Best Kayaks for Dogs (and getting them to love it!)

Best Kayaks for Dogs

If you dream of paddling around a picturesque lake with your faithful canine companion, you are not alone. Many people love to take their dog out on the water with them. Deciding on just the right kayak can be tough though. No fear. We’ve done the hard work for you.

Can’t wait?

Our top pick is the Sun Dolphin Boss SS Kayak. Its length gives it plenty of room and the non-slip padding makes it more comfortable while giving your pup more traction.

All You Need to Know About Kayaking With Your Dog

There is nothing quite like cruising around a quiet lake with only your thoughts, the sounds of nature, and your furry friend to keep you company.

Before purchasing your first kayak, there are some points worth considering.

  • The combined weight of you, your dog, and any gear.
  • How large your dog is to determine how much room he’ll need to be safe and comfy.

Different Types of Kayaks

Let’s take a quick look at the options suitable for kayaking canines.

Single or Tandem

Single kayaks are designed to hold just one person. They feature either a seat or a molded indentation. If you have a smaller dog, you may be able to get by with a single-seat kayak.

Tandem kayaks are designed for two people, so they tend to be longer and bulkier overall. Having a designated seat for your dog sounds great, but know that unless your dog can help out with paddling, tandem kayaks can be difficult for one person to manage on their own. Not impossible, but definitely tricky.

Some tandem kayaks feature removable and/or adjustable seats. So, if it’s just you and canine companion, you can scoot one seat towards the middle to make it easier to manage on your own, more like a single. Some models feature two seats and a smaller third seat in the middle specifically designed for use by a child or a dog.

Sit on Top or Sit-in

Sit on top kayaks feature a sealed hull with either seats or indentations on top. Even from the water, they’re easy to get in and out of. Though they tend to be a bit slower than sit-in kayaks and aren’t ideal for staying dry, they’re a great option for dog lovers.

Sit-in kayaks have seats enclosed within a cockpit. From the side, only the top half of the user’s body is visible. These kayaks are more stable in rougher conditions and tend to keep the user fairly dry. They are, however, difficult to get in and out of, and can be uncomfortably hot on warm days.

Hard Shell or Inflatable

Hard shell kayaks are made from fiberglass, plastic, wood, or composite materials and are usually easier to control and heavier than inflatables. Though they’re ready to hit the water whenever you are, they do require room to store and a vehicle equipped with a roof rack for transport.

Inflatables are more durable than you might expect. Made using rubber, vinyl, PVC, nitrylon, or hypalon, or a combination of these, they are indeed tough enough to withstand your dog’s nails and typically have higher weight limits than traditional kayaks.

Inflatables are lightweight, convenient to store, require less maintenance, and are usually cheaper. They can be harder to control than hard shells, but are typically wider, and therefore more stable. Inflatables should be thoroughly dry before storing.

Fishing Kayaks

Kayaks designed with anglers in mind tend to be wider and quite stable to accommodate standing while reeling in a large catch. This superb stability is a big plus for those with dogs in mind.

Which to Avoid

Whitewater or ocean kayaks are not recommended for dogs. Created for speed, they are narrow, leaving little extra room. Foldable kayaks often lack durability and can roll over easily – not exactly ideal.

Safety Tips / Packing Checklist

Safety should always be top priority. Before your first kayaking adventure:

  • Be sure that your dog is reliably obedient, even when distracted.
  • Trim his nails.
  • Introduce the kayak at home first training him to board and exit on command.
  • Check that heartworm prevention and vaccinations are current.
  • Look online for toxic algae blooms warnings.
  • Plan on only kayaking in calm waters.
  • Know that tying your dog to the vessel is very dangerous.

Before hopping in and taking off, remember to pack:

  • A life jacket – important for even the best doggy paddlers out there.
  • Leash – A brightly colored leash that floats is a wise choice when around water.
  • Treats – Good behavior should be rewarded, of course.
  • Food, water, bowls – If you plan to be out all day.
  • Rubber mat or folded towel – For traction and your dog’s comfort.
  • Sunscreen – The American Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reminds everyone that sunscreens containing zinc oxide are toxic to dogs, so read the ingredient list carefully!

Here is a great video demonstrating the basics of introducing a dog to kayaking.

The Sun Dolphin Boss SS Kayak

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Boss SS Sit-On/Stand On Top...
  • Catamaran hull design with a flat stable platform
  • Front/rear storage wells large enough for a milk crate or bucket
  • Non-slip pads and stand up strap
  • Dual position fold down seat

The Catamaran hull of this sit on /stand on top fishing kayak caught our eye. A catamaran consists of two separate hulls which equate to unsurpassed stability and require less energy to propel the vessel forward.

At 12.3 feet long, this kayak offers plenty of space for small, medium, or large dogs with room to spare. The non-slip padding is a terrific additional bonus.

Pros:

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Elevated seat helps keep you dry even when paddling.
  • Wide (32.25 inches) Catamaran hull for excellent stability.
  • Non-slip pads for sure footing.
  • Deep front and rear storage wells.
  • Four standard fishing rod holders and one swivel rod holder.
  • Front, rear, and side carry handles.
  • Adjustable footrests.
  • Stand up assist strap included.
  • Room for dog between your legs or in either storage bin if straps are removed first.
  • Weight capacity of 500 pounds.
  • Waterproof hatches in the front and rear.
  • Removable seat can be adjusted to high or low position.
  • Grooved floor provides traction for your dog.
  • Made of ultraviolet light stabilized high-density polyethylene.
  • Equipped with paddle holders.
  • An affordable option.
  • Padded seat for comfort.

Cons:

  • Replacement parts can be expensive.
  • The front fishing rod holders may sit too far forward to be easily reached by smaller users.
  • Heavier than most at 78 pounds.
  • No cup holders.

The Perception Pescador Pro 12 Kayak

Perception Pescador Pro 12 | Sit on Top Fishing...
  • Your perfect first fishing kayak
  • Lawn chair style mesh seat with 2-level seat adjustment and breathable mesh for ultimate all-day...
  • Seat can be lowered for relaxed paddling or raised for optimum casting
  • Leak-proof one-piece construction with built-in buoyancy for added safety

For just you and your dog, this sit-on-top fishing kayak may be just right. At 12 feet long and 32.5 inches wide, this durable kayak is made for stability, maneuvering, and tracks well.

The bungee cords and mesh storage cover are removable to give your dog space.

Weighing in at 64 pounds, the Pro 12 has a maximum capacity of 375 pounds.

Pros:

  • Built for stability.
  • Spacious.
  • Comfortable, adjustable, removable mesh seat.
  • Large enough for any size dog.
  • Features two adjustable footrests.
  • Plenty of storage space in the front and rear of vessel.
  • Two carry handles on the rear and front.
  • Two molded-in carry handles on the side.
  • Performs well in lakes, ponds, slow rivers, and streams.
  • Available in six colors.
  • Made from high-density polyethylene for durability.
  • Easy to get on or off, even while in the water.
  • Ultraviolet light resistant.
  • One piece construction with built-in buoyancy.
  • Molded-in cup holder.
  • Two small enclosed compartments that could be used to hold keys, phone, or wallet.
  • Custom accessories can be added.

Cons:

  • May be too heavy for one person to carry on their own.
  • Paddles must be purchased separately.
  • Rear storage area may be difficult to reach when on board.
  • The molded fishing rod holders may not hold rods securely enough during active fishing.

Lifetime Tandem Fishing Kayak

Lifetime Sport Fisher Single or Tandem Kayak, 10...
  • Blow molded from High Density Polyethylene for superior strength and durability; Backed by a 5-year...
  • Designed to seat up to 3 people; 500 lb. weight capacity
  • Hull design provides ultra stability and great trackingDurable High-Density UV-Protected...
  • Multiple footrest positions for different size riders

Designed for two people and a small child or dog, this sit-on-top tandem kayak wowed us with its versatility.

The two padded backrests can be moved to any of the three seating positions, so whatever your situation, this kayak has got you covered.

Weighing 60 pounds but boasting a 500-pound weight capacity, this tandem model is highly stable and is difficult to tip.

Pros:

  • Incredibly stable due to 36 inch width.
  • Compact – 10 feet long.
  • Made of high-density polyethylene.
  • Resists cracking, peeling, fading, and ultraviolet light damage.
  • Equipped with three fishing pole holders.
  • Multiple footrests for comfort.
  • Three molded-in cup holders.
  • Includes two double-sided paddles.
  • Molded cradles to hold paddles.
  • Paddle clips on both sides.
  • Easy to hop on and off of.
  • Trolling motor can be added.
  • Durable.
  • Molded front carry handle.
  • Relatively smooth floor for your dog to lie on.
  • Tracks well.
  • Features a 6 inch rear storage hatch to keep your valuables safe and dry.
  • Open storage area up front complete with bungee cords to secure your gear.
  • Manufacturer offers a limited 5 year warranty.

Cons:

  • Help may be needed with loading, unloading, and carrying.
  • No side handles to assist with transport.
  • Customers have had the rear storage hatch cover fly off during use and transport when not tightly fastened.

Sevylor Big Basin Kayak

Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
  • Heavy-duty PVC construction is rugged for lake use
  • Tarpaulin bottom provides durable protection from punctures
  • Multiple air chambers allow another chamber to stay inflated if one is punctured
  • Boston Valve is double threaded for easy inflation/deflation

We found the spaciousness of this inflatable three-person kayak quite impressive. Priced economically, this 12.3 foot long version provides ample room for your dog to come along.

Each of the three padded seats can be removed or adjusted to accommodate your dog and any other passengers.

Much lighter at just 34.8 pounds, this model is easy to carry and doesn’t take up much storage space.

Pros:

  • Constructed from heavy duty PVC.
  • Strong tarpaulin bottom protects against punctures.
  • Lightweight – only 34.8 pounds.
  • Weight capacity of 490 pounds.
  • Front and back spray cover helps keep kayakers dry.
  • Carry handles on front and rear.
  • Guaranteed not to leak Airtight System.
  • Double threaded Boston valve for ease in inflation and deflation.
  • Multiple air chambers keep craft afloat even if one becomes damaged.
  • Adjustable, removable, padded seats allow for conversion to a one, two, or three rider kayak.
  • Carry case included.
  • Folds down to convenient size for storing.
  • Reasonably priced.
  • Comes with a tracking fin and two directional strakes.

Cons:

  • Paddles are not included.
  • A pump, either hand or motorized, must be purchased separately.
  • Only for use in calm waters.
  • Must be completely dry before storing to prevent mildew and mold.
  • Can be tricky for one person to control.
  • Not much space for storage when used with three people.

The Perception High Life Kayak

Perception Kayak Hi Life for Recreation
  • All the fun of kayaking and stand up paddle boarding combined in one - Made in USA
  • Designed for flat slow-moving and calm coastal water types
  • Perfect for sharing the water with kids and dogs
  • Bronze medal winner of the prestigious 2018 International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) in the...

With cushioned traction pads across most of the top surface, this 11-foot kayak can double as a stand up paddleboard.

Complete with front and rear low sided swim decks, this single 55 pound kayak is ideal for dogs who can’t resist the chance to jump in the water.

This is a great option for those who like to do more than just paddle around.

Pros:

  • Two boats in one.
  • 2018 International Design Excellence Award bronze medal winner.
  • Two swim deck platforms.
  • Hand grabs on swim deck.
  • Recessed cooler under the seat.
  • Carry handles on bow, stern, and in the center.
  • Removable fin for tracking.
  • Elevated padded seat with fold down backrest.
  • Molded-in cup holder.
  • Built in gear track for accessories.
  • Leak proof, one piece construction.
  • Impact, abrasion, and ultraviolet light resistant.
  • Comes with bungee cord on front deck for securely storing gear.
  • Built in buoyancy.
  • Easy to steer and maneuver.
  • Is a roomy 34 inches wide for stability.
  • Made of high-density polyethylene.
  • Can be a portable, floating platform for children to practice their super cool jumps.
  • Steady enough to use for fishing.

Cons:

  • Paddles sold separately.
  • Elevated seat may be too high for some users to be able to paddle comfortably.
  • Maximum weight limit is only 280 pounds.
  • No footrests.
  • Lacks any waterproof hatches.

Final Thoughts

Finding your perfect kayak is the first step toward making your dream of sharing a perfect day on the lake with your faithful friend come true.

Of our top five picks, one in particular stood out to us for its outstanding stability, storage capacity, durability, and innovative design: the Sun Dolphin Boss SS Kayak.

The recessed storage wells provide your dog with secure seating, and although the Boss SS is heavier than the other models, we feel that the excellent stability, space, elevated seat and non-slip padding make this an ideal choice for safely kayaking with your dog.

Last update on 2020-09-20 at 10:28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API