9 Dog Breeds That Make the Best Hiking Companions

Discover the breeds best suited to hiking and romping with you on the trail.

Published January 18, 2023
Australian shepherd dog on a hiking trail

Some dog breeds are built for the great outdoors, but other breeds aren't naturally inclined toward trekking on the trail. Most dog owners know their pets love nothing better than a good walk, but it's not always clear which breeds actually make the best hiking dogs. If you've ever tried to take your dog out on a trail and came back with an exhausted, grumpy pooch who's looking for a straight-up nap, then you know how frustrating it can be. Luckily, many breeds absolutely love being outside hiking and are well suited to the trail, so if you're looking for a hiking buddy, consider getting one of the best dog breeds for hiking.

Breeds Built for the Trail

Although every dog is different, some breeds are more suited than others to hiking long distances. Natural athletes, working dogs, and those with high endurance - and trainability - are best suited to hiking activities.

1. Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog Running on field

Australian Cattle Dogs are known for their intelligence and energy. They are working dogs and thrive on positive reinforcement training methods. They can be trained to do almost anything, including hiking and backpacking. Australian Cattle Dogs are great companions for those who enjoy hiking or backpacking because they are highly energetic and need lots of exercise every day. They also love being outdoors in the fresh air, so taking them on hikes is a great way to bond with your dog while getting some exercise yourself!

2. Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute on a trail

This large breed was originally bred by the Inuit tribes of Alaska to pull sleds across the frozen tundra during the winter months when food was scarce. Alaskan Malamutes were also used as companions on hunting trips and to guard property. Today, they enjoy participating in all types of activities with their owners, including hiking, running, and playing fetch games in parks or backyards. Malamutes have a legendary ability to keep going and not tire out, and members of the breed will relish time on the trail.

3. Border Collie

Border Collie outdoors in summer

This energetic dog is known for their high energy level and intense drive to work. Border Collies are extremely intelligent and make excellent working dogs as well as companions for hiking trips. They have a lot of stamina, but also listen well. They're also easy to train and have a strong desire to please their owners, so they'll follow your commands well even off-leash!

4. Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier dogs on a field path

This spunky little dog has plenty of energy and loves to run around. The Jack Russell Terrier can make a great hiking companion if you keep them on a leash at all times. They're friendly with other dogs and humans alike but can be aggressive toward other animals, especially cats and squirrels. A healthy Jack Russell won't get tired easily, however, so if you're in shape, your pup will be up for a good, long hike.

5. German Shepherd Dog

German Shepherd Dog resting in the grass

The German Shepherd Dog is one of the most popular breeds for hiking because they have a lot of endurance and stamina. They're also intelligent dogs who learn quickly, which makes them easy to train for any type of activity, including hiking. German Shepherds are loyal companions who love being active outdoors with their owners rather than spending time indoors being lazy all day.

6. Beagle

Beagle on a boardwalk trail

Beagles are very energetic dogs and need daily exercise, but they don't require as much exercise as larger dogs. Beagles are also intelligent, loyal, and eager to please, making them excellent hiking companions. They're small and they love to be outside, but if they're not in shape, they may be better suited to more leisurely hikes. Think twice about taking your beagle on a long uphill hike through rough terrain because of their short legs. Their long ears do make them susceptible to ear infections from dirt and water, so you should always keep an eye on your beagle's ears when you're hiking with them. However, Beagles are surprisingly sturdy and tough, and make great hiking companions if they're conditioned for long walks.

7. Vizsla

Vizsla stands on edge of lake

Vizslas are the perfect hiking companions for a variety of reasons. They're active, energetic, and love to explore. But the best part about hiking with a Vizsla is that they're so well-mannered that you don't need to worry about them getting in your way or causing a disturbance! The Vizsla is an ideal dog for hiking because they love being outdoors and have plenty of energy to burn off. While on your hike, make sure that you stop frequently so that your dog can take a break or cool down before continuing on with your hike.

8. Dalmatian

Side View Of Dalmation Running

Hiking with a Dalmatian is a great way to spend time with your dog. Dalmatians are athletic. They were bred to run alongside horse-drawn carriages, and they need exercise every day. This means that hiking with a Dalmatian is fun and healthy for both of you. Plus, their short coats are less likely to catch burrs and spurs. The first thing to consider is where you're going to hike with your dog. Dalmatians love water, and if you're planning on taking them swimming, then make sure the area has a safe place for them to cool off. You'll also want a place where there aren't too many other people around because Dalmatians tend not to like strangers very much.

9. Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier on hiking trail

The Cairn Terrier is a small dog bred to work in harsh conditions, such as those found on Scottish farms. They are known to have an excellent sense of smell and can be trained to track game or other animals. Their intelligence and independence also make them well suited to more technical terrain. When hiking with a Cairn Terrier, remember that this breed of dog is athletic and energetic. You should keep their exercise routine consistent so that they do not become bored and try to entertain themselves by chewing on rocks or chasing after small animals in the woods!

Factors to Consider

There are a lot of things you need to keep in mind when picking a dog as a hiking buddy. Make sure you know the breed and breeder, and don't rush the process. Also, think about what kind of hiking you'll be doing, and what you need from your canine companion.

Size and Weight

The first step is to consider your dog's size and weight. A small, lightweight dog may be able to go on all types of trails, but it's best if you can match your dog's size and weight with the terrain. A big dog could make for a difficult hike on rocky paths or steep inclines. A small dog might have trouble keeping up with larger dogs on long hikes.

Coat Type

Next, think about your dog's coat type. If you're going to be walking in hot or cold weather, you'll want to make sure that your pup won't overheat. Dogs with thick coats will need more frequent baths than those with thin coats because they will naturally shed more dirt onto their fur while they're out and about.

Energy Level

Finally, consider how energetic your dog is. Some breeds require more exercise than others do! If you don't plan on doing any training before heading out into the wilderness (or even if you do), make sure that your dog has plenty of energy left over after their daily walk so that they won't be too tired to enjoy their time outdoors.

Start Hiking

If you're an avid hiker, then you're probably looking for a dog that is fit and will enjoy long hikes in the great outdoors. So what are the best dog breeds that are good for hiking? A general rule of thumb: active dogs are naturally better suited to hiking, as they are accustomed to running around and traveling. Once you have chosen your dog breed and picked out the perfect pup for your family, the real question becomes, where will you go trekking with your beloved dog? Enjoy your time together, and happy hiking!

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9 Dog Breeds That Make the Best Hiking Companions