Does My Dog Need a Life Jacket?

We have all seen it, those adorable photos of dogs on a paddle board with their humans. As much as we all want to bring our dogs along on a ride, there are a few things to keep in mind before doing so. This information may help guide those who want to start sharing the joy with their special 4-legged friend.  


Does my dog need a life jacket when paddle boarding?

Many pet owners find themselves asking the same question, “Does my dog need a life jacket?”. The answer will be determined by your dog’s breed, size, swimming abilities, and water conditions. Our motto on this matter is that “It is better to be safe than sorry”. Our team here at NIXY are dog lovers and highly recommend using a life jacket for your dog.


Are dogs natural swimmers?

Dogs are great swimmers but even the best paddlers cannot swim for long. Should an unfortunate situation occur on the water, your dog would have no better chance of swimming to safety than you would.

While most dogs can easily swim a short distance, it is a fact that many dogs simply do not enjoy water as much as we would like. They happen to find it difficult to swim. Some breeds struggle more than others. If your dog lacks a good amount of body fat, they will find it challenging to float. Small dogs with short legs will get tired easily. Older dogs and dogs with health issues or recent surgeries would benefit greatly from wearing a life jacket. Careful consideration will be needed in all circumstances when you decide to take a dog paddle boarding. A life jacket can be a life saver and would truly help them enjoy the adventure with you!  



Cute dog with life jacket standing on Nixy iSUP


My dog is a natural swimmer, does he need a jacket?

There are breeds that were born to swim that at times it may be hard to get them away from water! Even so, we would suggest using a life jacket. The waters can be unpredictable, you will never know if you will come across strong currents, waves, or lakes they may get tuckered out. The life jacket will relieve them should they quit swimming or become exhausted. Also, if the dog is on a motorboat, they have a high risk of falling, so we would recommend having one on them.


Curious about what breeds are natural swimmers?

The breeds listed below are famous for their love of water and swimming abilities!


Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

Barbet (French water dog) Beagle

American Water Spaniel

Boykin Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel

Curly-coated Retriever

Drentsche Patrijshond (Drent)

English Setter

Irish Setter

Irish Water Spaniel

Lagotto Romagnolo

Newfoundland Dog

Nova Scotia Tolling Retriever


Portuguese Water Dog

Schipperke (little black devil)

Spanish Water Dog




What to look for in a dog life jacket:

1) Buoyancy: Depending on the size and breed, you will want a jacket with the proper amount of buoyancy to keep your pet afloat.

2) Bright Color: This will help your dog stay visible and protect him against boaters and jet skiers.

3) Handles: When paddle boarding, you will need to pull your dog out of the water, so a strong handle on the top of the dog’s life jacket is a must.

4) Size and Fit: Make sure to get your pup a life jacket that is the proper size for him. One that is comfortable for them to sit and relax. For best fit, measure your dog’s girth and torso to help choose an appropriate size.


Dog getting back up to Nixy iSUP with the help of life jacket


Overall, a life jacket for your dog will give you peace of mind when paddle boarding with them. The trick many of us know to make them like something, like their vest, is to instill a positive attitude towards it. We have found that a treat helps as a reward after putting the vest on. They’ll learn to be content with it on after some time.  


These are top picks from our NIXY family:

1) Outward Hound Dawson Dog Vest

2) Ruffwear Life Jacket

3) Good2Go Life Jacket


Please feel free to leave a comment or contact us. We love to hear your stories, tips and suggestions! You can reach us at


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