8 Best Kayaks for Dogs: Our 2023 Guide to Picking the Perfect Kayak

Kayaking with your dog is a great way to get into the sunshine and bond with your pup.

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Kayaking can be a relaxing experience or you can turn it into exercise. Whatever sort of kayaking you enjoy, it’s always more fun with Fido by your side.

When you’re in the market for a dog kayak, follow these guidelines for choosing the best one.

To start, let’s look into the different types of dog kayaks available.

Different Types of Dog Kayaks

Ocean (Sit-on-top) Kayaks

Ocean kayaks, commonly known as sit-on-top kayaks, are the most versatile for kayaking with dogs. This type of kayak can be used on bodies of water as calm as a local lake and as unpredictable as the sea. Ocean kayaks are great for kayaking with dogs because they offer a considerable amount of space for large dogs, as well as a higher weight limit.

Sit-on-top kayaks are stable and easy to paddle. They can outfit multiple dogs for kayaking, depending on the weight limit, and seats can be added, removed or adjusted. In an ocean kayak, your dog can easily have their own lounging space.

Touring (Sit-in) Kayaks

Touring kayaks, aka sit-in kayaks, are perfect for a beginner looking to explore a calm body of water with their dog. Great for laid back, recreational use, touring kayaks are wonderful if you have a smaller dog, or want to feel more protected by the outer shell of a kayak.

While ocean and touring kayaks aren’t necessarily built for fishing, both often times come equipped with fishing pole holders. Each type of kayak also has plenty of storage options, although a sit-in kayak may have more waterproof enclosures to protect your items. It simply depends on the brand and model that you choose.

Inflatable Kayaks

There are several benefits to using an inflatable kayak, including ease of storage and transport. Inflatable kayaks can also be relatively inexpensive and a great option for beginners. Be careful though – some inflatable kayaks may be limited on space or weight capacity, which may not be best if you’re kayaking with a medium to large dog.

However, two-person inflatable kayaks do exist, and can be perfect for say, a Labrador Retriever companion! There is a wide variety of inflatable kayaks available depending on your budget and dog’s breed. Inflatable kayaks are extremely nimble and durable, and often times you don’t need to worry about your dog’s nails puncturing it.

Fishing Kayaks

Fishing kayaks are meant for exactly that – fishing. And what if Fido is your best fishing buddy?! Then a fishing kayak may be the best choice for you! They are outfitted for a relaxing fishing experience, which means they come equipped with space and stability. A fishing kayak may limit the bodies of water that you can enjoy, but with your dog in tow, that could be best.

What to Look for in a Good Dog Kayak

After looking into the types of dog kayaks available to you, there are some other factors to consider when making your final purchase.

  • Weight Limit – Most kayaks have some sort of weight limit. When choosing a dog kayak, be sure to take your dog’s weight into account. Sit-in kayaks and inflatable kayaks tend to have lower weight limits.
  • Safety – Think about the bodies of water that you and your dog will be kayaking on. It will be best to navigate the waters in a kayak best suited for that particular situation. If you’re going to be kayaking on rough waters, an inflatable kayak may not be the best choice.
  • Size and Space – Kayaking with a Newfoundland is much different than kayaking with a Chihuahua. Your need for space and stability changes greatly. If you have a large dog breed, a two-person kayak, fishing kayak or sit-on-top kayak will most likely be your best bet.
  • Storage – Kayaking with a dog requires bringing more good with your on board. You’ll need storage for your water, snacks, dog toys, treats, camera (have to take those amazing photos of your dog kayaking!) and other necessary items. Inflatable kayaks offer cargo nets, while hard shell kayaks will have covered storage.
  • Functionality – What is your ultimate goal for a dog kayak? Exercise? Fishing? Relaxation? Depending on what type of activity you plan on doing with your dog, this will determine what type of kayak you want to purchase.

5 Safety Tips for Kayaking With Your Dog

Safety for yourself and your dog should always be priority when kayaking.

  1. Wear a Life Vest – Not only is it important to wear a life vest when kayaking, but it is arguably more important that your dog wear one also. Your dog may be a “good swimmer” but what if they fall overboard and panic. What if your kayak flips over and you lose track of your dog? It’s best for everyone to be wearing a life preserver.
  2. Know the Terrain – Before you hit the water to go kayaking with your dog, become aware of your surroundings. Are there heavy winds? Which way is the current flowing? Are there other people around or a dock in case you should get into trouble? It’s imperative that you know where you are and where you are going.
  3. Take it Slow – If you are going kayaking with your dog for the first time, take it slow. Allow your dog to get to know the movement of the kayak and get comfortable. Use positive reinforcement to treat your dog. As a beginner kayaker, it’s best to start on a calm body of water, especially if you aren’t sure how your dog will react to the situation.
  4. Use an Outrigger for Stability – If you are kayaking for the purpose of relaxing or fishing, it’s a good idea to consider using a kayak dog outrigger. Outriggers provide stabilization and easier movement, which is great for kayaking with a dog (especially active dogs that like to swim such as Cattle dogs or Border Collies).
  5. Keep Your Dog on a Long Line – If your dog is wearing a life vest you can attach it to a long line. You can secure the line to the kayak, yourself or simply hold it. This way if your dog falls or jumps overboard and they panic, you can easily pull them back into the kayak without getting into the water yourself.

Best Kayaks for Dogs in 2023

Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

Overall Best Kayak for Dogs – There is one kayak that stands out as being great for a wide array of kayaking situations and dog sizes – the Ocean Kayak Frenzy. It’s a solo sit-on-top kayak with plenty of space for a large dog. The seat is adjustable and comfortable, and the kayak holds up to 325lbs. Removable bungee cords allow you to store all of your dog’s important items at the bow or stern of the rig.

Since sit-on-top kayaks offer ultimate stability, you can use the Ocean Kayak Frenzy on a flat, calm lake or in fast currents through a river. Just make sure you keep your dog safe and secure with a life jacket!

Intex Challenger K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set

Overall Best Inflatable Kayak for Dogs – The best inflatable kayak for dogs is by far the Intex Challenger K2 kayak. Although it’s labeled as a “2-person” kayak, the seats can easily be removed to make space for your dog. It also boasts a 400lb maximum weight, which is enough for a full size person and large dog.

The Intex Challenger K2 inflatable kayak is reliable, easy to inflate and comfortable for you and your dog. It has a cargo net in the front for all of your personal items. The front seat can be completely removed, leaving a spot for a kayak dog pad so your pup can lay down and relax.

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba 10-Foot Sit-in Kayak

Best Kayak for Small Dogs – The best kayak for bringing a small dog along is the Sundolphin Aruba 10 foot sit-in kayak. The cabin space is plenty big enough for you to relax while your pup hunkers down to relax by your legs, or sit up with the wind in their face. The Sundolphin Aruba 10 foot kayak is stable, easy to paddle and has adjustable foot braces.

The Sundolphin has plenty of storage for personal belongings, including covered space in the back, a water bottle holder at the front, and side panel storage at the sides of the seat. The foot room is also spacious, and it provides shade for your small dog if they’d enjoy a break from the sun or wind.

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Bali 13.5-Foot Tandem Kayak

Best Kayak for Large Breed Dogs – The Sundolphin Bali 13.5 foot tandem kayak is one of the best for large breed dogs because it’s equipped to hold up to three people. It is a sit-on-top kayak, meaning it will be plenty stable for a large breed dog that wants to move around or jump off to go swimming.

The Sundolphin Bali has multiple covered storage areas as well as adjustable seats. Don’t be afraid to hit some rough waters or the sea with your pup in this snazzy kayak – this boat can absolutely handle it!

Four More Top Rated Dog Kayaks

Sundolphin Bali 10 Foot Kayak

Sundolphin is a trusted kayak brand, and their priority is safety. That’s why they make some of the best dog kayaks. The Sundolphin Bali 10 foot kayak is similar to the Aruba in size, but it’s a sit-on-top kayak, rather than sit-in. The storage on the back of the boat is covered, and there is a nice pocket next to the seat for your phone – you have to be ready to take those precious photos of your pup!

The center water bottle holder, open space and high thigh pads add comfort and convenience. The Sundolphin Bali 10 foot kayak is great for small to medium size dogs.

Ocean Kayak 12 Foot Malibu Tandem Kayak

A tandem kayak is a solid choice for kayaking with your dogs because of the size and weight capacity. The Ocean Kayak 12 Foot Malibu Tandem Kayak has three seating positions, making it easy for you and your pooch to get comfortable. Since it’s a sit-on-top kayak, you won’t have to worry about stability. This kayak can be used on a wide range of water types, whether calm or rough. You can easily set up a cozy lounging area on this kayak for a large dog without any struggle.

Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak

Much like the Intex Challenger K2 kayak, the Explorer is a tandem kayak. The middle seat can be deflated or removed to make room for your dog to relax. It has an impressive weight capacity of 400lbs, which means you can even take your large breed dog aboard!

Inflatable kayaks are great for your wallet and convenience, as they inflate in minutes and you don’t have to worry about transporting it on the roof of your car. The Intex Explorer K2 inflatable kayak is bright yellow so you will be easily visible to others, but it’s best for small, calm bodies of water.

Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak

The Intex Challenger K1 inflatable kayak is similar to the other inflatable options, but it’s best for small dog companions. The storage on this rig is amazing, as you have a cargo next on the front which can be moved to the back. You can also keep items behind your seat. If you remove the cargo next, the bow of the Intex Challenger K1 inflatable kayak can be turned into a lounging area for your small dog. Just make sure they are safe with a life vest!

It’s a good idea to rent a kayak before taking the plunge and purchasing one. Test out a sit-on-top and sit-in with your dog to see what works best. You will quickly find that you have a preference. You also may notice that your dog relaxes better in one kayak versus the other, which will make your decision that much easier to make. Remember safety is priority, so always have your pooch protected with a life vest before heading off into the sunset.

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