NotABully.org is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.
Swimming is a great way to get your German Shepherd some exercise! Although it may take them a little practice to excel in the water, most German Shepherds enjoy swimming and a life jacket can often help them enjoy it even more!
Not only that, but a quality life jacket can also give you some peace of mind knowing that your German Shepherd has a little extra assistance in the water.
Life jackets can also help your German Shepherd stand out which may not be a big deal if you’re just swimming in a backyard pool but if you’re spending time on the lake or at the ocean visibility can be extremely important.
We’re going to explore what makes a life jacket good for German Shepherd specifically, and we’ll be reviewing each of our favorites but if you want to skip ahead, here are the life jackets that made the list:
- Best Overall: Kurgo Surf n’ Turf Dog Life Jacket
- Runner Up: Outward Hound Granby Splash Life Jacket
- Best on a Budget: Frisco Ripstop Dog Life Jacket
- Best For Cute Styles: Paws Aboard Pet Life Jacket
- Cutest Style On A Budget: Deenkk Shark-Style Safety Swimsuit
What Should I Look For In A Life Jacket For My German Shepherd?
The most obvious difference between a German Shepherd and any other dog is just how long and lean their body is!
That means it’s important to get a life jacket that actually matches your pup’s proportions but that’s not the only consideration. We’re going to review everything you should look at before picking out the perfect life jacket and these are the same factors we used to pick the life jackets that made this list.
One of the first things to consider is where you’ll be swimming. As I’ve already mentioned, high visibility probably isn’t critical if you’re just hitting the pool. You can happily pick up the cutest life jacket with a shark fin and call it a day!
But if you’re planning on visiting a lake, river, or beach then visibility needs to become a priority. German Shepherds are big dogs that are usually impossible to miss, but in certain natural terrain, their sandy coats can almost act like camouflage.
Brightly colored life jackets will not only make your pup more visible to you but also other folks that may be driving boats or other vehicles. Every life jacket on this list has at least one brightly colored option with reflective trimming to make sure your German Shepherd is easy to spot.
It’s up to you to consider just how much visibility you need based on where you plan to swim.
Every life jacket should offer plenty of buoyancy. After all, that’s its primary job!
But buoyancy alone isn’t the only thing that your German Shepherd needs and with a deep powerful chest, most of their weight is towards the front of their body. That’s true across almost all dogs, some more so than others, but most life jackets have the highest floatation and buoyancy power towards the front of the jacket.
It’s okay if a dog’s hind end sinks in the water but dogs need all the help they can get to keep their heads out of the water. Most dogs swim at a angle with their hind end lower than their front half and most life jackets will reflect this.
If your German Shepherd isn’t as confident in the water or you’re planning on going for longer swims consider a life jacket with extra buoyancy. That means skipping the sillier options and focusing on the premium picks.
Even though a life jacket’s primary purpose is to keep your German Shepherd’s head out of the water, that’s not all they’re good for!
Most life jackets have some kind of handle to help hoist your dog aboard a boat or out of the pool. Considering that German Shepherds can routinely weigh up to 90 pounds, you’ll not only need handles to get these big dogs out of the water but in many cases may want to pick out a life jacket with two handles on it for even more leverage.
Every jacket on this list has handles and I’ll be sure to point out the ones that have two. Consider grabbing a double-handled jacket if you’re planning on boating or just have a German Shepherd that you know will need a little help.
A D-ring is just a fancy name for the little loop that you attach your dog’s leash to. These can come in metal or plastic and having a life jacket with a D-ring can sometimes make life a lot easier.
You’re probably not going to be in the water the entire time and if your German Shepherd needs to be on a leash when you hit the land then a D-ring on a life jacket can save you from needing a collar as well. It might not be a game-changer for some folks but it’s definitely something to consider.
Fit and Comfort
Of course, it doesn’t matter how great the life jacket is if your German Shepherd has decided to make it their life’s mission to pull it off or if it doesn’t stay on when you need it to. Because German Shepherds are long and lean we’ll be looking at life jackets that are on the longer side to match your pup’s body.
When it comes to sizing, most life jackets use a combination of weight and depth or girth of the chest. It’s common for German Shepherds to fall in between sizes since they’re big dogs with deep chests but still lean enough that they don’t always weigh as much as you’d expect.
If your German Shepherd falls between sizes, always size up. Even if the life jacket is a bit loose in some spots, you’ll be able to use the straps to get the perfect fit. Realize that it’s easy enough to use the straps and tighten some spots but much harder to get your German Shepherd to fit in a jacket that’s too small.
Best Life Jackets For German Shepherds
Now that we know what we should be looking for in a life jacket for a German Shepherd, let’s take a look at our favorites!
Best Overall: Kurgo Surf n’ Turf Dog Life Jacket
- DOG LIFE JACKET: Lifejacket helps your pup stay afloat while swimming; designed for active dogs, the...
- 2 TRAVERSE CONTROL HANDLES: Dog life vest has two perpendicular handles for easy water extraction; life...
Our best overall pick covers everything we’re looking for in a life jacket! It’s long enough to match the lean body of a German Shepherd, has highly adjustable straps to get the perfect fit, includes two metal D-rings and two handles. All while staying highly visible with a nice bright red color and plenty of reflective trim.
This jacket is long enough that folks with stockier breeds actually complain about it being too long but for a lean, lanky, and tall German Shepherd it should be just right. This life jacket will also ride a little lower on the chest, so it will fit the deep chests of German Shepherds.
This life jacket is also very flexible and can work as a floatation device or raincoat. The life jacket actually comes in two layers. One layer contains the floatation padding that will keep your dog swimming easily, and the other layer is water-resistant and meant to keep your pup warm and dry. You can remove the flotation padding if necessary, turning this into basically a rain jacket for your pup.
The jacket can actually work as a snow coat too if you want to get really multifunctional!
There are also two D-rings that a leash can be attached to and they’re each made of metal. While D-rings aren’t uncommon with dog life jackets, it is unusual to find metal ones and even more unusual to find two of them.
You’ve also got two handles, which again isn’t unheard of, but the handles are placed with a mixed-orientation which I love. In other words, you should be able to find a solid handle from just about any angle.
The only downside is that this jacket is on the lower end of flotation power. As is often the case with products that try to do two things at once, they can end up doing well at both functions but not exceptional at either.
This life jacket will help your German Shepherd swim and give you the peace of mind that you want in a life jacket. But if your pup is a bit of a remedial swimmer then you may want something more powerful.
I still felt it deserved the best overall spot because most German Shepherds are naturally solid swimmers and this jacket should be plenty for them.
You can read reviews from other long dog owners and check the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: This life jacket has all the features we look for in a dog life jacket: convenient handles for helping your dog in and out of the water, not one but TWO metal D-rings for sturdy leash attachment, and reflective strips to make your dog easily visible.
What I Wish It Had: Although it’s very well-padded, the trade-off here is that the removable padding makes the life jacket a little stiff.
Runner Up: Outward Hound Granby Splash 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...
Like our best overall pick, this life jacket from Outward Hound is also made with longer pups in mind. It’s no accident that a handsome corgi was chosen to model this life jacket and Outward Hound lets you know that this jacket has a “Long design for dogs with long torsos”.
That’s perfect for a lanky German Shepherd!
You’ll find a bit more padding on this jacket compared to our best overall pick which is great if you’re planning on hitting some choppier waters or your pup is a little less confident in the water.
You’ll also find plenty of reflective trimming, nice bright colors, and two handles to help your German Shepherd get aboard. But you won’t find a D-ring on this life jacket which may be a bit of a disappointment for some folks.
Another plus is the neoprene straps which can be a bit more comfortable compared to a material like nylon. We talked a lot about neoprene in our review of the best life jackets for boxers since they need all the help they can get to stay warm and comfortable. Your German Shepherd’s double coat will keep them warm but they’ll still appreciate the more comfortable feel of a neoprene strap and if your pup is especially sensitive and always trying to remove their gear then this could be a good option.
I actually bought my German Shepherd this life jacket about a year ago, when we were teaching him how to swim. He loved it and was immediately much more comfortable in the water. Although we don’t go swimming super often, his vest is still in great shape today, proving its durability!
You can read more reviews and check the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: This jacket has a lot of small features that really add up. Neoprene straps for comfort, longer length overall and boosted floating power towards the front all make this a great option for German Shepherds.
What I Wish It Had: Unfortunately, there’s no D-ring on this life jacket. You’ll have to leave your dog’s collar on and clip their leash to that.
Best on a Budget: Frisco Ripstop Dog Life Jacket
When it comes to staying budget-friendly, it’s hard to beat Frisco’s Ripstop life jacket. It’s not going to win any awards for style with a simple and clean design but it will help keep your German Shepherd safe without spending a fortune.
It’s also got all the basic features we look for like a study D-ring, two strong handles, and plenty of floatation power.
We can also save ourselves a little hassle by turning to the reviews for some sizing recommends and one reviewer wrote, “I ordered the large for my 65lb German Shepherd. The girth was fine but the neck was too short. I ended up having to get the XL.”
Other German Shepherd owners have confirmed both the sizing and durability of this jacket by writing, “I am very pleased with the excellent quality of this life jacket and the price was very cheap for the extra big size I had to get for my baby girl. I would highly recommend it to my friends and family!”
Frisco is a Chewy-only brand which means you won’t find this jacket anywhere else. You can click here to read all the reviews and check today’s price on Chewy.
What I Love About It: Plenty of positive reviews and budget-friendly pricing make this an easy life jacket to love!
What I Wish It Had: I’d love to see more color combinations for this jacket!
Best For Cute Styles: Paws Aboard Pet Life Jacket
- SAFETY - Cozy and secure fit with constructed buoyancy. Our life jackets provide peace of mind during...
- MULTIPLE SIZES - Paws Aboard Dog Life Jackets are available in XX-small, X-small, Small, Medium, Large...
Life jackets don’t have to be all solid colors and boring blends…just ask the folks at Paws Aboard!
They’ve got a handful of cute and original designs ranging from the classic polka dots to the much more “serious” flames. It’s not an especially long jacket like we’ve seen in some of the other options on this list but it’s still enough to help your German Shepherd enjoy the water.
You’ll also find a front-oriented D-ring but only a single handle. If you’re planning on doing any serious boating where you’ll need to help your German Shepherd out of the water then the single handle design may be a deal-breaker. But if you’re just hitting the shore or the pool and you want your pup to look good then this can be a good option.
In most cases, the size large should fit your German Shepherd but that advice shouldn’t replace a quick measurement to confirm.
Finally, this jacket can be a little cooler than some of the other ones with plenty of breathable mesh on the bottom of the jacket. If you live in a hotter area where it can sometimes be too hot to even walk your dog, this can be very important.
You can read more reviews, see sizing charts and check today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: Of course the cute designs are my favorite but I also love the D-ring!
What I Wish It Had: I’d love to see two handles on this jacket to make it more convenient for helping bigger German Shepherds out of the water.
Cutest Style On A Budget: Deenkk Shark-Style Safety Life Jacket
- UNIQUE SHARK STYLE - The dog water vests have an upgraded design with unique shark style and exceeding...
- REDUCE TENSION - When your dog go to swim or needs a spa, wear a good buoyancy life jacket, can help your...
What if you want your German Sheperd to look like a shark…without breaking the bank?
Enter the shark-dog life jacket from Deenkk! This life jacket will let you turn your dog into a shark or a mermaid all while staying budget-friendly.
You’ll also find many of the same features we already look for in a great life jacket including a solid D-ring towards the front and a sturdy handle. Similar to our other cute pick, there’s only one handle which may not work well for boating but it’s perfect for fun on the shoreline.
While this jacket fits German Shepherds well and does a great job keeping them afloat, the bigger concern is visibility. There are reflective strips to help but the all gray color will invariably make it a little harder for this life jacket to stand out.
If you still want your dog to look cute but want increased visibility you can always consider the mermaid option which features plenty of bright pinks to give your German Shepherd extra visibility.
You can check out both styles and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: Of course the best part about this jacket is the shark fin! I’m a big fan of the mermaid look too but I really can’t get over the shark fin.
What I Wish It Had: Again, I’d love to see an additional handle squeezed into this jacket. One handle is good but for bigger trips and bigger dogs, two handles can really make a difference.
Most German Shepherds are pretty good at swimming and unlike many bulky bully breeds like Rottweilers or Pit Bulls they’ve got a long snout that’s much easier to keep out of the water. A German Shepherd’s lean, long limbs, and powerful tail can also help in the water.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy a great life jacket and not only will it help most German Shepherds have more fun in the water, it will also give you peace of mind knowing that your pup has some extra help.
What do you think? Which life jacket will your German Shepherd be wearing this summer?