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With their loving, happy-go-lucky personality, your bulldog probably wants to do everything with you, including swim! Swimming is excellent exercise for bulldogs, as it is easy on their joints and helps keep the easily overheated breed cool. Many bulldogs adore time at the beach or around the pool just as much as we do, especially when it’s too hot to take a walk!
But no matter how much your bulldog may enjoy splashing around, it has some design flaws that hold it back from being a champion swimmer. As an extremely top-heavy breed, bulldogs tend to go tail-up the moment they get in the water. And with their short limbs and unwebbed paws, efficient doggy paddling isn’t much of a possibility. To make matters worse, bulldogs are brachycephalic, so it’s hard for them to keep their snouts out of the water without tilting their head up awkwardly.
That doesn’t mean you have to deprive your dog of time in or around water. As long as you’ve invested in a quality life jacket for your bulldog, swimming and water-sports are safe and healthy ways to spend quality time with your pooch.
There are many products out there and no jackets are made equal. This article will share 6 of the best life jackets to keep your bulldog safe and stylish in the water. We’ll go over what to look out for when it comes to picking out a life jacket for this specific breed and how to get a proper fit.
But if you want to skip ahead to the list, we won’t tell!
- Best Overall: Vivaglory Dog Life Jackets with Extra Padding
- Runner Up: Outward Hound Granby Splash Orange Dog Life Jacket, Medium
- Most Visible Design: Petglad Dog Life Jacket
- Funniest Design: Queenmore Ripstop Dog Life Jacket
- Best Emergency Vest: Paws Aboard Pet Life Jacket
What to Look for in A Life Jacket for Bulldogs
Most of the traits of a good life jacket are universal across dog species– good quality, nice safety features, and comfortable. Anything on this list and worth consideration have those qualities. But as a bulldog owner, you have some extra things you should be keeping an eye out for when getting a life jacket for your dog.
Balance and Buoyancy
If there’s one thing a life jacket needs to do, it’s float. It would be easy to assume that the only difference between the jackets that are not included on this list and the included ones are “add-ons” but that’s far from the truth. Human life jackets are required by law to label just how buoyant they are in big, bold letters, but doggie jackets don’t really have any sort of regulation.
Every life jacket gives a dog some amount of buoyancy, but this can be anything from moderate swimming support to ocean-grade life raft. Due to their weight and density, your bulldog will require a more buoyant life jacket than many similarly sized dogs. Of course, a life jacket that is too buoyant can make your dog uncomfortable and unable to swim. A poorly balanced jacket can even push your dog’s face into the water!
Instead of prioritizing life jackets with the lowest dollar sign or prettiest colors, you should opt for one that is properly designed and balanced.
Extra Head and Neck Support
Without a life jacket, much of a swimming bulldog’s energy would be spent trying to keep their heavy head out of the water. This awkward positioning is much of the reason that bulldogs struggle in the water. Your dog’s concern is justified, though!
As a brachycephalic breed, bulldogs have a hard enough time as it is breathing properly. During exercise, they may especially struggle to take in enough oxygen, and water entering their short airways can spell disaster for them.
Many dog life jackets come with a detachable chin flap to help support a dog’s head, and your bulldog is especially appreciative of those! Not only will these flaps keep their head up, but they can also help block water from getting in your pup’s adorable face.
Handles may seem like a strange feature to look for in a life jacket, but there are many situations where they can come in handy (no pun intended!)
Simply put, bulldogs are big. At a whopping 40 pounds for females and 50 pounds for males, lifting a bulldog takes quite a bit of effort from anyone. Helping this heavy breed into the water isn’t the easiest when they’re wriggling and excited to swim, and helping them out when they’re tired and wet can be even more difficult. A nice, sturdy handle gives you something to hold onto instead of trying to juggle your hefty pup.
More importantly, the ability to quickly remove your dog from a potential hazard, such as a pool skimmer or wild animal, is critical. Rather than possibly injuring your dog by pulling it by its limb, a handle can keep everyone much safer in case of an emergency. The priority should always be to keep your dog away from danger in the first place, but bulldogs have a way of finding trouble (especially if they aren’t properly trained!)
Even if a life jacket meets all of the above requirements perfectly, it won’t help your dog much if they slide right out! And even if the jacket stays on your pup, an improper fit can still make staying above water a challenge for it.
Bulldogs have as unique of a personality as they do body dimensions, so it’s rare that a life jacket will fit right out of the box. Having plenty of adjustment points is a major requirement for any bulldog-approved life jacket.
Style and Color
Your handsome pooch deserves to swim in style! Not only can a nice-looking jacket keep your bulldog looking fabulous, but it can also keep it safe. For as colorful of a personality as bulldogs have, they won’t exactly stand out in dark or deep waters.
An eye-catching life jacket will make it easier for you to keep your eye on your dog and more importantly, be noticeable to others, such as boat operators or children. Most of the time, a bright color will suffice, but many doggie life jackets also come with reflective or fluorescent fabric, which is a major plus.
How To Size Your Bulldog’s Life Jacket
For many bulldog owners, the most intimidating part of picking out a life jacket is knowing which size to get. Do you get a small because of your dog’s short stature? Or an extra large for all the pounds your muscular pooch is packing? For most bulldogs, the answer is more likely to be leaning toward the second.
While many companies advertise life jacket sizes based on breeds or suggested weight, the best way to size a dog’s life jacket is actually by its chest and neck dimensions. In the case of a bulldog, chest dimensions are the most accurate indicator. Be sure to measure at the widest point of your bulldog’s chest to figure out their size so that their full girth is accommodated. If you’re ever stuck between two sizes, it’s typically a good idea to go with the larger one and adjust down rather than try to squish your poor bulldog into something too tight.
For most bulldogs, a large or extra large for a given life jacket will be appropriate, but you should always defer to the manufacturer’s instructions.
5 Best Life Jackets For Bulldogs
With all of these factors in mind, let’s go through our picks for the best life jackets for bulldogs.
Best Overall: Vivaglory Dog Life Jackets with Extra Padding
✅ Large, sturdy chin float
✅ Safety features and extra buoyancy
✅ High-quality fabric and design
✅ Highly adjustable
✅ 10 colors to choose from
Our top pick paws-down is the Vivaglory dog life jacket. Not only is it a good doggie life jacket for any breed, but it’s practically made with all of the features that your bulldog requires! Many bulldog owners give this jacket 5 star reviews, citing its excellent fit, comfort, and durability.
One of the most prominent features of this design is its elongated front flap. This sturdy chin flap is attached to the jacket from the inside, so it does not shift away from your dog’s face when it is swimming. For your beloved bulldog, proper head support like this jacket provides is key to helping it swim comfortably and safely. Plus, the chin flap is detachable if it needs to be removed for any reason, such as cleaning.
In addition to the front flap, the Vivaglory dog life jacket with extra padding shines with a number of other safety features. As its name would suggest, this jacket has plenty of padding to help heavier breeds (like your bulldog!) stay afloat. With a well-attached d-ring, you can loop through a leash to keep your pup close by. Its sturdy rubber handle can also aid in quick removal from emergencies, or just getting your dog in and out of the water.
In terms of overall design and quality, the Vivaglory jacket shines. It’s made with 600D ripstop fabric, a medium-weight polyester blend which is about as durable as its name would imply. Aside from being tear-resistant, this high-quality fabric is breathable and water resistant. It also features a mesh underbelly for proper air flow and maneuverability. Reviewers have commented that the stitching on this jacket is sturdy and can withstand wear.
Despite how sturdy this design is, it’s also flexible. The Vivaglory dog life jacket can be adjusted at several points with nylon straps and Velcro, so it can snugly fit big-chested breeds like your bulldog.
Finally, in terms of style, this jacket does a great job. There are 10 colors to choose from, including camo patterns and extra reflective options. Plus, this jacket has reflective trims to add an additional layer of visibility in low lighting.
You can read more reviews and check out today's price here.
Runner Up (And Best For Cool Water): Outward Hound Granby Life Jacket
✅ 20,000+ 5 star reviews
✅ High-quality, warm fabric
✅ Nice fit for all sizes
✅ Dual-grab handles
❌ Flotation flap ineffective
❌ No D ring
Truthfully, this option is almost as good of a choice as you can get. How can you do better than over 20,000 five star reviews? It’s our top recommendation for Rottweilers for a reason. With solid stitching, good customer support, and plenty of options to choose from, the Outward Hound life jacket is a fan favorite. There are only two minor issues with this design that prevent it from taking the crown as the best life jacket for bulldogs.
Like the Vivaglory jacket, the Outward Hound jacket is primarily made from ripstop fabric, but it also has a belly band made from Neoprene. Neoprene is a high-quality, comfortable fabric that is typically used for human wetsuits. It’s favored because it’s elastic, buoyant, and keeps athletes warm in cooler waters. Seeing as bulldogs have a single coat, a bit of insulation is appreciated by this breed in cool temperatures.
On top of the 5 sizes it offers, this jacket has plenty of wiggle room for any size bulldog. It features adjustable straps and a Velcro throat latch, all of which account for dogs with a broad chest and neck.
Another great feature this jacket has are its two horizontal handles. That means instead of holding your dog like a suitcase, you can steadily lift them up with both hands. For the heaviest of dogs, this can help distribute a lot of their weight.
As great as all of this is, there are some flaws.
The more important of these two issues is that the chin flap doesn’t quite provide the support it could. Compared to the rest of the jacket, it isn’t as robust or buoyant, and reviewers note that it can easily get pushed to the side. This isn’t an issue with other breeds that don’t require as much head support, but it counts as a flaw for bulldog owners.
A more minor issue is that the Outward Hound jacket doesn’t have a d-ring attached, meaning owners will have to use a collar to keep their dog on a leash.
Despite these flaws, this jacket is still a great purchase, especially if your dog will be swimming in shaded waters. If you want to keep your pup nice and warm, check out today's price here.
Most Visible Design: Petglad Dog Life Jacket
✅ High visibility with wings
✅ Large detachable chin flap
✅ Fits bulldogs well
❌ Not recommended for overweight bull dogs
Let’s be honest– the idea of a flying bulldog is as cute as it is hilarious. Aside from their downright adorableness, the little wings on this design are great for safety! With bright colors, three reflective bands on each wing, and two bands along the body, this jacket is about as visible as it gets. While six color choices are available for you to pick from, it’s impossible not to go with yellow. When your bulldog hits the pool, they looks like a little bee!
Aside from the wings, one of my favorite features of this design is how prominent of a neck flap that it has. Rather than pushing the neck up, this rounded flap specifically holds up the face and is large enough to keep water completely away from many dogs. Plus, on the off chance an experienced swimmer doesn’t benefit from the flap, it is detachable.
More than any other jacket on this list, the Petglad dog life jacket has been described as great for bulldog necks and bellies in reviews. This is due to the highly adjustable neck and chest sections of the life jacket.
Unfortunately, this jacket isn’t the best choice for bigger bulldogs. This life jacket has over 400 reviews and more than 380 of them are 4 or 5 stars.
In other words, most reviewers were quite satisfied with this product! That said, many of these happy reviewers had large or smaller jackets on their pups. On the other hand, an English bulldog owner noted that the XL size could not keep her 60 lbs dog properly afloat. As such, this jacket can be more easily recommended for bulldogs who aren’t tipping the scale quite as much!
To learn more about this pick, check out today's prices here.
Funniest Design: Queenmore Ripstop Dog Life Jacket
✅ Great safety features
✅ Cute yet comfortable
✅ Snug fit
❌ Velcro can be uncomfortable
❌ Gray version isn’t visible enough
This jacket gives you a once in a lifetime opportunity– to turn your bulldog into a bull shark! With Queenmore life jackets, quality and comfortability aren’t sacrificed for fashion. There’s even a mermaid option if sharks aren’t your cup of tea!
Notably, the jacket has some excellent safety features. It features multiple quick-release buckles on the underbelly and neck as well as Velcro tape around the neck, belly, and waist to ensure that it is easy to put on and stay on. The d-ring on it is strong and reinforced, so you can attach a leash to your bulldog without worrying about it floating away. Finally, the handle design is one of the most robust we’ve seen, with heavy duty rubber and reinforced stitching.
With oxford cloth, polyethylene foam and a breathable mesh underbelly, Queenmore took every chance to keep their jacket durable, comfortable, and quick drying. The fin on the back can help with visibility, but for the most part it’s just plain cute.
With a variety of ways to adjust this jacket and ultra-wide abdominal support, this jacket can fit snuggly but comfortably on your large-chested dog. The ability to fit snuggly is not only more comfortable for your dog, but helps the life-jacket float more comfortably.
While the added Velcro does a great job at keeping this jacket secure, some reviewers have noted that it has some negatives. It may not be as much of an issue with your short-haired pup, but the Velcro got caught on the fur of a few reviewers’ dogs. It can also be uncomfortable and scratchy if you don’t make sure to completely cover the hook part of the fabric with the soft side.
It may be tempting to go with the gray style, but we can’t recommend that for anything but pool use. Even with the fin, the gray jacket just isn’t visible enough at a glance, especially not compared to the brighter options available.
Regardless, this is a cute and (typically) comfortable option to consider for your pup! Take a closer look at the shark fin, read more reviews and check out today's price here by clicking here
Best Emergency Vest: Paws Aboard Pet Life Jacket
✅ Cool, breathable design
✅ High-quality Neoprene Fabric
✅ Bright and Stylish
✅ Adjustable fit
❌ Poor chin support
❌ Not appropriate for extended swimming
This stylish, cleverly-designed jacket is an excellent pick for your “furst”-mate while boating or near the shore. Compared to other safety vests on the market, the Paws Aboard Life Jacket is distinctly light and comfortable.
With a mesh underbelly and generally breathable design, this life jacket is engineered to keep moving dogs cool. Considering how easily bulldogs can get overheated, this is perfect for boating or being near water with your buddy. On the other hand, if your bulldog goes overboard in cold water, the neoprene fabric will keep it warm.
Plus, the bright colors and handle are great for spotting and retrieving your bulldog if they go overboard.
That said, this life jacket cannot be recommended for extended swimming. As bully breed reviewers have noted, it lacks the extra support around its neck and chin that would help keep water away from a brachycephalic dog’s face for long. And while it is perfectly buoyant to keep an overboard pup afloat, it isn’t bulky enough to be recommended for endurance swimming.
As far as swimming jackets go, you would be better off picking something else on this list. But if you’re looking for an emergency vest to keep your boating buddy cool and safe, look no further! You can read more reviews and check today's price here!
Picking out the right life jacket for your bulldog can be a challenge, but the purchase is well worth it. Whether your life jacket is being used to help your bulldog comfortably swim around the pool or being used in case your pup goes overboard, it can save your dog’s life. Bulldogs may not be the best swimmers, but with these 5 options you can keep your dog safe and comfortable for all of your water adventures!