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Great hiking dog breeds

Updated on December 5, 2009

Don't forget about safety!

Finding the ideal dog to hit the trail


If you love the outdoors and are looking for a canine companion to accompany you on your hiking outings make sure you do your research well. Some dogs may just not keep up with your pace and end up taking too many breaks along the way. You want a dog that is athletic, resistant, high energy and with a good sense of adventure. The below tips may help you out in choosing the best hiking dog for you.

-Keep endurance in mind. You do not want a dog whose coat is too heavy causing summer hikes to turn out into unbearable events and you do not want a dog whose coat is too thin requiring to wear a winter coat. Usually medium coats are the ideal length for all weather conditions.

-Consider the capability of carrying weight. For instance, Dachshunds are known to be particularly prone to having back problems, so they would not be a good candidate. Consider a strong breed capable of being loaded but yet able of walking just fine. Rottweilers for instance, have been used for many years to pull carts and have a particularly strong conformation.

-Long hair dogs may have annoying consequences such as burrs getting stuck in the fur and ticks that are almost undetectable. Weimaraners for instance have a coat that does not attract burrs or thistles. Always check your pet for ticks after hiking. Some diseases such as Lyme disease can be prevented if the tick is taken off before 24 hours have passed.

-Look in general for breeds categorized as sporting dogs or working dogs. These are dogs that have been bred for years for certain specific purposes such as hunting, packing, pulling carts or sleds etc.

Some good hiking breeds:

Weimaraner: As mentioned above its coat does not attract burrs and thistles. This breed is agile, has an impressive speed and can keep up walking for great distances.

Rotteweilers: they are great for packing because they can easily carry extra weight and they can walk great lengths however, they may not be the fastest walkers and may take more than half of your tent! However, they are great sources of heat during cold wintry nights!

English Springer Spaniels: They have very high energy levels and just love to follow you even in the roughest terrains out there. They are agile and can keep up your pace with no effort.

German Shephards: They are alert, excellent walkers and great watchdogs. They will happily follow you anywhere but you must keep a watchful eye on their coat as it may attract burrs and thistles.

Huskies These are great hiking companions, however if it gets to hot, their Northern heritage will make them suffer. They ere great if you plan on hiking most of the times in winterly sceneries.

Labrador Retrievers. We all know this over popular breed and they are great outdoor dogs. Loyal, friendly and active, they will accompany you on the most challenging trails. Their coat is waterproof as well so they will enjoy swimming too.

There are many more breeds that may adjust to hiking just well. Some may just need a little practice and will get soon into the routine. Many times hikers search so much for the ideal hiking breed and then end up finding that a mutt adopted from their local shelter has turned out being the best hiking dog they have ever had.

Truth is, there is really no such thing as an ideal breed for hiking, rather there are different dogs with different body structures and different personalities. The best hiking dog may be just out there in your local shelter just waiting for an active owner as you to hit the trail.


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    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Border collies are the ultimate hiking dog breeds for excellence!

    • Larry Fields profile image

      Larry Fields 5 years ago from Northern California

      Voted up. If you don't own a dog, no worries. Borrow a friend's Border Collie. On hikes, these dogs are more fun than a bucket full of doorknobs!

    • pooilum profile image

      pooilum 5 years ago from Malaysia

      Good info about hiking dog breeds. Next time i can consider it for my next dog. Voted for you!

    • iguidenetwork profile image

      iguidenetwork 6 years ago from Austin, TX

      Very informative!

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 6 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Very informative hub. I have always hiked with dogs. I started training our Kuvasz boy when he was 6 months old (now he is almost 9 months). He is increasingly comfortable doing 10 kms and more, but perhaps due to weather conditions also. I don`t think he will be able to manage hiking in summer.

    • TheEpicJourney profile image

      TheEpicJourney 6 years ago from Fairfield, Ohio

      Good info here! I'm just getting into hiking with Zoe, an Alaskan Malamute. She's got 4 major day hikes under her belt at a year old and she's doing great! She wears a pack with like 6-8 lbs of weight (water, snacks, extra collar) and has done superbly. She's only a year old so she's to young to carry any significant weight at the moment, though she will! :) I don't want to minimize the risk of overheating because it certainly is something I have to watch. I've hiked with her in hot, humid weather (live in ohio 90% humidity) she does great! I just wanted to throw my experience thus far into the hub working with the coat of a Northern breed. As long as she has ample water and some good shade to rest in periodically she keeps up quite well (and I have a very fast 6'2" stride). Having a stream or lake to dip into always helps too :)

      The main thing for hiking in heat with the breed is preparation and knowledge. Know the signs of heat stress, know the area your hiking, the weather, and the water supply/shade. Prepare accordingly making sure you bring enough water and keep it cool to compensate for a lack of shade/streams.

    • profile image

      Elkie 6 years ago

      Norwegen Elkhound. The best at everything. Unbeatable companion. Train from the minute you get your dog home.

    • profile image

      Sheila and her dogZ 6 years ago

      I have several dogs and all of them like to hike, believe it or not, I have a little chiweenie who climbs mountains and walks trails with me..without being carried. She is 75% dachshund and 25% chihuahua and full of energy! At 7 1/2 lbs. you'd think she would get tired...but not at all. We also have a long hair mini dachshund who hikes with us and a small poodle mix...2 aussies and a beagle.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 6 years ago from USA

      Well, knowing what it is mixed with will help.. but labs are generally hyper and should make great hiking.. companions. Did you know you can now figure out what breeds exactly compose mixed breed dogs, here is a link that may interest you:

    • profile image

      Dog luver123 6 years ago

      What about a labrador retriever mix? Do you think that a labrador retriever mix would like to go camping? :)

    • profile image

      schneidoog 7 years ago

      My boxer has been an excellent hiking companion! She has a ton of energy. We do desert hiking on dusty trails. She is very athletic and agile. I do have to be very aware of the temperature with her, she cannot handle heat like other breeds.

    • profile image

      AT-ThruWonderer 7 years ago

      I'm hoping to hike the AT after I get my associates. I absolutely love the outdoors, a passion only surpassed by my love for my dogs. My current baby will be reaching about seven years when I finally do get to the big hike, and she can't carry a lot in the first place. So I was thinking about the Rottie, but am worried about the coat... won't it get cold?

    • ericsomething profile image

      Eric Pulsifer 7 years ago from Charleston, SC

      My Australian Shepherd mix was a wonderful hiking companion; could go all day, on or off leash. I even taught her to drink out of a sports bottle, which was convenient. Never thought about having her carry anything, though.

      At some point (not yet) I'll be thinking about getting another dog, and it'll have to be another hiking breed. This Hub is a definite clip-n-save. Nice work, alexadry.

    • profile image

      Jim 7 years ago

      Lets face it any healthy dog can out hike us all. I have two walker coonhounds they go all day in any terrain, any weather. I'm the one who can't keep up. the down side, they must be kept on leash. A walker off leash is a walker running away.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 8 years ago from USA

      Good to know! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      Andrew 8 years ago

      I have a 5 year old Anatolian Shepherd. She's a beast, and keeps up on 8 hour long hikes to the 14,000 foot peaks of the Rockies.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      My dog is a pound dog, lab x heeler. A wonderful trail companion. Just my thoughts on the matter, but I think one should check out the pound first.

    • Camping Dan profile image

      Camping Dan 8 years ago

      I had an Australian Shepherd for years and she loved hiking even really long distances.

      Border Collies are always good as well and of course never forget a good old pound dog they will love you for life since they know how confinment feels.

    • michellemoseley profile image

      michellemoseley 8 years ago from New Hampshire

      This is great! I'm going to be adopting a German Shephard next year and was hoping she would make a great outdoor companion. You make some great points here. Thanks!