Does your German Shepherd love the water? Does the skipper like to swim, chase fish, or other fun water activities? Then you need to outfit them with the best dog life jacket to keep them safe.
Here, we reviewed dozens of life jackets in the market to find the best ones. We take into account different factors such as sizes, designs, customer reviews, effectiveness, important features, and many more.
Our Top Picks for Best Life Jackets for German Shepherds
- RUFFWEAR Float Coat Dog Life Jacket — Best Overall
- Paws Aboard Doggy Life Jacket — Runner Up
- Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket
- Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket
- Kurgo Dog Water Life Jacket
Best Dog Life Jacket for German Shepherds Reviews
1. RUFFWEAR Float Coat Dog Life Jacket
The RUFFWEAR K9 Float Coat stood out as the best choice for the best dog life jacket for German Shepherds.
While the price is higher than the other life jackets that we reviewed here, but it’s well worth the price, especially if you consider a lot of features that make it one of the safest dog life jackets in the market.
This sporty-looking life jacket is made of exceptionally durable, abrasion-resistant material with a strong rescue handle that lets you lift your dog out of the water by the single handle.
The jacket features strategically placed closed-cell foam panels and additional flotation on the underside as well as the sides, which keeps your dog swim naturally and stay afloat without restricting their movement in the water.
Unlike most of the other life jackets where the neck closure is typically velcro strap, this jacket uses the telescoping neck to fit dogs of different sizes.
Lastly, the jacket comes with reflective trim so you can see your dog in the water at dusk or even in rough seas. And if you need more visibility, we recommend getting the Ruffwear Beacon light.
There’s really a lot that went into this doggy life jacket, which is why it is highly reviewed.
- Sturdy and durable construction.
- Strong rescue handle that allows you to lift even heavier GSDs without the fear of it breaking
- Telescoping neck closure.
- No exposed straps or buckles.
- Available in several sizes and several colors.
- More expensive than many of its competitors.
2. Paws Aboard Doggy Life Jacket
Medium-sized dogs like German Shepherds might find regular dog life jackets chaffing, but not with this life vest.
The Paws Aboard Doggy Life Jacket features a breathable mesh bottom to keep your dog remains comfortable and secure while paddling with it.
Most customers love that this life jacket provides adjustable straps combined with a heavy-duty velcro fastening system, which makes it easy to take on and off your dog.
The jacket is also equipped with a top grab handle that allows you to pull your dog out of the water quickly. It comes in a number of sizes and four different colors. The medium and large sizes would be the best options for German Shepherd dogs.
- Breathable mesh underbelly.
- Easy to clean.
- Easy to get on and off.
- Good quality life jacket at affordable prices.
- A few customers find that the straps tearing under the pressure of larger, heavier dogs.
3. Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket
If you’re looking for an inexpensive dog life jacket that doesn’t skimp on quality and features, then you may want to consider the Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket.
The jacket contains additional buoyant padding, designed to provide sufficient buoyancy to keep your dog afloat, along with strategic neck floats that keep your dog’s head above water if they’re incapacitated.
It also has several features that include D-ring leash attachment, easy-to-grab handle, and reflective details for nighttime visibility.
The life jacket comes in a range of sizes and colors — the medium and the large, probably the most fitting for German Shepherds.
- Extra buoyant material.
- A comfortable velcro and easy-to-fasten buckle.
- Neck floatation.
- Rescue handle and D-ring.
- A huge range of sizes and colors.
- A few users complain that the neck strap is pretty thick and stiff.
4. Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket
Made by the reputable Outward Hound brand, the Outward Hound Granby Dog is another good-quality dog life vest at an affordable price.
This jacket has a variety of features that you need to keep your dog safe that includes a front neck float serving as a float for your GSD’s head, two belly buckles, and adjustable chest straps to provide a perfect fit, and ripstop material that does not restrict your dog’s movement.
Instead of one, it provides dual top-grab handles that make it easier to hoist larger GSDs into the boat as you can use both hands for extra force.
The dog life jacket is available in five different sizes and comes in two bright, highly-visible colors for added visibility (orange and pink).
- A front float feature.
- Heavy-duty construction.
- Dual rescue handles.
- Neoprene belly band, and adjustable chest and neck flaps.
- Bright colors and reflective piping.
- A few customers complain that the fitting sizes are inaccurate.
5. Kurgo Dog Water Life Jacket
The Kurgo Surf n Turf Coat is a 2 season coat, a life jacket that doubles as a raincoat. You can use this jacket to provide buoyancy in the water or protection against rainy days.
What surprised us most about this Kurgo Dog Life Jacket was that it is backed with a lifetime warranty. Its dual handles make it easy to help your dog get into or out of the water.
This dog life vest comes in five sizes, but it is only available one color—bright, red color—which somehow kind of reminds you of a lifeguard color.
- Multi-function: Can be used as a dog life vest, and raincoat.
- Bright colored design with reflective details.
- Sturdy dual top-grab handles.
- Lifetime warranty.
- A few customers complain that there is no padding under the belly straps, so picking up your dog can be somehow uncomfortable for them.
6. EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device
The EzyDog Doggy Life Jacket is a fantastic choice for larger German Shepherds because its largest size can fit GSDs weighing up to 90 pounds.
This dog life vest is super buoyant. It contains up to 50% more ultra-buoyant material than most other dog life jackets. Along with a sturdy handle and adjustable neoprene belly straps to make sure it’s comfortable for your dog, yet snug fit.
The straps on this doggy flotation device are designed to be wide so that your GSD can comfortably wear this life jacket for hours. The wide straps also provide a great deal of comfort when pulling your dog out of the water.
You can find this DFD in six different sizes and three colors to choose from—green camo, red, and yellow.
- An extra amount of buoyant material.
- Ergonomic easy-to-grab handles.
- Reflective bands.
- Wide straps.
- Six different size options.
- A few customers say that the webbing does not continue the whole way through, and the chest strap only adjusts on one side.
7. HAOCOO Dog Life Jacket
What attracts us to this HAOCOO Dog Life Jacket is the inclusion of several aquatic-themed styles. At a time of writing, there are ten different fun and silly options that you could choose.
This dog life jacket is made from a durable, ripstop oxford nylon fabric, mesh fabric, and pearl cotton foam. It has two belly straps and a chest strap; both are fully adjustable to ensure a tight fit.
A durable handle located on the back allows you to pull your dog out of the water quickly, and a built-in D ring can be used to attach a leash.
This canine life jacket comes in seven different sizes. It also comes in ten fun and whimsical colors, including mermaid, shark, or crocodile.
- Various adorable and fun styles.
- Plenty of buoyant material.
- Adjustable belt with reflective piping.
- A front-float feature to help keep your dog’s above the surface while swimming.
- Quick-release buckles.
- A few customers experienced sizing issues. One customer said that the medium fit was too small for his dog.
Why Do German Shepherds Need Life Jackets?
One of the reasons is because German Shepherds weren’t bred specifically for swimming. Even for GSDs that are good swimmers, it can be difficult to stay afloat without a life jacket or flotation aid, should a disaster occur. Bad weather, strong currents, or distractions can all lead to an unfortunate event.
Puppies who are the first-time swimmers or senior dogs who are mobility impaired are also benefited from dog life jackets. The jackets will allow them to practice swimming or enjoy a long day of paddling without getting tired too quickly.
Are Dog Life Jackets Just for Boat Trips?
Dog life vests should be worn whenever they go in the water, even in a contained setting like a swimming pool. In fact, falling into swimming pools is one of the major causes of dog deaths each year.
What to Look for When Picking a Life Jacket for German Shepherd?
When choosing a life jacket for your dog, the coat should have a number of key features to ensure that your dog has both optimal comfort and protection. Here are some of them:
Size and fit
Getting the correct size of a dog life jacket should be the first thing you consider. If it’s too big, your dog will slip out, and if it’s too small, it won’t be able to keep the dog’s body afloat.
A telescoping neck is a nice addition since it helps to make the jacket fit better.
Check out the next section for tips on how to measure your GSD for a life jacket.
The best dog life jacket should have enough buoyant material. The buoyant mechanisms should not restrict your dog’s movement in the water.
It’s fairly standard for dog life vest to have flotation under the belly, and also the surrounding back and sides, and in the neck area. Anxious or heavier dogs may require extra flotation to help keep the dog afloat.
You want a dog life jacket that is made out of durable materials. Some of the best choices include neoprene, nylon, and polyester oxford.
Your chosen dog life vest should be not only tough but also comfortable. Avoid materials that scrape your dog’s skin. Mesh fabric is a good choice for medium-sized dogs like German Shepherds.
Look for a life vest that has a bright color like red, orange, or pink. A brightly colored life jacket is especially useful if your dog swims in the open sea or large lake. It helps your dog stay visible from a distance.
All recommended dog life vests in our list also feature reflective strips to keep your dog visible, even at night time.
A good doggy life jacket for GSD should have at least one strong handle, preferably two if your GSD is heavy. Strong handles will help you hoist your dog into the boat quickly in an emergency.
Straps and Buckles
Make sure the life vest does not have any exposed straps or buckles, to minimize the risk of snagging. The jacket should feature quick-release buckles too to make it easy to get on and off your dog.
How to Measure Your German Shepherd for a Life Jacket
Before determining what size life jacket is right for your dog, you should always first check the manufacturer’s sizing guide. Dog life vest sizes can vary widely between different manufacturers.
What is a medium in one vest could be small in another, so always be sure to check the sizing guide, manufacturer’s video, or other customer reviews.
When measuring your dog, you should use more than one measurement to find the correct size life jacket. Most manufacturers use a combination of three different measurements—chest, neck, and back length—to determine size.
Here’s how to measure each one:
To get your dog chest circumference measurement, take a cloth tape measure and wrap it around your dog’s rib cage, right behind their front legs.
To obtain the neck circumference, take the measuring tape and wrap it at the lower portion of your dog’s neck, down near the shoulders.
Stretch the measuring tape along the length of your GSD’s back to measure your dog’s back length. Start measuring from the point where the neck meets the back, then extend the tape measure until two to three inches ahead of the tail base.
Along with the sizing guide, you should also look at the manufacturer’s weight guideline, if any. For the jacket to provide sufficient buoyancy, you need to pick one that matches your dog’s weight.