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[UPDATED MAY 2023]
With the warm weather finally here, you’re dying to know “What Is The Best Life Jacket For A Golden Retriever?”
Contrary to popular belief, not all Golden Retrievers are natural-born swimmers. Many need a little guidance, and a life jacket helps to keep them safe.
In this article, I review the 5 best life jackets on the market to help you choose the best one for your Golden Retriever.
Plus, if you’re on the fence about whether or not your Golden Retriever needs a life jacket, these 8 reasons will show you that a life jacket is vital in keeping your pup safe.
What Is The Best Life Jacket For A Golden Retriever?
The best life jacket for a Golden Retriever should be easy to fit, comfortable to wear, and reliable to keep your pup afloat. It should have a rescue handle on the back to assist your dog out of the water and be bright in colour to improve visibility. An attached D-Ring is essential for clipping a leash on to have better control of your pup while in and out of the water. The best life jacket for your Golden Retriever should match the intended activity. True life-saving life jackets are made of high-quality materials and intended for deep-water use. Other life jackets designed to help keep your pup afloat can be great for splashing around the pool, or learning how to swim.
How To Choose The Best Life Jacket For Your Golden Retriever
With so many life jackets on the market, choosing the best one for your Golden can be a daunting task!
The factors below will help you narrow your choices. Here are the things you need to consider:
Size and Fit
Size and fit can differ among the many brands of life jackets. If your Golden typically wears a large in one brand, it doesn’t mean a large will fit across all brands.
It is important to measure your dog and follow the manufacturer’s sizing chart.
To get a proper fit, you’ll want to measure your dog’s chest and neck circumference and back length.
Many manufacturers use weight as a guideline as well, in order to ensure the life jacket has enough buoyancy to keep your pup afloat.
If you’re choosing a life jacket for your puppy, keep in mind that they will quickly outgrow it. The life jacket should fit your pup now.
A jacket that is too loose will serve no purpose, as it will twist and turn in the water, becoming ineffective.
Here is a short video that demonstrates how to size and fit your dog’s life jacket:
The life jacket should be comfortable for your dog to wear. It should fit snug and secure, but not be tight.
Your dog should be able to sit, stand, and move around comfortably while wearing the life jacket.
It should not restrict your dog in any way from going to the bathroom.
Visibility is an important factor when it comes to choosing a life jacket. Bright colours will allow your dog to be spotted easily in the water by you or others.
Many life jackets have reflective strips to improve visibility even more.
A life jacket should have at least one rescue handle on the back, some have two. Rescue handles are important when you need to help your dog out of the water.
A rescue handle is a great feature for senior dogs as well. It allows you to offer assistance if they have mobility issues.
Many life jackets will have a D-Ring attached to them for you to easily clip on a leash. This will allow you to keep your dog safe while walking to and from the water.
It also allows you to control how far your pup goes out in the water. Many dog-friendly beaches also enforce a dog leash policy.
Buoyancy is the main purpose of a life jacket, to ensure your dog stays afloat.
Life jackets will have a maximum buoyant weight limit listed. For added safety, it’s a good idea to add a couple of pounds to your dog’s current weight.
This means that if your Golden weighs 83 pounds, it is best to go with a jacket that has a maximum buoyancy of 85 pounds or more.
Flotation panels offer added buoyancy. Many life jackets have flotation panels along the sides, front, bottom, as well as neck to keep your dog’s head above water.
Life jackets for dogs come in a variety of styles. Many of them are intended for different activities.
Typically, the cute and fun life jackets adorned with shark fins are designed to help keep your pup afloat. They are ideal for puppies learning how to swim, or for splashing around in the pool.
You’ll notice that the true life-saving vests are made of high-quality materials (not to say that the fun ones aren’t high-quality), and come in a much simpler design. These life jackets provide plenty of buoyancy, as they are intended for deep-water use.
Does My Golden Retriever Need A Life Jacket?
You may think that Golden Retrievers are fish with fur, which is true for most of them!
But, even the strongest swimmers can benefit from the added safety of a life jacket.
If you’re planning on taking your Golden boating, kayaking, to the lake, or pool, or teaching your pup how to swim, a life jacket is essential!
Here are 8 reasons why your Golden Retriever needs a life jacket:
1. Accidents Happen
Accidents and emergencies can happen at any time. When water is part of the equation, the danger is heightened.
That’s why it’s important to always be prepared, and have your Golden wear a life jacket.
Unfortunately, I have heard many stories of dogs drowning in pools, accidentally going overboard in a boat, as well as having a seizure while swimming.
It’s better to be safe than sorry.
2. Learning To Swim
Golden Retrievers are water dogs, but that doesn’t mean they take to the water right away.
Many Golden Retrievers, especially puppies shy away from the water. A life jacket is a great way to boost their confidence when they are learning how to swim.
Are you having trouble getting your pup to go in the water? Another dog in the water will encourage your pup to join in the fun. Also, you may wish to start out slow, with a doggie pool.
Exhaustion happens to even the strongest swimmers. Dogs aren’t able to tell us when they are tired, and many of them don’t know when to stop and take a break.
Having a life jacket on your Golden ensures that he will not drown due to exhaustion.
4. Unseen Water Hazards
While this doesn’t really apply to your backyard pool, it does, however, apply to lakes and rivers.
The water might appear to be calm and safe for your dog to swim in, but you don’t know what’s beneath the surface.
There could be branches, weeds, or debris that your Golden can get tangled up in, leading to trouble.
5. Unpredictable Waters
Water in lakes, rivers, or oceans can quickly change. Strong currents and tides moving in can push your Golden downstream or out to sea, not to mention cause exhaustion from swimming against them.
A life jacket will keep your pup’s head above the water, and potentially save their life!
6. Water Activities
If your Golden Retriever is planning on accompanying you on a boat, kayak, canoe, or any other activity out on the water, a life jacket is a good idea!
Even a water-loving Golden Retriever can get panicked if they happen to accidentally fall overboard.
Life jackets are required by law for everyone on a watercraft, there’s no reason that shouldn’t include your dog.
7. Keeps Your Pup Warm
Even Golden Retrievers who have a double coat can get cold in the water. Especially if the water is cold, to begin with, or they are in the water for a long time.
A life jacket will help to keep them warm and prevent hypothermia.
8. Seniors & Dogs With Joint Issues
A life jacket is beneficial for seniors, dogs recovering from surgery, or dogs suffering from joint issues such as hip dysplasia.
Unlike walking, which can be hard on the joints, swimming is a great low-impact activity that allows your Golden to get some exercise, without further injuring the joints.
Wearing a life jacket gives extra support to your Golden.
5 Best Life Jackets For A Golden Retriever
Listed below are 5 of the best life jackets for a Golden Retriever.
Whether your Golden is an experienced swimmer, just learning to swim, or needs the added safety while enjoying deepwater activities, you’ll find a life jacket geared for your dog.
1. Outward Hound Standley Dog Life Jacket
[Best For Experienced Swimmers]
The Standley Dog Life Jacket is Outward Hound’s sporty version. It is designed for experienced swimmers but would be suitable for all levels.
The open-arm design allows for a wide range of motion, optimizing your pup’s swimming performance.
This life jacket comes in a bright green and turquoise colour so your Golden can be easily spotted out on the water.
It is lightweight and breathable, featuring a large power mesh belly band to drain excess water.
With 2 rescue handles, a D-ring leash attachment clip, and adjustable straps, the Standley Dog Life Jacket ticks off all the boxes!
It is available in a variety of sizes. Both Large and XL would be suitable for Golden Retrievers. Chest circumference is the most important measurement, as well as weight.
- Sporty Version Ideal For Experienced Swimmers.
- D-ring Leash Clip.
- 2 Rescue Handles.
- Bright Green & Turquoise.
- Front Chest Panel Distributes Weight For Balanced Flotation.
- Made of Rugged Ripstop Nylon & Quilted Polyester.
- Adjustable Straps.
- Power Mesh Belly Band, Drains Excess Water.
- Reflective Piping for Increased Visibility.
- It is lightweight and breathable and the open-arm design is ideal for active Golden Retrievers who love to swim!
- Offers extra support to dogs who are experienced swimmers.
- The 2 rescue handles are nice and strong.
- The bright green and turquoise colour allow you to spot your dog easily.
- Easy to put on, and it is adjustable to ensure a secure fit.
- I wouldn’t recommend it for inexperienced swimmers, as it doesn’t offer enough buoyancy.
- The straps may cause chafing, as a few owners have mentioned.
- This jacket needs to be adjusted every time to ensure a secure fit.
2. Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket
[Provides Maximum Buoyancy, Great For Novice Swimmers]
The Granby Life Jacket by Outward Hound is ideal for both novice and experienced swimmers.
It offers maximum buoyancy to keep your pup afloat, and its non-restrictive design allows your dog to swim freely as well as run around on land.
The Granby Life Jacket comes in bright colours and features reflective piping to improve visibility.
A front-neck float adds to the buoyancy and ensures your pup’s head stays above the water.
This life jacket is fully adjustable at the neck and belly to ensure a secure fit. The quick-release buckles make it easy to put on and take off.
Two rescue handles on the back allow you to easily lift your dog out of the water in an emergency.
The neoprene belly band supports your dog’s chest and belly, and it is comfortable.
- Thick Foam For Maximum Buoyancy.
- Ideal For Both Novice & Experienced Swimmers.
- Foam Chin Panel To Keep Head Above Water.
- Bright Colour & Reflective Piping.
- 2 Rescue Handles.
- Quick-Release Buckles.
- Neoprene Belly Band.
- Fully Adjustable.
- Designed For Long Torsos.
- Made Of Ripstop Material.
- Maximum buoyancy for dogs who are learning to swim or who are not strong swimmers.
- It doesn’t restrict movement, your dog can swim like normal.
- The wrap-around belly band secures in place with Velcro as well as buckles, and it doesn’t cause any sore spots or chafing.
- The added chin float helps keep your dog’s head above water.
- High quality and very affordable.
- It is bulky.
- There is no D-ring for leash attachment.
- Some owners have mentioned the sizing is off.
3. Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket
[Great Buoyancy Without The Bulk]
The Paws Aboard Life Jacket comes in a variety of bold colours and stylish prints. Along with reflective strips, your pup will be easy to spot in the water.
This life jacket provides plenty of buoyancy without the bulk. The sporty design allows your Golden to swim, jump, run, and partake in any water activity without him feeling restricted.
With an added rescue handle and leash clip attachment, this life jacket is an excellent choice that’s friendly on your wallet.
An advanced breathable mesh underbelly allows for proper water draining and drying. This ensures your dog is comfortable and will not experience chafing.
Quick-release buckles and adjustable heavy-duty nylon straps make this life jacket easy to fit.
- Flexible Neoprene Fabric.
- Sporty Design.
- Breathable Mesh Underbelly.
- Rescue Handle.
- D-ring Leash Attachment.
- Quick-Release Buckles.
- Adjustable Nylon Straps.
- Reflective Strips.
- This life jacket adds buoyancy without the bulk in a sporty design.
- The added Velcro closure under the belly provides a secure fit.
- It is flexible and fully adjustable.
- Does not cause any chafing or rubbing, it is comfortable for your dog to wear.
- It is well-made and budget-friendly.
- The manufacturer offers great customer service, should you need to return the jacket or exchange it for a different size.
- The D-ring is not ideal for heavy use. I wouldn’t recommend it for strong pullers. A few owners have mentioned the stitching has come apart.
- A few owners have mentioned that the handle is not sturdy enough for larger, heavier dogs.
- Fur tends to get caught in the Velcro belly strap.
4. Kurgo Surf N’ Turf Life Jacket
[Best Value, Doubles As A Raincoat]
The Kurgo Surf N’ Turf Life Jacket offers the best value out of all the life jackets listed here. Not only is it a life jacket, but it doubles as a two-season coat!
Simply remove the flotation layer from the zippered opening, to use it as a raincoat or light shell jacket.
The outer shell is made of rugged ripstop nylon and is water-resistant. Active Goldens will love this life vest because it gives them extra buoyancy without the bulk!
With 2 D-ring leash attachments, 3 points of adjustment, 2 rescue handles, reflective piping, and bright colours, this life jacket is really the best value!
Kurgo is a great company, and this life jacket comes with a lifetime warranty.
- All in One Life Jacket; Doubles as a Raincoat & Light Shell Jacket.
- Made of Rugged Ripstop Nylon.
- Water-Resistant Outer Shell.
- 2 Steel D-Ring Leash Attachments.
- 3 Adjustment Points.
- Quick Release Buckles.
- 2 Rescue Handles.
- Reflective Piping.
- Available in 2 Bright Colours.
- Removable Flotation Layer; Zippered Opening.
- Easy To Clean.
- Lifetime Warranty.
- This jacket sits low on the neck, making it super comfortable and non-restrictive.
- It doubles as a raincoat and light shell jacket.
- Reflective piping is great for improved visibility in the water or walking at night.
- Allows your Golden Retriever to swim longer, as it provides extra buoyancy.
- Lightweight, not bulky.
- The location of the handles is great; 1 along the back, and 1 across the rear.
- Well-made and durable, and backed by a lifetime warranty.
- Doesn’t provide enough buoyancy for novice swimmers. I would not recommend it for deepwater use.
- There is no padding/flotation panel along the belly.
- Chafing can occur from the nylon straps, especially if you need to lift your dog out of the water.
5. Hurtta Life Savior PFD
[Best Choice For Deepwater]
The Hurtta Life Savior PFD is one of the best life jackets on this list that provides plenty of buoyancy for large dogs.
XL is the largest size, and it works well for Golden Retrievers who weigh between 80 to 160 Lbs.
According to Hurtta, the weight of your dog is the most important factor when determining the size of the Life Savior PFD. Also, compare your dog’s neck and chest measurements to the size chart.
The Life Savior is an ideal choice for deepwater activities like swimming, boating, water rescue, as well as hunting.
Your Golden will be able to swim longer, and feel confident, all while staying afloat!
Padding along the back keeps your pup upright and provides balanced flotation, while the extra chest padding keeps your dog’s head above the water.
- Provides Maximum Buoyancy.
- Ideal For XL Dogs up to 160 Lbs.
- Flotation Panels Along the Back & Chest.
- Available in 2 Bright Colours.
- 1 Sturdy Rescue Handle.
- Steel D-ring leash attachment.
- 3M Reflective Strips.
- Durable Ripstop Fabric.
- Quick-Dry Mesh Lining UnderBelly.
- Lightweight EVA Foam.
- Adjustable Neck & Chest Strap.
- Extremely buoyant to provide balanced flotation and keep your pup’s head above the water.
- Offers the most safety for deepwater activities.
- Accommodates very large dogs.
- It is very lightweight, comfortable, and doesn’t restrict your dog’s movement.
- The padding along the chest makes this jacket very comfortable, especially if you need to lift your dog out of the water.
- The rescue handle is very durable and strong.
- A bit pricey, however, it is worth it, especially for added safety in deepwater.
- Somewhat bulky, but it is lightweight.
Even though the majority of Golden Retrievers love the water and are strong swimmers, a life jacket is still an essential safety tool!
I have listed the best life jackets for a Golden Retriever above, and hopefully, it has helped you to narrow down your choices.
It’s up to you to pick the right one for your Golden Retriever, depending on your Golden’s swimming level, age, health, and the intended activity.
To summarize, the best life jacket for deepwater use and overall safety, I recommend the Hurtta Life Savior. It has plenty of buoyancy for larger Golden Retrievers and features a strong rescue handle for emergency situations.
Do you have a favourite life jacket for your Golden Retriever? Share your thoughts and comments below. I would love to hear from you!
If you loved this article, be sure to check out my review of the top canine water toys, to ensure your water-loving pup has a safe and fun summer!
I am the proud owner of a Golden Retriever named Ellie. She keeps me busy, and when she is resting, you can find me working on my blog. She is always close by though. I live in Stirling, ON Canada with my husband, and we both enjoy the never a dull moment life with our Ellie.
4 thoughts on “What Is The Best Life Jacket For A Golden Retriever? [5 Best Reviewed!]”
I loved your blog post on the best life jackets for Golden Retrievers!
As a dog mom, I’m always looking for ways to keep my fur baby safe, especially when we’re out on the water. Your detailed review of the top life jackets on the market, along with the factors to consider when choosing one, was incredibly informative and helpful.
I appreciated how you included both the pros and cons of each jacket, making it easier for me to decide which one would be the best fit for my pup’s needs.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge and expertise on this important topic – I now feel more confident and prepared to take my dog out on the water with the right life jacket!
Hi Lisa Marie,
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I’m glad my review has helped you to narrow down your choices. When researching any product, I always look at the negatives of the product first, to see if the positives will outweigh the cons. If they do not, I pass on it.
As for the top lifejackets, it helps to determine the intended water activity. For example, if your Golden Retriever is just going into shallow water, you don’t need a heavy-duty lifejacket that’s designed for deep water use, such as the Hurtta. However, if you take your Golden boating, or are often in deep water areas, then a heavy-duty lifejacket is ideal.
Hope this helps.
I am also a dog mom, although I have walker hounds instead of goldies. My childhood dog was actually in a water accident while my Dad and I were hunting and I have PTSD about water safety with my dogs. (My Dad saved my dog.) This article is spot on, these are great for most dogs and can keep our babies safe. I would like to know though which one you prefer. I have a couple and would just like to know which one you use.
What a scary event that must have been! I’m glad it had a happy outcome, but I’m sure your dog was traumatized after as well as you.
Being safe in and around water should be taken very seriously! You never know when an accident will happen, that’s why it is always best to be prepared.
Any of these life jackets are great, but the best one for your dog will depend on the water activity it is needed for, and your dog’s swimming ability.
The Outward Hound Granby is a great choice for all dogs regardless of their swimming level. It offers maximum buoyancy and is very affordable. If you don’t need to attach a leash to it, then it’s a great choice (there is no D-ring).
My personal favourite and the one I use is the Hurtta Life Savior. It is more expensive, but it is well-made. I take my Golden on the boat quite frequently, and I feel safe knowing she is wearing a life jacket.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.