Tails from the trail and tips on training your human

Hiking With Dogs: 6 Breeds That Make Great Trail Partners

Great Trail Partners

All dogs yearn for adventure, yet not many are physically suited for them. Hence, if you’re looking for a perfect four-legged partner to hit the trail, you must assess how capable your little pup is to deal with the physical challenges brought about by hiking. However, to make the process easier, we have the top picks for the best dog breeds for hiking.

Mountain Cur

There’s a strong reason behind making your canine your hiking companion. Not only does Mountain Curs love the outdoors, but the breed also thrives on excessive exercise. Since Mountain Curs are no strangers to nature, you can trust their ability to withstand any weather conditions that come their way.

Interestingly, these dogs were previously only kept by frontier families out of necessity. Apart from guarding them against wild animals, they were known to be the maestros of hunting animals for food. Even though perspectives have changed over the years in favor of keeping them as pets, there’s still no breed as well-suited to hit the trail as a Mountain Cur.

Airedale Terrier

Airedale Terrier or “The King of Terriers” is one of the most powerful breeds when it comes to dealing with the uncertainty that accompanies a typical hiking adventure. Having one of these gives you an obvious edge as these four-legged partners are truly built for withstanding harsh weather conditions.

Moreover, you will never have to wait for the right season to head out, as they’re even better physically equipped than you to deal with whatever comes their way. Their clever and playful nature is another reason you’ll never have a dull moment on the trail.

Golden Retriever

Whether you love swimming, bike riding, hiking or a good game of fetch, a Golden Retriever will never disappoint you. Their athletic and friendly nature makes them all the more suitable for an adventure that expects nothing less than enthusiasm and long hours of commitment.
Moreover, their running abilities are even more proof of how much their bodies can handle the rough and tough conditions expected of any trail, which makes them one of the best dogs for hiking.

Jack Russell Terrier

A Jack Russell Terrier may appear small, but you can never underestimate what these mighty hiking partners are capable of. You can take them playing, digging or even running, but you’ll never be able to feed their hunger for adventure fully. Even though they were bred to hunt foxes and farm rodents initially, they’ll never let go of an opportunity to be entertained.

If you think you can match their everlasting energy, need for attention and thirst for adventure, then you should definitely consider taking them along.

Bernese Mountain Dogs

If the name of this breed doesn’t give it away already, we don’t know what will. These dogs are not only calm and intelligent but also great at thriving outdoors in colder temperatures.

Additionally, since they were bred to manage heavy loads, you wouldn’t have to think twice about what their bodies can handle. Their thick coat and large size make them a perfect choice for easier hikes in cooler temperatures.

However, you may want to keep your hikes short and sweet as this breed is prone to developing hip and elbow dysplasia if they engage in physical activity for too long.

Labrador Retrievers

While Labrador Retrievers are generally known to have a go-getter and friendly personality, people are too quick to underestimate their athletic abilities.

Apart from hunting, their personality and temperament are also very well suited to hiking. Moreover, their physical activity needs are not something you can fulfill with a few walks in the park.

However, as much as you can trust their threshold to be your hiking buddies, you should also be aware of their sensitivity to EIC (Exercise-Induced Collapse). Hence, you may want to keep your veterinarian informed about any upcoming exercise plans so they can recommend the right mileage for it.

Which Dogs Are Not Suitable For Hiking?

Now that we know enough about the best dogs for hiking, we may as well see those on the other end of the tunnel. No matter how much you love your pup and wish for them to have all the fun you can offer, not every breed is suited for the physical demands that accompany a hike.
For example, breeds like pugs, bulldogs, and French bulldogs have very short snouts, which hinder their ability to stay oxygenated. Hence, taking them on steep trails and high mountains is the equivalent of killing them. Other breeds such as Shih Tzu, Maltese and Chihuahua also don’t seem to do well with difficult terrains and long distances.

However, not all breeds have physical limitations. Some of them also tend to be restricted due to the weather conditions. For example, breeds with heavy coats and long hair generally don’t do well in hot temperatures, while hairless and short-haired ones struggle with cold temperatures.

The Bottom Line

In the end, strategizing is what matters the most because keeping their limitations in mind should help you plan your hike accordingly. No matter what breed you have, it’s always recommended to start slow and help your dog get accustomed to certain conditions before you expect them to pursue an activity as strenuous as a hike.

If your dog already has a hard time working out or staying outdoors for a prolonged period, then you should take the hint and not carry them along to a trail. Moreover, if you do plan on taking your dog, do not leave them without a leash as new conditions tend to confuse and overwhelm dogs, causing them to make attempts to run. If it’s not the conditions, it may be the urge to chase a wild animal or startle another camper.

Regardless, ensuring your pet’s and other people’s safety should always be your top priority. Remember, no matter how physically well-suited your dog is to accompany you on a long hiking trail, they too have their own limitations and are bound to get tired at some point, so make sure to pack enough food, water and other necessities to help you both get through with it.