15 Best Dog Breeds for Hiking Buddies

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Whether you’re a solitary hiker or someone who loves to go trekking with a group of friends, there is almost always room for our four-legged friends to tag along. In fact, it’s our opinion that doing anything outdoors can be improved by bringing our dogs along, and hiking is these easiest way to get pups involved.

dog on a hike

By: Joe Giordano

There are just a few thing to consider before loading up your furriest family member and hitting the trail.

1. How long are you going to be hiking?

This really ought to be the first question you ask every single time you’re heading out on the trail, and the answer should impact how you pack, what supplies you take with you, etc. It’s also important regarding your dog, because some dogs just won’t have the endurance for hikes lasting more than a few hours. Your boxer might be great for a 2-3 hour hike, but when you get closer to 6 or more hours he could run into some problems.

2. Is your dog old/young enough for whatever you’re planning?

Dogs under the age of 1 could have a difficult time either keeping up.  Their bodies are still maturing, and a lot of stress from a strenuous hike can cause problems in their joints that could have a lasting impact.

The same thing applies in reverse for older dogs, who might have their best days behind them. If your canine has been slowing down and can no longer keep up with a steady jog, or he has trouble getting on and off of furniture, then it might be time to consider that he’s not up to a big hike anymore.

Answering this question is dependent on your answer to question #1, and dogs as young as 8 months should be fine on shorter, moderate hikes, but if you’re planning an overnight trek and a couple long days of exercise, then your pup should be left at home or with a sitter.

3. Is your dog well-behaved enough?

In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to leash our dogs ever, and they’d just come running back to us when we called their names. Some dogs are good like this, but the vast majority have some quirks that get in the way of complete obedience, and as his owner you’re going to have to decide if your dog is suited to being trusted on your hike. It’s not safe for you or your dog to hike and climb with him tethered to a leash the whole time, so be certain he’s worthy of being trusted.

4. Is your dog a breed that’s appropriate for the climate?

If you’re hiking in the Rockies any time from December to March you want a dog who can withstand some cold weather and snow. Likewise, if you’re hiking through a subtropical forest in the summer you want your dog to be able to tolerate the heat. Not accounting for the climate and weather could end up costing you your best friend’s life, and that’s not worth it.

Jeremiah can change your oil, fix your computer and quote every line from the Star Wars films, like the Renaissance Man that he is. He's the proud parent of two Great Danes and one daughter.

  • Grommit

    Sorry but if your dog is more than 40 pounds, that is NOT a hiking dog. Miniature schnauzers are probably the most ideal size of a dog. Just barely big enough to carry a backpack, absolutely strong enough to make it to the top of a mountain, but small and compact enough still that you can carry them out if they get injured in any way. I am so sick and tired of having to read about cases where someone had to leave their large dog behind on the mountain to die alone because it got it’s paws cut up or some other issue arose and they weren’t willing or capable of carrying a 60 pound dog down off of the mountain with them. Think of it as no different as bringing your 3 year old child with you. If you aren’t absolutely willing to carry them the whole way when they can no longer move themselves, then you shouldn’t have brought them in the first place. This is happening hundreds of times every year and these people should be criminally liable for what they do.