Two large dogs and one paddler

Hi there,

I was recently in the market for a tandem kayak that I would go kayaking with my one dog 65lbs. Well my father recently passed away and I have adopted his dog a 90lb yellow lab. I can’t leave him out of the fun so I am going to have to look at canoes which I am fine with. However I am trying to find the best canoe for two dogs and myself to be comfortable in. Ideally I would like two seats with a large open area in the middle but haven’t found anything like what I want without the third seat. I know the dogs may not like canoeing ect but I will cross that hurdle by taking them one at a time to get them used to it. But eventually I would like to go with both of them and want my gear to represent my ultimate goal. Any help is much appreciated.


The dogs will like it fine, but before
taking them out, make sure you are confident and competent in the canoe, maybe with a static load equal to combined weight of the dogs.

NRS Dog Flotation Lifejacket

– Last Updated: Jan-22-11 2:58 PM EST –

First - put a lifevest on YOU.
2nd - put a lifevest on the dogs

And that's before you get on the water.........

On the NRS website they are called CFD's
NRS Canine Flotation Device (CFD)

Middle seat can be removed
If you shop around for used canoes with three seats, the middle seat can be removed in many models. You should not remove the thwart in the center. This is a structural member and is necessary. I have a Wenonah SoloPlus which has three seats. This might be a model for you to consider. You can sit in back and the two dogs in front should balance you out, although if they move around a lot, it could be a little dicey til you get the hang of it. Follow advice of above. My dog ALWAYS wears his doggie PFD.

Paddling with Dogs

You may want to check out the Daytripper 12 made by Jackson kayak.

Its’ kind of a cross between a canoe and a kayak. its 12 feet long and should easily carry you and your 2 buddies. It is the SUV of kayaks.

Check it out at and


Twitter- @delawarepaddle

Facebook- Delaware Paddlesports

Sit on Top?
You had first stated that you were interested in a Kayak? Have you considered a Sit on Top - Ocean Kayak Malibu II XL - You can sit in the middle seat position, having a dog on each end of you? The dogs could get on and off the boat easy too.

xxx- large
with me it’s one large person and two small dogs

Maybe with smaller dogs
but with a 65# and a 95#, I don’t think a tandem SOT would work well at all.

mad river
Thanks for all the responses. I actually already purchased two cdf’s for the pooches. Does anyone have any experience with the madriver 14’ canoe? I really like how it looks and how while still being a canoe it is close to a kayak. I am just unsure of if the spaces are big enough for the dogs or not.

You’ve got two dogs equal to the weight of a second person, so you should be shopping for a two person canoe. Only downside is the dogs tend to not stay put while in the boat, so they will often be moving around which effects the balance of the boat, alot. Finding a 16’-17’ canoe with two seats really isn’t a problem, most are made that way. Shorter canoes generally are solo canoes and that may be fine alone, but you’ve got the weight of two people.

An initially stable canoe will be needed, dogs generally don’t like tippy boats, you’ll swim alot with one, they will too.

Before you spend the money for one, I’d definately borrow or rent one and find out ahead of time if the dogs will enjoy this or not. Silly to buy a boat you can’t use.

Bill H.

I did a trip on the eleven point with two Malinois, 56 and 72 lbs. The first day they each had their own section in the rented canoe…probably a 16 foot old town discovery or similar. One air snaps flying insects…which is jerky…but no capsize. I did have better luck with balance the second day when the dogs were in the same section…less likely to have so much weight on one side or the other dependning on what had their attention on shore…

canoe dogs
Two large dogs:

One large dog:

The tandem is a Bell Morningstar RX. 15.5’, very stable. I usually paddle from the kneeling thwart for stability and trim when I’m alone with the dog(s).

They will be much more comfortable if you put something on the floor for traction.

We put the canoe on the lawn and fed the dogs in it for a few days before trying them on the water.

Make the Lab swim
…and then there is the couple who paddle off the Potomac River, and have their two dogs swim along behind them the whole day. Talked to the guy who rented them the boats, and yup, they just swim along for a couple hours. You did say you had a Lab? Wouldn’t work for my dog. She was a hound; no built in flotation…

1 kid, 1 gf, 1 dog and me
Canoe passenger order - front to back:

gf, dog - 50lb weimaraner mix, kid, me.

Just thru class I-II rapids with no problems and into a wide, smooth bend, dog got antzy and went to one side. Both the gf and myself shifted immediately opposite, dog joined, over we went. Took probably a second or two to dump. When I surfaced, gf was in the drink dog and kid still in the canoe upright and fine. Go figure. Just sayin’