Hiking has a lot of physical and mental benefits to you. Research has shown that hiking can help with anxiety and severe depression. Another study also shows that hiking can reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. It improves your cardio fitness as your heart will have to work harder when you go on a hike.
Dogs can be a great companion for outdoor activities. Speaking of outside dogs, there are 10 breeds we recommend that can join you on your outdoor adventures and keep up with your pace. While all the dogs on this list are large, there are also small size dogs that can be a great hiking partner.
1. Labrador Retriever
Lab originated from Newfoundland, a northern province of Canada back in the 1500s. Labs are medium to large breeds, they were owned by fishermen and used as working dogs to help with catching and retrieving fish. Their water repellent coat and webbed paws made them great for these jobs. They come in 3 colours, yellow, black and chocolate.
Labs are known for their loyalty, friendly and outgoing. This beautiful dog is America’s most popular family breeds that always want your attention. They love cuddling and bonding with your family. What makes them a great outdoor companion is that they are strong, muscular, energetic and require a large amount of exercise everyday. They love to run, catch and can be a great swimmer.
2. Australian Shepherd
Australian Shepherd, a medium size herding dog also known as “Aussies”. You might be thinking their origin is Australia due to its name. Surprisingly, it originated from Western United States. Disney has made a movie for Aussies called “Stub” and has since rose its popularity. They typically weigh from 35 to 70 pounds, live around 12 to 15 years and have a variety of colour combinations.
With Aussies’ intelligent, hyperactive, and energetic temperament, you will need to keep them occupied. They are eager and are great at dog sports like dog agility. They require daily outdoor activities such as walking, running, and Frisbee games. Their strong work drive makes Aussies one of the best dogs for hiking.
3. Border Collie
The smooth or rough double coated dog, Border Collie also known as “Scottish Sheepdog” is a medium sized breed originated from the border of England and Scotland. They were used to herd sheep in the past and considered as one of the best herding breeds. They have become popular after winning multiple official sheepdog trials in the 19th century.
They have endless stamina and with the working heritage, it makes them perfect at outdoor activities. They are extremely intelligent, athletic and playful which they can run all day. If you love extended and challenging hikes like steep and incline terrains, Border Collie will be your best buddy.
4. Siberian Husky
Siberian Husky is a medium size breed and a member of the Spitz genetic family. It was developed by the Chukchi, an indigenous people who inhabited in eastern Siberia, a province in Russia. They were used as dog sledges for transports and were then brought to Alaska for sled dog racing. This wolf-like breeds weigh between 35 to 60 pounds and have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years.
Siberian Husky loves digging, chewing and jumping over fences and often being described as “escape artist”. They are athletes, independent, and love outdoor adventures, make sure you take them out to explore the wild. Their thick furry double coat has made them a great companion in the cold.
5. German Shorthaired Pointer
The medium to large sized breeds, German Shorthaired Pointer is a German breed used to hunt in the past. It was believed that they were developed by crossbreeding a few times until the 1860s to have the most desirable hunting breed in terms of agility and pointing instinct. They typically weigh between 45 to 70 pounds and live around 12 to 15 years.
German Shorthaired Pointer is agile, affectionate, and easy to train dogs. They possess a high energy level which will require a lot of exercise everyday. Without having enough daily outdoor activities, they will become anxious and destructive. Their nature has made them a perfect hiking partner.
6. Alaskan Malamute
Alaskan Malamute is a large breed and one of the oldest sled dogs. They were sometimes being called “Mal” or “Mally” and look like the popular Siberian Husky. Trace back to their origin, they originated from Alaska and were used to hunt big games by the native people about 2000 to 3000 years ago. They were then used to haul heavy freight during the gold rush due to their strength and endurance.
Alaskan Malamute are powerful dogs and can tolerate freezing temperatures because of their origin and their thick double coat. This magnificent dog is affectionate and loyal. They also love their families just like the history in which they would share food with the people and help keep the babies warm. If you like hiking in the cold, this breed will be ideal for you.
7. Bernese Mountain Dog
Like any other working dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs were used to pull carts, herd cattle and guard farms 2000 years ago. There are four types of Swiss mountain dogs that have the same markings, Berner is one of them and is distinguished by its thicker and longer coat. They typically weigh between 70 to 120 pounds and sadly, they are considered as one of the shortest life breeds with an average lifespan of 6 to 8 years.
Berner is cheerful, alert and loyal, they are happy-go-lucky kind of dogs. They are strong, muscular and love to go on outdoor adventures. If you live in a colder place, Berner will be your best friend as its thick and long coats are designed to withstand cold temperatures. Keep in mind that they may be uncomfortable if you are taking them out in hot weather for too long.
This breed can be traced back to more than 1000 years ago. They are sometimes called “Magyar Vizsla” or “Hungarian Hunter” originated from Hungary. In the past, they were used as pointer dogs. They would stop and aim their muzzles towards the quarry and retrieve it back to the hunter. However, they have a very heartbroken history which they were near extinction several times especially during World War II.
People often refer to Vizsla as the “Velcro Dog” as they love to stay with the family all day. They are energetic, gentle and hardworking. Vizsla is also a top contender in dog sports which means they have a lot of energy to offer when it comes to extended hikes. If you are an active hiker, this athlete will definitely suit you due to their high level of energy.
9. Rhodesian Ridgeback
Rhodesian Ridgeback was bred in Southern Africa to track and trap big game. They were developed by mixing the native hunting breeds with European breeds such as Mastiff, Greyhound, and Bloodhound. They were also known as “African Lion Dog” not because they are able to take down lions, but due to its capability of cornering the lion in place while waiting for the hunter’s arrival.
Rhodesian Ridgeback is powerful, agile and highly alert given its hunting background. Because of this temperament they possess, Ridgeback are also used as guard dogs. They love to be with people and enjoy being outside. This breed has high tolerance to both hot and cold weather, which makes them a great partner for hiking.
10. German Shepherd
As its name implies, German Shepherd originated from Germany in the 1800s, a medium to large size working dog. They are known as “Alsatians” and were originally owned by farmers used to herd sheep and protect the flocks from predators. They weigh between 48 to 88 pounds and have a life expectancy of 9 to 13 years. They were widely used as police dogs to track criminals due to their courageous and superb sense of smell.
German Shepherd is one of the most intelligent, obedient, and very easy to train dogs. They are also highly active which require daily exercises and training. Similar to Australian Shepherd, they are eager to learn, love to play and want to have a purpose. Their unique characteristics have made them a great hiking friend and protector.
Things to Look Out for Before Heading Out with Your Best Hiking Dog
It is great to have a strong and fit partner go on a trail side by side with you. The 10 hiking dogs recommended should give you an idea which breed you should be looking for based on your personality and the dog’s temperament that suits you. No matter which breed you choose, there are a few things you need to pay attention to.
1. Check the Weather
Always check the weather before you hit the trail. You need to plan ahead in order to make sure things go smoothly so that you and your dog are able to enjoy the hike as much as possible. Regardless of how hot or cold the weather is, you need to ensure your dog can withstand it.
As a rule of thumb, don’t take your dog out at 25°F or below. Though if you love hiking in freezing weather, make sure to check on them constantly to see if they are too cold and get them a sweater or coat if needed. Breeds like Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, and Bernese Mountain Dog love to be in the snow and can tolerate very cold temperatures. It is thought that Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute can withstand as cold as -60°F.
It can be life threatening if you bring your dog outside when the weather is too hot. Best not to go out when it is at 80°F or above for large breeds and 85°F or above for small and medium breeds. However, every breed is different, some were developed to have high heat tolerance like Vizsla. Make sure you observe your dog and when they are panting excessively, that means it is too hot for them.
2. Make Sure Your Four-Legged Friend is Safe and Carry Enough Essentials
You need to know what to expect, check to see the area and surroundings. If the route is too challenging, ensure your dog is well prepared. It is also great to have dog gear such as a dog harness, hiking boots, and GPS tracker to prevent any unwanted events from happening.
You will also need to carry enough essentials if you are planning extended hikes or thinking to travel multiple days. Make sure you bring enough water to keep yourself and your dog hydrated. You can also consider a dog hiking backpack that will allow your dog to share some load and to provide them a more intense workout.
3. Is Your Dog Fit Enough?
Lastly, understanding your dog’s condition before you start your outdoor adventures is crucial. It is always better to consult with the veterinarian to make sure that your dog has no medical concern and is healthy enough to go hiking.