5 Best Dog Breeds for Hiking
Ever since man tamed and domesticated wild dogs, he already knew that he has a worthy companion in all the things that he loves to do. And if you’re passionate about hiking, then you know that having a trusted dog by your side is a lot better than having a friend who’s a newbie to such an outdoor activity. While any breed of dog can be a great hiking partner, there are those that are bred specifically for the job. It’s in their genes. It’s a trait that’s passed down through the millennia. And if you’re wondering which of the hundreds of dog breeds will make the best companion to conquer a hundred miles of forest trails and mountain paths, then we’ve got 5 of the world’s best canine hikers.
5 of the World’s Best Canine Hikers
When it comes to being man’s best friend, the Labrador Retriever always puts its paws forward. This is the quintessential companion dog that can perform different roles, depending on what you want it to play. It’s a fisherman’s best asset, a child’s best playmate, an emergency responder’s invaluable assistant, and a therapist’s best hope. It is not surprising that the Lab fits the bill perfectly as one of the best companions to take on a hiking adventure.
Labradors are intelligent and are bred to work. Not only are they calm and friendly, they also have the courage and strength to defend you if ever there’s a need for it. Labs are full of vigor and zest for life; something that will prove invaluable the moment you start exploring the other parts of a hiking trail. Best of all, you will never feel lonely when you’re out in the wilderness. As long as you have the Lab beside you, everything will be fine.
While the Vizsla is best known for its skill as a hunting dog, its intelligence allows it to excel in other fields. One of these is accompanying you on long-distance hikes. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to cover tens of miles in a day. The Vizsla will accompany you and will never complain. This is a dog that is now proving its mettle in search and rescue work, a trait that will be helpful in any hiking trail.
The Vizsla is workaholic but it has a softer side to it. It loves its family and isn’t shy to show its affection. It is a people-oriented breed. When you’re outdoors, it will always want to stay by your side. After all, this is one breed that is quite prone to separation anxiety. One of the things you’ll love about the Vizsla is that it comes with an easy-to-groom coat. This makes it very easy to check for injuries or ticks right after a long day of hiking.
Famous for accomplishing the 1925 Great Race of Mercy, the Siberian Husky is one of the best dog breeds to take on a hike; provided it’s on a colder climate, of course. The thick coat of this breed can make life extra-challenging for the dog if you do decide to go hiking in hot weather conditions. They may be fast and with great stamina. But in the wrong weather, they can be quite a liability.
Regardless, Siberian Huskies are one of the best hiking partners because of their work ethic. They love to run over great distances while also relishing the warmth that their human families provide. What this means is that there will be no cold and lonely nights in the mountain as long as you have the Siberian Husky to keep you company and warm.
Bernese Mountain Dog
It may have been a farm dog but the Bernese Mountain Dog has become one of the planet’s most beloved four-legged companions. This dog has many fine qualities that make it a trusted partner on long hiking trips. For starters, it is intelligent and will follow your orders and commands, given the right motivation.
It also has a patient and calm temperament. Its energy levels are not as high as those of other breeds, making it a lot easier to control when hiking on leash-only sections of the trail. The Bernese Mountain Dog has a thick coat, making it ideal in cold weather environments. Having said that, this might not be a good hiking companion if your adventure takes you to hot and humid environments.
Herding dogs are one of the best canine groups that you can take on a hike. And when it comes to the best of them, the Australian Shepherd is almost incomparable. This is a very busy herding dog that loves to run. It is also super smart, a trait that will factor in well during training.
Hikers will love the Australian Shepherd’s natural and unquestionable devotion to its human. This is a dog that is like Velcro. It will follow you around. It loves staying as close to you as possible. When you’re outdoors, you would also want your dog to stay by your side.
Things to Consider When Picking a Hiking Dog
If you happen not to agree with our list of the 5 best breeds for hiking, then you should know how to pick the right four-legged companion. Here is a list of the things you have to consider when choosing a dog to be your companion in the hiking trails.
You would want a dog that is friendly and calm towards other people as well as other dogs. Remember, there are an increasing number of individuals who are now hiking with their dogs. Chances are you will meet them at some point on the trail. There should never be a shade of aggression or fear in the dog as this might prove detrimental when you’re already on the trail.
Canine intelligence is a must. It must be able to respond well to your calls or commands. This is very useful when in the wilderness. A dog may sense the presence of a prey animal or determine that there is danger lurking in the bush. A well-trained dog will be able to resist the temptation of running after the prey or to attack the ferocious wild animal. It listens to you. As such, a dog that knows and responds well to different commands and displays desirable behaviors is the perfect companion on any hiking trip.
Whatever the breed of dog that you choose, it’s imperative to look at its overall health. For instance, picking a brachycephalic dog breed may not be a good idea. These canines are notorious for respiratory problems as well as overheating. You might end up having them brought to the field clinic. The same is true with giant breeds as well as hounds that are very prone to joint and bone problems. There are also those that are more susceptible to heart problems. Hence, it is important to get a clean bill of health for your dog before you go on a hike.
- Adult Size
Choosing a hiking dog based on its size is more related to the type of hike you wish to have. If you go for shorter distances with more frequent breaks, then a small or toy dog breed should suffice. This can also be true for large and giant breeds. Dogs at opposite ends of the size continuum may have difficulties keeping up with you on longer and more strenuous hikes. An average-sized dog should be right as they have the right stamina to carry on with the hike. And if there’s an emergency, they are never too heavy for you to carry them in your arms.
- Energy Level
The problem with low-energy dogs is that they do not have the stamina to endure long hikes. As such, you will have to schedule more frequent breaks. On the other hand, dogs with ultra-high energy levels can be very challenging to control. But if you can devote to their training before you head to the hiking trails, these dogs can be such a wonder to have. For the average hiker, however, dogs with mid-high energy levels are ideal.
Type of Coat
There are three things you have to consider when it comes to a dog’s coat for hiking purposes. First is its grooming needs. Dogs with long and thick coats tend to get dirty a lot easier. They can form tangles and mats in an instant. They can pick up dirt, debris, and ticks faster, too. Second is the coat’s thermoregulation abilities. Thick-coated dogs are best suited for colder hiking routes. Thin- and short-coated ones are perfect for warmer environments. The last is the ability to perform regular post-hike tick and injury assessment. Thin- and short-coated canines will be a lot easier to assess than those with thick and long coats.
Any of these 5 dog breeds can be an excellent partner on a hiking adventure. And in case you don’t agree with our list, then you can always choose your own four-legged hiking partner using our criteria.