Even though most Labradors are strong swimmers, we still want to ensure their safety when we’re doing outdoor activities, like swimming at the beach or boating with them. So when planning an outdoor trip with our furry friend, we need to see to it that they’re wearing the best life jacket for Labrador.
While many of us consider a canine life jacket an accessory that our dog can live without, it’s an essential floatation device for their safety regardless of their swimming ability.
This dog life jacket is a must-have for dog accessories when we spend time with them in and around a body of water. However, I do recognize the abundance of choices of life jackets for active dogs like a Labrador.
So in this guide, I’m reviewing the top five picks on dog life vests and factors to consider when selecting a dog life jacket that as much as possible must feature a bright color for visibility, dual grab handles, a D ring where to attach a dog leash, top handles for lifting our dog easier, and adjustable components, like belly quick release buckles and a dog’s chest strap.
Do Labradors need life jackets?
Canine life jackets are lifesavers that your pet must always wear when in and around water for safety and to avoid drowning, whether they’re a strong swimmer or not. So the short answer is, YES, Labradors need life jackets.
Labradors can get tired
Labs are known as good swimmers, and they love the water like my Labrador retriever. They can get really excited and active when we’re at the beach and swimming.
But then, labs don’t recognize when to rest; thus, they might put themselves in harm’s way if they’re not wearing a dog life jacket especially if they swim so far from the shore and find themselves too tired to swim back to it.
A dog life jacket lets you find and save your dog easily
Swimming is a fun and exciting family activity and sometimes we become occupied and forget that our furry friend has been playing near the water, swimming, or exploring on their own.
Wearing a dog life jacket, we can easily spot where they are. And if the situation worsens and they need rescue to be out of the water, we can also quickly pull them out of danger. This is because affordable dog life vests are typically designed with bright colors/reflective strips and has handles.
Dog life jackets are a must in swimming lessons
As fur parents, we want our dogs to develop life skills, like swimming, so that they could use it when needed. If your doggie is learning or improving their water skills, having them wear a dog life jacket can protect them from drowning.
The best dog life jackets that keep them afloat help labs learn how to use their four legs when swimming. Dogs typically only use their front legs when swimming, but this can make them easily tired. A dog life jacket may also boost their confidence and reduce stress in the case of anxious or nervous dogs.
Nevertheless, a dog life jacket for dogs can keep them afloat, give them more confidence, and make them feel at ease when having swimming lessons.
Labradors might encounter accidents
Outdoor water conditions like in rivers, lakes, and seas, can be unpredictable. There can be strong waves or current that your boat could encounter. A lab that accidentally falls into the water might panic and get nervous, and these could affect their swimming ability.
Thus, they might struggle keeping their head above the water – and this could lead to accidents. They might also feel exhausted easily to overcome the strong water current that might be present.
Factors to Consider In Choosing Labrador Life Jacket
The original purpose for breeding Labradors was to retrieve their hunter’s prey from lakes and bodies of water. Their bodies are highly suited for water, with webbed feet and muscular tails.
But even if this is the case, dog life jackets are still necessary, especially if you plan on taking them out to deeper waters. Here are a few factors to consider in choosing a life jacket for your Labrador.
Size and fit of the life jacket
The dog life jacket must hug the body of your dog snugly. You can test this by placing two fingers in between the belt and their stomach or testing it out on more shallow waters to see that they don’t slip out of it.
It is also essential that the dog life jacket isn’t too small that it can’t carry their weight or too big that it obstructs their tail or goes over their head. The dog life jacket should focus on their body and help keep them stay afloat.
Buoyancy and flotation capabilities
Labradors are large breeds and can weigh over 25 – 36 kilos. This is why selecting a good quality life jacket that can carry that weight is essential. You can check this on the dog life jacket’s tag to see the weight limit it can hold.
Try searching for one with a lot of flotation padding around the dog’s neck and belly so that the weight and pressure are evenly distributed. Avoid ones that only have a nylon strip and clasp around their belly, as it can cause chafing for larger breeds in the water.
Durability and materials used
If you take your Labrador out often to go swimming, selecting a life jacket that can last a long time is best. High quality materials like poly oxford fabric or nylon is a popular choice since it dries quickly, is waterproof, and aids with buoyancy.
These are also highly durable against rough surfaces like sand, rocks, or the general roughhousing dogs can get into.
Visibility and reflective features
This is one of the most important features that a dog life vest should have. Since Labradors are already very adept at swimming, dog life jackets are just a form of insurance.
They tend to enjoy swimming so much that they get far from the shoreline. This can get dangerous, especially in the open sea with unpredictable currents.
Make sure the dog life vest is a bright color that you can immediately spot and has multiple reflective strips that can easily grab a person’s attention. Although many cute options come in blue or green, bright orange is the way to go if you plan to use it in big open bodies of water.
Handles and rescue features
You will want to look for a dog life vest with at least two handles that are securely stitched on the vest. Test out its durability by lifting your dog with it on dry land. They should be able to stand stiffly and easily grab in emergencies.
You may also want to search for one with a thick metal D ring to which you can attach a leash to. When going to the beach, it can double as a body harness, so your dog is always wearing one. It is also in case of emergencies, so you or rescue services can attach a leash in open water.
Comfort and ease of movement
As has been frequently mentioned, Labradors are great swimmers and use their whole body as a navigation system. The dog life vest must be comfortable enough for them to use their senses.
The most important parts are the dog’s head, tails, and legs. They should be able to move these three quickly to swim at their peak performance.
Best Life Jacket for Labrador: In-depth Reviews
1. ZZK Dog Clothes Life Jacket (Small to large breed dogs)
This ZZK cutest dog life jacket is available for small to large dog breeds and is one of the top picks in the category for its reliability and useful features. For this review, we’re featuring a small variety.
The best dog life jackets should have a visible and reflective color so that you won’t have to worry about losing sight of your furry pal once again when outdoors or when playing at the beach. This one is available in yellow or green color.
A good life vest for small or large dogs must also be light enough for the comfort of your pet. This one weighs 0.2 kilograms, having just sufficient weight for its size.
It has an Oxford material that is easy to wash, so cleaning and maintenance will be a breeze. It also has an excellent ability of retaining its shape, so putting this product on your pet should be easy.
Another good quality of Oxford is that it’s durable and resistant to chemical agents and abrasion, meaning this dog life jacket for Labs can be long-lasting to save you money in the process.
This life jacket model also has adjustable straps and a nice closure type to keep it secure in your lab. You can easily rescue your dog when needed for its handle, too.
If it’s your pet’s first time wearing a dog life jacket, be patient and give them some time, both with the water activity training and wearing this product. Overall, it’s an excellent life jacket that can last for a long time, is easy to clean, and offers reliable performance to keep your canine friend safe at all times.
- Bright colors for easy identification
- Adjustable straps
- Durable Oxford cloth material
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Resistant to chemical agents and abrasion
- Limited dog life vests color options
2. Xmwm Pet Dog Life Swimming Vest
Available in sizes from small, medium, and large to extra large, this pet swimming vest is another cool choice for small dogs like a pug, and large dogs like Labrador and Golden retriever.
For this review, I’m highlighting the medium swimming dog life jacket. Just refer to the sizing guide after taking the measurements of your dog, including their neck circumference, for the right size.
This life jacket fits medium sized dogs, but you can buy one for a small or large dog because this product is available for up to an X large size. Measure your dog’s girth in the chest and neck to select a comfortable size.
It is available in colors like blue, black, orange, green, and red.
This product is made of high quality Oxford cloth material, which is breathable and quick-drying, while offering a moderate buoyancy amount. This fabric in dog life jackets is also known for easy cleaning and maintenance properties.
If you love camping, swimming, and water sports in general, this dog life swimming vest is a must have. It has a safe design, including adjustable safety buckles for the perfect fit and to ensure it stays in your dog’s body.
For easy visibility, this product has a reflective strip so that you can quickly spot your dog when you lose sight of them.
In addition, it has a tough grab handle, which adds to your peace of mind in the event that your dog needs immediate water rescue, like when they fall off a boat.
I also liked the waterproof outer material of the life vest, making it perfect for water activities.
For added safety and protection, this dog life jacket is also designed with a neck protection pad, allowing your lab to keep their head afloat even if they’re tired from swimming.
The best dog life jackets should also offer enough visibility, and that’s a quality of this one. It has a reflective design and bright colors, which remain visible day or night. Even in low light conditions, you can easily find your lab.
The life jacket is also lightweight enough to reduce tiredness and support comfort while wearing the fashionable life jacket.
- Durable and lightweight material
- Adjustable straps for the right fit
- Reflective strip and bright colors
- Waterproof material
- Available in different colors
- Looks a bit bulky
3. Outward Hound Granby Splash Orange Dog Life Jacket
Outward Hound dog life jacket is the best life jacket for a lot of Labrador retriever owners because of its safety features and different sizes from X small to X large.
This Outward Hound dog life jacket with safety features offers maximum buoyancy for the very thick foam in its side panels. I liked that it’s also designed with a chin panel for helping keep your dog’s head above water.
This Outward Hound Granby dog life jacket for large dogs is designed with dual top handles. This allows for easy rescuing of your pet when needed. You can grab these easily by hand or boat hook. This multi-handle design also allows for quick access.
The float coat also has a front top float support to minimize fatigue and easy to adjust belly straps to keep your dog safe, either in or out of the water.
Your dog can have fun in the water safely with this Outward Hound Granby jacket! You don’t need to worry about losing sight of them again because this product is designed with both reflective accents and visible colors, offering maximum visibility.
Whether your dog is a beginner swimmer or not, you can be sure of their safety and protection with the useful features of this Outward Hound Granby life jacket that offers maximum buoyancy.
The Outward Hound Granby dog life jacket has a ripstop material, which can do this efficiently, while also allowing them to move with ease when on land.
The secure fitting Granby dog life jacket, which has a long design to suit dogs with long torso, also has adjustable straps or bands to support dog’s chest and belly while wearing it.
- Long design to suit dogs with long torso
- Life vest neoprene chest wrap for comfort
- Reflective accents and visible color
- Ripstop quality material
- Dual top handles for easy rescuing when needed
- Adjustable clips may be a challenge to adjust
4. Kurgo Surf n’ Turf Dog Life Jacket
If you have a Labrador and you happen to also love water sports, like boating and kayaking, you might need this Kurgo Surf N Turf dog life jacket. It is for both experienced and beginner dog swimmers that can boost their confidence while swimming and enjoying water activities with you.
With the right dog’s measurements and choosing the right size, this is a reliable Turf dog life jacket whether for use in the pool, river, lake, or ocean. The Surf N Turf life jacket keeps your pet floating in the water to prevent drowning and other accidents that might happen without it.
The Kurgo Surf N Turf life jacket for dogs comes with two control handles, which allow for easy grabbing and extracting your Lab when emergency arises. You can use a hook or your hand to grab the handles and pull your dog out of the water.
These life vests from Surf N Turf with reflective accents is made with a D ring that lets you attach your canine’s leash easily into it.
You can choose from five available sizes in these Kurgo Surf N Turf dog life jacket for the right fit and comfort of your pet.
I also liked that it has these Kurgo Surf N Turf dog life jacket easy to on and off buckles, allowing you to move on to your next adventure with your furry pal quickly.
This life vest, which has neoprene liners, is made of tough ripstop material that you can count on for its long lasting performance.
In addition, this affordable dog life jacket product is made with reflective trim design and visible colors for quick visibility when you lose sight of your Lab. You can quickly spot them whether it’s day or night and even in low light conditions.
- Designed for active dogs like labs
- Keeps your pet afloat easily
- Includes rescue handles
- Reflective trims and bright color for visibility
- Streamlined floatation layer for comfort
- A bit too long for some dogs
5. Outward Hound Ripstop Extra Large Dog Life Jacket
The affordable life preserver for labs is a top-rated product in its class, and no doubt why. This Outward Hound for large dogs, like German Shepherds and Labradors, is designed with cool features to enhance safety while providing comfort.
This ripstop X large best dog life jacket for a minimum of 85 pounds dog’s weight is designed with highly visible colors along with reflective strips, ensuring you can spot where your dog is quickly when camping or at the beach.
Dogs sometimes wander and go too far from the shore. They might also feel too tired to swim back, so it is important to have a life jacket that has dual handles like this one. You can grab the handles and retrieve your dog from the water when there is an emergency.
I also noticed that this Outward Hound dog life jacket has front float support, which helps keep your pet’s head out of the water, while also reducing tiredness on their part.
Nevertheless, this product for most dogs, extra large in size is one of the best dog life jackets for Labrador that you might want to consider for its durability and great design. On to your next adventure with more safety for your lab with this dog life jacket that has support and comfort features.
- Perfect and comfort fit for adjustable buckles
- Keeps head floating above water for front float support
- Highly visible colors and reflective trims
- Multi handle design for extra strength
- Great floatation for dog safety
- Stitching could be improved and made more durable
What size life jacket should I get for my Labrador?
Pet parents need to take the measurements of their dog to understand and learn about the right size of dog life vest to buy for them. Here are the steps to follow.
Weigh your Labrador retriever to ensure that you’re getting the best dog life jacket size. Most manufacturers offer sizes from small to XXL depending on one. A specific weight range would be suitable for a specific size, so it is important to get your dog’s weight.
Measure the neck and chest sizes. Dog owners must also know the measurement of the girths around the chest and neck before buying a canine life jacket. Get a ribbon or a string and circle it from their rib’s widest part. Measure the length you’ve obtained in inches or centimeters with a tape measure or ruler.
Repeat the process to take the measurements of the dog’s neck base, ensuring that what you’re buying will have an opening that’s enough for their size.
Measure the length of your dog to buy a life jacket that can provide enough coverage for your pet. Use a measuring tape to get the distance between their neck’s base and tail’s base.
How much buoyancy should the life jacket provide?
A dog life jacket works like a human life jacket – to keep your dog afloat in the water and prevent accidents that might happen.
Most dog life jackets are a garment worn over the chest of your pet, which is what provides buoyancy or floatation and are made with a padded/buoyant material to keep the dog afloat. Many also have a single or dual grab handle along with a D ring where you can attach your pet’s leash.
For buoyancy, different active dogs will need different levels of it when they wear dog life jackets.
But I recommend getting a long design for complete dog’s body torso coverage. If your lab easily gets tired, I also suggest that you buy them one that has a front floatation pad, which can keep their head above water.
Can my Labrador wear a human life jacket?
No, your Labrador can’t wear a human life jacket even if it’s the best in class. Human life jackets aren’t intended for dogs.
To keep your dog safe in and around water, you must use only a dog life jacket made for a dog’s length and weight and not your personal flotation device on them.
Like the American Kennel Club suggests, the best life jackets should have a handle to make grabbing and holding your lab easier when needed, a built in d ring for easy leash attachment, and reflective colors/reflective strips for easy spotting when your pet is in the water.
A high quality jacket will also keep a dog afloat comfortably if it’s the right size, so measure your Labrador properly. After, refer to the sizing guide usually on the product description of the manufacturer. Finally, consider the factors shared above for an effective and safe float coat to help you select the right life jacket to keep your dog safe when outdoors!