Best dogs for hiking: top 10 breeds to hit the trail with
Love trail walking? We’ve tracked down the top 10 best dogs for hiking – and they’ll love it too.
If you’re a keen hiker, then taking a canine companion with you is a great way to share the adventure. Most pet pooches need at least two walks a day to keep them healthy, happy and interested, but our pick of the 10 best dogs for hiking will love to go above and beyond. Watching your canine companion sprinting down slopes and scampering across streams in the great outdoors is the perfect way to stay motivated and help strengthen the bond between you.
The key to any successful trip is preparation. Even if you’re just going for the day, you’ll want a collapsible water bowl, some of the longest lasting dog chews for when you take a break, a GPS pet tracker and a small first aid kit. For longer trips, our guide to camping with your dog is a must-read.
Whichever breed you choose, before you set out on your adventure your dog needs to be fit and well and confident in a range of situations – you never know quite what you’ll meet on the trail! Now, it’s time to lace up your boots and find out more about the best dogs for hiking excursions.
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PetsRadar's pick of the best dogs for hiking
1. Border Collie
The perfect exercise buddy thanks to their energetic and intelligent nature, Border Collies make for excellent companions who love to please their human friends. They’re normally very trainable, and due to their inherent need to have a high level of exercise, you can be confident that they won’t get tired too quickly. In fact, the biggest concern is that you might run out of energy before they do – and they might try and round you up.
2. Australian Shepherd
Herding dogs are specifically bred to have lots of energy, and like their cousin the Border Collie the Australian Shepherd is no exception. They’re happiest when they have a job to do – whether that’s agility trials, working cattle or running up and down a trail to make sure you haven’t got lost!
The more walks, the merrier; the Australian Shepherd won’t get bored. To make things easier on the hike, why not play some fetch games on the way? Just as long as you’re careful where you throw it.
3. Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russells might not seem an obvious choice as one of the best dogs for hiking, but what they lack in size they make up in personality and general joie de vivre.
Possessing energy, drive, and intelligence in abundance, the Jack Russell loves a challenge, and will make short work of those climbs. They need to be well-trained before you trust them off the leash, but should you be willing to put in the time, they will serve as a trusty companion.
4. Bernese Mountain Dog
The clue is in the name, admittedly, but the Bernese Mountain Dog really is adapted to the outdoors. This majestic breed was bred to pull carts through the Alps, so your weekend hikes should be a piece of cake. A word of warning, though – as they were bred in the colder climate of Bern, Switzerland, they have a thick, double-layered coat to keep them warm and may overheat in hotter temperatures.
While they’re great at scaling mountains and steep hills, the breed has been known to suffer from hip issues, so make sure you consult a vet before attempting anything too strenuous.
5. Siberian Husky
Huskies are as close to the stereotypical outdoor dog as it’s possible to get, so it will come as no surprise to see them on this list. Whether you’re hiking or running, they’ll be in their element, and happily jog along with you. They’re intelligent, yet very independent, so you’ll need a strict training schedule to avoid them getting bored. But should you do this, they’ll be the best outdoor companion you could possibly ask for. Although, like the Bernese, they’re bred for colder temperatures, they’re incredibly adaptable and can handle warmer climates as long as it’s not too hot.
6. Labrador Retriever
One of the most easy-going dogs round, Labrador Retrievers are friendly and energetic; they’ll win you plenty of pals on those climbs. Best of all, they love exercise, and their webbed feet contribute to being strong swimmers, should you encounter any bodies of water. Labradors are relatively easy to train as well, so you shouldn’t have to worry about leaving them off the leash. They’re generally very food orientated, so hiking is a great way to help control weight.
7. Airedale Terrier
One of the largest of the Terrier breeds, but also one of the most easy-going, their boundless enthusiasm and high reserves of energy makes them a decent candidate for the best dogs for hiking.
They’re easy to train and up for an adventure, so will have a great time heading off to all manner of different outdoor environments. You might want to make sure that you trim down their winter coats should you be heading somewhere warmer, though.
8. German Shorthaired Pointer
Originally bred as a hunting dog, the German Shorthaired Pointer makes for an excellent outdoor companion, enjoying lengthy periods of time outdoors in a variety of climates. This is just as well, as they need plenty of exercise.
They’re not the kind of dog that enjoys living in a cramped environment, so they will relish the opportunity to go adventuring with you – in fact, good luck trying to leave them at home.
9. Rhodesian Ridgeback
Another former hunting dog, the Rhodesian Ridgeback has a history of tracking much larger mammals, so your weekend jaunt down the Appalachian trail shouldn’t pose too many challenges. With a Rhodie at your side, you’ll be well placed to handle any unexpected herds of zebra you may come across on your hike!
Their strength and agility, combined with their independent nature, makes them ideal outdoor dogs. Again, they’ll need plenty of training, especially considering their aloof nature, but they’ll more than keep up the pace.
Loyal and friendly, the Vizsla tends to develop deep bonds with its human masters - they have been nicknamed the ‘velcro dog’ for this very reason – which should serve you well when the two of you head off into the wilderness together. They’re very trainable, and have an excellent nose – useful if you forget the way back to the car!
They like nothing more than having a lot of space to run in, making hikes or trail running something they offer the perfect fit for. They’re patient and friendly, making them ideal company in the presence of other dogs and people.
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Steve writes and proofreads buying guides, news stories and advice for Pets Radar, drawing on his lifelong experience as a pet owner. Currently sharing his house with two cats and a dog, he draws on the many highs and occasional lows of pet ownership he has borne witness to in his writing. He has worked in publishing for 15 years as an editor, sub editor and writer on a range of titles, such as SciFiNow, How It Works, All About History, Real Crime and Horrorville. You can follow him on Twitter @stevewright22