Table of Contents
- Australian Shepherd
- Siberian Husky
- Border Collie
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- German Shorthaired Pointer
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Portuguese Water Dog
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Doberman Pinscher
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- Labrador Retriever
- Norwegian Elkhound
- What Makes a Good Hiking Dog?
Enjoying the great outdoors has a myriad of physical and mental benefits. But now, you can enjoy the great outdoors with your furry friend and enjoy one more benefit – bonding. Not only will hiking with your dog strengthen the bond that already exists, but it is also a whole lot of fun as well! However, not all dog breeds will be the best dogs for hiking. For simple hikes, you have the active breeds such as a Jack Russell Terrier. For arduous climbs, you may need a larger hiking dog or even a mountaineering dog.
Whether you are considering adopting a fur baby for your hiking needs or already have one, we have put together a list of the best dog breeds for hiking. Whether or not your dog lands on this list, any dog with an adventurous spirit will be a great outdoor companion. You don’t need to have one of these breeds to have a good time on the trails, but we know that the below few breeds can hold up against some tough terrain.
These beautifully colored fur babies aren’t actually from Australia but bred in the United States. The Australian Shepherd is known to be incredibly intelligent, loyal, and very affectionate. They also make the list of best herding/farming dogs for their high energy nature and trainability. The Australian Shepherd can also be considered a multipurpose dog breed. They are fun-loving and well suited to outdoor activities such as hiking but can also make exceptional working dogs.
Keep in mind that even if they aren’t going on a hike with you, these fur babies are balls of energy and require daily exercise to expend all their excess energy buildup.
The beautiful Siberian Husky may give off the impression that they are winter or Arctic dogs. This is true, but they can still thrive in the urban city with the right amount of exercise. They are one of the best dog breeds for hiking but without proper training from an early age, be sure you keep your Siberian Huskies on a leash. These babies may look fierce and wild like their wolf cousins, but they are actually one of the friendliest dog breeds around.
We will say that the Sibe is notoriously difficult to train, but with patience and lots of positive reinforcement, you will see that this high energy dog breed is full of vitality and have peak endurance. As a working breed, they aren’t afraid of hard work and while they were bred to pull sleds through sub-zero temperatures like their larger Alaskan Malamute cousins, your urbanized husky dog will settle for being your hiking companion.
The Border Collie is very similar to the Aussie Shepherd. They are herders and are known for their exceptional intelligence, energy level and work ethic, all of which makes them great dogs for hiking. Their ancestors were originally bred in England and Scotland where hilly terrain is dominant. This makes these herding dogs also one of the best dogs for backpacking and hiking.
Just like for any other high energy breed, the Border Collie needs lots of exercise or you will have a mischievous fur baby on your hands that could be prone to destruction. However, when your Border Collie is happy, fed and well-exercised, they are one of the most loving breeds around.
Related Review: Best Dog Backpacks
Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain dog is one of the best hiking dogs and you can see it in their name. Hailing from Switzerland, these beautiful dogs were originally bred as farm dogs and herding dogs. They can get quite big and are more suited to cold weather. They are gentle giants who are full of vitality but have calm demeanors. They are quite the protectors as well and be great guard dogs due to their alert nature.
They need lots of exercise and do well in larger spaces. A Bernese Mountain Dog is not suited to desert or hot tropical climates as they are, after all, cold weather dogs.
German Shorthaired Pointer
For those who want a pup with a short and more manageable coat, The German Shorthaired Pointer is an excellent hiking companion. What makes them the best dog for hiking is because they were originally hunting dogs. Hunting dogs are used to different terrain and woodsy areas and can endure long hours of physical demand. Depsite their short coats, the German Shorthaired Pointer is suitable for various climates and is sociable and happy dogs.
These dogs suit the ultimate woodsman with their rugged exterior and no-nonsense personalities. They are another breed of hunting dog that has now become domesticated and make great house pets. They are strong and agile dogs that are well suited to the outdoors. They can go for long distances and long hours without needing a break. When you take your Rhodesian Ridgeback out on a climb, it will be you that will have trouble keeping up!
When you add a Rhodesian Ridgeback to your family, make sure you are ready to train him with plenty of patience. These dogs require obedience training and proper socialization at a young age. They also make great guard dogs if that’s what you are looking for so they need to be well-trained to be off-leash.
Australian Cattle Dog
As the ultimate herding dog, the Australian Cattle Dog also makes a great hiking dog. They are loyal, friendly, affectionate and obedient, similar to the temperament of a Labrador Retriever. Since the Aussie Cattle Dog was bred specifically for herding, they have all the strength, agility and endurance they need already in their genes. This makes them great for hiking long distances and they are a breed that does well in mountains or on hills.
They are easy to train and with proper training, these dogs can be off-leash and follow closely by their owners. They are known as “heelers”, meaning they stick by you and come when called.
Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog looks like a sheepdog with Border Collie markings. However, they aren’t bred to herd sheep but to gather fish! They don’t only thrive in the water but can do very well on land as well. One of the best dog breeds for outdoor living, the Portuguese Water Dog will make a great hiking buddy and a swimming companion. These dogs are gaining in popularity, in fact, former President Obama’s dog happens to be of the same breed!
One thing to keep in mind with this loveable ball of fun is that their long and curly coat requires more attention and grooming.
Jack Russell Terrier
Hiking dogs don’t all have to be big, the Jack Russell Terrier is a whole lot of energy and strength packed into a small package. Jack Russell dogs love to explore and are a breed that combines speed and agility in one. You will be surprised how fast they can run after prey since they are a hunting dog. They also have it in their genes to not let go once they latch on, so early training will be needed. They can shoot off like a bullet so obedience training is required before off-leash activities. You will watch these little dogs scale high stumps and fences with their powerful back legs.
Even for a small dog, this breed requires just as much exercise as an Australian Shepherd, a larger Bernese Mountain Dog, or even an energetic husky.
Dobermans are the cool tough dogs we see on screen, but off-screen any owner will tell you that these dogs love their owners and are full of love. However, they can be fierce guardians due to their unwavering loyalty. They are as fearless as they are rugged, and the Doberman Pinscher is considered great hiking buddies because they will follow you up mountains and down rivers with no complaints.
They benefit from early obedience training and can be very compliant, but that takes time. Be ready for lots of positive reinforcement training but what you will get in return is a loving pup with low maintenance care.
The Dalmatian is another active breed that is known for its speed. You often see them with firefighters in classic movies or books, because that’s what they were bred for. These dogs were a fireman’s dog just like German Shepherds are often classified as police dogs. These spotted canines cleared the way to the scene for firetrucks back in the day and saved lots of lives.
Their speed is nearly unmatched by other dogs and their constant vigilance and protective nature are what makes them a good breed to keep with you on hiking trips.
The Vizsla is a great beginner dog for first-time owners. If you are thinking about getting your first dog that is a great trailblazer with you, then look no further than the Vizsla. They are highly trainable dogs that can stay focused. Off-leash adventures are on the horizon for this breed as they will stick by their owners through thick and thin. The Vizsla is also an excellent navigator and can make its way through obstacles and guide your way with little to no trouble.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Before you scoff and move on down the list, just hear us out. We are all well aware of the Corgi’s defining stumpy legs, but they are more useful than you think. They were actually bred to herd and can run at great speeds despite their short stature. You may even see them at agility contests running, jumping and turning tricks. For dogs with this unique build, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is an excellent hiking partner.
They may do well on regular trails, but we wouldn’t suggest taking your Corgi to rustic backwoods trails that have lots of tall obstacles. While they may be able to clear it, It could be detrimental to their spinal development.
Labs aren’t only good family dogs, they are excellent hiking buddies as well. Due to their easy trainability and good temperament, this breed makes an amazing life companion. They have energy levels that could rival a Border Collie and the love and loyalty of a Bernese Mountain Dog, Labradors are one of the best dogs to have for exercise, outdoor living and physical challenges. Not only do they contribute to your physical well-being, but they do also mentally as well.
Labs are great therapy and service dogs with skills that can range from guiding the visually impaired to offering lots of hugs and kisses to the depressed. Not only will Labs make great pets, they are also lifelong friends.
Another hunting breed, the Norwegian Elkhound is a strong and robust breed that was originally bred to hunt large moose. This is a testament to their strength that has been bred in them throughout the years. They bear a small resemblance to German Shepherds and Huskies and share their independent nature. One thing is for sure, they are strong dogs that are suited to wintery climates due to their thick double coats.
Here is an example of another smaller hiking breed. The Beagle loves to hike and sniff out new things to satisfy their curiosity. These cute creatures are loyal and love physical activity. With a Beagle, you get an exercise partner and a lifelong companion. They are very friendly and do well on the trail when you meet new friends. One thing to be aware of is their tendency to chase after furry creatures such as squirrels along the way. Just make sure your Beagle can be called back easily.
What Makes a Good Hiking Dog?
How did we end up with these types on our list? There are certain traits we look for when deciding if a pup is a great trail companion. Even if your dog isn’t a breed on our list, could they still be good hunting dogs? Well, if they exhibit any of these characteristics below, they just might!
A puppy is too all over the place and uncontrolled to take on a hiking trip. Not only that, but puppies also aren’t recommended for more than 15-20 minutes of exercise a day depending on how young they are. On the flip side, a senior dog will have trouble keeping up with you and their joints won’t have the range of motion they used to. They won’t be able to support their body weight for long and will require lots of breaks.
The more suitable hiking companions have lots of excess vitality. Hitting the trails is a great way to expend pent up vivacity for these pups and can keep their behavior in line. For pups that will actually enjoy being on the rugged roads with you, look for fur babies that love to get out and move.
High levels of activity do not necessarily equate to rambunctious dogs. In fact, some of the most highly active fur babies can be the most composed. It all ties in with the training. Training your pup from a young age is the key to desired behavior. You don’t want an aggressive or scared dog or one that follows his will more than your commands.
Intelligence and Obedience
A properly trained dog doesn’t need to be super smart. However, what can really help you on the road is to have a smart fur baby that can follow your commands to the letter. You don’t want your fur baby to get into too much trouble in a new environment. Easily trainable dogs include the Retrievers and many of the short-haired dogs on our list.
There is no rule for a suitable hiking partner, but the characteristics we mentioned above are what’s important to take note of. It’s possible for even the smallest little lap dog to make a good hiking buddy. Unfortunately, there are dogs that are genetically unsuited such as short-snouted breeds. But we have found that a lot of mixed mutts are made of tougher cloths than their purebred counterparts. It doesn’t matter what breed, a dog that fits your lifestyle is the one you want.
As an outdoorsy person, you want a dog with high energy, intelligence and obedience to make good exercise buddies. When embarking on an outdoor adventure, remember not to push your dog too far and always have enough water on hand.