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Choosing the best size of 'Classic' life jacket for your dog

If everything goes to plan, at the end of this process, you're going to receive a dog life jacket in the post. I'd like us both to be delighted when you open the package and find that you've ordered the correct size! Please spend a few minutes to measure your dog and look at the fitting table lower down on this page. Ordering the correct jacket size will avoid the delay, inconvenience and expense which will result if you need to exchange the jacket for another size.

You may be one of those lucky people whose dog will unarguably fit into only one size of jacket. It's far more probable that you'll be one of the majority of people who need to make a choice between two jackets.

For an approximate idea of the sizes of jackets which are generally suitable for your dog's breed, click on this link and a pop-up window will show you a comprehensive range of dog breeds and the sizes of our life jackets which suit the various breeds. If you have a cross-breed, you'll have a reasonable idea of how your dog compares in size to the breeds listed; looking at the list should give you a general idea of which size/s of life jacket may suit your dog.

Measure the chest, then the lengthNow measure around your dog's chest. This is the most important measurement - if the jacket doesn't fit around your dog, it's not going to fit! As shown in the illustration alongside, from behind the front legs, measure all the way around the widest part of its rib cage and over its back. Remember to add an inch or two if you're planning to use a harness under the life jacket; also, bear in mind if your dog has a heavy seasonal coat, or whether its size may increase. Whilst you've got your dog and a tape measure to hand, also measure the length of its back - from the shoulder blades to the base of the tail.

With a note of you dog's chest measurement to hand, now look at the 'Essential' part of the table below. You'll see that your dog's chest measurement will have either determined the appropriate size of life jacket or reduced the possibilities to a choice of two sizes. If, for example, your dog's chest measured 16" you'll see from the table that the suitable life jacket is a 'Toy' size. If the chest measured 18", then both 'Toy' and 'Small' are suitable sizes.

If your dog's chest is smaller than the range indicated in the table then you'll be able to fit the jacket on the dog but you won't be able to secure the jacket firmly around your dog's body. In addition there will be excessive room at the front where the jacket fastens around the dog's neck. Also, the jacket may protrude unnecessarily at the rear, making sitting uncomfortable. You should probably be considering the next size down. 

If your dog's chest size is bigger than the range indicated in the table then the two ends of the snap-click fastening clips won't reach each other - the jacket just won't fit on the dog. You most definitely need to be considering the next size up.

Where the table indicates that two sizes of life jackets may suit your dog, the better size will become evident when you look at the 'Desirable' (maximum weight) and 'Preferable' (minimum length) part of the table.

Please remember: the chest measurement is all-important.

Sizing table

Is your dog's chest bigger than 48" (120cms)?

The extension straps supplied with our 'Giant' life jacketsIt's doubtful that you'll find a jacket larger than our 'Giant' size (we don't know of any!). Because of this, for use with dogs that exceed the chest size of the jacket we now supply our 'Giant' jackets with two chest extension straps (see the photo alongside). With the adjustable extension straps attached to the jacket's chest straps, the jacket's straps are extended by 24" (60cms); the 'Giant' jacket can then be fitted to dogs with chest measurements of up to a truly massive 72" (180cms) - big enough for a small horse!

But please note: If use of the extension straps is required, then the two neoprene chest panels of the jacket will not reach each other and so will not velcro together; inevitably as a result, the jacket is not so securely fitted to the dog as it would be if the panels did overlap and could be velcro'ed together. Also, if use of the extension panels is required then almost inevitably the weight of the dog will exceed the weight which the jacket is designed to totally support. In these situations, the jacket will offer partial buoyancy but not total support. Obviously, this isn't an issue when the jacket and extension straps are used in supported, monitored situations. However, the jacket and extension straps must not be soley relied upon in life-threatening situations.

The basic philosophy behind supplying the extension straps is that there are times when anything is better than nothing!

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes; you may need to depart from the guidelines above if your dog is particularly thick- or thin-set. Only you know that! But remember - the chest size is paramount!

Still not sure?

You may still be unsure of the correct size of jacket to buy - we do understand that there are some amazing combinations of cross-breeds out there!

In which case, why not send us an email at dogs@feats.com, including the measurements of the dog's chest and length and, if possible, weight. Please also mention the dog's breed/s to give us an idea of the jackets which would be suitable (knowing the breed/s also gives us a clue should you get your cms and inches confused!). If you could attach a photo of your dog this would be an additional help, particularly in borderline cases where it's difficult to choose the better of two sizes. We'll happily advise you of the size we think you need. This simple exchange of emails must be preferable to the hassle involved for everyone if you order the wrong size of life jacket! (We'll exchange it, but it is a hassle worth avoiding if possible!)

Please note: every manufacturer's sizes will vary - one manufacturer's small is another manufacturer's medium. The table above is for use with our 'Classic' range of life jackets only! You use it to calculate the correct size of someone else's life jackets at your peril. (And your dog's!)

Last updated: 11 October 2016

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