This is the top ten dog breeds for hiking in backcountry.
Having a partner in crime is always a good thing.
It’s always a great motivator when you have someone, a willing partner, to accompany you on those rainy days or those gloomy days when you don’t want to hike. Your dog always wants or needs needs to hike but unfortunately for me my knees are shot and i am getting close to being a full time spandex wearing cyclist but until then i am on the trails with my boy Oscar a mix Staffordshire Terrier. For those of you like me that love exploring the back-country with your best fur friend here is a list of 10 dog breeds that I feel are the best dog breeds for hiking.
How this list of best dog breeds for hiking off leash was put together
First and foremost are prioritized dog breeds that were bred to hike. Secondly, I selected dog breeds that hike at a pace. There are not many sight hounds on my list and this is mainly because they walk at pace and most sight-hounds when turned loose will sprint, chase and pursue. Or better still they hike at a pace much faster than you or your average jogger which is the main reason why I didn’t select scent hounds furthermore they typically move in a direction that their nose chooses and not where you want to go.
So either if you’re hiking around and you know you’re hiking with your bloodhound, your bloodhounds smell something off to the right. He’s got to go up to the right, indifferent to the direction that you want him to go in. Another thing that was selected for when putting together this list was the health and hardiness of the breed. I’m going under the impression that you have or find yourself a healthy dog: good hip’s, good heart, good elbows, and good skeletal structure.
Healthy happy hiking partner
If your someone who’s going to buy a dog, make sure that you’re buying from a reputable breeder or identifying a very healthy dog at the pound to make sure that you’re hiking partner is going to have happy life hiking alongside you. It will not be suffering through hiking aches and pains. The last thing I selected for is coat. And any time I put list together I must admit I have a short coat bias (i am totally into Australian shepherd dog at the moment). A few dog breeds on this list have longer hair, but that’s just because they are just great for hiking and hikers.
Now that you kind of understand why I chose what I chose let’s jump into this list.
10. The Jack Russell Terrier
Terriers are known for having limitless energy and leading an active lifestyle. Jack Russell’s are the energetic elite terriers, high motor even rivaling the border collie. So if you own one, you’re going to have to have something to do with him to keep him calm and spent. hiking is a great option. So as a hiker, you will find that having a Jack Russell terrier with you on your journeys works to the benefit of both of you.
The only downside I would see to having a Jack Russell hiking with you is that if you encounter any critters on the ground, these dogs have an extremely high prey drive and may want to engage or attack any small vermin that they may see so if you’re going to be hiking with the Jack Russell you’re going to want to keep him or her on a leash.
09. The American Staffordshire Terrier 🎖️
The Amstaff is an excellent hiking dog again I would know, i own a mix. The breed is itself is a terrier bull cross. These dogs are great—sturdy, solid and excellent listeners when properly trained and socialized. The added benefit of hiking with a dog this size is that they provide a certain level of protection and deterrence. If you do come across a predator in the wild, the Amstaff is very protective of its family, you have a 60-pound security dog that is pure muscle and bone.
One the downside, or slight disadvantage, this breed is a terrier and has a tendency to lose focus. It does have a lot of energy. And as a pet owner, you’re going to want to have something to keep that energy in check. And hiking is an excellent thing for the Am-Staff.
08. The Labrador Retriever
The Lab has a reputation to hike and hike and on occasion retrieve. But if you can, according to my colleagues that have them, get your self one as they are excellent for self draining their own energy. That’s right, you don’t have to train or ask them twice to go and amuse themselves when out hiking. If you go to a show breeder, you want to make sure that the breeder is breeding for health and not breeding for the extremes that I’ve seen inside the show ring. Extra weight that show dogs carry is not going to be optimal for a hiking partner.
For those of campers who want to cover there bases fret not as there is now a remote/virtual veterinary service where you can get all your questions answered via phone etc before you make the actual vet visit (ideal for those that are camping and might have to drive hours and during covid since people are practicing social distancing).
07. The Alaskan Malamute
If you know anything about this breed’s history, these dogs were built to hike long, long distances. Funnily enough they do often get mixed up with Bernese mountain dog, but they are hard headed like the Doberman pinscher and do well off leash.
There’s no downside to having an Alaskan malamute as a hiker unless you’re hiking in the heat. I live in Southern California, and I see a lot of people hiking. I see a lot of people hiking with dogs. I have never seen anyone hiking around Southern California with an Alaskan malamute. So while this breed is an excellent dog for hikers, I would suggest colder climates and cooler days if you’re going to out with an Alaskan malamute. Unfortunately that means anywhere in North America, there will be a lot of days that will be too hot for you to hike with your Alaskan malamute.
And just in case you thought, shaving your Alaskan malamute is a good idea. It’s not. It will only cause undercoat to grow back thicker and warmer and make the dog even more uncomfortable on the hotter days.
06. The Siberian Husky
It’s a little smaller than an Malamute, so it may fare a bit better on warmer days. But just like its cousin the Alaskan malamute, you do not want to hike your husky in hot weather.
This fun loving breed will probably be great for most people between fall and early spring.
It’s probably not a dog that is going to be able to hike with you most days in the summer. If you live in North America. Other than that, the husky is a great hiker and its breed is a sled dog through and through. It loves long hikes which is probably on the boring side for its bloodline and would rather be pulling kilos of weight for kilometres if it had the choice.
05. The Dalmatian
These dogs were originally bred to hike alongside carriages, horse carriages back in the day. You can see this trait to this day as they make honest hiking dogs and even better family dogs.
The Dalmatian is intelligent, playful, active, protective, can be gentle and relatively not aggressive. However, the breed can benefit from a lot of time and patience. They can be slow to learn, slow to adjust to noise and abundance of stimulation that may be encountered on a thick trail.
04. The Rhodesian Ridgeback
The ‘Double R’ evolved to hike across the African plains in search of lions and other big game. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a beautiful companion on the trail and off the path, always paying close attention to its owner.
The Ridgeback, like the Americas Staffordshire Terrier, can be somewhat of an imposing-looking dog and will provide a visual deterrent for anyone hiking through a risky situation because of their hunting past. The Ridgeback is fearless and very capable of standing up to both two-legged and four-legged threats.
03. The Weimaraner 🥉
The Weimaraner is from Germany and is an all-purpose hunting dog used to hunt massive game. More recently, the breed has develop into hunting smaller games such as rabbits and foxes and is found on elite hunting reserves of the wealthy aiding them on geese hunts.
The Weimaraner is built to hike, the breed is a healthy, hardy companion and you will not have a hard time finding yourself trekking with the Weimaraner.
02. The Vizsla 🥈
The Vizsla is a Hungarian retriever breed. It’s a medium-sized specimen and takes to training new skills with easy. The Vizsla can be affectionate and sensitive, but do not be fooled. This breed also possesses a fearlessness and will develop protective instincts, which is the best of both worlds for a hiking partner.
01. The German Short-Haired Pointer 🥇
The German short-haired pointer was a dog breed developed in the 19th century in Germany for hunting and eventually grew into being a dog suited for family life while still being an elite worker out in the field. The German short-haired pointer, the hiker gets a dog that’s going to be great in the home and has the reputation to be the Energizer Dog and a suitable hiking partner that can go for days.
That’s the top 10 best dog breeds that do well off leash list for hikers.
I recognize that there are other best dog breeds lists there with a whole different selection of athletic dogs. German Shepherd comes to mind. The Golden retriever, Australian Cattle Dog and the Border Collie also come to mind. But at the end of the day most dog breeds are going to be in better hiking condition than most human beings. So if you have a dog breed that you particularly like, I say just go with it. I myself have what some may say the least athletic dog on this list, a solid Staffordshire Terrier who loves hiking more than i do. Just make sure to check out your dog’s health and suitability to hike in the conditions you’re hiking in.
Most dogs can keep up with people. Most dogs can find joy in hiking and adventuring. So that’s not going to be a problem if you have a dog that’s not on the list that you want to get. Do your research, do your work, find a dog, find a healthy dog within that breed, and enjoy your life. Give that dog its best life.