Have you ever considered taking your dog kayaking?
If you love your watery adventures, the chances are that your dog would love them too. Most dogs love the outdoors (see our “Travelling with dogs” guide), and love you even more.
So, if you’re considering this idea, you need to make sure that you have the right kayak for you and your four-legged friend to share together. There are a lot of kayaks on the market, in lots of different styles, so we’ve put together a list of seven that we think are really good for you and your dog.
At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Kayaks for Dogs:
- Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
- Sea Eagle 330 Pro – Our Top Pick
- Perception Pescador Pro 12
- Lifetime Lotus
- Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-person
In addition, we’ve created a “buyers guide”, a list of hints and tips to help you make the right choice when purchasing your dog-friendly kayak.
Read on to find everything you need to know to buy a Kayak for you and your pet.
Top 7 Best Kayaks for Dogs in 2022[sc name=”best-kayaks-for-dogs”]
1. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak – Best budget buy…
Designed with comfort and space in mind, the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is a fantastic inflatable kayak. Designed for two people, it is a good size for you and your dog and has a good weight capacity of 400lb.
Even though this kayak comes in at the budget end of the spectrum, it still has some really great features.
First, it is really stable. You won’t feel that you’re going to tip over easily. It’s also got a nice stream-lined design for easy paddling and an upturned nose to reduce splashing. The inflatable I-beam floor gives extra rigidity and makes for a very sturdy feeling boat. It also comes with a removable skeg to give easier steering, so it holds its direction line well.
The seats are inflatable, so pretty comfortable, and adjustable for different seating positions. This means you can have just one seat in and leave lots of space for your dog and any gear you need for your adventure. Aluminium oars are included in the package.
As an inflatable kayak, it’s pretty light, weighing in at just 30lb. When deflated you can easily carry it to your car or down to the shore in its own carry bag. Once inflated, there’s a grab handle at both ends to get it on to the water.
Speaking of inflation, that’s pretty easy and quick with the high output air pump included with the kayak and the Boston valves on the two side chambers.
The heavy-duty (30 gauge over 1200 denier nylon shell) vinyl is unlikely to puncture, even with the added risk of dog claws, but in an emergency the bright yellow color means you are highly visible and the two separate air chambers mean that even if one deflates, you should be able to get to safety, where you can use the provided air patch.
All in all, this is 10 foot of decent kit with a lot of extras included for a budget price and definitely worthy of consideration for the occasional watery adventure on flat or calm water.
2. Sea Eagle 330 Pro – Editor’s choice
Our favorite kayak in this review is the Sea Eagle 330 Pro. This is tandem, inflatable kayak made from sturdy and tear-resistant K80 Polykrylar, is stable and comfortable, lightweight and designed for a range of water types.
The first thing to know is that the kayak weighs around 26lb (without the seat, pump and paddles) and comes with a sturdy shoulder bag, so it’s easy to get to and from the water.
You can then pump it up easily using the provided foot pump in the five 1-way inflation/deflation valves. The inflation tubes are I-beam, which really helps the stability of the craft.
Once the kayak is inflated it comes with 2 movable and very comfortable seats with good back support. Just use one seat and you have a lot of space for even the largest dog. The kayak is really stable and is designed for a capacity up to 500lb and for use on water up to Grade III rapids, though you and your dog would need plenty of experience before attempting that!
Paddling the Sea Eagle is easy and comfortable and two small skegs at the read help tracking and improve speed. Open and close drain valves keep the inside clear of too much water. The two asymmetrical aluminum shaft paddles are fine for most water, but have a little too much play at the join to be suitable for white water.
3. Perception Pescador Pro 12 – Best for your comfort
The Perception Pescador Pro 12 is a sit-on-top, hard-shell polyethylene kayak designed for the fishing community. While it’s only designed for one person, it is pretty roomy so there is definitely space for a decent size dog to join you, but you do have to think about where they will sit – in between your knees, or in the front or rear storage areas, which would need adapting.
As it is designed for long periods fishing on calm waters, it is a comfortable ride with a mesh seat resembling a lawn chair, adjustable using a recessed track and able to slide forwards and back for the most comfortable position.
It’s a very stable kayak, even for standing up, and the kayak’s hull is designed to track straight and to cut through the water pretty quickly.
Being a hard-shell kayak, you’d need to be able to transport it to and from the water but at 65lb it’s manageable to get up and down from a luggage rack. Carry handles at each end make it easy to carry for two people and, if you’re on your own, there is a molded handle in the middle of each side too. A replaceable skid plate on the bottom protects the kayak if you need to drag it at all.
Hard-shell sit-on kayaks tend to have a lower weight capacity, but this one is pretty good with a capacity of 375lb. Overall, this is a really good quality hard-shell kayak, ideal for lakes and ponds, calm coastal waters or slow-moving rivers. If you can find a comfortable spot for your dog, then this kayak should provide many years of pleasure.
4. Lifetime Lotus – Best for a smaller dog
Another hard-shell polyethylene sit-on-top kayak, the Lifetime Lotus has a simple, molded design. One of the smaller kayaks we are reviewing today has a weight capacity of just 250lb and is just 8 feet long, so it is more suitable for smaller paddlers with smaller dogs who would be happy to lay down between your knees.
This kayak is perfect for short trips messing around on a lake or calm coastal waters. It’s extremely stable, and due to its molded, built-in buoyancy design it’s really impossible to sink and easy to get back on board if you do manage to flip it.
For comfort there is an adjustable seat back and multiple molded foot rest positions, so you just put your feet in the most comfortable place. The included paddle could be a little better, but at this reasonable price, you’d expect that.
There’s a carry handle in the center as well as one at each end, and the 38lb weight make it very manageable to get to and from the water.
5. Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-person – Best for motor potential
The Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-person is a great choice for a person and a dog. An inflatable kayak with a lot of comfort and durability designed for calm waters but stable enough to use on a range of water surfaces (not suitable for large waves or white water).
The base of the kayak is made from 1000D tarpaulin and an 840D nylon cover protects the inflatable 18-gauge PVC sides from punctures, salt and the sun. It’s a really rugged looking kayak, ideal for you and your outdoor-loving dog.
Adjustable seats allow greater flexibility and comfort for yourself and your dog and there is a handy Sevylor trolling motor available to add on for those longer trips when you don’t fancy paddling all the time. Some people even upgrade and add a more powerful motor.
Handy paddle stores help ensure that these vital pieces of equipment don’t go astray (paddles not included) and there are also mesh storage pockets to keep dog snacks close to hand and safe. There are even multiple D-rings in case you want to attach anything else in the kayak for safety (never tie your dog in!).
It’s quite a heavy inflatable at 40lb, but the carry handles at each end and in the middle help to carry it down to the water and it has a good weight capacity of 470lb.
The multiple air chambers mean that you can stay inflated even if one of the chambers is punctured and the airtight system is guaranteed not to leak. Inflation and deflation are quick and easy using the double threaded valve, though you’ll need to factor in the purchase of a pump.
6. Pelican Tandem Recreational – Best hard-shell
The Pelican Tandem Recreational is a hard-shell (RAM-X PREMIUM high molecular weight polyethylene) sit-on-top kayak which will comfortably accommodate two people or a person and a dog, having a weight capacity of up to 500lb.
This kayak has been designed using state of the art twin sheet thermoforming (TST) to improve the boat’s structural rigidity and the hull is a twin-arched multi-chine hull which provides great stability and tracking and makes it an agile and maneuverable craft on a calm and slow-moving water. The advanced top-layer resin has been treated to give extra protection from UV light and scratches.
Weighing in at 73lb, this is not a lightweight boat and at 13 feet long, even with the ergonomic carry handles, it would be a struggle for one person to move around easily. Having said that, once you’re on the water you will be comfortable with a padded seat cushion and adjustable cushioned backrest and there’s plenty of space for your pet.
In addition, everything that you and your dog need for your adventure will be easy to hand with two quick-lock hatches and a bungee-laced rear tank well. Paddle tie-downs make sure that you don’t lose your oars (paddles not included). There are even bottle holders, and you can tie extra equipment to the four accessory eyelets.
Overall, this is a really stable and high capacity kayak with some great storage features and well made to last a long time.
7. Aquaglide McKenzie 125 Inflatable – Best for adventure and running rapids
The final kayak in our list today is the Aquaglide McKenzie 125 Inflatable. This boat is designed for whitewater, so will be suitable for our more adventurous readers and their dogs. (Be sure to acclimatize your dog to kayaking on flat water before you attempt to have him join you on the rapids.)
With Duratex construction and Evobeam technology, the Aquaglide is made to be tough and to handle some rough water. It is stable, with a good capacity up to 600lb and the water drains easily through the four mesh drains.
Weighing in at 36.9lb it is easy to transport to the water and inflation is easy with the Halkey-Roberts type valves. Seating is flexible with two velcro seats with additional loops, clips and back straps and the posi-track fin keeps you going straight and helps with your steering.
If you’ve already got experience of paddling rivers and you’d like to give your dog a taste of the adventure, then the Aquaglide McKenzie may be for you.
Kayaks for Dogs Buyer’s Guide 2022
There are quite a few factors that you’ll want to bear in mind when choosing a kayak for you and your dog, from how much room you need to store it, to the safety of your dog.
It would be a great idea to be able to try out a few different types of kayak to get the feel for what will work for you, but here are some of the key considerations you will be thinking about when you make your choice.
Type of Kayak
Mainly enclosed and usually a hard-shell. These are okay for casual paddlers on lakes or small and calm rivers. They have reasonably large cockpits and wide hulls which makes them quite stable but not so good for steering or keeping a straight line, and they are also pretty slow. This wouldn’t be such a good bet for a large dog, there wouldn’t be space for them to sit between your knees, and in a two-person kayak they would need to be able to sit within the second cockpit.
Completely open with plenty of room. Nice and stable. Easy to get in and out of. Larger ones can fit 2-3 people no problem, lots of space for the dog and some storage. Not so good in the wind as they sit more on top of the water and you’re also more likely to get wet in one of these. Sit-on-top kayaks can be inflatable or hard-shell.
These are lighter and easier to store and transport. While some are more “sit on top” they do also come with a floor and sides, great for you and your dog. The cheaper ones tend to be more prone to punctures and they can be harder to control in windy weather.
Avoid sea kayaks which are much narrower, not leaving much room for your dog and making them much less stable; and white water kayaks which are designed for the paddler to steer with their whole body. Any movement from your dog would change the steering.
Your dog may not be the best at sitting very still in a kayak, and if you have a big dog, this can pose some challenges to the stability of your kayak. Despite this, it’s unlikely your dog will look favorably on taking an unexpected dunk. You’ll therefore want to make sure that your kayak is as stable as it can be.
Kayaks need to be pretty durable anyway to avoid being holed on sharp rocks. However, with a dog in the picture this needs to be a particular area to look at as you don’t want your dog’s claws to inadvertently put a hole through the fabric and deflate an inflatable kayak, or even to chew it!
2 to 3 seater
As we are talking about larger dogs here, they are going to need a bit of room. Opt for a kayak suitable for two people to allow your dog plenty of space as you don’t want to be keeping your pet wedged between your legs for any length of time.
There are a few bits of extra shopping that you’ll need to consider, from luxury like a floating drybag, to essentials like a life-jacket for your dog.
Safety will be your number one priority when on the water with your dog, so there are a few things that you can do to make sure that your trip is a safe success.
- Start with some acclimation on land. Allow your dog to have a good sniff and explore the kayak thoroughly, then get your dog in and out of the kayak with you, using commands such as “get in” and “get out”, “stay” and “lie down”. Use treats to back these up. Take this as slow as you need so that your dog is completely happy with the kayak.
- Repeat the same basic process at the edge of the water, and then in shallow water. Make sure you can rely on your dog to stay in the kayak and keep still when on the water. If your dog is nervous or excited as you move on to the water, offer him a calming treat and use positive praise.
- Always use a canine life jacket that is the right size for your dog. Even if your dog is a confident swimmer, they will need a life jacket if they get flipped into the water. This is especially important if they are elderly, not a great swimmer or a very heavy dog, as they will quickly tire. It’s important to note that dog life jackets are not certified by the Coast Guard because they are not designed to keep the dog’s head above water, just to help buoyancy and preserve some of the dog’s energy.
- Sun Protection is important. Sunlight reflects off the water, so even on overcast days you and the dog are more prone to burning. Areas covered by less fur can get sunburnt, so do apply sunscreen to your pet regularly – there are some dog specific ones, but any fragrance-free sunscreen that doesn’t contain zinc oxide should be good.
- Do NOT tie your dog to the kayak, even if they are not very good at sitting still. If the kayak flips, your dog will need to be able to swim and may not be able to if they are tied to the watercraft.
- Stay in calm water for your early trips out with your dog. Also keep your early trips fairly short and fun.
Final Thought on Choosing the Best Kayak for Your Dog
The kayak you end up choosing will end up being about what you are looking for.
If you don’t have much space, or are looking for something lighter, then an inflatable like the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, the Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-person, the Sea Eagle 330 Pro or the Aquaglide McKenzie 125 Inflatable will be better.
For those with an eye on the budget, the Lifetime Lotus and the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak are very reasonable, while for those looking at more adventurous trips on bigger water, you’ll need to have your eye on kayaks like the Sea Eagle 330 Pro or the Aquaglide McKenzie 125 Inflatable.
Our personal favorite is the Sea Eagle 330 Pro. We love the easy paddling, the durable make, the light weight with sturdy construction and the flexibility of the seating arrangements. This kayak is ideal whether you’re taking the kids out, going out with a friend, or just you and the dog, on a range of different adventures.