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Best Kayaks for Dogs

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Gear By Nathan Hinds 12 min read January 17, 2020

best kayaks for dogs

The great outdoors are even greater when you’re with your dog!

There are so many sights and smells to ponder that your pup will stay happy, stimulated, and engaged for hours. An awesome activity for bonding that you and your pooch can enjoy together is a little cruise in a cozy kayak.

While you’ll be the one doing the heavy lifting with the paddles, your pooch will love spending quality time with you! No doubt your pooch will also love having you chauffeur him around your local lake while he soaks up the fresh air and sun.

But before you hit the high seas, there are some basic safety protocols you’ll want to consider and some special considerations you’ll want to make when you pick out your vessel.

Read on to learn more about picking a pooch-friendly kayak and keeping Fido safe during your adventures! We’ll also identify our five favorite kayaks for dogs!

In a hurry? Just want some product recommendations? Check out our quick picks below!

Quick Picks: Three Pawsome Kayaks

  • Most Affordable Kayak for Dogs: Intex Explorer K2 — Want to try out kayaking without investing a ton of money? This inflatable model is incredibly affordable and big enough to accommodate you and your four-footer.
  • Most Comfortable Kayak for Canines: Ocean Kayak Malibu Two — Measuring 12 feet long and nearly 3 feet wide, this hard-shell, sit-on-top kayak comes with removable seats, which can free up plenty of room for your pooch.
  • Best Choice for Beginning Paddlers and Their Puppers: SUNDOLPHIN Bali SS — This hard-shell kayak is great for those who’re just learning how to remain upright and paddle around the water. It even comes with a floating storage unit that’ll give you extra room for snacks and treats.

Can You Take Your Dog on a Kayak?

Chances are, your dog will love kayaking as much as you do! Many dogs love the water, and it’s a fact that your dog will love spending time with you. 

However, there are a few things you’ll want to consider before you get out there. Kayaks are pretty safe, but they require good canine behavior and a bit of balance to keep upright. 

Here’s a checklist of considerations to run through before you bring your pup along with you on a watery adventure:

  • Your dog’s feelings about the water: This may seem like a no-brainer, but your dog’s feelings towards the water are an important factor to carefully consider before you bring him on a kayak. You don’t want him panicking or scared the entire time you’re out cruising when he should be relaxing. Don’t know how your pooch feels about the water? Introduce her to water gradually, by starting with a little walk through shallow water before you bring him out on the boat. 
  • Safety on the water: Kayaks are generally safe by design, but with a pup as a passenger there are a few special considerations. Chiefly, make sure you have an appropriately-sized and comfortable flotation device for your dog. You’ll also want to make sure your pooch is on a leash and fully in your control at all times.
  • Water conditions: For less experienced kayaking pups, you’ll want to be especially cautious on your first couple of trips out. Make sure you’re kayaking on tranquil water for starters, preferably on the shallow side. 

Check out our infographic below to see some more general safety tips for aquatic doggo adventures (not all are applicable to kayaks).

dog boating safety

What Features Do You Need in a Kayak for Your Dog?

Good kayaking practice for pooches starts as soon as you select a kayak. No doubt you have your own personal wants and needs, but if your pooch will be a frequent passenger, make sure his needs are equally weighted when you make your decision. 

First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure that you pick a stable kayak.

No matter how well-behaved your pooch is, he probably won’t sit perfectly still the entire time he’s on the boat, so make sure your kayak can stand up to his standing and movements.

You may even want to think about using a kayak dog outrigger for a bit of added stability (more on outriggers in a moment). 

Make sure you also pick a design that is comfy for your canine — a sit-on-top design is a must, and maybe even one with a removable seat for some extra legroom. Don’t forget to look for plenty of storage space for treats and water toys too.

Another major consideration is the combined weight of you and your pooch. Larger people and big pooches might run into problems, as some kayaks have a weight limit of as low as 300 pounds.

When it comes to kayaks for canines, durability is key. Pick a sturdy option that can stand up to your pooch’s nails, and possibly teeth, too.

An inflatable kayak may be a bit risky, but you can make it work if you pick a durable model and your pooch’s nails are kept trimmed

You’ll also want to consider what kind of kayaking journeys you plan on making – long trips in the ocean or rough rapids are probably not ideal for inflatable vessels

can you kayak with a dog

Introducing Your Dog to a Kayak

Like any new experiences for your dog, make sure the first trips are highly positive experiences without overwhelming the senses. 

It’s a good idea to get your pooch comfortable in the kayak on dry ground so he can sniff around and check things out before you get on the water.

Once your pupper is comfortable, set sail in shallow and still water so he can get used to things before you get out there too far.

Start out with shorter journeys and work up to longer adventures over time.

It might be a good idea to give your pooch a few informal swimming lessons before you hit the deck.

Most dogs are natural-born doggie paddlers, but some just aren’t fans of getting wet, and some aren’t naturally coordinated. You’ll want to ensure swimming won’t be a problem before you get out in open water, just in case it becomes necessary.  

DIY Kayak Platforms and Outriggers for Dogs

Looking to take your dog’s comfort on your kayak a bit further? A DIY kayak dog platform is a popular strategy among kayaking dog owners because it gives your pooch a bit extra legroom

Creating a platform requires a bit of woodworking, but it isn’t too complicated of a process.

Basically, it involves creating a stand for a plywood platform and a few ledges, which effectively widens the back of your kayak and gives your dog a place to stretch out. T

his new kayak dog deck is perfect for canine sunbathing and napping!

Similarly, a kayak dog outrigger is a great choice to add a little stability and give your pooch a little extra space. An outrigger is basically a miniature kayak attached to your vessel by poles, which greatly improves the balance of your ‘yak.

You can then make a little nest for your doggo in the space between the connecting poles, offering a little extra elbow room to go with a little extra balance. 

The Best Kayaks for Dogs

Buying a kayak is a big decision for you and your pooch — you’ll spend many hours drifting on the water together, so make sure you pick a comfy model for both of you!

If you’re just starting to browse the options available, be sure to check out our top five vessels for you and your dog:

1. Ocean Kayak Malibu Two

About: You and your furry friend will enjoy hours on the water in the heavy-duty Ocean Kayak Malibu Two.

This sturdy-yet-cozy option offers the durability you need to stand up to your dog’s nails, but the comfort to sustain you for hours in the outdoors. 

Details

  • Enjoy sun and surf with a friend or a furry companion with the kayak's three seating positions,...
  • A pair of Comfort Plus seats provide four-way adjustability, generating a custom fit and greater...
  • Patented overlapping foot wells allow center-seated paddlers to settle in and brace their feet...
  • The open, sit-on-top hull makes it easy to get on and off the kayak and includes a pair of molded-in...

Features: This vessel holds up to 425 pounds of human and dog, and it’s 12 feet long and nearly 3 feet across.

The removable and adjustable Comfort Plus seats provide excellent cushioning for longer journeys, and the sit-on-top design with molded footrests offers excellent legroom. 

This kayak comes with convenient handles for ground transportation, as well as straps for securing supplies or paddles.  

Options: This model comes in Green or Sunrise colors, but both are the same design. 

PROS

This super sturdy kayak is perfect for all types of trips, from longer journeys on choppy waters to relaxing floats in tranquil lakes. Consumers report that it’s extremely stable, and the seats can conveniently be arranged (or removed) to accommodate your pet

CONS

Added stability means this kayak is a bit heavy and physically demanding to carry on land. While consumers report that it can still be lifted by one person, coordinating dog handling plus this vessel could prove to be a bit of a challenge. 

2. Sea Eagle 330 Deluxe 2 Person Inflatable Sport Kayak

About: The Sea Eagle 330 Deluxe 2 Person Inflatable Sport Kayak is a great option for folks looking for stability and performance in an inflatable option.

Sold with its own air pump, this convenient kayak package is perfect for people and dogs with limited space.  

Details

  • 2 person/ 500-b capacity, weighs 26-lbs, Suitable for upto Class III whitewater
  • Great package for two includes SE330 Sport Kayak, 2 AB30 paddles, 2 inflatable movable & removable...
  • Lashed down inflatable spray skirts with storage underneath
  • Open and close drain valve with 5 deluxe 1-way inflation and deflation valves

Features: Capable of keeping 500 pounds afloat but weighing just 26, transporting this kayak is a breeze. You can inflate it at your car and carry it down to the water in ready-to-rock form, or you can just wait until you get down to the water’s edge to pump it up.

This ‘yak comes with two paddles, a step-operated inflating pump and a repair kit, plus a storage bag

Two inflatable seats are included in the design, but they can easily be removed to make room for pooch. It is advertised to be suitable for up to Class 3 (out of 6) rapids.  

PROS

This lightweight kayak is perfect for road trips, as storage and transporting is super easy — simply deflate your boat and store it in the bag between uses! We also like that it comes with two double-ended paddles.

CONS

Some users weren’t thrilled with this kayak’s ability to handle rougher waters, and as expected, it’s not quite as durable against debris as hard-sided options. Additionally, many note that the included foot pump is not effective enough to fully inflate this boat. 

3. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak 

About: For a cozy cruise down a lazy river with your best friend, the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is perfect. This vessel is a great low cost option for relaxed water adventures with your pup.   

Details

  • Comfortable for anyone: Kayak includes an adjustable inflatable seat with backrest; Cockpit designed...
  • Dimensions: Inflated size 10 feet 3 x 3 feet x 1 feet 8 inch; Maximum weight capacity: 400 pounds
  • Directional stability: Removable SKEG for directional stability
  • Increased visibility: In case of emergency, bright yellow color helps visibility

Features: This boat holds up to 400 pounds, it’s just over 10 feet long, and it’s almost 2 feet wide.

An inflatable vessel, this kayak comes complete with inflatable and movable seats for your convenience.

It also comes with a skeg, or fin, for added stability and improved tracking (keeping a straight course on the water).

This kayak also comes with its own air pump and paddles. 

PROS

The low cost of this kayak is a major advantage, as it sells for a fraction of the cost of other kayaks on our list.  

CONS

The material isn’t nearly as durable as competitors according to consumers. The product’s description specifically mentions that it’s not intended for rougher waters, so you’ll need to be wary of accidentally encountering choppy waves or debris while you’re out.

4. SUNDOLPHIN Bali SS 10-Foot

About: The SUNDOLPHIN Bali SS 10-Foot Kayak is a stable but lightweight vessel that’s great for relaxing floats with your pup.

It’s an excellent option for owners who want to add some pooch-friendly customizations

Details

  • Great for rivers and lakes
  • P.A.C. (Portable Accessory Carrier) can be used as extra storage
  • Large, comfortable seating area with protective thigh pads

Features: Weighing just 46 pounds, this ‘yak is 10 feet long and features an open cockpit design. With just one seat, there is plenty of legroom for you and ample space for your furry friend as well. 

The Bali SS also has several impressive “extras,” which are typically found on more expensive models. This includes things like thigh pads to prevent bruising, paddle keepers, and several different storage compartments for stowing all your stuff.

In fact, one of the Bali’s storage compartments (called a portable accessory carrier) is designed to float, so you can remove it and drag it behind you on the water. This frees up additional space for your pooch.

Options: The SUNDOPHIN Bali comes in a wide variety of colors, including Red, Blue, Light Blue, Green, and Orange.

PROS

This is one of the best-performing kayaks on the water in this price range. There’s also plenty of space on board to comfortably accommodate a kayak dog platform. Even with extra additions, there will be plenty of room for you, too!

CONS

The only real downside to this kayak is that it is only capable of supporting 250 pounds, which means big people and big dogs may need to look elsewhere.

5. Intex Excursion Pro Kayak

About: The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak offers the convenience of inflatable kayaks with the added durability of a strong internal structure. This versatile vessel is great for fishing, cruising, or just cruising around with your pup.

Product

Details

  • Super tough laminate PVC with polyester core: Light weight and highly resistant to damage from...
  • High pressure inflation provides extra rigidity and stability, with high pressure spring loaded...
  • Includes 2 removable skews for deep and shallow water, 2 floor mounted footrests, 2 integrated...
  • Removable and adjustable mounting bracket for additional accessories, such as GPS systems, fish...

Features: The body of this kayak is made from sturdy and layered material, and it has a capacity of 400 pounds, so it should be buoyant enough to support most canine-and-human teams.

It’s conveniently sold with paddles, an air pump, a bag, and a pressure gauge.

The boat is designed with built-in rod holders for dog-owning anglers, foot rests, and interchangeable fins that you can swap out to match the depth of the water.

The Intex Excursion also comes with two inflatable and adjustable seats, so you should have no problem making room for your furball. 

PROS

This ‘yak is a lightweight option that provides plenty of stability. It also comes with several awesome bonus features (including plenty of storage, rod holders, and interchangeable fins), and it is available at a lower cost than most other hard-shell kayaks.  

CONS

Some consumers note that the material is not nearly as sturdy as advertised. Some consumers also noted that it is a bit cramped even for the average-sized human

***

Pups and the water are a perfect pair – throw in a kayak and you’ve got a perfect day of canine bonding! What is your kayak of choice when you hit the water with your pooch? Let us know in the comments!

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Written by

Nathan Hinds

Nathan Hinds is a professional pilot, writer, and an avid animal lover. He is passionate about animal rescue and is involved in both fundraising and fostering. Nathan is a lifelong resident of St. Louis, MO and is the proud parent of a senior beagle mix named Gilmore, as well as a whole bunch of cats.

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