, Dog Swimsuit, Pet Bag, Pet Supplies, Large and Medium Dogs, and Outing Package (Size: M) for medium and large Dogs is one of the best sellers.

Another is Happy Roam PetSupplies Dog-Specific Safe and Comfortable Pet Saver Dog Life Vest Jacket for Swimming Boating Surfing

Look For:

  • Top Handles – The bigger your Dog is the more you need them. If your dog is smaller then one Handle is enough. Your Back will thank me.
  • Leash Attachment- Anything can happen in the water just in case it’s better to have another tie-off or a way to get your Dog in closer to you.
  • Reflective Strips- I have used these to spot one of my Labs in the water. It wasn’t dark but the cloud cover made it feel that way and it was no time to lose. I highly recommend this. even if you have to put them on yourself.
  • Front Flotation Pad is designed under the chin to help keep your dog’s head out of the water if he’s incapacitated.
  • Bright Colors- For the same reason as the Reflective Strips. More is better Brighter is Better.



    Be Safe Out There!





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