Top 10 Dog Breeds for Off-Leash Running or Hiking

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Off-Leash Running Hiking Dog Breeds
Caption: A woman is running with her dog off-leash

Dogs are humans’ best friends for a good reason. They love us unconditionally, provide a sense of security, and would love to join us on our outdoor adventures.

However, not all breeds make great off-leash runners or hikers. Knowing which dog breed to choose is the key to having an enjoyable trail experience with your pet.

Below are the top 10 dog breeds that make excellent off-leash running and hiking partners.

Read More: How to Train Your Dog to Run With You Without a Leash

1. Labrador Retrievers

Labrador Retriever
Caption: Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are highly intelligent dogs with a high energy level. They are also incredibly friendly and easy to train, making them one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States.

Labrador Retrievers are also known as one of the best family dogs and love to be around people. While typically not aggressive and friendly towards strangers, they will try their best to protect their families.

The Labrador Retriever enjoys getting exercise and feels at ease in almost any situation, making them great for running or hiking with their owners without a leash.

2. Golden Retrievers

Golden Retriever
Caption: Golden Retriever

Another breed of dog that makes a great off-leash running companion is the Golden Retriever. They are very athletic, intelligent, calm, friendly, all without being dominant or sensitive.

Golden retrievers are also a good family pet as they are affectionate and very patient with children. In fact, they are one of the best dogs for kids and families. And I would describe Golden Retrievers as “small dogs in a big package” because, despite their large size, they are very gentle, friendly, and playful at heart.

The Golden Retriever is very active and athletic and will do whatever they can to please their owners. Plus, they are very attached to people, making them one of the best off-leash running companions.

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3. Border Collies

Border Collie
Caption: Border Collie

Border Collies are also excellent running partners. This breed is very agile and athletic, in which they love to run, exercise, jump, and play.

Border Collies are extremely intelligent dogs that were originally bred to herd sheep and cattle. This dog breed is, in fact, considered one of the most intelligent dog breeds on Earth. They can learn commands at incredible speeds and are very sensitive to their owners’ needs and feelings.

The Border Collie is also a friendly breed that does well with kids and other pets. However, these dogs can become destructive if not given enough exercise. They do best when they have jobs to perform or plenty of hiking or running time with their owners.

4. Flat-Coated Retrievers

Purebred Black Flat-Coated Retriever
Caption: Flat-Coated Retriever

Flat-Coated Retrievers are very playful dogs who enjoy going on walks, runs, and participate in many other outdoor activities. They are very loyal, intelligent, and easy to train.

Flat-Coated Retrievers are very athletic dogs that have been historically used for retrieving games from both the sea and on land, which also means they have great stamina for running long distances!

Flat-Coats are also very friendly and affectionate with their human pack. You will often find them lying on the laps of their owners while being petted.

5. German Shepherds

German Shepherd
Caption: German Shepherd

German Shepherds were initially bred as working dogs in Germany more than two hundred years ago. German Shepherds are incredibly protective of their family members and will undoubtedly defend them from any possible threat.

Not only do they possess superior traits for being great guard dogs, such as strength, fearlessness, and loyalty over other breeds, but these dogs also play an important role in law enforcement activities.

They have been trained to become police dogs, drug-sniffing dogs, and search-and-rescue dogs. What’s more, they are also used as service dogs to help people with visual impairments, physical ailments, or psychiatric disorders.

All that was due to them having strong work drives, being willing to do almost anything for their human families, and of course, because of their high intelligence, athleticism, endurance, and loyalty. Plus, they are eager to please and always up for a challenge.

So, they sure will be a perfect off-leash hiking and running partner!

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6. Poodles

Caption: Poodle

Poodles were originally bred to be water retrievers or water dogs in Germany, and this breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club back in 1887.

Poodles are very smart dogs known for their high trainability. In fact, they have been used as show dogs, seizure alert and response dogs, and service dogs for disabled people, which includes guiding blind owners and alerting deaf owners to common sounds.

Their high level of intelligence, energy, athleticism, and friendly personality make them great running and hiking partners, whether on-leash or off-leash!

7. Australian Shepherds

Australian Shepherd
Caption: Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds, also known as “Aussies,” were bred to herd livestock on ranches in the United States.

They are smart, athletic, and like doing many different activities with their owners, such as frisbee playing, running, agility competitions, hiking, and any other activity you can think of! In addition, they are highly adaptable pups that possess a naturally happy-go-lucky attitude regardless of the situation they may be in, and they will do just about anything to please their owners.

So if you are looking for a dog who wants nothing more than to be your best friend and run by your side, then the Australian Shepherd may be the perfect fit!

8. Shetland Sheepdogs

Shetland Sheepdog
Caption: Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdogs, also known as “Sheltie,” were initially bred to herd sheep on the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland.

The Shetland Sheepdog is an extremely smart and intuitive breed that will stay by your side pretty much forever, even when you least expect it! They won’t give up unless you give up first because that’s just how their spirit is made.

They are energetic dogs who need plenty of exercises if they are not being put to work for herding sheep or other livestock. When these dogs finally get some downtime, they would love to play games of fetch! These breeds also love exercising outdoors, making them great candidates for off-leash running.

9. Vizslas

Caption: Vizsla

Vizslas were originally bred to hunt upland games in Hungary, and they are called “Velcro dogs” for a reason.

Vizslas are incredibly affectionate and loyal to their human pack. They love being around their family members, and you will often find them lying on their owners’ laps. They also love being around other people and are friendly toward strangers, which can be helpful when traveling with them.

They also have superior physical traits such as strength, endurance, speed, agility, and the loyalty needed to run without a leash. Plus, they have great stamina, so running long distances with this breed won’t be a problem!

10. Doberman Pinschers

Doberman Pinscher
Caption: Doberman Pinsche

Doberman Pinschers, also known as “Dobies,” were initially bred by a German tax collector to be kept as guard dogs but were soon evolved into the military and police dogs and for other purposes.

Today, Doberman Pinchers are considered as a working breed, in which they are used to help the disabled. Doberman Pinchers are extremely intelligent, loyal to their owners, and are also known to be very protective of those they love as well!

They have a lot of endurance, so they will be able to join you on longer runs! Plus, these dogs love pleasing their owners, meaning training them will be pretty simple as long as you give them lots of praise and rewards during the process. With all those traits combined, The Doberman Pinscher may just be the perfect off-leash running and hiking companion!


Dogs can make great running and hiking partners. However, certain breeds are naturally more suited for off-leash, while others may be better on a leash. I’ve provided you with 10 dog breeds that are perfect for off-leash running and hiking! Which one is your favorite?

Did they not make my list of best dogs for running off-leash? It’s ok. This is just based on my personal experience and opinion. In general, dogs who were bred to work closely with people are good for off-leash activities, like working dogs, herding dogs, and close-hunting breeds, for instance, Retrievers, Pointers, and Setters. Because they like being around people, easier to train, and most importantly, they will listen to you and follow your rules!

Dogs you want to avoid when it comes to off-leash running are scenthounds and sighthounds. The reason being is that these types of hunting dogs were bred to follow and track quarries instead of looking to their owners for decisions. So they will chase after anything and everything they perceive as prey in sight for miles, leaving your heartbeat racing!

Of course, there are exceptions. You can train them not to do that, but still, it won’t be as reliable. You’ll see everyone else out there with their Goldens and Labs and think, “Hmmm… I wonder if my dog would be like that.”

I hope this helped answer some of your questions regarding what breeds are best suited for off-leash running and hiking. I’ve personally had a lot of success with the breeds mentioned in this article, so I hope you will too. Regardless of which breed you choose to adopt, always make sure they are physically fit for whatever the activities both you and them will be engaging in, and please take them out on a regular walking routine as well!