The 8 Best Dog Life Jackets Australia: Tested & Evaluated 2023
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, builds muscle strength and makes them more agile, whilst also being very gentle on their joints and muscles.
However, it should be highlighted that 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. We teamed up with an independent panel of experts ranging from veterinarians to water-loving dog parents. Together, we researched and tested several dozen canine swimming vests alongside our four-legged besties. The result? This list of the best dog life jackets Australia offers.
Quick Picks - The Top 3
Our Number 1 Pick -
Dog Nation Life Jacket For Dogs
- Bright coloured with reflective trims for high visibility
- Doubles as a raincoat
- Large handles for easy control
- Comes in 7 different sizes and 8 colours
- Tested in Australian surf conditions
Runner Up -
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
Third Choice -
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
Australia's Best Dog Life Jackets Reviewed
Without keeping you any further, it’s time to show you the best dog life vests our independent panel of experts found and tested firsthand. They are colourful, they are cute - and most importantly, they ensure the safety of your dog.
What sets this product apart from the rest?
"Some dog breeds body composition, for example pugs, dachshunds and bulldogs, makes life jackets almost a necessity. This is due to their awkward weight distribution. Our testing over the last two years has shown that our top pick, the Dog Nation Dog Life Jacket, is a great option. There are zero rips or tears in the material, no fading."
Dog Nation claims, and we can agree, that there’s no such thing as being “too safe” when it comes to water and dogs. With the Dog Nation life jacket, you won’t have to always keep as close an eye on your pooch as you normally would when they are enjoying the water.
The first thing our panel of researchers liked about this life jacket is that it comes in seven sizes, from XX-Small to XX-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 Dog Nation Life Jacket For Dogs being tested by our independent expert team.
The life jacket comes in eight different colours, unlike our second choice, allowing it to compliment every type of coat and personality. 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 my dog was able to 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. I put it into the washing machine on a gentle wash before letting it air dry. It was just like new.
A reflective trim allows you to see your pooch snooping around even during the night time. There is a large handle on the back of the life jacket, which is super helpful if you need to get your dog out of the water fast. The jacket has also been tested in Australian surf conditions (dogs surfing, what could be more Aussie)! We're certain this will come in handy when enjoying water adventures with your best friend.
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. Every member of our team of independent experts appreciated that this vest comes in a variety of sizes that fit dogs weighing from 2 kg 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 Outward Hound Standley High Performance Dog Life Jacket being tested by our independent expert team.
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. Unlike our first choice, this jacket has strong sternum support that 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.
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 your water loving pup.
I also loved how the straps allow you to adjust the vest to fit your dog perfectly. The life jacket is also easily put on and off - I simply placed it over my pooch’s head, buckled the straps around his stomach and that’s it!
The EzyDog DFD Dog Life Jacket being tested by our independent expert team.
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.
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 our independent panel of experts 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.
The EzyDog DFD X2 Boost Dog Life Jacket being tested by our independent expert team.
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, similar to our third choice. 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.
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 offers. It comes in five sizes, like the Outward Hound vest in our number two spot, which makes it a great option whether you own a Corgi or an Alaskan Malamute. If your dog’s girth is between sizes, our team of experts suggest you 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.
The Outward Hound Ripstop Life Jacket being tested by our independent expert team.
Another thing I really like about this life jacket is the front neck float. This helped my 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 night time. The Ripstop material allows your dog to float safely while in the water, but it also doesn’t limit movement on land.
With this life jacket from Queenmore your dog will look like a shark - how adorable is that? There are many colour options including a shark grey, but also pink, orange and green, all of which 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 55 kg, unlike many other choices on this list, so even the largest of pooches can enjoy role playing 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. Similar to others on this list, 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 Queenmore Ripstop Life Jacket Fish Style Floatation Vest Grey Shark being tested by our independent expert team.
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.
Kong is a brand known for making high quality dog gear, and this life jacket for dogs is definitely one of those. Our research panel definitely agrees that 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.
The Kong Aqua Float being tested by our independent expert team.
To put this life vest on your dog, you’ll need to buckle up three straps - one that goes over the chest and two that wrap around the belly. We noticed that 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. Like our number six choice, the handle is quite strong, and it's 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.
Grabbing our hearts with its unique style like our number six option did, 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.
The Froshine Dog Life Jacket being tested by our independent expert team.
Now, in addition to this, this jacket also has a mermaid tail at the end. Although it’s quite unnecessary, the tail looks cute. During our testing phase, we noticed 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!
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 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? Our panel of independent experts have some suggestions. 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!
What I Look for In Dog Life Jackets
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 also have it 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 our team of experts say the key is finding the balance between enough buoyancy and providing enough freedom of movement for your dog.
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 them 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.
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.
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 themselves.
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.
My 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 Dog Nation Life Jacket for dogs is our team of independent experts' top pick because it’s well-made, durable, and comes at an affordable price point.
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!
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.
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.
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.
- "What lifejacket do I need?". May 29, 2023. Australian Marintime Safety Authority. Retrieved June 18, 2023. https://www.amsa.gov.au/safety-navigation/safety-equipment/what-lifejacket-do-i-need
- Reisen, J. May 31, 2017. “Just Add Water! 16 Dog Breeds That Can Swim Easily”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved June 18, 2023. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/breeds-that-are-born-to-swim/
- Gibeault, S. June 3, 2021. “Can All Dogs Swim? How to Teach a Dog to Swim”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved June 18, 2023. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/teach-dog-to-swim/
- Ellis, R.R. August 7, 2022. “Dogs and Water Safety”. Fetch by WebMD. Retrieved June 18, 2023. https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/pets-water-safety#2