Best Kayak for Dogs: Take Your Best Friend on an Adventure

Best Kayak for Dogs: Take Your Best Friend on an Adventure

12 min read

If you're looking for the perfect way to take your four-legged friend on a kayaking adventure, then look no further than dog kayaks!

These vessels are specially designed to accommodate both you and your pup as you explore lakes, rivers, and more. Not only do dog kayaks offer a unique experience for both human and canine adventurers alike, but they also provide superior stability in shallow waters whilst allowing your pet to float along with ease.

If you're an outdoor enthusiast who loves water activities but feels bad about leaving your furry friend at home, kayaking with your dog could be the perfect solution as it's a great way to spend time together and explore the great outdoors since dogs enjoy getting wet and require less gear than humans. However, ensuring your dog is safe and comfortable before hitting the water is essential.

This post highlights the joys of kayaking with your furry friend. It presents a list of kayaks suitable for dog owners and a buyer's guide on how to shop for the best option.

Bringing your dog along can be just as enjoyable as having a human companion, and there are even races dedicated to kayaking with dogs. Certain dog breeds, such as retrievers, Labradors, poodles, shepherds, and setters, enjoy swimming and water activities. Learning how to kayak with your dog can be a great way to double the fun if you enjoy being on the water.

How We've Selected the Best Kayaks for Dogs

A good dog kayak can be bought in the price range of up to $1,000. With this price in mind, we divided it into three segments. At the lowest end, we looked for good quality dog kayaks with good material. In the mid-budget range, we looked for kayaks that weren't only better in terms of material quality and were highly reliable. Finally, at the highest end, we looked for the best dog kayaks that your money can buy.

We were able to narrow down the kayaks by the customer reviews. Then, we selected the ones most trusted by the customers and had a good rating overall. Finally, we decided on the five best dog kayaks we will review.

Top 5 Dog Kayaks

1. Sevylor Coleman Colorado

What We Like

  • Inflatable kayak for portability options.
  • Made from tough materials.
  • Fits two people comfortably.

What You Should Know

  • Some may not enjoy the setup and deflation process.

This is a two-person inflatable kayak designed for fishing, featuring a durable build with 1000 denier tarpaulin on the bottom and 840 denier nylon on the cover for puncture resistance.

The kayak is comfortable and stable, thanks to the adjustable seats that can be moved closer together for a dog or a companion. There are multiple storage options, paddle holders for convenience, and a double-threaded Boston valve and pressure gauge for easy inflation and deflation.

The kayak can be easily carried with comfortable handles and is compatible with a Sevylor trolling motor.

2. Explorer K2 Kayak

What We Like

  • Easy to store away.
  • Your pup gets his seat.
  • Comes with paddles.
  • It can handle your puppy's claws and teeth.

What You Should Know

  • One consumer suggests using a yoga mat on the floor for extra protection against the dog's paws.

The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is an excellent choice for kayaking with your dog because it is inflatable and easy to transport, especially for those who need to bring their equipment.

However, it is essential to note that this kayak is best used on calm waters without wind, such as a lake or gentle river, and because it is designed for two adults, it is suitable for one adult and a dog, with the dog having its own seat. The kayak is easy to steer and is even more stable with the added weight of a dog.

Even though it is not as functional as a solid hull kayak, it is easy to store and can be familiar to your dog. The vinyl construction is durable and resistant to dog claws and teeth. However, one consumer puts down a yoga mat for extra protection.

3. Intex Challenger Kayak

What We Like

  • Durable and lightweight.
  • Very comfortable.
  • Easy to inflate and deflate.

What You Should Know

  • Not suitable for whitewater.

The Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak is an excellent option for kayaking with a small to medium dog, and it's also one of the best folding kayaks available. The cockpit is spacious enough for you and your furry friend to navigate through rivers and lakes comfortably. Your dog can also sit on top of the kayak in the front.

At the same time, the inflatable beam floor adds stability, which is particularly useful if your dog moves around or jumps into the water. The closed deck ensures that water won't get inside the kayak or the cockpit, and the grab lines at both ends provide extra stability to prevent the kayak from tipping over.

The kayak also has a spacious frontal cargo net for storing kayaking gear and dog essentials, and it comes with a repair patch kit, a manual hand pump, and an aluminum oar. The best part is that it's highly portable and can be folded down to a very small size, and it can be inflated and set up in under 10-15 minutes.

So if you're searching for the best kayak for dogs, the Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak is an excellent choice.

4. Sea Eagle Explorer Kayak

What We Like

  • Adjustable feet rest.
  • Drop Stitch Technology.
  • Extremely durable.
  • Well-balanced and stable for dog jumping in and out.

What You Should Know

  • One-person kayak.

The Sea Eagle Explorer is the ultimate inflatable kayak for a day on the open water with your dog.

The Sea Eagle Explorer is designed to take a beating and come back begging for more. This kayak can handle anything you throw at it with its super tough 1000 denier reinforced PVC and quadruple overlapped seams.

The high-pressure Drop Stitch floor provides awesome rigidity and incredible paddling performance. Plus, its reinforced exterior fabric floor provides an extra layer of protection– so no more worrying about rocks, logs, or anything else damaging your boat!

But that's not even the best part! You won't have to worry about tipping over when you're on the water with the Sea Eagle Explorer. Its wide beam provides unparalleled stability whether you're fishing or river cruising. With its sleek design, top performance, and unbeatable durability, this kayak is perfect for all kinds of adventures on the water.

5. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105

What We Like

  • Comfortable.
  • Easy to paddle.
  • Easy to climb in and out.
  • Great storage.

What You Should Know

  • Heavy to carry.
  • Rudder for tracking has to be purchased as an extra.

Wilderness Systems has improved its Tarpon sit-on-top kayak design for over 20 years. The foot well of the kayak has self-draining holes that can be plugged with scupper plugs if desired. Unlike longer kayaks designed for touring, this kayak is not intended to cover long distances with speed and gliding ability. Instead, it was designed for maneuverability in narrow waterways and rivers, making it a better option for shorter trips with your dog.

The Tarpon 105 kayak features a flat hull design complemented by a hull flare at the bow and pointed stern, improving its ability to smoothly cut through waves and track. However, while the Tarpon 105 kayak glides well, it's not the best in speed performance. So for those seeking a faster, more stable kayak with excellent storage, we recommend considering larger models in the Tarpon line, such as the Tarpon 120 or 140. However, to enhance the kayak's tracking abilities, you can purchase the XL Rudder kit at an additional cost, which can be a helpful addition to fishing, photography, or overall comfort while paddling.

The Tarpon 105 may not excel in speed, but its exceptional maneuverability compensates for these shortcomings. Its flat hull and slight curvature at the bow and stern make it effortless to turn and change directions. It received high marks in this category due to its ease of maneuvering, even with minimal effort. The open design of the Tarpon 105 makes it simple to climb back onto if you fall off while kayaking. If the kayak were to capsize completely, it would be self-draining, making it easy to re-right without emptying it manually. This feature saves the user time and energy compared to other kayaks with a sit-in style design.

The Tarpon 105 kayak is a sit-on-top model that provides exceptional stability, comfort, and accessibility. Wilderness Systems has paid close attention to detail, resulting in a versatile, durable, and feature-packed kayak. In addition, the craft's high storage capacity also makes it ideal for extended trips.

How to Choose the Best Dog-Friendly Kayak

To take your dog with you on a kayak, the priority is ensuring their safety which involves selecting a kayak that is suitable for the location you will be paddling in and also appropriate for accommodating your dog, which makes it all the more critical for you to check all the boxes before making that purchase. Here are some factors to consider:


One of the crucial aspects to consider while kayaking with your dog is stability. Your furry companion may experience instability while entering or leaving the boat, and your dog might jump out of the kayak. To ensure safety, it is recommended to use sit-on-top recreational kayaks as they offer excellent stability. Typically, the kayak's stability increases with its width, and kayaks wider than 34 inches are considered relatively safe.

Weight Capacity

Before kayaking with your dog and gear, it's essential to calculate the total weight of all three, especially your dog, as dogs come in various sizes and weights. To avoid overloading the kayak, it's essential to follow a simple rule of not exceeding 70% of the maximum weight capacity recommended by the manufacturer, like for instance if the maximum weight capacity of your kayak is 500 pounds, ensure that the total weight of yourself, your dog, and gear stays under 350 pounds for a stable and comfortable ride.

Deck Space

It's essential to think about the position and comfort of your dog in the kayak, as some dogs tend to sit or lie down peacefully. In contrast, others may be more active and require space to move around, so you must choose a kayak with a flat and open deck that can comfortably accommodate medium to large dogs.


Suppose you're worried about your dog scratching or damaging your kayak. Most dog-friendly kayaks made from high-density polyethylene can withstand your dog's claws and teeth without significant damage. If you prefer a hard-shell kayak, it's best to avoid fiberglass or other composite materials due to their high cost and susceptibility to scratches, which make them unsuitable for dog owners. Inflatable kayaks can be a good alternative, but choosing one made from puncture-resistant material like higher-density vinyl is important to ensure durability.

Types of Kayaks Suited to Dogs

Sit-on-top vs. sit-in kayaks for dogs:

The primary difference in kayaks for paddling with dogs is whether you choose a sit-on-top or a sit-in kayak. Most people prefer a sit-on-top kayak as they offer an open deck, which provides more space for your dog to move around and get comfortable, and the fact that these kayaks are also broader and more stable makes them a popular choice. In addition, sit-on-top kayaks have drain plugs, which allow any water brought in by your dog to drain out quickly.

On the other hand, sit-in kayaks can be tight on space, and your dog may have to share the cockpit space with you or have a separate cockpit in a tandem kayak. This may work well for nervous or small dogs who can cuddle up to you to stay warm and comfortable. However, ensuring your dog does not impede your ability to exit the kayak in an emergency is essential.

Tandem vs. solo kayaks:

Solo kayaks are designed for a single person and their equipment. Some have storage space or an open deck design that may accommodate a companion. However, it's crucial to check the weight limit and ensure that you don't exceed 70% of the maximum capacity, and if you have a large dog, we advise you to consider a tandem kayak that offers more space and you have your dog sit in the second chair. Many sit-on-top tandems (such as ocean kayak malibu two) can be paddled as a solo, and with a heavy dog, they must balance you out and stay towards the front.

Fishing kayaks and recreational kayaks:

While fishing with your dog might pose a challenge, a fishing kayak is recommended because it tends to be broader and more stable, with plenty of storage space and gear attachment points. In contrast, recreational kayaks, including hard-shell and inflatable kayaks, tandem kayaks, and solo kayaks, are also suitable for kayaking with your dog, as they are generally beginner-friendly and suitable for calm waters.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you put a dog in an inflatable kayak?

At first glance, the choice between plastic and inflatable kayaks may seem straightforward, with plastic kayaks being the obvious option due to their durability and puncture-proof nature. However, it's essential not to disregard inflatable kayaks made from robust PVC materials which can handle rocky beaches and landings. As long as your dog's nails are trimmed, there is little risk of puncture. In addition, inflatable kayaks are generally spacious, with high weight capacity and broader, more stable designs. This makes them an excellent choice if you have a larger, curious dog that wants to explore the water.

Where can you take a dog kayaking?

You can take your dog kayaking almost anywhere. Still, we'd recommend you avoid taking your furry friend to places with white water or the sea, as it's better to start in a calm and safe environment near the shore and gradually explore further once you and your dog are comfortable with it. Still, if you want to go whitewater kayaking, ensure you use whitewater kayaks. These sea kayaks are specifically made to be used in turbulent water and give more stability.

How do I get my dog used to being in a kayak?

Get your dog accustomed to the kayak on land by using treats and encouraging them to explore it. Then, when you're on the water, begin in calm, shallow water close to shore and allow your dog to get comfortable in the kayak before venturing further.

I only have a small dog. Do I still need to worry about all of this?

Although it may be easier to find a kayak for smaller dogs, they still need to be acclimatized appropriately and treated with care while kayaking. In addition, even though they may not be able to tip the kayak like larger dogs, they can still become frightened, making it essential to ensure that kayaking is an enjoyable experience for your dog, just as it is for you.

Is it safe for dogs to go kayak?

Kayaking with dogs can be safe as long as proper safety precautions are taken, such as providing a properly fitted life jacket for the dog and training them to stay in the kayak, but it is important to be aware of any potential risks, such as rough waters or strong currents.

Are inflatable kayaks any good for dogs?

Inflatable kayaks can be a good choice for dogs as they are lightweight, portable, and stable, providing a safer and more enjoyable experience for both the dog and the owner.

What Option of Dog Kayak is Best for You?

At the end of the day, you're looking for a kayak that prioritizes your dog's comfort and safety. When making your decision, narrow down what's important to your needs rather than simply going with the trend.

All of our recommendation options have proven themselves to be well-loved by pet owners, so choosing any of those would be a great start. No matter which option you decide to go with, make sure you enjoy this opportunity for quality bonding time with your pup in nature – it will absolutely be worth it!

Should you come across a model that intrigues you but isn't mentioned here, please feel free to do your research on its features and performance.

Thank you for taking the time to consider all these excellent dog kayak options. We hope our advice helps you discover the best kayak for you and your pup!

Items reviewed:

1. Sevylor Coleman Colorado

2. Explorer K2 Kayak

3. Intex Challenger Kayak

4. Sea Eagle Explorer Kayak

5. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105

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