One of the best feelings for all dog owners is enjoying the great outdoors with your canine companion by your side. This is why we have compiled a guide on all the good hiking dogs so you can see for yourself which are ideal to accompany you on your trek.
If you love hill-climbing, you’ll want an active dog that can handle long distances and rugged terrain in all weather.
Certain breeds make fantastic hiking partners. With proper training, dog hiking gear and leadership, some excel. We examine what makes a great hiking companion for active families, from German Short Haired Pointers to Australian Cattle Dogs.
Not all canines are suited to long walks, so we looked at some high-energy dogs that would really benefit from extended periods of exercise. These intelligent breeds make a quality sidekick partner for outdoor adventures.
Is hiking an important activity for you and your family?
If so, be sure to familiarise yourself with all the qualities required in the best hiking dogs, as well as the breeds that typically come out top when choosing companions.
Below is a round-up of which pup can hold their own in the hiking world
Siberian Huskies make great family pets but were originally bred for their endurance and stamina; they are some of the best dogs for hiking because Siberian Huskies need lots of physical exercises and mental stimulation and can literally run for hundreds of miles no matter how challenging the trails are. Of course, there are a few things to consider with this breed.
They have a thick double coat and even though it offers some insulation from the heat, they can still get too hot in the Summer months. They do not do well off-leash, so you will need a good harness with this breed.
These lovely working canines are ideal for long hikes; they are a very energetic and sociable breed. Originally bred as herding dogs, they need a lot of exercises to prevent behavioural problems, at least 1-2 hours a day.
Australian Shepherds are easy to train, eager to please, and can go a long time without tiring; however, their strong herding instincts and territorial behaviour mean they should be kept on a leash to avoid problems in the countryside, especially near livestock.
Jack Russell Terrier
It’s not only large canines that make the best hiking companions; small energetic dogs like Jack Russells also make excellent trail running dogs! They are strong, agile and have tons of energy, plus they absolutely love the outdoors and being with their owners.
This adventurous breed can easily tackle a 5-10 mile trek, but this, of course, depends on the age and fitness of your four-legged friend. Older pups obviously can’t manage long distances and if your terrier is carrying a few extra pounds, he’ll get tired more easily.
Border Collies are active and require more exercise than most, making them the best medium size dogs for hiking and running.
They are extremely intelligent and love the challenges of a more difficult hike. Like most bred for herding, they were bred to be outside in all weathers and a healthy Border Collie on a working farm can easily rack up 50 miles in a day when herding sheep.
They are strong too. You can saddle up your dog with a backpack to carry supplies and their agility means they can easily jump stiles, fallen trees, or narrow streams. They also have a low prey drive fantastic when you spot squirrels or other wildlife on the trail.
It’s essential your dog has mastered obedience training as you don’t want them straying too far from your side. According to studies, Border Collies are the most intelligent breed of dog. So recall will be a breeze.
These dogs have an impressive history of being bred to hunt lions in Africa, so as you can imagine, they make the perfect jogging companion and are excellent hiking and running dogs.
The combination of both strenuous activity and the mental challenge of exploring new places is the perfect way to keep your pooch tired and happy; there is nothing this breed loves more than trotting by your side when you hit the trail or climb a mountain.
Ridgebacks are often used as guard dogs and need a lot of training and socialisation from an early age. Their naturally aloof nature makes them wary of strangers and other dogs; they also have a high prey drive, so they may need to be kept on a leash.
As well as being one of the sweetest and cleverest of dogs Labrador Retrievers are also one of the best dog breeds for hiking.
Bred as a retriever, they are home in the countryside, be it in the forests, lakes or mountains. Labs have boundless energy, are very social dogs and rarely tire. An adult dog in its prime will easily be able to keep up with you all day as long as you bring enough water and food.
They are highly intelligent and respond well to commands even when off-leash making them one of the few that will hike alongside you whatever distractions are going on.
Hiking with a Labrador Retriever is one of the best ways to build a bond between you; they love being outdoors whatever the weather, exploring and experiencing nature. In fact, it may be their favourite thing in the world (after food)
Things to Consider Before Hiking with Dogs
This is an important factor with any hiking dog; young puppies shouldn’t be taken on hikes until they are at least six months of age and even then, it’s wise to keep them relatively short until they are fully developed at around 18 months.
At the other end of the scale, senior dogs will not be able to tackle the long walks they could when they were younger, so once Fido gets to about eight years of age, start taking it easy.
If you have a dog with a double coat or thick fur like a Bernese Mountain Dog or Malamute, it’s essential to make sure they don’t overheat in hot weather. Alternatively, a Whippet will not enjoy a long hike in the snow the same as a Husky
Try to use trails where the terrain is not too difficult, especially when first starting out, as dogs can injure themselves on rocky ground. It’s a good idea to invest in some hiking boots for dogs; they may not need them, but they are great should your furry friend suffer a paw injury on the hike or for inclement weather.
It’s essential your pooch is fit and healthy before setting off on a hike; always make sure your dog has good joints and don’t take a puppy hiking before they are fully developed as this may cause irreparable damage. Some like the Golden Retriever, Labradors and German Shepherds are prone to joint problems as they get older, so check with your vet if unsure of your dog’s capabilities.
This is a strenuous activity, so only dogs with a high energy level need apply if you want to take them hiking in the countryside; a 10-mile trek with a Bassett Hound or a Pug just isn’t feasible. Hunting dogs, working hounds and herding breeds usually make strong hiking companions.
A quality dog hiking harness is essential for dogs that like long walks; one that fits comfortably with saddlebags to carry their own provisions is ideal. Other features should include a grab handle so you can assist your furry friend over obstacles if need be or pull them out of danger and it should always be reflective so you can see them in low visibility. Also, packing a hiking backpack to carry a dog is a top tip as it will be invaluable should they become injured and you have to carry them for any distance.
Must have Hiking Accessories for your Four-Legged Friend
- Dog harness and leash
- Portable bowls for both food and water
- First aid kit
- Best Pet GPS Tracker
- Poo bags
- Boots (for some terrains)
Best Dogs for Running
If you like to go hill running or jogging, you want a dog that can keep up; most of the best hiking dog breeds such as the, German Shorthaired Pointer and Australian Shepherd love to run and will happily tag alongside you when you pick up the pace or even if you’re cycling.
Some More of the Best Trail Dogs, Bernese Mountain Dog to Beagles
- German Shorthaired Pointer
- Standard Poodle
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Springer Spaniel
- Airedale Terrier
- Giant Schnauzer
- Belgian Shepherd
- English Setter
- Portuguese Water Dog
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Doberman Pinscher
- Bearded Collie
Small Active Dogs
It’s not only big dogs that make the best trail dogs, small active dogs are often used to herd cattle and hunting like terriers can do just as well on the trail, just remember when hiking with small dogs, they do have shorter legs, so it takes more energy to cover the same distance as a Doberman Pinscher would
Below are some small hiking dogs
- Rat Terrier
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- Fox Terrier
- Border Terrier
- Patterdale Terrier
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Miniature Poodle
Breeds that Don’t Make Ideal Partners
Most dogs enjoy a walk, but like us humans, some of them prefer to curl up on the couch rather than venture outside in cold weather, there are some for whom this isn’t their favourite pastime and they aren’t really good at it. These include brachycephalic breeds like the British Bulldog and Pugs; other not so durable dogs include
- Chow Chow
- Shih Tzu
- Great Dane
- Lhasa Apso
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
How far can a dog walk?
It depends on several factors, your dog’s health, the terrain and temperature; a herding dog such as an adult Border Collie can easily tackle 5-10 miles a day, whereas a Chihuahua not so much. This page covers how long to walk a dog and what sort of distance you should cover.
What is the laziest dog breed?
According to the American kennel club, one of the laziest dogs is the Newfoundland; others include the Clumber Spaniel, Chow Chow and British Bulldog. These are definitely not the best for hiking and running.
What breed of dog is best off-leash?
Labs and Border Collies are probably the best dogs that can be walked off-leash. Both are easily trained and anxious to please, so they will happily come back when called. Hunting dogs and ones with high prey drives shouldn’t be let off a lead.
Going on a hike in the countryside with your best friend and enjoying the beauty of nature is a fantastic way to spend quality time together, having adventures, getting fit and making memories. That is if your pooch can keep up.
Knowing how much exercise does a dog need is important as breeds like the Australian Cattle dog can hike all day, as can working dogs like German Shorthaired Pointers and Springer Spaniels. However, it’s not just purebreds that make the best trail dogs; mixed-breed dogs can do just as well.
Always remember to pack the right gear when hiking, clean up after yourself and follow countryside etiquette. Keep your pooch on a lead near livestock and remember to stop for water breaks regularly, especially in hot weather.