Hiking is always a fun way to spend a weekend or a holiday – and one more way to make it even better is if you bring your best furry, four-footed bud with you.
If you don’t know it already, dogs make amazing companions for when you are out on a nice hike.
However, some dog breeds are better than others – so it’s good to know which breeds make the best dogs for hiking and camping. This article will clue you in on just that! Read on ahead to know more.
Big Dog Breeds That Are Ideal for Hiking and Camping
Here’s a great reference for the best dogs for camping and best dogs to hike with. These big and small dogs make for fantastic outdoor, off-leash companions. Let’s start with the big dogs first:
1. Border Collie
Border Collies are known to be herding dogs that are on the energetic side, making them the ideal companion for people who lead active lifestyles.
They love to be in wide, open spaces, running by your side and keeping up every step of the way.
2. Australian Shepherd
Aussies are dogs are a breed that is great for working outdoors – which is why they are the best dogs for backpacking and camping outdoors!
They’ve got loads of energy, and their natural athleticism makes them instant fans of being in the great outdoors.
As a strong and energetic dog, you can pretty much say that the Husky is definitely built to travel long distances. They are able to carry light loads and travel far at the same time, which makes these dogs good for hiking.
4. Standard Poodle
As the largest of the poodle breeds, the standard poodle can keep up with every hiking enthusiast out there.
They are very protective and highly intelligent, making them the perfect companion that will instantly respond to your commands and do their best to keep you safe.
5. Alaskan Malamute
Affectionate and loyal, the Alaskan Malamute works great when carrying light to slightly heavy loads, due to their endurance. Their waterproof coats make them adept at forging on the most challenging terrains and downpours.
6. German Shorthaired Pointer
Also known as GSPs, this hunting breed will make a cakewalk out of the most challenging hiking trails out there – including those that include water.
Loyal and eager to please, you are sure to have fun on a hike when you have a German Shorthaired Pointer with you.
Recognizable by its silver-toned coloring, the unique-looking Weimaraner is a German hunting dog that will enjoy the extra exercise it can get when it accompanies you on a hike.
8. Labrador Retriever
A beloved and very popular dog breed, Labrador retrievers are adept at retrieving downed waterfowl. They can withstand icy cold conditions as a result.
Labs are fantastic companions on all hikes – especially one that you would like to take during the colder months of the year!
This Russian dog breed are very durable, extremely agile, and swift. They enjoy physical activity and lots of mental stimulation, which means they are sure to enjoy hikes and camping expeditions that will challenge their capabilities.
Small Dog Breeds That Are Ideal for Hiking and Camping
You’re probably wondering what kind of small dogs are best for camping and hiking activities. Check out this short list of the little ones that will prove their worth when exploring the great outdoors:
1. Jack Russel Terrier
This fox hunting dog may be small in size, but they are sure to impress you with their ability to become a great hiking and camping buddy.
They are incredibly smart and easy to train, so they are always up for the challenge when exploring new terrains.
This fluffy little pooch will surprise and delight you when you realize they are game to go out for a hike.
Their lively nature and big personality will make them the star of every hiking trail – for as long as they feel they aren’t being made to do something they don’t like. Patience is key!
Don’t let their short, stubby legs fool you – Dachshunds are adventurous and active like all the other dogs in this list.
They’re best for short hikes, and you might need to carry them at some point when you cross challenging portions of the trail – but you can bet they’re up for the adventure!
4. Mini Poodle
The little version of this breed also makes the cut for the best dogs for hiking and camping, just like the Standard Poodle!
Despite its posh appearance, mini poodles have the required activity level to cope with the demands of a nice, long hike – especially off-leash ones! Just be sure to stay away from water, because these little guys definitely don’t like it!
With a build that’s similar to Dachshunds, corgis will also need some help crossing over difficult terrain.
But they’re still wonderful companions to have on a hike. Their naturally bright personality is just the boost you need to overcome the more challenging parts of your hike.
This breed’s soft silky fur might not seem ideal for roughing it out in nature, but they really don’t mind at all!
They are adventurous and spirited, not to mention smart and easy to train. If you ever wanted a pocket-sized companion on a hike, it’s this breed for sure.
7. Yorkshire Terrier
A tiny dog with a big personality, Yorkies might seem like a dog that prefers to hang around at home.
You might be surprised to learn that they love exploring, and will be perfectly happy to commit to the physical activity required of hiking or camping! They really will live up to their terrier name, given the right opportunity!
8. Norwich Terrier
Another terrier makes it to the list – and are just as active and in need of physical activity like any other big dog out there.
Taking them out for a nice long hike is a great way to wear off their excess energy, and they will reward you with the loyalty, smarts, and bright spirits needed to make a challenging hike a memorable one.
9. Miniature Pinscher
Light on their feet and brimming with energy, the Mini Pinscher is a wonderful fella to have with you while out on the trails. Their free spirited nature will love you for it – especially when you let them go off-leash!
Which Dog Breed Has the Most Stamina for Hiking?
While stamina and endurance will vary based on individual differences, there are a few dog breeds that will often outshine the rest when it comes to ability to hike the longest.
It’s a toss-up among the Husky, Malamute, and the Weimaraner, for sure. These three are known for having high levels of endurance and the stamina required to be competitive and resilient in outdoor activities like hiking and camping.
What is the Recommended Age for a Dog to Start Hiking?
Dogs should generally be at least 6 months old before going on long hikes or extended outdoor activities, as their bones and joints are still developing and too much exercise can cause damage or injury.
The specific age at which a dog can start hiking, however, will depend on a few things. These include its breed, size, and individual health and fitness level.
When you need to paint a better picture and put these elements together, the best thing to do is to consult with a veterinarian before embarking on any strenuous outdoor activities with a young dog.
Does Hiking Have a Negative Impact on Dogs?
While hiking is definitely a fun activity, it can be physically demanding for dogs. This is especially true if they are not used to the activity or if they have health issues that will get in the way of hiking’s physical demands.
The key is to invest in proper preparation, training, and monitoring. If these are ensured, many dogs can safely and enjoyably hike long distances without experiencing its possible negative impacts.
At the same time, it is important to consider a dog’s age, breed, health, fitness level, and the environment before taking them on a hike.
Taking care to make sure they have plenty of water, rest breaks, and protection from the elements is also necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can I prepare my dog to go hiking?
Preparing your dog for hiking involves several steps to ensure their safety and enjoyment on the trail. Here are some tips to follow to make it the best experience ever:
- Make sure you get your dog in shape prior to the hiking activity. Before hitting the trails, make sure your dog is physically prepared for the activity. Gradually increase their exercise routine, including walking, running, and short hikes, to build up their endurance.
- Take the time to consult with your veterinarian for any health related issues that may arise. Talk to your vet about your dog’s health and fitness level to ensure they are ready for the physical demands of hiking. Your vet may recommend additional vaccinations or preventive medications based on the location and environment of your hiking destination.
- Invest in proper gear for your dog to keep him safe and comfortable. Purchase a sturdy, well-fitting harness or collar and a leash with a length appropriate for the trail. Consider investing in dog boots to protect their paws from rough terrain and hot surfaces.
- Make sure your dog knows, understands, and follows basic commands. Your dog should have basic obedience training, including “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “leave it,” to keep them safe and under control on the trail. This is also very important if you are considering going off-leash while out on a hike.
- Practice hiking on short trails first. Start with shorter hikes on local trails to help your dog adjust to the experience and build their confidence. Gradually increase the distance and difficulty of the hikes as your dog becomes more comfortable.
- Don’t forget to pack essential items for hunger, hydration, and emergencies. Bring enough water and snacks for both you and your dog, as well as waste bags, a first-aid kit, and any necessary medications.
- Always be monitoring your dog. Keep an eye on your dog’s behavior and body language throughout the hike, and take frequent breaks to rest, hydrate, and cool off if needed. Watch for signs of fatigue, overheating, or injury, and be prepared to adjust your plans accordingly.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your dog is prepared for the physical demands of hiking and can enjoy the experience safely and comfortably.
2. What is the recommended weight limit for a dog to carry while hiking?
Something that many hiking enthusiasts commonly do while out on a hike with their dog is to let their pooch carry a backpack and fill it up with some essentials.
While this is a generally safe practice, it is important to be mindful of how much weight the dog is carrying on its back.
Dogs’ ability to carry heavy loads will differ on a case to case basis, but as a general rule it is good to stay within the limit of 25% of their total body weight.
Keep in mind that this limit is a safe one for an active and adult dog. Younger dogs shouldn’t be out on a hike, and older dogs might not need to carry anything at all due to their age.
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3. Do dogs get mentally stimulated while out on a hike?
Absolutely. Hiking is a wonderful activity for dogs – and not just for its physical benefit. Apart from getting physical exercise and movement, it provides a rich, mentally-stimulating experience for the dog.
Being exposed to new environments will activate a dog’s senses as it processes everything it sees, touches, feels, hears, and smells around it (never mind the sense of taste, because you definitely want to make sure your dog doesn’t go munching around on things that might make it sick).
Tricky terrains and challenging portions of the hike will have your dog figuring out how to move its body to navigate that part of the path, which will establish better brain-body connection.
So yes, a hike is definitely a wonderful, mentally stimulating activity for a dog provided it is in good condition to be out, has been properly trained, and has safety implements in place.
4. Is it ok for a dog to go hiking on a daily basis?
Daily hikes shouldn’t be bad for dogs, provided that it is within their capabilities and takes in consideration their exercise needs and health concerns.
Many active pet owners often make a habit out of hiking every day, and it comes as no surprise if their dogs are game to go with them each time.
If it is a daily thing, however, you might want to keep the hikes short so as not to wear your dogs out.
Most dogs will do well to go on a 20- to 30-minute daily hike, ensuring they still have enough energy to be mobile when they get home and provided they are in good condition.
Dogs who have fantastic physical health, however, can go on hikes for a longer time period – around 1-2 hours per day, if this is what their physical needs demand.
If you are not sure about the maximum amount of time, you will definitely want to consult with your vet so he can give you a more exact time given your dog’s health condition.
This has been a nice, long list of dog breeds that are the best dogs for hiking and camping – and it’s certainly nice to know that there are many breeds that made the cut!
Whether it is a long or a short one, a hike is a fantastic and fun way to spend some time with your dog while the both of you get your much-needed physical movement, too!
Do you like to go hiking with your dog? How many times a week do you often go? Share your schedule and hiking routine in the comments section below!