Kayak or canoe

If you can find a Swift Keewaydin 15 in a pack canoe seating arrangement or the new Swift Prospector in the cari height seat or a Rapid Fire pack canoe give them a whirl
Pack canoes are not restricted to short lengths. Rapid is 15 feet long
Hornbeck has a 16 foot pack canoe
With dogs you need volume

Leave the dogs homes for a bit, and demo both canoes and kayaks, and take a paddling/rescue lesson in the kind of boat you choose. Although dogs are probably easier to handle in canoes while upright, your dogs outweigh you and in a capsize you will have to manage a swamped canoe and two dogs. I have taught canoeing classes, and I would not want to deal with a swamped canoe and two dogs in rough conditions. A good tandem SOT that you can paddle from the middle position is probably a much better solution, because you will be able to self rescue and get the dogs back on board. I had a dog that weighed 60 lbs and loved the water and was terrified of boats - both canoes and kayaks. We practiced rescues in both canoes and kayaks and she refused to get in a canoe again, but would paddle in a SOT tandem kayak if my wife went along to reassure her. So make certain both dogs are really into it, as posted elsewhere some dogs are much happier on shore or home .

Read Jester42’s post again and heed it. I have to completely agree. If you want to get on the water, eventually with your dog(s), then you need to learn the critical skills yourself. Get a solo Swift with a seat high enough to use and learn to be proficient with a single blade paddle. Be cautioned that if you try to put one dog in front of you and one behind, when you turn around to look at the dog behind (and you will), unless you are extremely careful and well balanced you will capsize (yes you will). Especially when the dog in front gets up to see what you are doing and shifts his weight.

Again, recommend that you learn and become proficient with solo skills by yourself first. Then get a 14-15’ tandem (you will need the length for weight trim and maneuverability) perhaps configured in fore/aft trim such that you can paddle sitting backwards from the bow seat (if that provides the best trim for your combined weight) and put both dogs in front of you where you can see their movements and be able to compensate for the shifting weight as you paddle comfortably and skillfully along.

@New2Paddling said:
Love all the photo examples. Seems to be enjoying the time even if he’s not much paddle help. I will definitely have to take weight of the vessel into consideration. That’s one scenario I’m tossing around in my head… if one of them does go overboard… I plan to have them outfitted with pfd’s so I can help them back up, but the sides of a canoe seem daunting for that and my huge lab. She’s a great swimmer and loves the water… but… the what if’s.

If one of your dogs goes overboard it does not matter if you are in a canoe or kayak. You need to stay close enough to shore that everyone can swim to shore or you are putting everyone’s life in danger.

A pack canoe like the Swift Keewaydin 15 makes sense for you based on your plans since you sit on the floor so it’s stable plus it’s roomy. You paddle pack canoes with kayak paddles so it’s quicker and easier to develop basic skills. I think you can order a Keewaydin 15 with different seats so you could use it as a pack boat or as a regular canoe. Are you aware that a new lightweight canoe is over $3000?

The comments around you trying to do too much too fast are perfectly fair. It would be best to develop your own skills for a year or two. But as far as boats being tippy with dogs I think that depends mostly on you. Dogs moving around make a canoe wiggle but a dog isn’t likely to make a boat tip over since they just can’t get their full weight far enough from the center plus in my experience dogs may actually help keep a boat upright since they also have a sense of balance. Of course you need to establish boundaries for the dogs just like on land…mine is not allowed to sit anywhere but right in front of me and she’s not allowed to get too wild either but in my limited experience even young dogs seem pretty content to just go along for the ride.

I wonder if a small tandem kayak with a big open cockpit might be best for you since your learning curve would be faster than a canoe plus both dogs could sit in front of you.

A point of clarity both Qruiser and I have been paddling boats since…the 60s. Riker is highly trained. But he’s often a pain and I wouldn’t take two dogs out.

@Overstreet said:
A point of clarity both Qruiser and I have been paddling boats since…the 60s. Riker is highly trained. But he’s often a pain and I wouldn’t take two dogs out.

Which century?

How about a tandem Poke Boat for Jen?


My advice. Get a nice, light, agile solo canoe to paddle when you’re without the dogs and to learn the sport. Find some groups to paddle with and learn from more experienced paddlers. People are usually more than happy to have a new member in the group. Then get a tandem canoe to paddle with the dogs. I found it best to put a foam pad (like part of a foam sleeping mat) in the bow of the canoe and put my 75 lb Aussie in front of the bow seat to trim the canoe. Teach him to lie down in waves (took the Aussie less than 5 minutes to learn that one). Whenever he saw a big boat wave coming he would lie down and it made the canoe more stable than with most paddling partners. This also keeps the heavy dog in the “lateral center” of the canoe. Even the proboat was very stable in this configuration. My current Border Collie friend is more active but the concept is the same. To save some money on the 2 canoes, have a knowledgeable paddling friend help you find good used canoes on craigslist or even eBay. A good used Wenonah, Sawyer, Bell, Northstar, Clipper, Swift, Savage River, Souris River, etc. canoe is as good as a new one and will last for decades if taken care of and not left in the sun. As an example some of the old Sawyer designs are every bit as good as the latest canoe models. Have fun canoeing. It’s one of the very best lifelong sports you can do.

Sorry I missed a few days. But I am back. To be quite fair to myself here I say this… I do appreciate all of the true heartfelt advice and I WILL heed it… that’s why I’m here. As far as me trying to do too much too fast, I don’t believe I specified a time frame for myself, and I did specifically say the dogs would be at home until I learned. I simply stated my current situation and the end goal to give insight of what I would like to eventually accomplish.

Someone asked what I see myself doing. I don’t foresee myself whitewater rafting. I see myself on bigger lakes, small ponds and smaller rivers.

I am not set in stone on sitting or kneeling. If one means more stability over the other or is a better option I would definitely take that into consideration.

Someone suggested I read-read jesters post. Here’s what I have to say about it. I totally agree with the capsizing on purpose. I am a solo backpacking female hiker. I started camping alone at an early age. I taught myself how to build shelters and fire and made myself camp in the woods behind my house. If I didn’t have a fire (through wind, rain, snow)… I didn’t eat. So I get the being prepared for disaster/emergency. However. I don’t agree with it being unattainable or unrealistic. There are plenty of people who have spoken up showing that that’s just not the case. I am really looking for the best option… kayak vs canoe for my size that will get me to my end goal.

I will not be tying the dogs to the watercraft. They will have PFDs (they already do).

Someone asked if I was aware of the cost of a canoe… yes, I have researched them, thank you.

Now to look into all of these amazing suggestions… I do appreciate everyone’s time.

Klepper Aerius 2 or Nautiraid Grand Raid. These are very stable kayaks with large cockpits. Not that uncommon to find used ones for around $500. Pricey but very hard to find used are Long Haul kayaks. Same design, tough as nails

@TomL said:
How about a tandem Poke Boat for Jen?


I was thinking that a large decked canoe (which is what I consider the Poke boat to be) should be an option. I would have suggested a 15’-ish Prospector style canoe from Wenonah, Swift, Nova
Craft, or others, because with the right technique it can be paddled solo and it would be very stable. But for one issue…

I see myself on bigger lakes, small ponds and smaller rivers.

Wind on bigger lakes would make the Prospector a no-fun handful, especially when solo - although adding ballast can help.

A tandem decked canoe (aka recreational kayak) might be better for lakes and ponds, but will be a handful on smaller rivers with tight turns.

I know a few people who bring dogs with them when paddling. Some with canoes, some with rec kayaks, and some with SUP. The only ones who bring more than one dog have small dogs (under 30 lbs). The ones with medium or large dogs all have one thing in common. Those dogs stay where they’re told to stay.

I bring the dog sometimes, but have only done so when tandem in a 16’ canoe. If I we’re to bring her when solo (medium size ~40 lbs), I would sit on the bow seat facing stern, position the dog just ahead of the yoke, and add some ballast ahead of her to trim the boat and increase stability.

I wouldn’t put my fairly obedient 40 lb dog in either of my 14.5’ solo canoes with me, unless I was on the calmest of water and staying near shore. Even in the MR Guide, which is very stable by my standards. it would be very distracting, at best.

I paddle both. However, any big expedition I’ve done between 2-6 month trip I used a decked canoe…which to a novice you could say it’s a large volume kayak with a big cockpit. A regular kayak will be like traveling across the country with your dog on a motorcycle. Yes, it can be done, but not ideal.
I have one friend who did a 3200-mile kayak trip across the USA with a small 12 lb. dog which mainly sat on his deck the whole time. I have at least a dozen friends who have done 2-20 week trips in canoes with a dog or decked canoe. The EddyLine Shasta is a great boat, Can be paddled solo and plenty of room for a dog. Friend of mine paddles his with his 25 lb dog. You can paddle single or double blade too. There is also the Clipper Sea One which has a big cockpit for a dog, or the More expensive Kruger Sea WInds which can hold a 130 lb Newfoundland dog. The cheaper boats are the Old Town Loons which have a big cockpit or you could go with a tandem sit on top. Plenty of room for a dog. The EDDY Line Shasta would hold a 110 lb dog and plenty of stability. I know 5 people that have made 2400-3000 mile trips in their with 4 times the gear as your dog weighs.