The Best Kayak For Dogs: Choose One That You And Your Pup Will Love

What’s the point of experiencing all the joys of kayaking if you can’t share it with your best friend in the whole world – your furry, four-legged canine friend, that is? 

So, I’ve made it my mission to introduce you to the best kayaks for dogs and help you choose one that both you – and your pup – will love! 

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In A Rush? The Winner After 38 Hours Of Research:

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Kayak

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Kayak

Our Rating: ★★★★★

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Why is it better?

  • Open sit-on-top hull design makes it roomy and easy to get in and out of – for you and your dog alike 
  • Flexible configuration that supports solo and tandem paddling, as well as two-plus-one arrangements 
  • It comes with two Comfort Plus seats with four-way adjustability for excellent comfort 
  • Features a molded-in center seating area that accommodates dogs and small children 
  • The 425-pound load capacity makes it suitable even for large dog breeds 
  • It has a wide, 34-inch beam, which improves the kayak’s overall stability 
  • Includes a skid plate to protect the hull from potential damage caused by dragging the kayak

Is It Safe To Kayak With Your Dog?

The owner and the dog in a life jacket floating in a kayak boat

Generally speaking, yes, kayaking with a dog is safe – but that doesn’t mean that you won’t have to take certain precautions, plan, practice, and prepare. It’s a little bit like going kayaking with kids.

There’s a lot you need to take care of first, starting with getting your dog familiar with and used to not only being on the water but being in a kayak, too.

You can’t throw your dog in a kayak and expect them to know what it is, how it works – or what you’ll be doing with it.

As brilliant as your dog is, from their perspective, your kayak will be nothing but a strange-looking, massive hunk of plastic. It’s perfectly understandable for them to feel a little hesitant – and even threatened – by it.

Don’t be pushy – especially if this is your dog’s first time seeing a kayak.

So, how do you introduce a dog to a kayak, then?

One piece of advice I’ll offer is to start slow, be patient, and give your dog a chance to explore, sniff around, and get comfortable with the kayak.

Teach Your Dog To Love Your Canoe Or Kayak

Here are some tips on how to kayak with your dog and make each outing as safe as possible for everyone involved – human or otherwise:

  • Make sure your dog is comfortable in and around water – not all dogs are – and knows how to swim
  • Familiarize your dog with the kayak without being pushy
  • Teach your dog some basic commands, including “Get in,” “Leave it,” “Lay down,” and “Get in your spot
  • Practice getting in and out of the ‘yak with your dog
  • Start small; stick to short, 10 to 20-minute trips on calm waters, near the shore the first few rounds
  • Get your dog used to wearing a dog-friendly PFD (and always wear one yourself)

Best Type Of Kayaks For Dogs (And A Few To Avoid)

Dog laying besid sea kayak on the beach

Some kayaks are marketed as “dog-friendly,” and that certainly makes your choice a whole lot easier – but it’s not always that simple.

Very few – if any – models will actually be labeled as “kayaks for dogs.”

Many of my top picks don’t mention dogs anywhere. But does the fact that they’re not marketed as suitable for dogs necessarily make them any less dog-friendly?

Absolutely not! 

So, what types of kayaks are considered dog-friendly?

The kayak’s design, features, and specs, along with a few additional factors, matter a whole lot more than a dog-friendly marketing label. I’ll get into the details in a second – but let’s start with a quick overview of the best types of kayaks for dogs.

  • Recreational Kayaks – Recreational kayaks – those designed for casual paddlers and general uses – are always a safe bet, whether you’re kayaking solo or with your canine buddy. Since they’re typically beginner-friendly, you’ll find them a lot more stable – and that’s always a plus when you’re kayaking with a dog.
  • Sit-On-Top Kayaks – If your choice comes down to sit-in vs. sit-on-top kayaks, choose the latter. Even the most well-behaved, trained dogs won’t like the feeling of an enclosed cockpit. Sit-on-top kayaks with a roomy, open deck will allow your dog to move more freely – and jump in the water from time to time – which will make the entire experience a lot more fun.
  • Solo & Tandem Kayaks – If you have a big dog, you’ll be better off with a tandem – or two-person – kayak. Your dog will probably enjoy all the extra space for stretching and chilling in the sun – and you’ll still have plenty of room left for gear and supplies. That said, if you have a small or timid dog that likes to stay close to you, a single-person ‘yak might be a better choice. 

What Types Of Kayaks Are Not Suitable For Dogs? 

Some kayaks are an absolute dream for humans – but humans plus dogs? Well, not so much. 

  • Sea Kayaks – Sea kayaks are made for adventures and efficiency on open waters, but for kayaking with dogs? Not so much. Even if your dog is somehow okay with being in a sit-inside kayak, the narrowness will likely be a deal-breaker.
  • Whitewater Kayaks – Whitewater kayaks offer exceptional agility and maneuverability in fast-moving waters, the trade-off being that they’re some of the shortest sit-in ‘yaks available. There’s not much room for anything other than the paddler – let alone a fully-grown dog. 

You might be surprised to see that inflatable kayaks aren’t on the list. I wouldn’t blame you for wondering: 

Wait, can a dog ride in an inflatable kayak? 

Yes! There’s no reason for you to doubt the durability or safety of inflatable kayaks – not with the recent advancements in manufacturing technologies and general design improvements.

Today’s inflatables are anything but flimsy. Chances of tears and punctures are incredibly slim – even with your dog’s paws poking around. 

Factors To Consider When Picking The Best Kayak For Dogs

pug wearing life jacket and standing on kayak

As I explained earlier, kayaks are rarely labeled as “dog-friendly,” but that doesn’t always mean they won’t be safe for you and your pup. 

So, if you were hoping for this whole choosing-the-best-kayak-for-dogs thing to be as simple as finding one that’s marketed as suitable for dogs, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for you. 

That’s not to say that choosing the best kayak for dogs will be hard, though. It’s mostly a matter of recognizing the features that matter the most – like the features outlined below. 

Dog-Friendly Material 

Most plastic kayaks – made from high density polyethylene – will be tough enough to stand up to your dog’s claws and teeth. Worst-case scenario, your kayak will end up with a few minor, purely cosmetic scratches. 

But if you’re set on getting a hard-shell kayak, I advise you against fiberglass – and composite materials in general – no matter how good-looking they are.

For one, they cost a ton of money. And two, composite kayaks tend to be prone to scratches, making them a poor choice for paddlers with dogs. 

Inflatable kayaks can be a safe choice, as I explained earlier. However, you have to ensure that the kayak’s made from a durable, puncture-resistant material, such as higher-denier vinyl. 

Beam Width & Kayak Stability 

Stability is arguably one of the most crucial features of a dog-friendly kayak, second only to the kayak’s actual durability. 

I’m sure dog parents are well aware of this already and don’t need me to point out the obvious – but here’s the thing: 

You can’t expect your four-legged companion to sit perfectly still on a tiny plastic boat for hours on end.

The sooner you realize that dogs aren’t likely to sit still – and that things will rarely go smoothly from start to finish – the better. 

That’s why it’s so important to get a kayak that’s stable enough – and the kayak’s dimensions will typically be a pretty good indicator of that. In addition to the kayak’s length, your kayak’s width – or beam – is something you want to consider if you hope to maximize stability. 

Weight Capacity 

Under normal circumstances, checking the kayak’s load capacity would involve determining how much weight you’d carry on an average outing and leaving a little wiggle room for unpredictable, just-in-case scenarios, right? 

Well, you still have to do all that – but you also have to take your dog’s size and weight into consideration, especially if your dog is anything but small.

So, grab your dog, hop on the scale, and note down your combined weights. Then, do a rough estimate of your gear and supplies’ weight and add that to your total, too. 

Best Kayaks For Dogs: Top 8 Dog-Friendly Kayaks Reviewed & Rated 

1. Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Kayak

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Kayak
  • Overall Best Kayak For Dogs 
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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The first one up is Ocean Kayak’s Malibu Two – a recreational tandem sit-on-top kayak. There’s a little twist in the kayak’s configuration that makes it such a versatile option for dog owners: 

It supports both solo and tandem paddling while also allowing you to throw in a third passenger, be it a child or a dog. On that note, it has a 425-pound capacity. 

Your dog probably won’t care about the Comfort Plus seats or their four-way adjustability, but I bet you will. As for your pooch, they can enjoy the comfort and spaciousness of the kayak’s open, sit-on-top deck and the stability provided by the 34-inch beam. 

It’s a bit heavy at 57 pounds, but given that it’s a two-person kayak, I wouldn’t say the weight is too bad. In fact, it’s pretty reasonable for a tandem. 

Technical Specs 

  • Single-layer polyethylene construction 
  • 34-inch kayak beam 
  • 57 pounds 
  • 425-pound capacity 

Pros

  • Suitable for solo and tandem paddling 
  • Features Comfort Plus seats with four-way adjustability 
  • The extra-wide ensures superior stability 

Cons

  • It doesn’t feature any hatches for dry storage 
  • Some might find it a bit heavy 
  • Not the most nimble kayak and feels slow at times

If you want a versatile sit-on-top kayak that also happens to be dog-friendly, look no further than the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two. It’s a tremendous all-around ‘yak that accommodates the entire family!

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2. Sea Eagle Inflatable 420X Explorer Kayak Pro

Sea Eagle Inflatable 420X Explorer Kayak Pro
  • Best Inflatable Kayak For Dogs
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★
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I’d tell you that Sea Eagle’s 420X Explorer Pro is a marvelously engineered, incredibly stable, reassuringly rigid, and highly durable inflatable kayak – but I’ll let its features and specs do the talking, instead. 

It’s constructed out of reinforced 1000-denier PVC with overlapped seams, three chambers, and a high-pressure, drop-stitch floor. What’s more, it features 16 self-bailing drain valves, 26 D-ring tie-downs, and a mind-blowing 855-pound load capacity. 

Still, it weighs 44 pounds, giving you and your dog all the convenience and roominess of a large kayak – minus the hassle of transportation. 

My only real gripe with the 420X Explorer Pro is the not-so-affordable price tag – but given what you’re getting for the money, it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. 

Technical Specs 

  • Reinforced 1000-denier PVC 
  • 39-inch kayak beam 
  • 44 pounds 
  • 855-pound capacity

Pros

  • Extremely durable construction with overlapped seams 
  • High-pressure, drop-stitch floor ensures rigidity
  • 16 scupper holes will keep you and your furry friend dry 
  • Extra-wide, 39-inch beam for superior stability 
  • Massive capacity suitable for two people and large dog breeds 

Cons

  • One of the most expensive kayaks for dogs I tested 
  • It’s a bit heavy considering that it’s an inflatable kayak 

Sea Eagle’s 420X Explorer Pro is a head above the rest in the inflatable kayaks’ portion of the market – and a superior inflatable kayak for dogs in every way imaginable. 

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3. Perception Pescador Pro 12

[Perception Pescador Pro 12
  • Best Fishing Kayak For Dogs
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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Want to go on a kayak fishing trip with your dog? Well, then, the Perception Pescador Pro 12 might be the perfect kayak for you. 

Given that it’s a kayak designed for anglers, the integrated accessory rails, rod holders, and 375-pound capacity shouldn’t come as a surprise. 

The 64-pound weight might, though – especially considering that you can’t ask your four-legged paddling buddy to help out with transportation. 

You’re getting a lawn-chair-style seat with two-level adjustments, and your dog can enjoy all the comforts of the open deck and the bow storage area. Granted, you’ll have to give up a portion of onboard storage for this, but you still have a large storage area with bungee rigging in the back. 

Technical Specs 

  • Roto-molded polyethylene construction 
  • 32.5-inch kayak beam 
  • 64 pounds 
  • 375-pound capacity 

Pros

  • Wider, 32.5-inch beam ensures excellent stability 
  • Features a lawn-chair-style, two-level adjustable seat 
  • The front cargo area can be used as a spot for your dog 

Cons

  • It’s pretty heavy and, in turn, hard to carry single-handedly 
  • The molded-in rod holders are poorly designed and too shallow to be usable

If you’re up for doing some fishing and want to bring your dog along, Perception’s Pescador Pro 12 is a stable and comfortable sit-on-top kayak you should check out! 

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4. Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Kayak

Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Kayak
  • Best Kayak For Large Dogs 
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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Sea Eagle 370 Pro is not only one of the best-rated inflatable kayaks currently available on the market but one of the best choices for paddlers with dogs, too. 

It’s spacious, comfortable, and tough – and with a 650-pound capacity, it’s perfectly capable of accommodating up to three people. Or, in your case, one person and a large dog. 

The kayak’s shell is constructed out of 38-millimeter PolyKrylar – or K80 PVC – making the Sea Eagle’s 370 Pro tear-resistant and highly durable. Your dog’s paws and claws are no reason for concern. 

Another top feature is the roomy, open deck, complete with the I-beam floor construction, contributing to the kayak’s rigidity and stability while also adding comfort. 

I wish it came with slightly longer paddles and a less awkward carry bag, though. 

Technical Specs 

  • K80 PVC construction 
  • 34-inch kayak beam 
  • 32 pounds 
  • 650-pound capacity 

Pros

  • Suitable for up to three people or an adult and a large dog 
  • Tear-resistant and highly durable construction 
  • Roomy deck with I-beam tubes floor construction for rigidity 

Cons

  • The included bag is a bit awkward to carry 
  • Tracking performance could be better 
  • The included paddles seem short for a kayak this wide 

If your furry best friend is a large dog breed and you’re worried about finding a kayak spacious enough for them to be comfortable, Sea Eagle 370 Pro might be one of your best bets. 

Top tip – If you are an angler looking for a similar dog-friendly kayak then check out the Coleman Colorado

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5. Vanhunks Voyager Deluxe Kayak 

Vanhunks Voyager Deluxe Kayak
  • Best Kayak For Families With Dogs 
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★
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Vanhunks’ Voyager Deluxe is a 12-foot sit-on-top kayak designed for two – but you get plenty of extra space to bring your four-legged friend along for the ride, too. So, if you came here looking for a tandem kayak for families with dogs, the Voyager Deluxe might be it. 

The kayak’s roto-molded 5-millimeter polyethylene construction ensures extreme durability, UV- and impact resistance – a massive plus for dog owners. Oh, and it has a 550-pound weight capacity, too. 

Comfort-wise, you can look forward to the aluminum-frame seats while your pooch can enjoy the spacious deck and the stability provided by the kayak’s wide, 32-inch beam. 

I do have to warn you, though – at 77 pounds, this thing is anything but lightweight and portable. 

Technical Specs 

  • Roto-molded polyethylene construction 
  • 32-inch kayak beam 
  • 77 pounds 
  • 551-pound capacity 

Pros

  • High enough load capacity for two adults and their dog 
  • It has a dedicated molded-in seating area for your pet 
  • Wide beam ensures stability and keeps the deck roomy 
  • Features rod holders and storage hatches 

Cons

  • This 77-pound kayak is virtually impossible to carry by yourself 
  • It feels a bit short for a two-plus-one kayak 
  • The seats block access to the drink holders 

If you think of kayaking as a family hobby that also involves your family pet, I highly recommend giving Vanhunks’ Voyager Deluxe a shot! 

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6. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
  • Best Budget Inflatable Kayak For Dogs
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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If your budget’s limited and you need an inflatable kayak for dogs that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, Intex should be one of your top picks. 

More specifically, Intex’ Explorer K2 – a budget-friendly, two-person inflatable kayak. 

The Explorer K2 features a three-chamber design, an I-beam floor, and puncture-resistant vinyl construction. It has a 400-pound capacity while weighing as little as 30 pounds. And to add to it, it comes with a pump, paddles, a detachable skeg, and a carry bag – a complete starting kit. 

The deck could get uncomfortably warm on sunny days, though, so be sure to bring a towel for your dog to sit on. 

Technical Specs 

  • Vinyl construction 
  • 36-inch kayak beam 
  • 30 pounds 
  • 400-pound capacity 

Pros

  • It comes as a part of a complete starter kit for beginners 
  • Feels relatively stable thanks to the extra-wide beam 
  • Lightweight and relatively easy to set up

Cons

  • The deck can get uncomfortably warm on sunny days 
  • The included carry bag isn’t very well made or durable 
  • No dedicated storage areas 

Kayaking with your dog doesn’t have to cost a fortune – and Intex’ Explorer K2 two-person inflatable kayak is here to prove it! 

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7. BOTE Deus Aero Inflatable Kayak

BOTE Deus Aero Inflatable Kayak
  • Best Hybrid Kayak For Dogs
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★
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Okay, this one is – well, one of a kind. Is it an inflatable kayak? Yes. But is it a stand-up paddleboard? Also yes. 

BOTE’s Deus Aero is a hybrid constructed with inflatable AeroBOTE Technology that converts from a kayak to a stand-up paddleboard. It’s 11 feet long and has a 33-inch beam, boasts four chambers, a self-draining design, and a removable fin. And the flared bow, paired with the BVA textured deck pad, creates a roomy area for your pup to chill on. 

It has a 300-pound capacity, which isn’t limited per se, but it’s something to keep in mind if you have a bigger dog. 

Sure, it might not be as easy on the wallet as your average inflatable kayak, but let’s be honest – there’s nothing average about it. 

Technical Specs 

  • Military-grade PVC construction 
  • 33-inch kayak beam 
  • 50 pounds 
  • 300-pound capacity 

Pros

  • It easily converts from a kayak to a SUP 
  • Wide, flared bow with a textured deck pad for your dog 
  • Self-draining design and four chambers for improved safety 

Cons

  • Not as budget-friendly as an average inflatable kayak
  • Relatively heavy for an inflatable kayak 
  • Folding and packing up takes a bit of a trial and error 

BOTE’s Deus Aero is a cool hybrid-type inflatable kayak that converts into a SUP – and if you’d like to get the best of both worlds, I think there’s no better way to do it. 

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8. Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak – Sentinel 100X

Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak - Sentinel 100X
  • Best Lightweight Kayak For Small Dogs
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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Pelican’s Sentinel 100X EXO is a compact, 9.5-foot sit-on-top kayak that promises reassuring stability, convenience, and comfortable seating in one relatively lightweight, beginner-friendly package. 

It’s made of Pelican’s RAM-X material – triple-layer polyethylene – so it’s exceptionally durable while still retaining a relatively lightweight design, weighing only 42 pounds. More importantly, it boasts a twin-arched multi-chine hull and foam blocks, improving stability and adding to the kayak’s flotation. 

Oh, and it features an anti-slip “carpet,” which creates a perfect – and comfortable, might I add – spot for your dog. 

Sentinel 100X EXO’s capacity is limited to 275 pounds, though, so it wouldn’t be my first pick for large dog breeds. 

Technical Specs 

  • RAM-X polyethylene construction 
  • 30-inch kayak beam 
  • 42 pounds 
  • 275-pound capacity 

Pros

  • An anti-slip mat creates a perfect area for your pet 
  • Twin-arched multi-chine hull and a wide beam for stability 
  • Relatively lightweight, compact, and beginner-friendly  

Cons

  • Somewhat limited capacity isn’t suitable for large dog breeds 
  • The included seat can get a bit uncomfortable in the lower back area

Pelican’s Sentinel 100X EXO – lightweight, affordable, 9.5-foot kayak – is excellent for beginners, paddlers on a budget, and those who might not have the means to store and transport a heavy tandem kayak.

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Final Verdict: Which Kayaks Are Best For Dogs? 

two old men and dogs in yellow kayak

Kayaking with your pet can be a memorable bonding experience for the two of you – but only if you take it slow, plan and prepare for it, and, most importantly, pick a dog-friendly kayak. 

Again, some of the best kayaks for dogs may not even be labeled as such – very few are – but that doesn’t mean you can’t share them with a dog. 

On that note, out of all the dog-friendly kayaks I’ve reviewed today, Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Kayak gets the title of the best kayak for dogs. 

Whether you choose to paddle solo or with your furry little companion, this versatile recreational sit-on-top kayak has you covered!