NotABully.org is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.
Swimming is an excellent way for Great Danes to cool off in hot weather and get some exercise, and while Danes are not natural swimmers, they can certainly learn to move through the water effectively with some swimming lessons!
Their long legs and muscular build mean they are usually strong enough to keep themselves afloat, but they can tire out relatively quickly.
So, a solid life jacket is always a good idea – your Great Dane can relax in the water, spend more time swimming without getting too tuckered out, and you’ll know she’s safe on boating or paddle boarding expeditions!
In this article, we’ll cover things to look for in a dog life jacket, five of my favorite life jacket options specifically for Great Danes, and the pros and cons of each.
But, if you want to get straight to the point, here’s my list of best life jackets for Great Danes:
- Best Overall: EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device
- Best for Water Sports: Ruffwear Float Coat
- Best on a Budget: Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket
- Best on a Budget Runner Up: Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket
- Most Unique Style: EMUST Shark/Mermaid Dog Life Jacket
Now, before we dive into the specifics of each of these options, let’s first explore a few things to look for when selecting a life jacket for your Great Dane!
What To Look For in a Life Jacket for a Great Dane
While there, unfortunately, isn’t a regulatory body that provides a stamp of approval for dog life jackets (like the Coast Guard does for human life jackets), there are certain things to look for when you are shopping for a life jacket for your Great Dane.
Some of these items are a matter of preference, while others will be necessary for different activities, like casual swimming versus kayaking in a strong river.
D-Rings or Leash Attachment Points
A solid D-ring attachment on a life jacket is handy as a place to attach a leash when necessary. That way, you can leave your Great Dane’s collar at home or in the car so it doesn’t get wet, and that’s one less thing she has to wear while swimming.
However, keep in mind that not all life jackets will have D-rings and even if they do, some D-rings might be made out of plastic which wouldn’t be super durable – especially if your Great Dane decides to pull! If you’ve got a puller, be sure to select a life jacket with a metal D-ring or double up with a collar and a life jacket.
Some life jackets have one or even multiple handles on the back. While of course it would be quite difficult to pluck your 150-pound Great Dane straight out of the water with these handles (unless you’re The Rock), they can be helpful for steadying your Dane, giving her a hand as she climbs out the water, helping her into a boat, etc.
Handles aren’t necessary for all situations, but if you’ll be partaking in water sports like paddle boarding, kayaking, boating, and so forth with your Great Dane, they can certainly be helpful.
Buoyancy and Balance
Obviously, buoyancy is the main purpose of a life jacket – it’s what helps keep your Great Dane afloat! Some life jackets are more buoyant than others, depending on the amount and type of flotation material that is built in. For a big heavy dog like a Great Dane, you’ll want to select a life jacket that has plenty of buoyancy so it can actually keep your Dane afloat if she runs into trouble.
The balance of the life jacket is also important – obviously the primary goal is to keep your Dane’s head above water, so the flotation material needs to be concentrated around a Great Dane’s chest and neck area while still keeping her balanced in the water.
If there’s too much flotation towards your Dane’s rear end, it can force her front end lower in the water which might in turn mean that she has to pull her head back uncomfortably to keep her nose out of the water.
Fit and Comfort
The fit of the life jacket needs to be snug enough that it’s effective, but still comfortable enough that your Great Dane will wear it without complaint. A properly fitting life jacket won’t extend all the way down your Dane’s back because of the aforementioned balance issue.
It will still allow for a full range of motion while being tight enough that when your Great Dane wears it in the water, she isn’t just dangling in the straps with the buoyant part of the life jacket floating several inches above her.
Softer materials like neoprene will generally be the most comfortable for your Great Dane, but other materials like nylon can be slightly more durable. Many life jackets are made out of a combination of both materials.
If your Great Dane is always trying to bite or pull off her life jacket, it might mean that it’s uncomfortable. Check that none of the straps are twisted, she has enough breathing room, and none of the buckles are digging in.
Most dog life jacket manufacturers include a sizing scale that depends on the measurement around the biggest part of your Great Dane’s rib cage (aka girth), but some also include weight ratings. For most breeds, these two measurements will likely correlate, making it easy to select a size. However, some life jackets have girth measurements that will fit most Great Danes but a weight rating that will technically exclude all but the smallest and lightest Danes.
A couple of the life jackets on our list today have these low weight ratings, so while the life jacket will probably physically fit your Great Dane, it’s important to never depend absolutely on a life jacket to protect your Dane in the water.
They can certainly still be helpful and many people have reported success using these life jackets for giant breeds. Unless you’ve got a Guinness Book of World Records contender for the biggest dog ever, you’ll probably be just fine as long as the girth measurement of a life jacket is correct.
However, keep the weight rating in mind especially if you have a Great Dane who is new to swimming, nervous around water, or becomes fatigued quickly. Even if your Great Dane meets the manufacturer’s size and weight guidelines, remember that they are, in fact, only guidelines and there is no canine coast guard evaluating life jackets for safety.
And, of course, all dogs should be supervised at all times while around water even with a life jacket on, just to be on the safe side! Alright, my water safety speech is over. Can you tell I’m a former lifeguard?
Ease of Use
It can be a challenge to wrangle an excited Great Dane into her life jacket before she charges into the water, so naturally you’ll want a life jacket that’s as easy as possible to put on.
It’s also wise to practice taking the life jacket off as quickly as you can a few times, in case an emergency arises where your Dane’s life jacket gets snagged or caught on something in the water and you need to bail her out fast. On this same note, it’s best to avoid life jackets that have complicated designs or tons of buckles where a few would do the job.
Great Danes have short, single-layer coats, so they can actually get quite cold in the water, especially if they aren’t actively swimming. A neoprene life jacket can help keep your Great Dane warm while she swims, but if you are out for an adventure in particularly brisk water, be sure to keep an eye on your Dane for signs that she’s getting too cold, like shivering or shaking.
In case you’re wondering, why yes, there are doggie wetsuits available. If your Great Dane loves water but isn’t a fan of being cold, you could pair a wetsuit with a life jacket for extra warmth.
Visibility and Style
Naturally, you want your Great Dane to be stylish at the beach! While there are plenty of fun styles and colors of life jackets available, remember that the brighter the color, the easier it will be to see your Dane in the water. This is a critical consideration if you are boating, in a high traffic area, or in case you become separated from your dog.
Dark colored Great Danes especially can be difficult to spot in the water, so an extremely bright life jacket is always a good idea. Heck, neon colors are back in style anyways right?
Many life jackets will also have reflective pieces sewn into them to help with visibility in low-light situations.
Unless your Great Dane will just be casually swimming in a pool or an area with no boats, it’s a good idea to look for a brightly colored life jacket with those reflective accents.
How To Properly Fit a Life Jacket For Your Great Dane
As I mentioned above, most life jacket manufacturers provide sizing information based on measuring around the deepest spot on your Great Dane’s chest, while some also include weight information. Refer to each individual manufacturer for the correct sizing guidelines.
If your Great Dane’s chest measurement is at the very top of one size’s measurements or between sizes altogether, always size up. That way she can have a little bit of breathing room rather than be stuffed into an uncomfortable, too-small jacket.
Conversely, make sure the life jacket isn’t too big. It can be tempting to size way up especially when your Great Dane is still growing, but it’s just not worth the risk that your Dane could slip out of her life jacket. Consider purchasing her a budget-friendly life jacket or two as she grows, and then investing in a higher end model if you so desire once she’s reached adulthood.
Best Life Jackets for Great Danes
Alright, now that we’ve covered all the specs to look for, let’s dive into our actual list of best life jackets for Great Danes!
Best Overall: EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device
- BEST HIGH-PERFORMANCE FLOTATION DEVICE DOG LIFE VEST JACKET: Combining advanced manufacturing techniques...
- ADJUSTABLE DESIGN WITH 50% MORE FLOATION MATERIAL: Adjustable neoprene straps form an ergonomic, secure...
This adorably named Doggy Flotation Device from EzyDog earns the top spot for several reasons. First, it is packed full with plenty of flotation material, but still doesn’t look ridiculously bulky. Their XL life jacket can fit dogs with a girth of 30-48 inches, which, unless you’ve got an absolute behemoth on your hands, will certainly fit a Great Dane.
While it’s not necessarily the most stylish life jacket with only two color options, both are super bright for good visibility. Plus, the trim and detailing on the jacket are reflective, so bonus points for that.
This life jacket is made from nylon and neoprene, with wide, comfy straps for your Great Dane’s chest and belly. It has a D-ring (plastic, unfortunately) and an integrated handle in case you need to reel in your Dane in the water or give her a hand.
Finally, the buckles for the belly straps are located on the top of the jacket which admittedly doesn’t look quite as streamlined, but this is actually a huge pro in terms of safety. As I mentioned earlier, if your Great Dane’s life jacket gets snagged or caught on something in the water, you’ll want to get her out of it as quickly as possible, and having the buckles up top means you won’t have to frantically feel around for them under her body which can save precious seconds.
Read all the reviews and check the current price on Amazon here.
What I love about it: This really checks all the boxes: buckles on top, tons of flotation, a handle, truly XL sizing, comfy neoprene and durable nylon construction, a D-ring, and highly visible colors with reflective accents.
What I wish it had: Really the only thing that would make this life jacket better is if the D-ring was metal rather than plastic.
Best for Water Sports: Ruffwear Float Coat
- Improved fit: Our new PVC-free GAIA foam panels are soft, comfortable, and designed to wrap around and...
- Adjustable neck: The telescoping neck closure adjusts to fit a range of dog sizes; Simply adjust it once...
Ruffwear’s Float Coat has a very streamlined, low-profile design that makes it a great option for water sports like boating, paddle boarding, kayaking, and so forth. This isn’t necessarily the most affordable option available, but you can see that a lot of thought went into the design and creation of this life jacket.
The neck opening telescopes to fit a range of sizes, and once you size it to your Great Dane, you can just set it and forget it – then you’ve only got the two chest buckles to deal with each time you put it on or take it off. The buckles are sheltered under tabs so they are a little bit more secure and lower profile, which means less chance of getting caught or snagged.
This life jacket has a handle, reflective accents, and is brightly colored with three pretty color options. There’s also a small attachment ring under the handle which the manufacturer says is for attaching a light, but many purchasers have reported successfully using that to clip on a leash or safety line.
The XL can fit dogs with a rib cage measurement of between 36 and 42 inches, which should fit all but the largest of Great Danes.
The Float Coat is made from comfortable, flexible foam that moves with your dog, and the webbing and canvas material are purpose-built for water stability, meaning they won’t stretch out or loosen when the jacket gets wet. The flotation foam is balanced throughout the jacket to promote a natural swimming position.
Perhaps the highlight of this life jacket is that there are no potentially uncomfortable straps that rest against your Great Dane’s body – the straps go over the padded foam of the jacket for ultimate comfort.
Read reviews from happy customers and check the current price on Amazon here.
What I love about it: It has a streamlined design, innovative telescoping neck, sheltered buckles, bright colors, balanced flotation, a light/leash attachment point, a handle, and reflective accents.
What I wish it had: Although there is an attachment point, it’s made of plastic and could potentially break if you were to reel in your 150-pound Dane. Also, while the XL will fit most Great Danes, it may still be too small for some.
Best on a Budget: Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket
- Measure Before Purchase: before choosing a size, please measure your dog's ribcage at the DEEPEST part;...
- Safety: Upgraded with ripstop 600D cloth, our patented design dog life jacket is more durable than normal...
This Dog Life Jacket from Vivaglory is easy on the budget and still has many great features. This life jacket is actually a good option for Great Danes who are new to swimming or who might be fearful in the water, as it has an extra front float under your dog’s chin to help keep her head out of the water. This piece is removable which is convenient since as your dog’s confidence grows, she may not need it anymore.
With 14 different colors available, there’s an option for everyone! Most of the colors are quite bright and highly visible. The life jacket has a handle, a plastic D-ring, reflective trim, and a soft neoprene belly band underneath the straps for extra comfort.
The XL size option fits dogs with a chest girth of 31 to 38 inches.
Although it’s a little bulkier than the more expensive options we’ve looked at, this budget-friendly model has all the features you need in a life jacket!
Check out all the color options and see the current price on Amazon here.
What I love about it: It’s affordable, there are tons of color options with reflective trim, the front float piece makes it a great option for Great Danes who are new swimmers, it has a handle and a D-ring, and comfort was considered in the design.
What I wish it had: Again, the D-ring is plastic so it might not be the most durable, and I wish the gray portions on the back of the jacket were a bright color for better visible while your dog is actually in the water swimming.
Best on a Budget Runner Up: Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket
- SIZING BASED ON GIRTH: Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Whether your dog is short and stout or long and...
- SPLASH WITH SAFETY: The Outward Hound Granby Splash life jacket for dogs is designed with bright colors...
Outward Hound’s Granby Dog Life Jacket has a pretty similar design to the Vivaglory, but there are a few small differences. It is also easy on the budget, but a bit more expensive than Vivaglory’s dog life jacket.
The Granby also has a front float piece under your Great Dane’s chin, but theirs is not removable. It has two handles on the back which could be helpful for moving your big dog, but they aren’t particularly low profile which makes me nervous that they could get snagged more easily. However, for swimming in a pool or a calm lake, that’s not so much of a concern.
This life jacket comes in a few different neon colors, and the visibility is actually a little bit better than the Vivaglory since there are no dark gray patches on the back. It also has a soft neoprene belly band underneath the straps. The buckles are located on the side of the life jacket, which makes them more accessible than those that are completely underneath your dog.
Read all the reviews and check the current price on Amazon here.
What I love about it: This life jacket comes in bright colors, it has an extra chin floaty for new swimmers, it has two beefy handles, and the buckles are easily accessible.
What I wish it had: There’s no D-ring, and the sizing and weight ratings don’t line up super clearly.
Most Unique Style: EMUST Shark/Mermaid Dog Life Jacket
- Premium Material: This dog life vest is made of high grade polyester oxford & nylon and mesh fabric,...
- Sizes Available: The mermaid life jackets for dogs Size XL（Chest:27.6''-38.6'')） are available for 5...
Finally, we have our top pick for the most stylish dog life jacket – your Great Dane can be transformed into a beautiful mer-dog or the friendliest shark ever!
While these life jackets are ridiculously cute, they are also functional and easy on the budget. They feature a sturdy handle, a plastic D-ring, a comfortable wrap-around design, and plenty of buoyancy. The mermaid option is quite bright and very visible, but the shark option is not necessarily made with visibility in mind. However, it’s a perfect life jacket for swimming in a pool or in a lake where there aren’t any boats around.
According to the manufacturers, the XL can fit dogs with a chest girth of 27.6 to 38.6 inches and recommended weights of between 44 and 110 pounds.
Read all reviews and check the current price on Amazon here.
What I love about it: I mean…obviously the design! But I also love that it’s a truly functional life jacket for casual swimming and it won’t break the bank.
What I wish it had: A studier D-ring and some reflective trim would make this life jacket pretty dang perfect.
Since Great Danes aren’t natural swimmers or, ahem, the most graceful of creatures, they can certainly use the support of a good life jacket when embarking on water adventures! With these top 5 options, there’s something for every Great Dane, whether she wants to be a serious paddle boarder or a beautiful mermaid.