10 Best Hiking Dogs For Outdoor Adventure

Dogs are man’s best friend. We don’t think anyone can really dispute that. They’re loyal, cute, and exceedingly generous companions to worthwhile owners. That being said, not all dogs are great for all people and activities. For example, a Doberman Pinscher might not be the ideal pet for an elderly person. By the same account, an outdoorsman is going to find that a teacup poodle can’t hack it in the wilderness.

So, if you’re thinking about getting a dog and you’ve got an adventuresome spirit, you might want to pick up a breed of animal that can keep up on the trails. Whether you like to hoof it up to the tops of snowy peaks or you like descending into desert canyons and into the rivers below, guess what? There’s a breed of dog that’s perfect to go along with you.

To clarify: we’re not suggesting that you go out and buy a purebred dog from a breeder. In fact, we encourage adoption whenever possible and have nothing against mutts. Our intention here is just to highlight the breeds that are better equipped for tackling an outdoor outing and to encourage wayfarers to look for said breeds’ genetic representation in the dog they choose to adopt. In any case, these are the ten best dog breeds for hiking.

Australian Cattle Dog

Originally bred by Australian settlers to help them – you guessed it – herd cattle, Australian Cattle Dogs are intelligent, hearty, and energetic dogs. Also known as Heelers, these dogs already have the outdoors in their genetics, having been bred specifically to work on expansive farms. They’re also extremely loyal, like constant tasks and/or activities, and can easily be trained in everything from basic commands to more complex agility exercises.

Breed Group: Herding Dogs
Size: 30-50 LBS
Life Expectancy: 12-15 Years

Adopt: ACDRA

Australian Shepherd

In spite of their name, Australian Shepherds – as we know them – were developed entirely in the United States. Their name actually comes from their association with Basque sheepherders who came to the U.S. from Australia in the 1800s. These dogs are very smart, exceedingly loyal, and bond tightly to their owners. They’re just as happy attending to complex tasks as they are to just sitting in the car next to their human companions. And they’re easy to train; are a favored breed for their ability to work as service, narcotics, or children’s companionship animals; and love lots of physical activity.

Breed Group: Herding Dogs
Size: 40-65 LBS
Life Expectancy: 12-15 Years

Adopt: Aussie Rescue

Bernese Mountain Dog

A very comfortable animal in somewhat colder climates, the Bernese Mountain Dog hails from the farmlands of Switzerland. They worked as farmhands, cattle herders, cart pullers, and watchdogs. They’re a bit on the larger side of the spectrum and are sturdy enough to weather a bit of snowfall. Despite their size, these dogs typically have calm and happy dispositions – though they can be trained to protect both their owners and their homes. Just keep in mind that these dogs are not suited for hot desert climates, as they have very thick coats.

Breed Group: Working Dogs
Size: 70-115 LBS
Life Expectancy: 6-8 Years

Adopt: BMDCA

Border Collie

Originally bred as a sheepherding dogs in parts of England and Scotland, Border Collies are medium-sized, very high energy, and are well suited to long-form outings in hilly terrain. They have incredible stamina and drive and – with the right balance of water and nutrients – can tackle just about any hike you might take them on. They are also very smart and love to play agility-based games like fetch and are often top contenders in competitive canine sports.

Breed Group: Herding Dogs
Size: 30-45 LBS
Life Expectancy: 12-15 Years


German Shorthaired Pointer

This sporting breed is favored amongst the hunting community, but they shouldn’t be considered relegated only to that. In fact, they are incredibly versatile outdoor animals altogether. They can be a little stubborn and harder to train, so keep that in mind if you’re a new owner. But, if you put in the time and the work you’ll end up with a tremendous animal companion. It’s also important to note that their wiry frame and short hair makes them far better suited for warmer climates. If you like to travel where it snows, this breed might not be for you.

Breed Group: Sporting Dogs
Size: 45-70 LBS
Life Expectancy: 12-15 Years

Adopt: GSP Rescue

Labrador Retriever

Historically, Labrador Retrievers were bred as fishermen’s helpers. They would fetch ropes, nets, and fish in the cold waters of the north Atlantic Ocean. Now, these animals are known more for their friendly demeanors and function widely as family dogs. In fact, they are the most popular breed in America. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t suited for heavy physical activities like those for which they were bred. They’re also great dogs for hunting, service, and show competitions – so they can certainly handle the trails.

Breed Group: Sporting Dogs
Size: 45-70 LBS
Life Expectancy: 12-15 Years

Adopt: LRR

Portuguese Water Dog

Perhaps the rarest breed on this list, the Portuguese Water Dog got its start as a fishing helper, doing everything from gathering nets to actually herding fish into said nets. As such, they are incredibly well suited to any outdoor activity near large bodies of water – they even have webbed feet. They’re also very good family companions. In fact, former President Obama’s family dog Bo is a Portuguese Water Dog. Just keep in mind that, because of their full coats of hair, they require a good deal of grooming.

Breed Group: Working Dogs
Size: 35-60 LBS
Life Expectancy: 10-14 Years

Adopt: PWDCA

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesia, which is now known as Zimbabwe, is located in the south of Africa. And it’s from there that the Rhodesian Ridgeback hails. In fact, they were bred to do something few animals could ever manage: hunt on the plains of Africa. Yes, these were hunting dogs in the same lands that lions, hippos, elephants, and crocodiles call home. And that speaks monuments to their fortitude as a breed. Nowadays, they’re perhaps better known for their athleticism and intelligence. Though they are not quite as energetic as, say, sheepherding dogs, they’re still plenty good for moderate to difficult hikes.

Breed Group: Hound Dogs
Size: 70-85 LBS
Life Expectancy: 10-12 Years

Adopt: Ridgeback Rescue

Siberian Husky

Siberian Huskys are, without a doubt, the classic choice for a cold weather dog. Hell, they’re practically wolves. They can be pretty difficult for inexperienced owners, but if you can manage their stubbornness and individuality, you’ll end up with a very capable companion. Unfortunately, because of this breed’s increasing popularity, there are a lot of puppy mills out there breeding unchecked. The result can be dogs that are aggressive and incredibly hard to manage. Still, don’t let that deter you from looking into adopting one of these gorgeous sled dogs.

Breed Group: Working Dogs
Size: 35-60 LBS
Life Expectancy: 12-15 Years

Adopt: Husky Rescue


You can think of the Vizsla as the Hungarian version of the German Shorthaired Pointer, as that’s basically what they are. They were designed to be hunting and retrieving dogs. The chief difference between them, apart from their obvious color variance, is that Vizslas tend to form much tighter bonds with their humans – which can make them somewhat needy. And, while they are warm weather dogs, their short light fur makes them prone to skin cancer. So if you decide to get one and take it outdoors a lot, make sure you keep their skin protected as much as possible.

Breed Group: Sporting Dogs
Size: 45-65 LBS
Life Expectancy: 10-14 Years

Adopt: VCA

Dog Lovers Gift Guide

If you’ve already got your canine bases covered or you know someone who is as loyal to their pooch as they are to it, check out these superb gifts for the dog lover.

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