If you love to hike and are looking to add another member to your family, you should consider one of the breeds that are considered the best hiking dogs. While any dog can be a good hiking companion, some have particular traits that make them a better fit than others.
Keep reading for more information about what to look for and then a list of the best dogs!
Hiking Dogs: What to Look For
While we’ve listed the best hiking dogs below, the list isn’t limited to these breeds only. Honestly, most breeds make excellent hiking dogs just because all dogs love to play and explore new places.
However, there are some things you will probably want to look for when it comes to temperament, size, and more.
To start with the most obvious feature, larger dogs will always make better hiking companions (especially if you trek for miles and miles). They will have plenty of energy to last a long time.
However, smaller dogs will be much easier to carry when they get tired. If your large dog gets tired, you won’t be able to easily carry them in a pet backpack, so that’s something to keep in mind if you take long treks.
Also, any breed won’t be able to hike for too long when they’re a puppy. A common guideline is to give your dog 15 minutes of exercise per month of age.
While any dog can be trained if you’re willing to work hard at it, some breeds are much easier to train. For example, poodles are one of the smartest dogs and learn very quickly. To make life easier, you’ll probably want to train your hiking dog to:
- Stay near you when off-leash
- Not run towards other dogs and strangers
- Trained to go to the bathroom on-leash or when you say a command so you can easily pick up their mess
Aside from hiking-related training, having an easily trainable breed will make everything easier.
While you might think you want a high-energy breed since they will be your hiking companion, you’ll want to consider other factors as well. Even if you plan to go on long hikes every two days, many of these high-energy breeds need hours of exercise daily.
Do you have a fenced backyard they can access all the time?
Best Hiking Dogs
The aussie is a popular breed with a ton of energy to get out while hiking! They’re a great fit for active households. This breed develops a strong bond with their owner and is often called a “Velcro” dog, so they’re a lot less likely to stray away from you on a hike.
Aussies are very intelligent, so they’ll need puzzle games and plenty of exercise or else they will get bored and act out.
Similar to an Aussie, Collies are intelligent and full of energy.
The Border Collie tends to be less prone to separation anxiety, so they might be the better choice if you plan to leave them home alone often (although this can be done with any breed as long as you train it well when they’re puppies).
Bernese Mountain Dog
The large Bernese Mountain Dog is another excellent hiking dog! They’re loyal and will stay by your side.
Some can be a bit slow to learn, so patience is important with this breed. They’re high-energy and typically need a fenced backyard to run around in (they don’t do well in apartments).
Any size poodle makes a great hiking dog! Although small and toy breeds will get tired quicker, they’re easier to carry if needed. Standard poodles will happily hike for miles and miles.
Aside from hiking, they’re a very versatile dog that is great for families! They’re also hypoallergenic and don’t shed (you will need to make sure to brush them).
Poodle mixes (such as Aussiedoodles and Goldendoodles) are another common hiking dog, but their temperament is harder to predict and some mixes are more prone to health problems.
These “barkless” mid-size dogs are one of the highest energy breeds, so make sure you have a fenced backyard and plenty of time to exercise them in addition to your hiking trips.
This breed is a great choice if you want a small hiking dog that still has plenty of energy to go for miles. However, since they’re a hunting dog, you will want to make sure to train recall thoroughly before letting them off-leash during hikes.
Portuguese Water Dog
As you might guess by the name, this curly-haired dog loves the water! However, they also love all outdoor activities (including hiking).
They look pretty similar to poodles, with curly hair that doesn’t shed but needs to be kept up. Since this breed does best with 1–2 hours (or more) of exercise daily, they do best with a fenced in backyard.
The classic lab is a smart, friendly companion that will love to join your hiking adventures.
They’re typically medium to large dogs and have a ton of energy, so they’re best for families with a backyard and time to play with them.
This popular breed makes an excellent hiking companion for a variety of reasons. For one, they were bred to travel long distances in a day, so they’re great for long hikers since they don’t tire easily.
They are also great at following trails and will want to stick by your side when you develop a strong bond.
These elegant, athletic dogs will love to join you on the trail. They’re loyal and have high exercise needs, so they’ll do best with a backyard.
This breed also has a strong prey drive, so you’ll want to train a strong recall if you plan to let them off the leash during hikes in case they spot a small animal.
This medium-sized breed is a pretty uncommon breed, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make a great companion! They’ve been bred to work and herd for hours, so they tend to be very high-energy and require lots of exercise.
As with any dog, you’ll want to train a strong recall since they have independent qualities.
One of the best breeds for hiking, German Shepherds are high-energy and very smart.
As long as you have the time to train, they have an impressive learning ability (that’s why they make great police dogs)! They require plenty of exercise, so this breed is best for a family with a backyard.
This red-coated breed is very athletic – they need plenty of mental and physical exercise. In addition to hiking, you’ll need to make sure you have plenty of space for them to exercise every day and time to train them.
Since they’re easy to train and love to please their owners, this breed is great for off-leash hiking trips.
This unique, beautiful breed is intelligent and adaptable. They’re an athletic breed that needs plenty of exercise, so they make the perfect hiking companions.
As with most other dogs, it’s best to have a backyard so they can get plenty of exercise each day (at least one hour).
Australian Cattle Dog
This pup is one of the smaller breeds on the list, typically reaching 35-50 pounds. Bred to herd cattle, this breed seems to have an endless supply of energy, so they make excellent hiking and running companions.
They are a little stubborn when it comes to training, so they’re best for patient families who have the time to dedicate to training.
While the dogs above are definitely good hiking companions, you don’t need to go out and buy a special purebred breed to find a great hiking dog. As long as you’re willing to do some training (which is required with every breed), “mutt” breeds can make great hiking dogs.
Adopting a shelter dog saves a life and so many can make great hiking dogs! If you want a companion that will last hours, look for a medium to large dog with long legs. Smaller dogs are fine too, you just might have to carry them.