You may think the combination of sharp dog claws and an inflatable kayak is a disaster waiting to happen, but modern inflatable kayaks are actually tough as nails! In this article, I’ll help you choose a high-quality, inflatable kayak, so you and your furry friend can have fun on the water.
My top priorities when shopping for an inflatable kayak for dogs are durability, space, and stability. There are plenty of dog-friendly kayaks out there, but I really like the Nixy Tahoe. It’s a stable, high-capacity kayak with lots of features and great accessories.
Read on to find out more about the Tahoe and other dog-friendly kayaks!
If you’re in a hurry, here are our top inflatable kayaks for dogs. Or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.
- Best Overall: Nixy Tahoe
“The Tahoe has a huge 600-pound weight capacity. There’s plenty of space for large dogs and it’s wide and stable. Bungee storage on the bow and stern keeps your gear off the deck”
- Best Budget: Intex Excursion Pro
“The Intex Excursion Pro is a favorite budget kayak among dog owners. It’s durable and comes with plenty of features. You can use it as a recreational or basic fishing kayak”
- Best Solo Kayak: Bote Deus Aero
“This self-bailing kayak transforms in seconds into a stand-up paddleboard. The durable construction and balance of performance and stability make this my favorite single-person inflatable kayak for dogs”
The 8 Best Inflatable Kayaks for Dogs
Looking to take your dog out on the water? Here’s my pick of the top inflatable kayaks for dogs.
1. NIXY Tahoe – Best Overall Inflatable Kayak for Dogs
The NIXY Tahoe is a high-capacity tandem kayak with tons of features. It’s not a budget kayak, but you get a lot for your money. The light weight and wheeled backpack make it easy to transport.
The Tahoe is 12-feet-6-inches long and 39 inches wide. That’s wide for an inflatable kayak, which makes it very stable – ideal if you have a nervous dog. Despite the width, it performs well in the water and is easy to paddle.
I love NIXY’s paddle boards and really rate their durability. The Tahoe has the same drop-stitch construction as their iSUPs. This makes the kayak exceptionally rigid, improving performance and giving it a whopping 600-pound weight capacity.
The high capacity and great stability make the Tahoe an awesome inflatable kayak for large dogs. You could fit a couple of Saint Bernards in here easily!
If you’ve got dogs on board, you don’t want your gear cluttering up the deck. The Tahoe comes with two bungee storage areas on the bow and stern that are plenty big enough for large drybags. The 6 action mounts and 4 Scotty mounts let you secure accessories like your phone, GoPro, fishing rods, and fish finders out of your dog’s way. It’s the perfect kayak for outdoor adventures!
The NIXY Tahoe comes with a premium accessory pack, including two carbon/fiberglass hybrid paddles, a triple-action pump, and a heavy-duty wheeled backpack. This is hands down the most comprehensive, high-quality accessory pack of the kayaks in this round-up.
2. Intex Excursion Pro – Best Budget Inflatable Kayak
The Intex Excursion Pro is a highly-rated budget kayak. There’s a single and two-person version, but unless you and your dog are very small, I’d recommend the tandem as it has a much higher capacity.
My main concern with budget kayaks is their durability, particularly when you have sharp claws trotting all over the deck! The Excursion Pro has been put to the test by many dog owners and the tough PVC has stood up well. I’d suggest trimming your dog’s nails and if you want to be extra safe, you could get your dog to lie on a dog bed or cheap foam camping mat to give an extra layer of protection.
I wouldn’t expect this kayak to be as durable or long lasting as the NIXY or BOTE kayaks, but it’s a great choice if you want an inflatable kayak for occasional use or you’re on a budget.
The kayak comes with two skegs – a long fin for tracking and a shallow-water fin. There are two integrated rod holders, if you want to use it as a fishing kayak. These do stick up and get in the way a bit – I’d have preferred a pair of action or Scotty mounts.
You also get D rings to tie-down gear and an adjustable mounting bracket for fishing gear. An impressive feature list for a budget kayak!
The removable seats are inflatable and not that comfortable. There’s an extra booster, so you can raise one of the seats up, for example, if you want a higher seat for fishing.
In addition to the seats and skegs, the Intex Excursion Pro kayak comes with two oars, a pump, and repair kit – everything you need to start kayaking. As you might expect given the budget price, the paddles and pump aren’t the best quality. I’d suggest upgrading to a carbon hybrid paddle and an electric pump if you have some extra cash.
3. Bote Deus Aero – Best Single-Person Kayak for Dogs
BOTE kayaks and paddleboards aren’t cheap, but they’re worth every dollar. The Deus Aero is an 11-foot inflatable kayak that utilizes BOTE’s AeroBOTE technology to create a rigid platform that performs great in the water. If you want a single-person kayak for you and your dog, I’d recommend the BOTE Deus Aero.
The kayak is just 33-inches wide, making it the narrowest model in this roundup. Despite this, it feels stable, even with the raised seating position. Although it’s designed for one paddler, there’s plenty of space for your four-legged friend! The open stern constantly drains water from the kayak, keeping you both dry.
I love that you can convert the BOTE Deus Aero to a paddleboard. Simply remove the platform and footbar, and away you go! You can even use the platform as a float for your cooler. It’s great to have the option to stand or sit down, and the raised seat will suit less mobile paddlers.
BOTE’s kayaks are really well made. The skin is military-grade PVC, so you don’t have to worry about your dog’s claws puncturing a chamber. The only real downside for this kayak is its weight capacity – 300 pounds. This is lower than tandem kayaks, so if you’re a large paddler with a heavy dog, you may want to choose a different model.
The Deus Aero doesn’t have tons of features, but the most important ones are covered: a mounting point for your GoPro or camera, bungee storage, cooler tie-down points, and a cup holder! The bungee cord is on the deck in front of the seat, so you may want to remove it when your dog’s on board.
The kayak comes with a good-quality travel bag, pump, and repair kit, though you’ll need to buy a paddle separately. The pump is efficient and it’s surprisingly easy to inflate the Deus Aero to the correct pressure.
4. Sea Eagle SE370
The Sea Eagle SE370 is a no-frills, affordable tandem inflatable kayak. It comes with two paddles, a foot pump, and a repair kit – everything you need to get out paddling! The kayak is rated for Class III whitewater and comes with a 3-year warranty (though this doesn’t cover tears or punctures, so clip those dog claws!).
The kayak is large enough for two people and a dog, though if you have a large-breed dog, it might be a squeeze. The Sea Eagle has a huge 650-pound capacity, so weight is not an issue!
Like the Intel Excursion Pro, the Sea Eagle SE370 has an inflatable I-beam floor. This is a common construction style for cheaper inflatable kayaks, but it’s not as rigid or durable as drop-stitch construction. The lack of rigidity makes it a little less stable, but this is offset by the kayak’s lower position in the water, so you may not notice much difference.
The Sea Eagle SE370 has two fixed skegs on the bottom for tracking. The kayak struggles a bit with tracking, particularly on a windy day – the single long fin sported by the Intex Excursion Pro seems more effective than the Sea Eagle’s dual-fin design.
This kayak doesn’t have as many features as other models, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you don’t need mounting points, why pay for them?
Inflatable spray skirts at the bow and stern are lashed to the sides of the kayak. You can secure dry bags and gear on top of the spray skirts using bungee cords or rope. Although your stuff will get wet (hence the dry bag!), I actually think this is a great design for dog owners as it keeps the inside of the kayak clutter-free.
The accessories you get with the kayak are pretty basic. I’m not a fan of the aluminum paddles or the seats, and the carry bag is very basic. That said, you do get everything you need to go paddling. You have the option to upgrade the seats and add a fishing rig or sail for an additional cost.
5. Aquaglide Chinook 120
The Aquaglide Chinook 120 is a lightweight, 2-person tandem inflatable kayak. It has some great features that you don’t find on other models. The Chinook is a wide kayak that’s designed for comfort rather than speed.
Unlike most inflatable tandems, the Chinook 120 is specifically designed to carry up to three people. There’s room for a child or dog between the two paddlers. It comes with a backless inflatable seat that will keep a small dog off the wet floor and give them a good view over the side tubes.
Two hook-and-loop strips run the full length of the kayak. These are used to secure the seats and foot braces, as well as other items. I love the flexibility that this gives you – you can set up the kayak for one or two paddlers, facing in either direction, and position your pooch where they’ll be safest and most comfortable.
There’s a removable fin to help with tracking and small storage areas at the bow and stern with bungee cord rigging. Two sets of velcro straps secure your paddle when you’re not using it and there are D rings to attach the seat backs and other gear. Each of the main seats has two rod holders on the back, but I’m not sure how easy these are to use in practice.
The HexShell deck cover is puncture-resistant and reassuringly durable. Aquaglide has redesigned the classic I-beam floor construction to create a flat kayak floor. The design also gives the hull a slight V shape to help with tracking, but it isn’t as rigid as a drop-stitch floor.
The Aquaglide Chinook isn’t the fastest kayak out there, but it’s perfect for casual paddling and picnics on the water. It weighs just 28 pounds, so it’s easy to transport. You’ll need to buy paddles and a pump separately.
6. BOTE Zeppelin Aero
The BOTE Zeppelin Aero is a tandem kayak that can easily be handled by a single paddler. It’s a self-bailing kayak, but it can be tricky to get the water to drain out properly. That said, it’s designed to be a flat-water kayak, not a whitewater kayak, so you shouldn’t be taking on that much water!
Like the Deus Aero, the BOTE Zeppelin Aero has a drop-stitch floor. It’s extremely rigid, which boosts its performance in the water. You don’t have to worry about the kayak buckling under the weight of a larger dog.
The Zeppelin is 5 inches wider than the Deus Aero and the extra volume gives it a huge 600-pound capacity, as well as making it feel exceptionally stable. The side tubes aren’t that high compared to other kayaks. This makes it easy to pull your dog out of the water, but it may be harder to keep them in the kayak if they want to swim!
The Zeppelin’s removable seats are inflatable, so they pack down small, but they’re a lot more comfortable than the basic inflatable seats you get with the Intex Excursion Pro and Sea Eagle. The raised seating position also makes this a great kayak for less mobile paddlers.
The seats have a handy pocket on the back that’s perfect for stashing your phone or doggy treats. There’s also a large bungee storage area on the kayak deck. Unfortunately, this is exactly where your dog is likely to sit.
This is a luxury recreational kayak, and it has some neat features you won’t find on other models. I particularly love the MAGNEPOD drinks holder that does away with the need for a plastic cup holder. You also get a pair of paddle straps and slide-in RAC receivers to install BOTE’s Bucket Rac and KULA.
Although I think the tandem kayak is the best option for a dog lover, there’s also a 10-foot version of the Zeppelin, which has similar features.
7. Aire Outfitter II
Take on the rapids with the Aire Outfitter II! This whitewater kayak is hugely popular with whitewater kayaking companies due to its incredible stability and durability. If you want a bombproof kayak for fast river paddling, this is it.
The Outfitter II is 12-feet-two-inches long and 41 inches wide. It has massive 12.5-inch diameter side tubes which, along with the low seating position, make it feel really stable, even on rough water. The huge side tubes discourage dogs from jumping overboard, though you’ll want to make sure your canine friend is completely happy on the water before you take them downriver.
While it excels on whitewater, paddling the Outfitter II on a calm lake is hard work. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend the Outfitter II for gentle flat-water paddling, period. This is a specialist kayak, so it won’t suit every paddler.
The tough PVC outer is extremely abrasion resistant, but if you do get a leak, you can remove and repair the internal AIREcell urethane bladders. The Aire Outfitter II comes with a 10-year warranty, which gives me a lot of confidence in the durability of the kayak!
Each of the seats has a large cargo pocket in the back. These are big enough to store water, food for you and your dog, and a spare layer. If you need more gear for your outdoor adventures, there are 17 sets of cargo loops.
The Aire Outfitter II is a pricey boat, but you get what you pay for in terms of quality and longevity.
8. Star Outlaw II
The Star Outlaw II is another kayak that’s designed to be used on rivers rather than flat water. It’s a 2-person tandem inflatable with a 400-pound maximum weight capacity and a simple design.
The PVC drop-stitch floor is rigid and stable. Water drains underneath the floor and out through the self-bailing holes. This helps keep you and your dog dry.
Like the Outfitter II, the Outlaw doesn’t have a fin, and you may find tracking difficult if you use it on a calm lake. However, you can add a fin replacement plate to the underside of the kayak. This will let you fit aftermarket fins.
Whitewater kayaks typically don’t come with the mounts, attachment points, and other features you find on recreational kayaks. The Outlaw II has a simple design, with D rings to secure a cooler or other gear. There’s plenty of space inside for two paddlers and a large dog or gear.
Instead of traditional seats, the Outlaw II has a pair of inflatable seats that you can sit on top of or use as backrests. They don’t offer as much back support as a chair-style seat, and if you’re planning to be in the kayak for long periods, I’d advise you to invest in a proper chair.
The Star Outlaw II is less than half the price of the Outfitter II. It’s at the budget end of the market for whitewater kayaks, but it’s designed to be more durable than a recreational inflatable kayak. Given most of us are unlikely to want to tackle serious rapids with our furry friends on board, it’s a good choice for introductory river paddling.
Buyer’s Guide – How to Find the Best Inflatable Kayak for Dogs
When you’re looking for the best inflatable kayak for dogs, the first decision you need to make is what type of kayak to go for.
Inflatable or Hard Shell Kayak?
You may automatically think that hardshell kayaks are the best option for a dog-friendly kayak. Hardshell kayaks can take a battering, and there’s no risk of your dog’s claws puncturing an inflatable when you’re on the water.
However, there are plenty of downsides to hardshell kayaks. They’re bulky, heavy, and hard to transport and store.
Fortunately, there are many durable inflatable kayaks for dogs on the market. The best inflatable kayaks are rigid, stable, and puncture-resistant. Get one with a backpack and you can hike to many different launch spots or travel by public transport.
In summary, either an inflatable or hard shell kayak is suitable for kayaking with dogs – it just depends on your preference.
Single or Tandem Kayak?
A single-person kayak will work if you have a small or medium-sized dog. However, they have less deck space and a lower weight capacity than tandems. If you have a large breed dog or multiple dogs, then I’d recommend a tandem inflatable kayak.
Sit-In or Sit-on-Top Kayak?
If you take your dog in a sit-in kayak, they’ll have to sit between your legs. This may suit you if you have a small dog who’s nervous around water and wants to be close to you. The downside is that your dog has less space to move and may not be able to see out of the kayak. Plus, there’s always a risk you bop them on the head with your paddle!
Sit-on-top kayaks have more deck space, so your canine friend can move around and see where you’re going. So, for this reason, I prefer a sit on top kayak when out paddling with my dog.
Features to Look For in a Dog-Friendly Kayak
Here are some specific features to look for in a kayak for dogs.
Stable Kayak with a High Weight Capacity
A stable kayak is a must when taking your furry friend out on the water. You need to be confident that your dog’s movements won’t unbalance you. You also need to be able to fish your dog out of the water without flipping the kayak.
A fishing kayak is often a good choice for dogs. They tend to be very stable and have high weight capacities.
Sufficient Space for You and Your Dog(s)
Small dogs will fit in most inflatable kayaks, but larger dogs require more space. This means you may need a tandem kayak to fit both of you comfortably on board. The larger the kayak, the harder it will be to maneuver, so there’s a bit of a trade-off between space and ease of paddling.
Some kayaks, such as the Aquaglide Chinook, have flexible seating positions, so you can optimize where you and your dog sit to balance out the kayak.
Tough, puncture-resistant PVC is a must when you have dogs on board! A cheap inflatable bathtub just won’t cut it – you’re better spending a bit extra and getting a kayak that you can have confidence in. The last thing you want is for your boat to deflate in the middle of the lake. Even with the most durable kayak, it’s probably best to trim your dog’s nails, just to be extra safe.
Some kayaks, such as the BOTE Zeppelin Aero, have a cushioned deck pad to give an extra layer of protection. Alternatively, you can just lay a section of foam mat where your canine pal will be sitting.
The construction method also has an impact on stability and performance. Traditionally, inflatable kayaks have an I-beam construction. You still see this parallel-tube design on lower-priced kayaks, but more expensive models usually have a drop-stitch floor. Drop stitch can be inflated to a higher pressure, making the kayak stiffer and more stable.
Onboard Storage Space
You want enough storage space to pack essentials for you and your dog. Ideally, storage space should be separate from where your dog wants to sit, so keep this in mind when shopping for an inflatable kayak for you and your dog.
This is one of the reasons I rate the Nixy Tahoe so highly, because it comes with two bungee store areas on the bow and on the stern. This gives plenty of space for your belongings and your pooch too!
How to Keep Your Dog Safe When Kayaking
Most dogs love water, but going out on an inflatable kayak is a different experience. It may take a few trips for your canine companion to get comfortable in your kayak.
Here are my top 5 tips to keep your dog safe and happy while kayaking:
- Get them a comfortable life vest – a PFD gives your dog extra buoyancy and helps you fish them out of the water if they jump overboard.
- Practice on land first – let your dog get used to the kayak and teach them where to sit before you go out on the water.
- Take a comfort item – a favorite blanket or toy can help your doggy pal feel at home.
- Don’t tie them to the kayak – if you capsize, the leash could get caught and pull your dog under the water.
- Take water and lots of snacks!
Read more tips for taking your dog in an inflatable kayak.
Are Inflatable Kayaks Okay for Dogs?
Yes! You can take dogs on inflatable kayaks, as long as the kayak is durable and high-quality. You may want to clip your dog’s claws if they’re very sharp and take a mat for them to lie on.
What Type of Kayak is Best for Dogs?
You can take your dog in either an inflatable or hard shell kayak – it depends on which works best for you! Inflatable kayaks have an open cockpit, which is great for bigger dogs, plus they’re easier to transport.
Can a Dog Fit in a One-Person Kayak?
Small dogs can fit in a one-person kayak, either in front of you or between your legs. If you have a large dog, you’d be better off with a tandem kayak setup for a single paddler.
Can you Kayak with a Dog in a Sit-In Kayak?
It’s possible to kayak with a small dog in a sit-in kayak, but I’d generally recommend an open, sit-on-top kayak. This gives your dog more space and makes it easier to fish them out of the water if they jump overboard!
You don’t have to leave your best friend behind when you go paddling! There are plenty of great inflatable kayaks for dogs – I’ve covered some of the best in this roundup.
I rate the Nixy Tahoe as the best inflatable kayak for dogs. It has plenty of space and a high weight capacity, so it’s suitable for dogs of all shapes and sizes. You get great accessories too!
If you want a smaller dog-friendly kayak, then I recommend the BOTE Deus Aero. It’s durable and performs well in the water. You can even use it as a stand-up paddle board!
Whatever kayak you go for, I hope your furry best friend loves being out on the water as much as you.