Border Collie wearing a dog life jacket

Dog Life Jacket Australia -
A Canine Swimming Vest Review

Our #1 Pick

Kurgo Surf N’ Turf Dog Life Jacket

The Best Value for Money

Kurgo Surf N’ Turf Dog Life Jacket

  • Bright coloured with reflective trims for high visibility
  • Doubles as a raincoat
  • Large handles for easy control
  • Comes in 5 different sizes
  • The bottle opener is a nice detail

Swimming isn’t an innate ability that all dogs are born with.

Sure, some breeds take to water like ducks, but others can sink like a stone without the correct introduction to the water world. Swimming is a great activity for all dogs though, it helps them get the daily exercise they need and it builds muscle strength and makes them more agile whilst also being very gentle on their joints and muscles.

However, all dogs will struggle to swim for extended periods in the water.

Depending on your dogs swimming ability, or the activities you’re doing with your dog (like a day on a boat) having a dog life jacket always adds a layer of safety that could be the difference between life or death.

But how do you choose the right safety vest for your dog? This guide should help.


When Is A Dog Life Vest Necessary?

Wearing a life jacket is required by law in Australia, and in most places around the world (1). Each person on board must have an appropriate-sized life vest available. While dogs are usually not mentioned in official laws - you should ask yourself - do I consider my dog a person? And every pet parent usually does. Think about it, even humans who know how to swim need to wear life jackets in appropriate situations, why shouldn’t dogs? Yes, most dogs know how to swim, but this does not guarantee their safety if the conditions are not perfect.

In addition to this, while some breeds were practically born to swim (2), for others it does not come naturally. “There are also some breeds who have a weight distribution (Bulldogs for example) that would not make it possible for them to swim very well without a life vest”, says Michele Godlevski, a certified dog trainer in an interview for AKC (3).

So when is it necessary to use dog floaties? At the pool, at the beach, where the water is shallow and conditions are controlled, most dogs will probably do fine without a life jacket (4). However, you should still keep an eye on your dog at all times, especially if you are not sure about their swimming skills.

If the water is deep, you are on any kind of a boat and in not-so-perfect weather conditions, it’s always a good idea to have your dog wear a water safety vest. After all, better safe than sorry!

a bulldog in a life vest at a pool

What to Look for In Dog Life Jackets

Buoyancy

The primary function of a life jacket is, of course, to float. Dog life jackets are usually filled with polypropylene foam or a similar material that lets them stay afloat. Any good life jacket must be buoyant enough to support the weight of your dog. However, some of them have more floaty padding than others. Some have also on the belly, while on other’s it’s just on the back side. Some dog safety vests also come with floating filling around the neck to ensure your dog’s head stays afloat. Every dog is different but the key is finding the balance between enough buoyancy and providing enough freedom of movement to your dog.

Colour

Just like all safety clothing, a dog’s life jacket should preferably be in a bright colour. The best colours to choose are bold red and yellow tones because they are the easiest to spot in the water. The bright colour will help you spot your dog more easily, but that is not the only point. If you happen to take your dog to a beach or some other public place, the jacket will make him visible to everyone - including boats, surfers, jet skiers, and the like.

To enhance the visibility effect, some life jackets also come with reflective patches or reflective piping. These help make your pooch more noticeable in low visibility conditions, like at dusk or when it’s dark.

Comfort

A dog life vest must also be comfortable if you want your dog to actually enjoy swimming in it. Dog life vests come in different shapes, so it’s important to find the one that lets your dog move most freely while staying safe and comfortable. Most of them do have adjustable straps, which is always helpful. A life jacket that fits right will always be more comfortable than one that doesn’t.

Handles

Finally, every dog life vest must have a handle on top. Some will have one handle, and some will have two. This handle is what you will use to lift your dog out of the water if you are on a boat, or in any situation where the dog can’t get out himself. That’s why these handles are incredibly important - they must be strong and easy to grab. If your pup is on the heavier side, you might want to look for life jackets with two handles, as it would be much easier to lift your dog when you can use both hands.


Best Dog Life Jacket Australia: Our Top Pick Reviewed

Without keeping you any further, it’s time to show you the best dog life vests we have found. They are colourful, they are cute - and most importantly, they ensure the safety of your dog.


Kurgo Surf N’ Turf Dog Life Jacket
  • Bright coloured with reflective trims for high visibility
  • Doubles as a raincoat
  • Large handles for easy control
  • Comes in 5 different sizes
  • The bottle opener is a nice detail

Kurgo claims, and we can agree, that there’s no such thing as being “too safe” when it comes to deep water. With this Surf N’ Turf life jacket, you won’t have to always keep a close eye on your Fido enjoying water games.

The first thing we like about this life jacket is that it comes in 5 sizes, from x-small to x-large. You can find a perfect fit for dogs of all volumes. Of course, the vest can be further adjusted with two buckles under the dog’s stomach and one on their chest.

The life jacket comes in red, which compliments well every type of coat. It’s made out of 400D nylon and Ripstop material, and there’s a flotation layer on the inside. This layer is removable which means you can use this vest as a raincoat during those spring and autumn rainy days. At some point, the life jacket will get dirty, but don’t worry. You can put it into the washing machine on a gentle wash, then air dry. It will be just like new.

A reflective trim allows you to see your pooch snooping around even during the night time. There are two transverse handles on the back of the life jacket. These can be helpful if you need to get your dog out of the water fast. The jacket also features a bottle opener! This will come in handy when enjoying water adventures with your best friend.

Pros

Cons

  • Bright coloured with reflective trims for high visibility
  • Only one colour option
  • Doubles as a raincoat
  • Wide-necked dogs might need a size up
  • Large handles for easy control
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  • Comes in 5 different sizes
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  • The bottle opener is a nice detail
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Outward Hound Standley High Performance Dog Life Jacket
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Open design allows for free movement
  • Mesh material allows the jacket to dry fast

Some dogs are, simply said, beasts in water. They swim like seals, and those classic life jackets would only slow them down. That’s why Outward Hound designed a life jacket aimed at all those experienced swimmers.

This life jacket is named after Standley, a lake in Colorado, and it has an open design that allows a wide range of motion, so your pooch can swim around freely. The vest comes in a variety of sizes that fit dogs weighing from 2 to 45 kg. Like other life jackets from Outward Hound, this one also comes in one colour version - turquoise and lime, and we got to say, the colour choice is definitely eye-catching.

The life jacket is made out of durable extra-rugged ripstop material which will last through the years of play and adventure. This model has double handles that allow you to control your dog in tricky situations as well as to lift them out of the water if needed. Strong sternum support this jacket has prevents your dog’s armpits from getting hurt with repeated lifting.

The bellyband is made out of mesh material, which helps with water drainage, meaning your pup will get dry faster. The jacket also has a leash attachment, which is a nice detail. You can quickly put your dog on a leash in case he just won’t stop chasing birds around the beach, for example.

Pros

Cons

  • Lightweight and durable
  • One colour option
  • Open design allows for free movement
  • Straps can loosen over time
  • Mesh material allows the jacket to dry fast
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EzyDog DFD Dog Life Jacket
  • The vest really keeps the dog upright in the water
  • Comfortable and lightweight
  • You can attach the leash to it
  • Zip storage pocket can be useful

DFD in this life jacket’s name stands for Dog Flotation Device, which sounds funny but it’s true! According to EzyDog, they used advanced manufacturing techniques to create a jacket that has up to 50% more buoyant material than other life jackets on the market. At the same time, the jacket is ergonomic and comfortable, and won’t restrain your pooch’s movement in any way.

The DFD is made out of heavy-duty polyester and comes in two colours - orange and red. Reflective piping on the sides allows a better vision of your Fido during the night. No matter if you own a Poodle or a Great Dane, you can find the right size for him. The straps allow you to adjust the vest to fit your dog perfectly. The life jacket is also easily put on and off - simply place it over your pooch’s head, buckle the straps around his stomach and that’s it!

A handle on the back allows you to guide your Fido in and out of the water when necessary. There’s a high strength nylon D-buckle that allows you to attach the leash if needed. The vest also features a small zip storage pocket on the back side. To be honest, we can’t think of a lot of things to put in there, considering the dog will get wet, but it’s a nice detail.

Pros

Cons

  • The vest really keeps the dog upright in the water
  • Straps under the belly aren’t padded

  • Comfortable and lightweight
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  • You can attach the leash to it
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  • Zip storage pocket can be useful
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EzyDog DFD X2 Boost Dog Life Jacket
  • Streamlined ergonomic design
  • Comfortable neoprene handle
  • D-ring on top
  • Reflective piping for better visibility

The DFD life jacket from EzyDog described above is their most popular flotation vest. However, they have also recently introduced a new version: the DFD x2 Boost. This version hasn’t been around for too long, so it hasn’t received many reviews yet, but we think it’s one of the best dog swim vests available.

This life jacket was designed to provide your dog with ultimate comfort. Thanks to the unique design, this vest wraps gently around your dog’s body keeping them comfortable, free to move, and safe at the same time. We especially liked the buoyant collar part. It actually stands below the neck when properly adjusted, so there are no awkward pressure points. All you need to do to adjust this part is simply tighten it as needed on the back. Buoyant foam is included everywhere on this vest - around the neck, around the belly, and on the back. This way, even though it is quite slim, the vest also floats very well.

On the back of this vest you’ll also find a handle for easy grabbing and lifting out of the water and a D-ring in case you want to attach a lead. The handle is made of neoprene and designed to be comfortable both for you and your dog. It fits neatly into the profile of the vest, so you dog doesn’t have to swim around with giant handles flopping around.

The EzyDog DFD x2 Boost is twice as expensive as their basic DFD version, but is it worth the price? We think it is, especially for dogs who spend a lot of time in the water. If you only go swimming or boating with your pooch every once in a blue moon, you might not care, but if you do it often, the added comfort this vest provides is definitely worth it.

Pros

Cons

  • Streamlined ergonomic design
  • On the expensive side
  • Comfortable neoprene handle
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  • D-ring on top
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  • Reflective piping for better visibility
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Outward Hound Ripstop Life Jacket
  • Front neck float for extra safety
  • High visibility during the night
  • Comes in 5 sizes

Being comfortable and safe at the same time - that’s what your dog needs while enjoying a day on the coast, and that’s what this life jacket from Outward hound can offer. It comes in five sizes, which makes it a great option whether you own a Corgi or an Alaskan Malamute. If your dog’s girth is between sizes, choose the bigger one. You can adjust the straps and the belly band later to fit the vest properly.

The life jacket features two large top handles that allow you to pull your dog out of the water. The vest is secured with two thick straps that go around the belly. The straps are attached with velcro as well as standard clips. The velcro helps keep the straps in place, so there there are no small openings that would allow your pooch to get stuck on a branch or some other obstacle while swimming.

Another thing we really like about this life jacket is the front neck float. This helps your pooch keep his head above the water while paddling, which is really convenient since water activities can be tiring, especially if he’s carrying something in his muzzle.

The vivid orange colour this life jacket comes in will surely allow you to see your dog even with the corner of your eye. And, thanks to the reflective piping, you won’t lose sight of your Fido during the nighttime. The ripstop material allows your dog to float safely while in the water, but it also doesn’t limit movement on land.

Pros

Cons

  • Front neck float for extra safety
  • Only comes in orange
  • High visibility during the night
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  • Comes in 5 sizes
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Queenmore Ripstop Life Jacket Fish Style Floatation Vest Grey Shark
  • Adorable design
  • Tear-resistant and breathable material
  • Reinforced back handle
  • Wide range of sizes

With this life jacket from Queenmore your dog will look like a shark - how adorable is that? There are two colour options - grey and pink, and both will surely stand out. The vest comes in six sizes, ranging from XS to XXL. According to the manufacturer, the largest size works well for dogs up to 55kg, so even the largest of pooches can enjoy roleplaying a shark in the water.

This life jacket is made out of Ripstop 600D oxford cloth and polyethene foam, materials which are tear-resistant. It has a mesh underbelly lining, so you can rest assured it will dry out rather quickly. The straps are adjustable, and there’s a Velcro tape under the neck, belly and waist, which guarantees the vest fits your Fido perfectly. This is important since our pups come in all shapes and sizes. The same shape of the vest wouldn’t fit a Bulldog and a Whippet the same, right?

The life jacket features a back handle that allows you to pull your dog when needed. It’s reinforced with rubber so it doesn’t wear off with use. A D-ring hook is a convenient addition, in case you need to put your dog on a leash. Bright colours, together with reflective accents help you see your dog when swimming underwater, as well as during lower visibility.

Pros

Cons

  • Adorable design
  • Not as buoyant as other life jackets on the list
  • Tear-resistant and breathable material
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  • Reinforced back handle
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  • Wide range of sizes
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Kong Aqua Float
  • Multilayered buoyant foam supports a natural swimming position
  • Reflective parts and bright colours for better visibility
  • Large strong handle on top
  • Adjustable

Kong is a brand known for making high-quality dog gear, and this life jacket for dogs is definitely one of those. The Kong Aqua Float was built to last, and it will guarantee the safety of your pooch.

This life vest is made with quality materials complemented with clever design and strong stitching. Inside the vest there are multiple layers of foam that ensure buoyancy. Not only this, but they were also designed in such a way to ensure a natural swimming position for your dog while wearing the vest.

To put this life vest on your dog, you’ll need to buckle up 3 straps - one that goes over the chest and two that wrap around the belly. Two straps on the belly means a bit more time for setting up, but it also means your dog will not be able to wiggle out of the safety vest. All of the straps are adjustable too, so you’ll always be able to achieve a good, comfortable fit.

On the back of this life vest you’ll find a handle that is large and easy to grasp. The handle is quite strong and also coloured red, a colour that contrasts the rest of the vest so it’s always clearly visible. There is a D-ring for attaching the lead on top too so you can use this vest as a harness for short walks if you need to.

Pros

Cons

  • Multilayered buoyant foam supports a natural swimming position
  • A bit bulky
  • Reflective parts and bright colours for better visibility
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  • Large strong handle on top
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  • Adjustable
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Froshine Dog Life Jacket
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Bright pink colour enhances safety
  • Adorable

This life jacket form Froshine is simply adorable. It’s pink, and it will make your dog look like a mermaid! Luckily, dogs don’t need a fashion sense to enjoy this jacket: it’s really comfortable too.

This safety vest looks just like most standard life jackets for dogs. It wraps around the back and two straps go around it with buckles on the stomach. There is also a wide strap filled with buoyant foam that goes around the dog’s chest. This ensures that jackets stay on and also helps the dog’s head stay on top at all times.

Now, in addition to this, this jacket also has a mermaid tail at the end. Although it’s quite unnecessary, the tail looks cute and it really doesn’t bother the dog in any way. The tail will just float at the back without hindering the movements of your dog. All in all, it’s a well-made life jacket that also comes at an affordable price. The mermaid part is just a bonus!

Pros

Cons

  • Sturdy and durable
  • Not the best choice for large dogs
  • Bright pink colour enhances safety
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  • Adorable
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Final Verdict

No matter if you are looking for a life jacket for an adult dog, or a puppy life jacket for your pet’s first swim, any suggestions from the list above should work, providing that you find the right size. The Kurgo Surf N’ Turf Dog Life Jacket is our top pick because it’s well-made, durable, and it doubles as a rain jacket if you take the foam inserts out. However, it is a bit bulky. If your dog spends a lot of time in water and has no problems swimming, you might want to consider something more sporty, like the Outward Hound Standley High Performance Dog Life Jacket. In any case, we hope this guide has helped!

FAQ

Which size life jacket is right for my dog?

When it comes to dog floatation vests, different manufacturers could have different sizing guides. However, there will always be a guide that will tell you what exactly to measure to determine the right size. The most important measurement is the chest girth, as that will determine whether your dog can get into the vest. Chest girth can be measured by wrapping a tape measure around the widest part of your dog’s chest.

Are dog life jackets just for boat trips?

Not necessarily. When on a boat trip, wearing a life jacket is highly recommended, both for you and your dog. On other occasions, it depends on the situation and how confident you are in your dog’s swimming abilities. If your dog is not the best swimmer, or not at his best physically, getting a life jacket on before heading into water is always a good idea.

Can you put a human life jacket on a dog?

No, putting a human life jacket on a dog is rarely a good idea. A life jacket designed for humans will just not fit well. If a dog ends up in water in a human life jacket, it could actually prevent them from swimming.

References
  1. “Lifejackets”. Safety & Rule (Boating Handbook). NSW Government website. Retrieved October 10, 2020. https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/maritime/safety-rules/safety-equipment/lifejackets.html
  2. Reisen, J. May 31, 2017. “Just Add Water! 16 Breeds That Are Born to Swim”. AKC. Retrieved October 10, 2020. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/breeds-that-are-born-to-swim/
  3. Gibeault, S. May 23, 2019. “Can All Dogs Swim? Safety and Training Tips for Dog Swimming”. AKC. Retrieved October 10, 2020. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/can-all-dogs-swim-safety-and-training-tips-for-dog-swimming/
  4. “Dogs and Water Safety”. Fetch by WebMD. Retrieved October 10, 2020. https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/pets-water-safety#2
Vedrana Nikolic

Vedrana Nikolić is a professional writer, anthropologist & a dog lover with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. Currently pursuing a Masters degree in Semiotics studying the communication between animals and humans.

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