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Top 10 Hiking Dog Breeds

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Dogs that LOVE Hiking

The modern dog is a direct descendant of the gray wolf so it’s no wonder they love the great outdoors and hiking. Here are a few of the best dog breeds known for blazing trails through forests, up mountains, or over snow banks. 

1. Labrador Retriever

America’s most popular dog is also a great hiking partner due to its friendly temperament and strong desire to explore. Try to mix in some trails with the occasional game of fetch.

2. Vizsla

Originally bred as a hunting dog in central Europe, the Vizsla requires plenty of physical exercise and attention. What better way to accomplish both requirements than to take a Vizsla out hiking in warm to temperate climates? 

3. Bernese Mountain Dog

The large, hardy Bernese Mountain Dog is one of the best breeds for short hikes through rough and rocky terrain, especially in the fall and winter. Many Bernese Mountain Dogs will enjoy carrying a small pack, too. 

4. Siberian Husky

A favorite among dog sled teams due to its combination of endurance, power, and speed, the Siberian Husky is also beloved by hikers, especially on snow trails. The Husky’s dense two-layered coat helps keeps it warm even during the coldest winter months. 

5. Portuguese Water Dog

Does your hiking trail travel near water or a beach? Bring a Portuguese Water Dog along. This dog breed is adventurous and thrives on daily mental and physical exercise. 

6. Alaskan Malamute

If you are looking for a big dog to accompany you through harsh terrain in cold climates, then look no further than this dog breed. Considered larger and stronger than the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Malamute has a thick, double coat and huge paws that act like snowshoes. 

7. Australian Shepherd

Originally bred as an all-purpose herder and farm dog, the Australian Shepherd is nearly unmatched when it comes to obedience, high energy and agility – all of which are essential on the hiking trail. The Australian Shepherd is especially adept at traversing tough terrain with steep inclines and jutting rock formations. 

8. Border Collie

Known for its high energy, incredible agility and superb intelligence, the Border Collie is adept at many outdoor activities, including hiking. The dog breed also follows directions well, which is extremely important on a trail.

9. Rhodesian Ridgeback

Originally bred by European Boers for lion-hunting, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is now one of the best hiking companions. The dog's short and shiny wheaten coat helps the Rhodesian Ridgeback adapt better to hot climates than most other breeds.

10. Mixed Breed

Mixed-breed dogs are great at so many things, why not hiking too? In fact, many mixed-breed dogs share the same qualities and characteristics of the other aforementioned dogs on this list.

A Few Hiking Safety Tips for Dogs

Before heading out on your hike you will want to ensure that:

  • Your dog is up to date on his vaccinations.
  • Your dog has a rabies tag on him.
  • Your contact info on his collar or microchip implant is up to date.
  • Your dog is free of any open wounds that could be vulnerable to infection.
  • Your dog is current on necessary preventatives for fleas, ticks, and heartworms (NOTE: Examine the dog after the hike for fleas and ticks, too).


It is also vital that you pack enough food and water for both you and the dog as well as a basic first aid kit with disinfectant, gauze, bandaging material, tweezers, scissors, insect repellant, cortisone, and whatever else seems reasonable considering your hiking environment.


Comments  1

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  • A good, smaller hiker
    10/13/2015 01:52pm

    I have two Shelties. Both of them can easily hike eight hilly miles and the younger one can go all day. He has all the endurance, energy and of his big cousins, the Aussie and the Border Collie. So, if you need a smaller hiking pal, don't forget the Sheltie!