Hiking with your dog can be a great way to bond and explore the great outdoors together. Unfortunately, not all dogs are great hiking companions. Some breeds are naturally better equipped for it than others, and it's important to be mindful of this if you are thinking about bringing home a new canine companion to share adventures with. As veterinarians, we know a thing or two about dogs and which breeds are best suited to certain activities. In this blog post, we'll take a look at some of the best dog breeds for hiking, from athletic all-rounders to endurance specialists. So whether you're looking for an intense adventure buddy or just want to know which dogs can keep up on the trail, read on!
1. Labrador Retriever
Labradors are undeniably one of the most popular and beloved dog breeds. Renowned for their energy, fur-ever joyfulness, and love for the outdoors, these charming canines make perfect hiking buddies. There's nothing more gratifying than seeing a Labrador retriever galloping through nature's beauty, their tail wagging in excitement as their paws hit the trails.
Even if you have hiked the same trail countless times before, experiencing it through the eyes of an excited Lab will make it seem brand new. It's hard not to have an incredible time when exploring with one of these dogs by your side.
2. Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese mountain dogs are an excellent choice for hikers looking for a canine companion. These large dogs are built to handle hikes of all lengths and difficulties, thanks to their natural strength and endurance. They're also highly adaptable, so changes in elevation or terrain won’t throw them off.
On top of all that, Bernese mountain dogs make very loyal and loving hiking buddies. They'll stay close to their human companions, making sure they stay safe every step of the way. Plus, their beautiful coats are perfect for keeping them warm during chilly hikes in the mountains or at night. All these qualities make Bernese Mountain Dogs a great choice for hikers looking for an adventurous companion to join them on outdoor excursions.
3. Golden Retriever
The golden retriever is a fantastic choice for an excursion buddy! They have plenty of energy and love to get out and explore, so you definitely won't be short of hiking companions. Not only do they make great hiking partners, but these athletic pooches are also incredibly loyal and affectionate. What's more, their bright personalities and intelligence mean they can easily pick up obedience training. All this makes the golden retriever a delightful pup that will be an amazing friend for both your active explorations and everyday life.
4. Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian cattle dog is an amazing breed. If you are looking for a loyal, obedient, and active pup that can keep up with your active lifestyle, look no further! With their unique bloodline, they were originally bred as herding dogs to help shepherd livestock on Australian ranches.
Due to their high intelligence and working drive, these dogs also make excellent companions for in-town hikes and long days on the trails. They need regular exercise to stay mentally and physically fit, so if you're ready to commit to their physical needs then they can be a great choice! The Australian cattle dog is a robust canine that will always be ready for whatever adventure comes their way.
5. Border Collie
The border collie is a herding dog with an impressive amount of energy, making them well-suited for long-distance hikes and strenuous activities. Their high intelligence and acute awareness of their environment make this breed especially enjoyable to have as a hiking partner.
Keep in mind, though, that border collies have intense exercise needs. If you are only an occasional hiker and live a mostly sedentary lifestyle, this might not be the right breed for you. Without plenty of physical and mental stimulation, border collies often become bored and destructive. They do great in active households, though, and make fun, energetic companions for just about any type of outdoor adventure.
6. Siberian Husky
Anyone who has had the privilege of looking into the eyes of a Siberian husky knows that they are incredibly active and full of life. These dogs were originally bred as working dogs, so if you're looking for an outdoor companion to take on your hikes and runs, this is definitely the breed for you. Their paws are perfect for running along trails, and their energy can handle long distances without tiring out. Plus, with their thick coats—great for surviving those cold northern climates—you can trust them to make it through whatever adventure you have planned.
If you take your husky hiking in the summer, be sure to bring plenty of water and plan to take breaks. The heavy coat that serves them so well during the winter months can cause overheating in warmer weather.
7. Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog is an active and intelligent breed, making them perfect for hiking companions. Their energy and enthusiasm will keep you motivated and energized as you explore the trails with them by your side. Thanks to their natural swimming aptitude, they'll also happily take a break from the trail in any body of water or pond you come across.
They are highly trainable, so you can be sure that your pup will stay safe and follow your commands while on the trail. Plus, they have a thick coat that is perfect for protecting them from the elements. With their strong swimming ability and love of adventure, Portuguese Water Dogs make great hiking partners.
8. Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan malamute is a stunning and incredibly strong dog breed that was traditionally bred for hauling heavy loads in snowy conditions. With their thick fur and sturdier build compared to other small breeds, these dogs make the perfect choice for any outdoor adventurer. Not only do they have great endurance, but they are also known for their remarkable spirit and energy— making them perfect companions to take along on your next hike!
If you decide to take an Alaskan malamute with you on your next outdoor adventure, be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks for them. These dogs can have a high food intake due to their larger size and need plenty of sustenance to keep up with the demands of long hikes. Plus, like huskies, they are sensitive to hot and humid weather, so avoid taking hikes in peak daytime temperatures.
Now that you know some of the best dog breeds for hiking, you're one step closer to finding the perfect companion for your next outdoor adventure. And when you do find the right pup, be sure to visit a primary care veterinarian right away to make sure they're in tip-top shape so they can enjoy hikes (and any other activities) for years to come.