I'm looking into purchasing a dog life jacket for kayaking with our Shetland Sheepdog puppy, when he is fully grown (6months, he's currently almost 4months).

Ideally this will be for rough water such as the sea, as potentially on calm water like the canals he may be ok swimming. However he is long haired so swimming may get tiring without the jacket for him.

When looking for my own life jacket I found the safety ratings confusing (first time purchase!) Do dog life jackets have the same / similar ratings to human life jackets?... Also What rating would be recommended for a mix of sea, canal and lake activity?

Edit: here he is in his new jacket

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  • You might want to wait until your dog is fully grown first, because many dogs are buoyant enough they can float all day with no effort. Our golden retriever was born to swim and she's float around on the lake all day, your dog might be the same. Jun 10, 2015 at 18:16
  • @whatsisname he'll be fully grown at 6 months being a small breed, but if you look up a Shetland Sheepdog they are 90% hair, and wet hair weighs a lot... And on the sea he'll still require one if he jumps off the family boat :)
    – Aravona
    Jun 10, 2015 at 18:18
  • He looks beautiful, or perhaps he'd prefer handsome! Would you update after his first trip to let us know how it worked? Thanks and have fun! Aug 21, 2015 at 21:22
  • Experiment a bit before getting a jacket, oil content in the hair matters quite a bit. My parents' Neufie has a lot of hair, but her hair is like a duck's feathers and doesn't soak water. Depending on water temperature, the loss of insulation from the hair being mashed down by the jacket may be a bigger problem than ability to float.
    – Perkins
    Oct 22, 2015 at 16:21

1 Answer 1


As far as I can tell dog life jackets do not have different ratings as for human life jackets.

All the models I have seen in a brief search seem designed for the situation where your dog is conscious, can keep themselves afloat, relatively to land and therefore assistance if needed.

Additionally, I suspect due to dog life jackets being a relatively niche product no standards will have been made and standards from human life jackets won't easily carry over.

It seems the main concern of manufacturers is the size of the dog. As dogs come in a wide variety of shapes and weights this seems reasonable and just as for humans a poorly fit life jacket could cause lots of problems for dogs.

  • 2
    All good points, thank you. We've only just started the search for one - ironically I'm more concerned about Blaze having a good life jacket than I am about my own.
    – Aravona
    Jun 10, 2015 at 14:29
  • 2
    You're probably going to have trouble finding a jacket for a dog that doesn't require them to be conscious and able to swim due to anatomical differences. For humans all the jacket needs to do is roll an unconscious person onto their back. For dogs, this would cause panic if they were awake, and not help if they weren't since their necks are flexible enough that their head would still be under water.
    – Perkins
    Oct 22, 2015 at 16:18

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