Two questions we’re often asked about dog life jackets are: 1) Are Ruff Wear life jackets Coast Guard approved?, and 2) How much flotation is needed to float my dog?

While the Coast Guard currently does not approve or rate any dog flotation devices on the market, Ruff Wear has applied years of research and development to our Float Coats. We’ve designed them to be the best dog life jackets available, modeling our sizing and flotation guidelines after those of Coast Guard-approved human personal flotation devices (PFD’s).

We believe ensuring the best fit, while providing maximum mobility in the water, are the most vital features of a dog PFD because these two features allow the dog to swim unencumbered in a variety of conditions. Our float coats use the dog’s girth measurement to get the optimal fit for natural, unrestricted movement in the water, similar to a human Type III PFD that uses chest girth to size the appropriate Coast Guard-approved PFD.

Many factors determine how buoyant a dog PFD will be in the water, including altitude, salinity of the water, dog size and shape, and the natural buoyancy of the dog. So, sizing a dog PFD based on weight alone would be inadequate in determining whether a PFD will adequately float your dog. We do, however, use a body weight ratio to determine how much flotation to put in each size jacket.  We tested our float coats for buoyancy and found they provide three (size XXS) to 20 (size XL) pounds of flotation, depending on the size.   Here are the results of our testing.  Note: Coast Guard approved human PFD’s generally provide 15.5 – 22 pounds of total flotation for a human adult over 90 pounds.

For more information on choosing the correct size and buoyancy for your dog, please contact Ruff Wear’s Customer Service Department at (888) 783-3932 (Mon – Fri, 8am – 4:30pm Pacific time) or email

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5 thoughts

  1. Definitely need to keep them safe at sea; its a whole different ball game than a day at the pool…even though they should wear a PFD for both. Thanks ruffwear!

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