TOWING A Dog Kayak

Have been looking at kayaks trying to find one to fit me and my fast-growing Newfoundland puppy. He’s already over 125 lbs and just turned 8 months. He may be 150 lbs full grown. Tarpon 130T is current frontrunner but I’m beginning to think I need to tow a small boat just for him. Need something that I can smooth out the molding with some sort of traction mat so he’s stable and comfy.

Suggestions? Anybody towed a dog kayak before? SOT might be easier for him to jump in and out of.

If he has his own kayak it would be far more versatile. I could finally get what I really want: Tsunami 145, and use it or smaller recs already have.

Advice re towing? Advice re good small boat appropriate for towing?

Newfie is currently 31" high and over 6’ long stretched out. He is going to want to change positions, shift weight, sit, lay, and hop in and out for swimming.

I did look into the kayrak, platform, but the maker kindly emailed me and said it’s too small for a Newfoundland dog.

A 7’ SOT with drainage holes and flat LARGE cockpit would be awesome.

Or maybe you can think of something better? TIA

make sure the dog agrees to towing

The few I’ve tried objected vehemently

He likes kayaking
He likes kayaking with me. Perception Sundance 12’, sat in cockpit in front of me, very happy, but he’s too big now to fit.

The Wildy Tarpon 130T that I tried is a SOT tandem. Molded foot rests good but bumpy for dog. Problem is paddling that 71 lb boat solo is hard work!

Towing would be so versatile. What do I need to know?

Did your dog object to being towed but like riding with you?


They want to be WITH you. I’d try before you buy.

tow – too far away?
Yep, Newfies especially are velcro dogs. But I didn’t think being towed (short rope) would be that far away. And yes, definitely will try before buying.

Seems to be huge opportunity here, if a manufacturer made a boat that could be towed, handling 3 little dogs, or 2 medium, or 1 huge – so many ppl want to go out on the water with their dogs.

Had a thread about kayaking with a huge dog in Dec 09. Somebody suggested a SOT with holes for Fido’s legs to dog paddle, assist. That would be really great!

There’s got to be something really appropriate out there. Has to be …

Maybe a tandem?
A recreational sit-in tandem with a big cockpit, like a WS Pamlico, might work for you. You can adjust the position of the seats, and because it’s a sit-in, the bottom is flat, the center of gravity is lower, and I would think more comfortable & secure for a dog than a SOT.

I would recommend one with a rudder if you’re going to be the only one paddling, esp. with that much weight in the front. The Pamlico 145T has an optional rudder; it’s standard on the 160T.

I would also add front & rear flotation bags or foam to what comes with the boat, to make it easier to empty if you should capsize.

Dog swimming?
My only thoughts of sit-in versus sit-on is if the dog likes to swim. Seems that a sit-in would present challenges for the dog getting in/out of the boat.

Great suggestions with the Pamlico Tandem - I think everything else about it is ideal for this given use.

He carries a lot of water
Tried the Pamlico 135T and liked it a lot. The store worker could not get the seats to move so wasn’t able to try it with the dog. This may be the boat I buy if nothing more suitable is possible.

My Newfie pup Orka has a very thick long coat and it picks up heavy volumes of water, silt, mud, sand, debris. So the self-draining holes of a SOT sounded good, useful. Plus the reported ease of his jumping on and off to swim when he desires.

But what about TOWING? ??? Anybody tried it? What if I towed a mini canoe with him in it? For myself canoes are tippy awful feeling, and the bars across would impede him, but maybe there’s a small canoe with no bars, could take seat out and it would be just right for a huge dog?

What issues do I need to be alert for with towing?

Wonderful news! The “canoe” has
recently been invented. Most canoes carry large dogs much more easily than kayaks, and your canoe can be driven with a double bladed paddle about as well as a SOT.

Canoes – problem
Where is a canoe without bars across the top? This dog is too big to negotiate those bars. He’s 5’+ long standing and well over 6’ long stretched out laying down.

He will need a long OPEN space. Clear. No obstructions. BIG.

Picture a black bear. That’s what everybody squeals when they see him. And he’s still growing fast.

you want those thwarts

You don’t want that big bear going freely wherever it wants. That won’t work. You’ll want him/her somewhere around the end opposite your own. The thwarts set up a bit of a barrier. It least it slows them down enough that you can say, “no” before the get over it.

getting in
Newfs are not particularly agile dogs. Actually, the one’s I’ve known are the most clutzy creatures I’ve ever met.

I can’t imagine how any dog could get back on a sit in, or sit on, from the water without help. I’ve managed to drag my 150 pound newf over the transom of a dinghy (much more stable than any kayak) but it literally took all my might, and we partially swamped the boat in the process.

I think finding a boat the dog can swim in and out of is a very tough goal. I’d give up on that, and hope your Newf is not a diver, and get a large cockpit double sit-in, like the Old Town Loon 160, or similar. You can remove the front seat, and it’ll offer your pup canoe-like comfort, but give you the feel of a kayak, albeit a large one.

To me, towing all the time sounds like too much work, and kind of clumsy. Your dog is going to want to be with you anyways. Double rec kayaks are a dime-a-dozen on craigslist, so get yourself a dog boat, and then you can still get that sweet single-kayak you’ve got your eye on.

Happy Dog-paddling,


Thanks Nate
Thanks Nate! Hearing from those with Newfies is invaluable.

Have a Jeep Liberty with kayak racks for 4 kayaks up top, want something I can load up there, instead of buying a trailer for a boat. Of course the rowboats etc with platforms for Newfy waterwork training are great, but too cumbersome for going on 4-hour day paddling trips, still lakes, slow rivers, just messing around having fun, swimming, practicing the water draft exercises etc.

Seems towing a dog rec kayak would be a cinch but I’m listening to “The dog wants to be with you” and realizing that means actually in the same boat, not even a couple feet away in his own comfy barge.

Drats, thought towing would be the answer. So it comes down to the Pamlico 135T vs the Tarpon 130T. I like both, have to try with dog (AlderCreek’s new building has dog-impossible stairs down to harbor with huge gap), already tried solo. These are heavy kayaks and not zippy fun to paddle.

Anybody out there an advocate of towing? Soliciting last ray of hope before settling for 1 of 2 above. Course there’s always the new kayaks about to be introduced …

Just cannot imagine a huge wet slippery dog clambering over the canoe thwarts. Want his area wide open.

Going to have to test different non-slip mats …

Bigger than most imagine

For those who have never seen a Newfie, look at above picture, at his size compared to human. Huge.

Ok, how about this

Just throw a bow line out and let the Newfie tow you. Win-win!

Eventually he’ll do the towing
Yep, eventually he’ll do that, natural instinct.

But 1st, training, and fun. I like to paddle about 4 hours, and he is just a baby now, doesn’t have the stamina to swim beside the kayak for that long.

When I finally figure it out, buy it, and we’re out having fun, will post link to pictures.

Yeah, we had a Saint B., and dumb as
he was, he was smart enough to step over thwarts.

If it really is an issue, thwarts in canoes can be moved. Kayaks don’t offer such options. And if the dog has to be able to move around a lot in a canoe, I don’t see how even a SOT Triple will be better.

Dagger Torrent
OK, so I called AlderCreek in Portland about towing a huge dog. The guy there knows Newfies and recommended a Dagger Torrent, which is a 10’ SOT, quite flat and easily slip-proofed.

He recommended waist towing and clipping to the torrent’s front soft touch handle. They have a used demo Torrent for sale. Next weekend I’ll take Orka there and we’ll try it out.

He said 3 days ago he got a call from a guy with a big dog and the exact same question – advice re towing the dog in his own kayak.

The Torrent has self-bailing scuppers and is stable enough for ppl to swing their legs sideways, stand in, etc.

Dagger Torrent

After years of experience
of leading trips and watching folks in boats of all types and sizes try to accomdate dogs of all sizes, I can count on my hand the number who actually have made it work to the point where that animal is not an annoyance to either them or the people paddling with them.

I know there are exceptions out there and I know that everybody thinks their dog is the greatest ever, but best rule of thumb for 98% of those considering it is to leave the dog at home, but if you insist it seems that the smaller and/or older the dog is the better the paddling partner they make.

I see Torrents all the time. I hope
your dog’s behavior does not surprise you.