Selecting the right breed to accompany you on the trails or for your camping weekend away can make your trip much more rewarding. Dogs love to be with their owners, and what better way to bond with your pet than to experience nature with them? Dogs are naturally comfortable outdoors, and many breeds are quite comfortable tagging along with you in various elements.
I examined the many characteristics of different dog breeds to help you determine which one will suit you best, depending on your lifestyle and activity level.
- Siberian Husky
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Labrador Retriever
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Border Collie
- Portuguese Waterdog
- Belgian Sheepdog
- German Shorthaired Pointer
How to Select a Dog Breed for Outdoors?
Do not assume that every dog is ideal to be a partner for long hikes outdoors. It’s essential to match your dog with your lifestyle. You want a dog that will be happy to come along with you while exploring the outdoors, right?
If you want an outdoor dog suitable to take along, breeds with a strong endurance for walking and running and are not prone to health issues are ideal. Usually, medium to large size dogs are best for outdoor activities. While there are exceptions, smaller dogs may not have the stamina necessary to keep up with their human counterparts when tackling outdoor adventures or may not do well with extreme exercise or temperatures.
Consider the climate in which you are living. If you like to get outside all year round or in the mountains, a breed that can withstand colder temperatures is essential. On the contrary, a Siberian Husky might not be happy in Florida or Texas.
1. The Siberian Husky
If you love to cover a lot of ground outdoors, preferably in cold weather, the Siberian Husky is a terrific partner. This dog is bred to go long distances as sled dogs and is completely happy to tag along with you. They are quite intelligent, very athletic, and have a high-energy drive. These characeristics make them ideal for following directions and are capable of hiking different terrains.
- Perfect companions for cold-weather hikers or snow-shoeing
- Great with kids and multi-dog households
- Medium size ranges from 20” to 23.5” in height and 40 to 50 pounds in weight
2. The Australian Cattle Dog
If you want a dog breed that aims to please, the Australian Cattle Dog can be perfect. These animals have a high desire to do work for their humans and are extremely smart. They follow directions and learn quickly. They are loyal to their owners and dedicated to protecting their family members. This means they will stay close and have a good time just as long as you are.
- Ideal for lots of outdoor activities in rough terrain
- Also known as the Velcro or Shadow dog since they stick to your side wherever you go
- On the smaller side of medium with measurements ranging from 17” to 20” tall and 30 to 50 pounds in weight
3. Labrador Retriever
If you love the water, a Labrador Retriever may suit your outdoor lifestyle best. This breed is built to swim with its weather-resistant coat, otter-like tail, and webbed feet. These dogs are famous for hunting companions to retrieve ducks in the water without being gun-shy. Labs are loyal companions who befriend anyone in the family and will cheerfully accompany you anywhere your adventures take you.
- Strong and sturdy to complete long outdoor activities
- Their double coat helps keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer while repelling water
- Its medium to large size ranges from 21” to 23” and can weigh anywhere from 55 to 80 pounds
4. Bernese Mountain Dog
A sturdy breed with a long coat of hair, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a hard-working and loyal companion built for the outdoor lifestyle. If you want a vocal dog while hiking, this breed is ideal. They are a large, energetic dog that will gladly alert you to any squirrels or animals along your trails. They are easy to train and eager to please their humans, making them a great choice to take along for adventures.
- Friendly with a terrific disposition for families of young children
- Hearty breed built for all kinds of weather
- Large size breed ranging from 23” to 28” in height and 70 to 115 pounds in weight
5. Rhodesian Ridgeback
This easy-to-care-for breed is perfect for a home that likes to spend time outdoors but does not engage in extreme activities. The Rhodesian Ridgeback has a moderate energy level and was bred to hunt lions in days past. They are agile, smart, and encompass power in their lean frame. This breed is not for everyone as they can be selective of small children or other animals in the household.
- Adaptable to many situations and has a calm disposition
- Great defenders of their owners and are protective
- Medium to large size ranging from 24” to 27” in height and 70 to 85 pounds in weight
6. Jack Russell Terrier
The Jack Russell Terrier is ideal for dog lovers who want a hiking buddy in a smaller package. They are clever and affectionate, with high energy. They make great companions for horse owners and outdoor enthusiasts that can help them burn off their excess energy. Previously bred as a fox hunting dog, Jack Russells are intelligent and love to please their owners.
- Love to bark and will alert you of anyone or anything on your outdoor travels
- Portable to take with you but highly energetic to keep up for long distances
- Small size ranges from 10” to 15” in height and 13 to 17 pounds in weight
7. Border Collie
Known to herd and gather sheep, the Border Collie is a working animal that is highly intelligent and has unlimited energy and extreme stamina for the outdoors. They are easy to train, love to please their owners, and are built to last outside on those long trail hikes. These dogs are loyal companions with a sensitive nature that can tune into what their owners want.
- Energetic and alert nature makes them keen companions for hiking outdoors
- Exceptionally in tune with their owners to take cues and guidance as needed
- Medium size ranges from 18” to 22” in height and 30 to 45 pounds in weight
8. Portuguese Waterdog
For a fun-loving, mild-mannered dog that enjoys spending time in the water and outdoors, the Portuguese Waterdog is the ideal companion for those hiking trips that involve streams and lakes because of their webbed feet. They are smart, loyal, and adaptable, making them great partners for those weekend trips to the mountains.
- Charismatic and enjoy spending time with their people
- Built for any outdoor weather with their resilient long, curly coat
- Medium size breed measuring from 17” to 23” in height and 35 to 60 pounds in weight
9. Belgian Sheepdog
If you are on the hunt for a high-energy dog that can keep up to your long days outside, the Belgian Sheepdog is a terrific choice. Their breeding background consists of herding and obedience, making them ideal partners for long hikes because of their agile nature and stamina. They are loyal and protective and crave to be involved in all the owner’s activities.
- They prefer the company of people and enjoys tagging along to any activities
- Its long coat gives them ample protection from the elements, including sun and snow
- The medium to large size ranges from 22” to 26” tall and 60 to 75 pounds in weight
If your idea of the perfect dog will stick to you like glue while outdoors, the Vizsla is the best solution. These intelligent and agile dogs are people-pleasers who will be your four-legged shadow as you explore the hiking trails. Previously bred for pointing and retrieving, the Vizsla is a favorite among hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. Their lean profile makes them perfect for navigating different terrains.
- Lively and energetic breed to take on the go for any adventure
- The short, smooth coat can mean they require an additional dog jacket for colder temperatures
- Medium build size ranging from 21” to 24” in height and weigh between 45 to 65 pounds on average
11. German Shorthaired Pointer
If you need a partner on the trails to scare away wildlife, this breed is for you. The German Shorthaired Pointer is enthusiastic and loves to bark at any unknown noises or other animals they come across. This breed provides an active owner with a constant companion as an agile and high-energy hunting dog. They are intelligent and are easy to train. Their loving personality makes a great outdoor hiking dog for your travels.
- Independent thinkers who aim to please their owners even when in public
- Their short and thick coat is water-repellant, perfect for various weather conditions
- Medium size ranges from 21” to 25” in height and, on average, weigh 45 to 70 pounds
Be Careful with your Puppies and Seniors Dogs
Not every dog is great on the trails with you. Even those breeds that are perfect for hiking should not be putting in the miles at a very early age. This restriction is due to their growing and adapting bones and muscles. If you have a puppy and are excited to get him out on the trails with you, remember to take the training slowly. Never expect a young dog that is not fully grown to keep up for long distances.
Senior dogs will typically be slower than their younger selves and may not recuperate from a long hike like they once did. If your favorite four-legged friend is a senior now, they shouldn’t be hiking in extreme weather or terrain since they will not be able to regulate body temperature as well as they used to, and their joints require less stress.
Avoid Brachycephalic Dog Breeds
Brachycephalic dog breeds, like bulldogs, pugs, and Boston terriers, are not ideal for hiking, especially for long distances. They cannot tolerate extreme exercise or heat, and their short snouts make it hard for them to breathe during overexertion. These breeds also cannot swim effectively, making them dogs that should stay away from the outdoor trails.
The Bottom Line
Deciding on your hiking companion can be a chore if you don’t know where to start. Many of these breeds we list make terrific partners for long adventures outdoors due to their size, adaptability, energy level, and intelligence.
Don’t forget to listen to your guts and personal feelings! You can’t really go wrong with any of the breeds listed. Each dog is unique, and you can be sure that you will be rewarded with years of joyful moments at home… and on the trails!