Alsatians or commonly known as German Shepherds (GSD) are a breed of medium or large-sized dogs.
They are admired for their agility, muscularity, high intelligence, and loyalty. Having a German Shepherd as a pet is really fun as they enjoy all activities, including water-based ones.
While venturing out in the waters, you will surely want to bring along your boi to have a fun time. But your concern for their safety may stop you on tracks.
Worry not, a life jacket will keep them safe and afloat in the water.
Why your Shepherd needs a Life Jacket
Every dog needs a life jacket, despite however good a swimmer they might be. Your German Shepherd can panic or stress out from an unintended fall in the water.
Or they can be tired while in water, decreasing their swimming abilities. Any such unprecedented situations may arise, for which you should always prepare your buddy by making them wear a life jacket.
German Shepherd life jackets will keep them safe even when they aren’t putting in enough effort.
Now, the question arises – Which is the best vest for German Shepherd? Well, scroll down to find it.
Last update on 2020-08-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API/ More Info
3. Vivaglory New Sports German Shepherd Life Jacket
With high visibility color and pretty design, this vest from Vivaglory is designed to keep your Shepherd safe in the water. For the unknown, it is an upgraded version of old Vivaglory with upgraded safety and looks.
Its new design offers more space and doesn’t constrain movement while also allowing them to swim in their natural position. So, your pooch will feel more comfortable and ease while swimming.
Made from upgraded ripstop 600D oxford cloth, its material has passed the CA65 test, which ensures its durability. So, it can withstand years of pressure without ripping-apart.
From personal experience, I know that it can last for seasons to come when wore occasionally, but if your buddy swims every day, then it will last around one year.
The material is soft internally, which provides great comfort. Also, this new design has a comfortable fastening system to ensure safety.
Two belly straps and a neck strap clipped by buckles keep your buddy safe inside while they are paddling vigorously in the water.
Well, I forgot to mention that it uses around 50% more flotation than other vests, which provides great buoyancy and support. So, your Shepherd will float at ease.
You may haven’t noticed, but there are several reflective trims on the vest, mostly on the straps that enhance visibility during low light situations. It’s great if you are planning to camp or swim during the night.
On the top, we have a rescue handle that, as the name suggests, is used for rescue. Apart from that, you can also use it to carry the vest.
Beneath the handle is a D-ring where you can attach a leash to get control of your buddy. Now, since German Shepherd pulls like crazy on-sight of another dog or person, we need to get them under control, and this clip held fast.
Currently, its available in five sizes(you must focus on L and XL) and ten colors.
- Great Mobility and supports natural swim position
- Sturdy and comfortable
- 50% more flotation
- Secure buckles with handle
- High visibility colors with reflective trims
- D-ring and plenty of color/size options
- Nothing Really
2. Outward Hound Granby German Shepherd Life Jacket
Being one of the most loved dog life jackets, its something your German Shepherd will love to wear. With a great design, it offers full mobility and doesn’t constrain movements like other vests.
Made from ripstop material, its sturdy exterior easily tackles high pressure and doesn’t rip-off easily while the foam panels inside keep you pup comfy around the clock.
The front neck float offers extra buoyancy to keep the neck afloat, thus keeping the mouth above water even when your pooch isn’t putting enough effort.
Two belly straps and a neck strap keeps them safe inside while the velcro tab resists the straps from getting caught on to something.
I love the fact that the buckles are above the material, which resists them from digging into the skin. Also, the neoprene belly band supports the chest and stomach to let them comfortably fit inside.
Unlike the last vest, it has two rescue handles, so in case one broke, you can still use the second one. Since these handles are horizontal, you may have difficulty pulling up your buddy, but at least you have double the safety.
Now, it’s the cheapest of all three vests which offer basic safety like rescue handles and front float. Of course, you get what you pay for.
But if you want a vest with great safety that lasts for years, then I would strongly recommend getting the vest below. It’s a little costly, but believe me, it’s worth the price.
- Full mobility with good buoyancy
- Sturdy and comfortable
- Two belly strap with a neck strap
- Buckles doesn’t irritate
- It’s a basic vest that doesn’t have D-ring, reflective trims, etc.
1. RUFFWEAR – Float Coat German Shepherd Life Jacket
After testing this vest, I only have one word to say, “FANTABULOUS.” Guys, literally, it’s “THE BEST” life jacket for a German Shepherd. Not only that, but it’s also the best vest for dogs.
It’s designed for dogs by keeping every prospect in mind, that’s why its ideal for all the water sports like rafting, kayaking, boating, SUP, etc., so, anywhere you go, your buddy you safely follow (like they always do).
Made from high-quality material, its sturdy exterior withstands years of wear and tear while the thick high buoyancy flotation inside keeps your buddy comfy and afloat invariably.
The strategically placed closed-cell foam panels support an upright position that allows your dog to swim in their natural pattern.
Its design is such that if your Shepherd flips over, then it will return them upside down to their swimming position. And that’s something I haven’t seen in any other dog life jacket.
Two belly straps and a neck strap ensures safety while the low-profile sturdy handle on-top gives a convenient way to rescue. The handle is optimally positioned for a quick rescue.
Beneath the handle is a D-ring where you can attach a leash, and behind it is an integrated light loop for attaching The Beacon light.
The straps and buckles are covered in fabric, so it doesn’t contact or dig into the skin even when I pull via handle, which ensures comfort.
Oh, I forgot to mention! All the straps are adjustable, so it can fit your pooch as they grow. Or if you have two dogs, then also it can fit—Yo adjustability.
The water-compatible webbing makes it very stable in wet environments which I think is crucial, but no other vests have included it.
Its high visibility color, along with reflective trims, enhances visibility all-day long. So, no matter when you are going, you will quickly spot your buddy in-crowd.
Currently, it’s available in four high visibility colors and six size options.
- Ideal for even waterspout
- Keeps upright in natural swimming position
- Durable, comfortable and highly buoyant
- Straps are covered in material
- Highly Adjustable and stable
- Reflective trim and high-visibility colors
How to choose a Life Vest?
Choosing the right life jacket for your German Shepherd is equally important. Ideally, the best German Shepherd Life Jacket should have all the essential features.
It should allow your large pet to play, swim, and enjoy the water freely and safely. There are several factors you need to consider before buying a life jacket for your Shepherd.
One of the most important factors is the buoyancy of the life jacket or vest. The life jacket should have strong buoyancy to keep your dog afloat while in the water at all conditions.
It must have a float mechanism at the front to keep your dog’s head above water. The life jacket should also not ride-up in the water when it is worn by your dog.
The life jacket should fit your German Shepherd properly. It should be tight enough to be secure and loose enough to be comfortable for your dog.
The life jacket must have a snugly fit and should be easily adjustable by tightening or loosening the straps or belts. Your dog should be able to put the jacket on and take it off easily.
Otherwise, your German Shepherd might not want to wear it for its hassle.
Unless German Shepherds feel comfortable wearing a life jacket, they will never wear one. Hence you should always prioritize their comfort, among other factors.
The life jacket should not be too tight to suffocate them, and it should not restrict their natural movements in any way. Your dog must have the flexibility and swim like a natural while wearing a life jacket.
The life jacket you buy for your German Shepherd should always be bright colored. Colors like red, orange, yellow, or fluorescent can be spotted from a long distance.
This helps in emergencies and rescue operations.
The material and build quality of the life jacket should be very good. Materials used and the stitching must be strong enough to endure hefty water pressure.
It should not get damaged after a few uses in fresh and saltwater alike.
While buying a life jacket for your German Shepherd, you should prefer reputed brands. Life jackets require maintenance, especially the ones worn by our furry friends.
In need of any service or to handle any queries you might have, the company or manufacturer must be equipped enough to handle them.
Rescue Handles or Loops
The life jacket for your German Shepherd must definitely have a rescue handle on top of it. It is required to pick your dog up from the water in a dire situation.
The handles are strategically placed to grab your buddy out without causing them any strain.
While choosing the best life jacket for your German Shepherd, you must also look out for the basic components of a life jacket or vest.
Basic components of a life jacket
The life jacket in general or the vest is made out of waterproof polyester with a visible reflective material on the outside. The inside material has buoyant foam to keep your dog afloat in water.
The foam material and the polyester must be of high quality to provide longer durability.
Large dogs like German Shepherds need head support in their life jackets. While choosing a life jacket for your shepherd, check if it has head support in the form of padding under the neck area.
The straps, belts, and clips
Nylon straps with hardened plastic clips are woven to the life jacket. Adjustable buckles are used to tighten these straps and secure your dog while wearing it. These can be used to adjust the general fitting of the life jacket.
Located at the top or back of the life jacket, the rescue handles are of strong nylon material. The handles are used to grab your dog out of the water, especially in quick rescue situations.
D and U Ring Anchor Points
These are strong stainless steel metal rings attached to the life jacket. The anchor points are intended to fasten a leash while in the water or even on land.
Owners often use life jackets as insulation for dogs in winters. The anchor points or rings come into use in such situations too.
How to measure the size of German Shepherd for a Life Jacket
Most of the German Shepherds require a large or extra-large sized jacket, but to ensure proper fitting of the life jacket, you can measure the size of your dog by following ways.
On the back of your buddy, you should measure the distance between the nape of its neck to the base of its tail. That would be the length of the life jacket your German Shepherd will need to wear.
You need to measure the circumference of your German Shepherd’s neck. The point where their neck meets the body is the thickest part and also your measuring point.
To measure the chest or girth of your German Shepherd, you will have to find the lowest part of their rib cage. Parallel to that spot on your dog’s back, you need to measure around from back to the bottom of the rib cage.
Tips for training your German Shepherd in swimming
You should take your German Shepherd in cool and calm waters for swimming. You should carry a leash with you.
While letting them in water, observe their response and reactions and always treat them with patience. They might be scared to face a new environment and will be expecting your support through it.
You must always be calm while in water so that your dog can be sure that there is no harm or danger.
After your Shepherd gets comfortable with water around its chest and belly, having worn the life jacket, you can then gradually proceed to deeper waters.
Your boi should naturally paddle with their front legs. You can help them with the initial process by holding them as they try to swim. This, along with the life jacket, will instill confidence in them for swimming.
Hacks to make your German Shepherd wear a Life Jacket
- Make your dog comfortable in and around life jackets. The life jacket needs to fit it properly. This can be done by measuring your German Shepherd properly before buying a life jacket for it.
- After purchasing the life jacket, do not immediately force your dog to wear it. Allow your Shepherd to sniff it and ignore it. When it is calm, you can then attempt to put the life jacket over its head. Encourage it with treats while putting the jacket on. Only put on the life jacket if your buddy is calm, happy, and relaxed.
- If your boi tries to scratch or bite the life jacket, give a chew toy to keep it occupied. You need to redirect its behavior to ignore the life jacket, just like a leash or harness.
- Encourage and praise it with treats every time after your dog wears the life jacket.
- Take your German Shepehr to shallow waters first to try out the life jacket. To ensure your German Shepherd perceives swimming in a life jacket as a good experience, you need to support it. Keep the activity short, and once it can paddle, remove the life jacket, and praise it with treats.
- When your German Shepherd feels the buoyancy of the life jacket in the water, it may be too surprised or confused. Throw some toys and ask your buddy to retrieve them. Your GSD should have so much fun swimming, that it ignores the life jacket completely.
German Shepherd Life Jacket fitting instructions
- Unbuckle and loosen all the straps and belts of the life jacket.
- Center the life jacket on the back of your German Shepherd. The life jacket must sit close to the nape of your GSD’s neck.
- Wrap the neck panels around the neck of your Shepherd, while keeping the chin float free. The chin strap may or may not be centered even after the best fit, so do not use it as a reference point.
- You should then wrap the belly or stomach band and secure it with buckles and velcro.
- With your German standing, ensure the life jacket is centered on its back and belly. Tighten all the straps and belts for a secure fit. A secure fit must allow you to slip two fingers between your German Shepherd and the life jacket.
- Roll all the loose ends towards the buckle to secure the rolled ends to the straps using the velcro tabs or buckles provided.
Are German shepherds good swimmers?
As opposed to some other dog breeds, the German Shepherds were not particularly bred for swimming. It is their natural athleticism and courage that gives them the ability to eventually like the waters and become good swimmers.
Why is swimming important for German Shepherds?
There are three primary reasons to emphasize the importance of swimming for German Shepherds.
- Big and furry dogs like German Shepherds have a tough time cooling their bodies. They have sweat pores only under their armpits. Hence, they can cool their bodies by getting in the waters.
- Athletic breeds like German shepherds are always full of energy, and swimming is an excellent way to burn energy. It is also a good form of exercise, even for dogs. To make swimming more entertaining for them, you can bring a ball or water toys for them to play with.
- Activities like swimming provide a necessary stimulation for your GSD. It challenges their mind by improving their coordination and reflexive abilities.
How long should a German Shepherd swim?
During the initial stages, your German Shepherd can swim for 5 – 10 minutes daily. You should continue it as a periodic activity allowing them proper rest and excitement too.
Later on, as your GSD gets good at swimming, at least 30 minutes once a week is recommended.
How to take care of my German Shepherd life jacket?
To prolong the lifespan of your German Shepherd’s life jacket, you need to carry out periodic maintenance.
- After every water activity, you need to wash the life jacket with fresh water and dry it in a breezy and shady environment.
- Inspect the life jacket regularly for cuts, tears, or any defect in general.
- Store the life jacket in a cool and dry environment.
What if my German Shepherd is scared to get into the water?
Your German Shepherd might be scared the first time being exposed to a water environment. You need to let your boi get comfortable around the water edges first and observe it’s reactions.
The life jacket should always be strapped on your Shepherd at all times around the water. To instil confidence in your GSD, you can initially hold it above the water surface and encourage it to try paddling with its legs.
After some practice, your GSD will surely get more used to the new water environment. You should then try to get your GSD into shallow waters and help it with the learning process. For every nice try, encourage and praise it with treats.