No one has explained to me the draw of kayaking with dogs but believe me, it’s there! Dogs just love kayaking! So, if you are looking for a new boat for you and your furry best friend we are going to line them up and find the best ones out there.
But we can’t just talk about your new watercraft, we also have to talk about your canine companion. There are some concerns we need to address to make sure everyone has a safe, happy time!
What Kayak is best for Dogs?
- What Kayak is best for Dogs?
- Dog Safety
- Top Kayaks for Dogs
There are a lot of parts to answering this question so we need to break it down and look at each part to get the right answer. We don’t want it to be complicated but we do need to make sure we cover the bases.
Single vs Tandem
Whether you want a boat that sits one or two, it’s going to make a difference. You may not need all the extra space for a small dog but you will need it if you have a big Golden Retriever.
If you go with a single, make sure you know the weight capacity. It may be too little if you have a medium or large pet. It usually isn’t a matter of size as much as it is how much the boat can hold and stay stable.
You do need to think about comfort. While you may fit your furry friend in a smaller craft with you, will you both be comfortable?
While a tandem will give you more space and a lot more weight capacity, it does put your pet farther from you. This can make them harder to control and keep in the boat. For a wily critter, this can be a real challenge and the open water is not the best place for Rover to go for a swim.
Additionally, a larger craft will have added space for snacks, drinks, and any other gear you may want to take along. This is a big part of comfort and can be a safety concern as well. Everyone needs to stay hydrated on those hot days on the lake.
Sit-On vs Sit-In
Both Sit-On and Sit-In kayaks are very popular and either may work for some people and their pet. You just have to get the measure of both boat and pup to pick which one is best.
Those that choose a sit-on style will have more room for your canine pal to move around. They won’t feel as cramped and won’t be right on top of you the whole trip. There will be more room for your dog to lay down and still be able to take in the sights.
Should Lassie go overboard, it will be easier to get her back in a sit-on but she will be more likely to go overboard in the first place.
Most People regard the Sit-on style to be the best for a dog and they are likely correct.
A dog in a sit-in is much easier to control which can be great for the more rambunctious companions. This is a good thing because trying to get a large dog back inside the kayak if he goes overboard can be a real trial and likely to end up with you in the water as well.
This doesn’t mean a sit-in is the wrong choice just that you have to know your critter and be able to handle and control them. Probably a better bet with smaller animals.
Stability is always a concern on a kayak but even more so when you add the chaos of a dog. You never know what they are going to do or where they are going to go. You need something that will stay balanced should a distracted canine decide to stand up or go off the side. It’s bad enough dealing with them in the water without ending up in the water yourself.
This brings us to fishing kayaks. These are craft made for stability. While they do often cost more and may even have features that get in the way, they are far more stable and often have a larger weight capacity. In many ways, these make a far superior choice for you and your pet.
There is a draw to a kayak that packs down as small as an inflatable does. They are easier to store and transport and can be all around decent craft. However, you do need to be aware of how puncture resistant they are. Most are designed to take some abuse but larger, heavier animals can still cause an issue.
There are some that can handle everything that could be thrown at them but these are often more costly. Explore your options and if this is what works best for your lifestyle, you can find one that will hold up to even the sharpest of claws.
While we understand safety for a person on the water, you can’t neglect your furry friends. The same rules that apply to you should apply to them. While most dogs are very capable swimmers and are better built to handle the environment doesn’t mean you can make things safer and more comfortable for them.
Puppy PFDs – Always use a personal flotation device on your pet. Especially if they are smaller or have a hard time swimming. These are affordable, comfortable, and do a wonderful job of keeping your pet safe.
Sun Screen – Some dogs handle sun better than others but always take care to apply some sunscreen to exposed skin on your pup. The nose is usually a primary concern but any other areas of thinner hair are fair game.
Leashes are for Land only – There is no time that it is appropriate to tie your dog to a boat. Things happen out of our control and the last thing you need is to deal with a dog attached to a sinking ship.
Be Prepared – No matter what, your dog is likely to do something you least expect when you least expect it. He may jump in the water, tip you over, or even just knock you out of the boat. Plan ahead on how to deal with these situations because they will likely happen. It isn’t uncommon for Rover to go overboard and head to shore simply because he sees something interesting to him.
Over time, these urges will subside and he will become more accustomed to being on the water and dealing with boating in general. Until then, he is likely to be a nervous wreck.
Top Kayaks for Dogs
1. Vibe Sea Ghost 130
Without a doubt, Vibe makes some of the best sit-on models available. They have a history of production quality and customer service that raises the bar for every other company out there. If you are after the best, this is a sure bet!
At 13 feet long and 33 inches wide, you have a large surface area to keep you stable. Combine this with a weight capacity of 550 pounds and you have a craft capable of holding you, your largest dog, and plenty of snacks as well.
One of the strong suites of Vibe is the overall durability of the boats thanks to a single piece construction method. They are not the only company to do this but they do it better than most. In the end you have a kayak that weighs 75 pounds but will last for decades, even if you get a few claw marks on it.
As far as extras, the Sea Ghost was made for fishing so you do get all the gear storage and rod holders if that’s important. The seat is top notch for all-day comfort. The main points for a pet owner are going to be the stability, size, and capacity. And Vibe trumps most other brands where it counts.
2. Vibe Skipjack 120T
If you like everything about the Sea Ghost but want to lose the fishing stuff and save a little money, the Skipjack may be the answer. The quality is the same on most every detail that matters and it has a few features that make it a little better for the pet owner.
The Skipjack is still designed for fishing but has been toned down. It has good storage options and plenty of space. The rod holders it has are recessed. In the end you have more flat deck space for your dog, especially if you remove the front seat.
This is a tandem model made for two adults so you get a 500-pound capacity. It is 35 inches wide and 12 feet long making it very stable. It does sit a little heavy in the water when you get some weight on it but that can be a good thing.
Along with the kayak, you also get two paddles with the package. This is a great choice for those with larger pets that need extra space. It could also work well for a couple with two smaller dogs. Any way you cut it, this is pure quality and will serve you well for years!
3. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Inflatable
If you are dead set on getting an inflatable, there are very few that could be trusted to stand up to a medium or larger dogs claws. The Advanced Elements is likely one of those few. I would hesitate to put any pet over 50 pounds in it but otherwise, it should be tough enough to hold. Just keep those claws trimmed back short!
One reason this kayak is likely to stand up is the material. With three layers of oxford weave it is very durable and puncture resistant. This is probably the most durable inflatable on the market right now making it the perfect choice if space is an issue.
Though it is made for two, if you add a pet, you need to keep it at one person. This isn’t a capacity issue as the Advanced Elements will hold up to 550 pounds but a size issue. Though it is 15 feet long when inflated, the cockpit size is a little smaller. It could get crowded quick.
One of the best features of the Advanced Elements is the partial rib-frame design that helps it hold its shape. Since you will be taking this large kayak with just one paddler, you need it to track well and the construction of the AdvancedFrame design will keep it on course.
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two
If you have ever been to anywhere renting kayaks, you will likely see those made by Ocean more than any other. This is purely due to the amazing durability of these craft. They simply outlast almost every other brand and that makes them a great choice for dog owners!
For the money, this 12 foot long, 34-inch wide craft is likely the best you are going to find. Call it the best bang for your buck! It can hold a total of 425 pounds and is easily handled by a single person. It is incredibly stable, even if your pet likes to roam around.
For a large animal, this is the first choice. If you have something like a Lab or Golden Retriever, they will love this boat. Just take out the front seat to give them plenty of room to sprawl. There is ample deck space that isn’t interrupted by storage compartments to get in their way.
With the shape of the bow, your furry friend will be able to get right up front and get his nose in the air. While this may not be the best possible option for the dog owner, it is very close to the top and saves you a good bit of money!
4. Vibe Yellowfin 100
So, what if you have a small dog and just need a small boat? Well if we go back to Vibe, they have one of the best options out there. It is small in size but has plenty of capacity to keep it stable and have room for your pet too.
At just 10 feet long and 32 inches wide, the Yellowfin is easy to handle for one person but holds a total of 375 pounds. This is one of the highest capacities you can get on a 10-foot boat which means it will easily hold you and your largest pet if need be.
This is a fishing craft so it has all the storage compartments that do eat a little into the flat space you may like. That is the price of a large weight capacity, you are going to lose a little of that comfort space. That is what makes this such a good option for small and medium dogs rather than large dogs.
This still has the amazing, comfortable seat and plenty of room for any of those things you need for a day on the water. It even comes with a paddle. Just add your own PFD and one for your pet and you are ready to go!
5. Sun Dolphin Bali SS 12
Sun Dolphin is best known for their budget boats but if there were a kayak on the cheap that was purpose-built for the canine kayaker, it would be the Bali 12. Though it may not be the most rugged craft, it has all the features you could want.
Though this is a 12 footer, it only weighs 48 pounds. This is because they use a thinner plastic which means less durability but a much more convenient weight. The Bali is only 29 inches wide which saves a little more weight but also makes it a little less stable.
Not that you should worry. The Bali is all around a fairly stable option. Maybe not so much as some of the fishing models but enough to keep you and your pet dry and out of the water unless you are trying to end up swimming. In short, it is likely to dump you when you don’t expect it.
I would keep it to slower, calmer waters. It really isn’t designed for anything rough but that is a good general rule for kayaking anyway. If you are searching for something budget friendly, this is a hard option to beat.
6. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100
On the far budget end of the spectrum, Lifetime seems to do well for the money. They are very affordable, reasonably stable, and work well for pet owners who want a little time on the water. You probably wouldn’t want to put in long hours as they are not the most comfortable to sit in.
For a small boat, the Tamarack has a decent capacity of 275 pounds. This is what makes it stable along with the 31-inch width which is often more than you find on a boat this long. It weighs in at 57 pounds so its quite easy to manage overall.
With a fully HDPE construction, the Tamarack is actually quite durable overall. It may be susceptible to some scratch marks but nothing that is going to cause any real damage. The seat is molded in as well. It is quite tough but not that comfortable overall.
This is a fishing model though it doesn’t have most of the features you would expect. There are some rod holders and a little storage but most of the space if flat and perfect for relaxing if you are a small or medium sized pooch. If money is tight, this will get you out on the water and do a decent job at it.
7. Sea Eagle SE370
Sometimes you need something affordable that is just enough to do what you need. That is where the Sea Eagle comes in. It has everything you could want in a dog kayak and with a little care, it can do everything you need it to do. Just keep those toenails clipped short to be on the safe side.
Because it is actually white water rated, the hull of the Sea Eagle is really durable. A claw may still punch a hole in it if it’s not trimmed back so use a little caution. Also stay off whitewater if you have your dog in the boat. That is an unsafe situation!
For an inflatable, the Sea Eagle actually tracks quite well. It is very buoyant with a massive 650-pound capacity. However, the cockpit is a little on the small side. You could probably fit two people and a large dog but it would be a bit tight. You will need that second person. The Sea Eagle is not a tandem you can handle with a single person easily.
For the low price, you get not only the boat but the whole kit. It has a paddle, storage sack and pump included. Everything you need to get out on the water and have a little fun. Do keep your pooch from going overboard because it’s going to be tough to get him back in.
Getting our canine pals out on the lake with us is a growing trend and becoming far more common every year. As long as you approach it with safety in mind and a little common sense, there is a lot of fun to be had for all involved. You just need to be mindful of which craft you pick as some are far more suitable than others.
Those that we have included have a proven track record of durability and stability to make sure you have a fun time with all the safety you and your furry loved one’s needs. With summer quickly approaching, now is the time to buy!