Choosing the right pet for your sailing lifestyle
Choosing the right pet for your sailing lifestyle

Choosing the right pet for your sailing lifestyle is crucial for ensuring their safety, well-being, and compatibility with your boat and family.

Choosing the Right Pet for Your Sailing Lifestyle

As you embark on your new sailing adventure with your family, you may be wondering if it’s possible to bring a furry friend along for the journey. The good news is that many pets can adapt to life on a boat, providing companionship, entertainment, and even an added sense of security. However, not all pets are well-suited for the sailing lifestyle, and it’s essential to choose the right one for your family and your boat.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the various factors to consider when selecting a boat-friendly pet, discuss the most suitable types of pets for life at sea, and offer tips for ensuring your pet’s safety and well-being while onboard.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Boat-Friendly Pet

Before you decide on a pet for your sailing adventure, it’s crucial to consider several factors that will impact your pet’s ability to adapt to life on a boat. These include:


The size of your boat and the available living space will play a significant role in determining the type of pet that will be most comfortable onboard. Larger pets, such as big dog breeds, may struggle to move around and find comfortable spots to rest on smaller boats. On the other hand, smaller pets like cats, small dog breeds, and birds will have an easier time adapting to the limited space.


Some pets are more adaptable and easygoing than others, making them better suited for life on a boat. When choosing a pet, consider their temperament and how well they are likely to handle the constant motion, new environments, and potential stressors of life at sea. Pets with a calm and adaptable nature will generally fare better in these conditions.

Exercise Needs

All pets require regular exercise to stay healthy and happy, but some need more physical activity than others. Consider the exercise needs of your chosen pet and whether you can realistically meet those needs while living on a boat. For example, dogs with high energy levels may require daily walks or runs onshore, which may not always be feasible depending on your sailing schedule and destinations.

Swimming Ability

While not all pets will need to be strong swimmers, it’s essential to consider your pet’s swimming ability and comfort around water. Some dog breeds, such as retrievers and spaniels, are natural swimmers and may enjoy the opportunity to swim alongside your boat. Other pets, like cats and some small dog breeds, may be less comfortable in the water and require additional safety precautions.

Compatibility with Children and Other Pets

If you have children or other pets onboard, it’s crucial to choose a pet that will get along well with everyone. Some pets may be more social and tolerant of children and other animals, while others may prefer to be the only pet on board. Be sure to research the typical temperament and behavior of your chosen pet to ensure a harmonious living environment for all.

Best Types of Pets for Life on a Boat

Now that you have a better understanding of the factors to consider when choosing a boat-friendly pet, let’s explore some of the best types of pets for life at sea.


Dogs are a popular choice for boat life, as they are loyal, protective, and provide excellent companionship. Many dog breeds can adapt well to life on a boat, but some are better suited than others. Breeds that are known to be good swimmers, such as Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Portuguese Water Dogs, can be excellent choices for life at sea. Smaller breeds like French Bulldogs, Pugs, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can also adapt well to boat life due to their compact size and adaptable nature.


Cats are another popular choice for boat life, as they are low-maintenance, independent, and generally adapt well to small spaces. Many cats can learn to enjoy life on a boat, especially if introduced to the lifestyle at a young age. Some cat breeds, such as the Maine Coon, Turkish Van, and Bengal, are known to be more comfortable around water and may be better suited for life at sea.


Birds can make excellent boat pets due to their small size, low exercise needs, and ability to provide entertainment and companionship. Parrots, in particular, can be a good choice for boat life, as they are intelligent, social, and can be trained to perform tricks and mimic sounds. Smaller bird species, such as parakeets and canaries, can also adapt well to life on a boat, but may require additional care to ensure their safety and well-being.

Tips for Ensuring Your Pet’s Safety and Well-Being Onboard

Once you’ve chosen the perfect pet for your sailing lifestyle, it’s essential to take steps to ensure their safety and well-being while onboard. Here are some tips to help you create a pet-friendly environment on your boat:

Provide a Safe and Comfortable Living Space

Ensure your pet has a designated area on the boat where they can feel safe and comfortable. This may include a bed or sleeping area, food and water dishes, and toys or enrichment items. Make sure this area is secure and protected from the elements, and consider adding non-slip surfaces to help your pet maintain their footing while the boat is in motion.

Invest in Safety Gear

Invest in safety gear designed specifically for pets, such as life jackets, harnesses, and tethers. A pet life jacket can provide buoyancy and support in the water, while a harness and tether can help secure your pet on deck and prevent them from accidentally falling overboard.

Establish a Bathroom Routine

Establishing a bathroom routine for your pet is essential for maintaining cleanliness and hygiene onboard. For dogs, this may involve regular trips ashore for bathroom breaks or training them to use a designated area on the boat, such as a piece of artificial grass or a doggy litter box. For cats, ensure their litter box is easily accessible and cleaned regularly to prevent odors and messes.

Plan for Veterinary Care

Before setting sail, research veterinary services in the areas you plan to visit and ensure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations and preventative medications. It’s also a good idea to have a basic pet first aid kit onboard, including items such as bandages, tweezers, and antiseptic wipes, to address minor injuries or illnesses.

Be Patient and Flexible

Finally, be patient and flexible as your pet adjusts to life on a boat. It may take some time for them to become comfortable with the new environment and routine, but with patience, love, and support, most pets can learn to thrive in their new sailing lifestyle.

In conclusion, choosing the right pet for your sailing lifestyle involves careful consideration of factors such as size, temperament, exercise needs, and compatibility with your family and boat. By selecting a pet that is well-suited for life at sea and taking steps to ensure their safety and well-being onboard, you can enjoy the companionship and joy that a furry friend can bring to your sailing adventure.