Like many active families, we love getting out into nature and spending the day hiking the trails of Northern California. Naturally, this means that we take our puppy with us as much as possible. There are so many dog-friendly trails around our home that it would be a shame to leave it behind! Hiking with a dog is a great way to release all their excess energy. The movement provides physical exercise, while the changing landscapes and different smells provide great mental stimulation.
The best dog breeds for hiking are generally active pooches with enough strength and stamina to handle varied terrain and long distances. Medium and large dog breeds are generally better suited to this type of activity, while some brachycephalic dogs may have difficulty walking very far or exercising in certain climates. No matter what type of dog you have, you should always work your way up longer hikes and be prepared for anything you might encounter on the trail.
Wondering which puppies are best suited for outdoor adventures? There are many options, but here’s a rundown of 10 of the best dog breeds for hiking.
1. Australian Kelpie
Kelpies are dedicated working dogs with seemingly limitless energy, so they make excellent hiking companions. Although they may be too intense for a first time dog owner, they are perfect for experienced pet parents who like to spend long hours hiking and other outdoor activities. Kelpies originated in Scotland, but were used in Australia to tend flocks of sheep – so dry, hot conditions don’t bother these pups. They have strong herding instincts, so if you’re not careful, it can spread to you or young children. The hike will entertain their minds and drain some of their seemingly limitless energy.
2. Border Collies
Border collies are one of the most energetic dog breeds. They can go on for days, which is useful for guarding cattle, sheep, and other farm animals. However, they are more than just working dogs. Border Collies are great companions and love to go on adventures with their pack. They are known for their speed and stamina, so you should keep your pup on a leash at all times if they don’t have a strong recall.
3. Labrador retriever
labrador retriever are the most popular dog breed year after year, and it’s easy to see why. They are loyal, easy to train and adorable. Labs are great traveling companions as they like to be outdoors, especially if there is water. Most Labs enjoy spending time in any body of water, and their water-repellent coats make swimming a fun, low-maintenance activity. Hiking (with a few stops at lakes or streams along the way) is a perfect way to get the energy out of a lab.
4. Bernese mountain dog
Their name says it all: Bernese Mountain Dogs were literally bred for life in the mountains. This breed of Swiss working dog originated in the Alps, where its primary job was pulling carts. These puppies are well suited to hiking and can easily tackle any terrain. However, they prefer cool weather to warm temperatures – so get out early in the day if you’re taking a Bernese mountain dog on a hike. This breed is also known to have genetic issues with their hips and elbows, which is important to watch out for as they age.
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Dalmatians like to run. They were originally bred to run alongside stagecoaches, horses, and fire engines, so they can easily spend long periods exercising in a variety of weather conditions. This breed is relatively easy to train and should be able to spend some time off leash with lots of patience and practice. Hiking gives Dalmatians a productive way to expend their energy, and time spent on the trails is one of the best ways to exercise.
Vizslas is more than a pretty face! With their athletic bodies and endless amounts of energy, this breed would pair well with a dog owner who has an active lifestyle. Vizslas love having space to play and exercise, so if you love spending time on the trails, they’ll be happy to run alongside you. These pooches will need a lot of attention as puppies, but can become excellent family pets with the proper socialization, training, and consistency.
7. German Shepherd
german shepherds are called velcro dogs for a reason. They enjoy spending time with their family and have lots of energy. However, since they have genetic issues with their hips and elbows, you may want to have your GSD cleaned by your vet before you go hiking. German Shepherds thrive on structured training and are eager to please, making it easy for you to train them for off-leash antics. Socialization and training will make these furry best friends great hiking companions.
8. Jack Russell Terriers
Whereas Jack Russell Terrier maybe a bit smaller, these are absolute firecrackers. Jack Russells have all the smarts and energy of some of the bigger breeds on this list – they just come in a smaller package. If you prefer small dogs but still want a hiking partner, the Jack Russell terrier is the perfect pup for you. They were bred to hunt rats and mice in the streets, so they have a lot of intelligence and drive. Remember: a bored Jack Russell will destroy anything he can get his paws (and teeth!) on.
9. Australian Shepherd
Australian Shepherds are another herding dog that likes to go on an adventure. These puppies require plenty of exercise and have an energy level that can handle longer hikes. Australians love brain training games, agility and having a job. Like the other dogs on this list, they are happiest when they have something to do and need lots of mental stimulation.
10. German Shorthaired Pointer
German Shorthaired Pointers are fast, agile and energetic dogs that like to walk around. These athletic dogs are perfect hunting companions and excel in agility sports thanks to their endless stamina. GSPs need lots of physical exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy, so they would definitely benefit from regular hikes.
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