There are an increasing number of Americans who are discovering the joys and thrills of hiking. And whenever you head outdoors and appreciate Mother Nature at her finest, there’s no better hiking companion than a dog. First and foremost, they will never complain about how difficult the trail is. And while you can bring almost any other breed of dog for your ordinary hike on a local trail, only the sturdiest will do in lengthier adventures. If you fancy trekking the famous 2,190-mile long Appalachian Trail or any other similar hiking routes, then you’ve got to have any of the world’s 5 best hiking dogs.
The 5 Best Canine Breeds for Hiking
Any dog can be a good companion on your favorite hiking trail. However, the following dog breeds happen to be the planet’s best.
Smart and workaholic – these are the traits that best define the Border Collie. It is a venerable herding dog, a role that it does with unsurpassed enthusiasm. Its best asset is its mind. This dog is the Einstein of the canine kingdom, capable of learning different tricks that nothing short of amazing. Border Collies are energetic and athletic. They will never complain if you decide to hike tens of miles at a time. After all, that is what they do at the Scottish borders where they were bred.
Border Collies make excellent hiking partners because of their modest size, prodigious stamina, and intelligence. These dogs can run all day long. And when nighttime comes, they can appreciate some quiet moments with their human companions. Border Collies also display remarkable obedience, a trait that seasoned hikers can appreciate in the wilderness. Its experience as a venerable herding dog of the Anglo-Scottish border will serve it well on any hiking trail.
One cannot deny the Labrador Retriever a spot in this list of the world’s best hiking dogs. These America’s darlings are perfect companions wherever their owners may go. They have a short coat that should be very easy to care for when on the trail. Best of all, they have the stamina to walk with you for countless miles at a time. Labradors have an insatiable appetite to be with its owner. As such, when you do want to conquer a particular trail, the Labrador will accompany you through the end.
Labrador Retrievers have the right temperament of any hiking dog. They are amiable and can befriend other hikers and other dogs on the hiking trail. Labs are also water dogs so it will never be an issue if you do have to cross rivers or streams. Labs are trainable, making them excellent companions in the wild as they will obey your every command.
Find out more about Dog Food for Labs here.
Known for their speed and endurance, Siberian Huskies make ideal hiking companions because of their high level of energy. It will never mind if you are going to trek nonstop. As long as it is with you the Siberian Husky knows that everything will be alright. They have a strong sense of companionship that is ideal in outdoor adventures such as hiking. It is a pack animal, often looking up to its owner as its leader. It is, thus, not surprising why this dog deserves to be on this list. With a dog that considers you as its leader, you know that you have a reliable companion by your side.
Siberian Huskies are intelligent, although they can be quite stubborn to train. These dogs have a very strong hunting instinct. It is something that you have to train them to temper since there are small prey animals on the hiking trails. There is one downside to having the Siberian Husky as a hiking partner: it doesn’t do well in hot climates.
For more options, check out our detailed review of Dog Food for Huskies.
This Hungarian canine native is famous for its outstanding trainability. It may be the smallest of all pointer-retrievers, but the Vizsla is big on loyalty. This dog is a prolific hunter of upland game and fowl. As such, the breed can work well in forests, fields, and bodies of water. These are the very same geological features that you will be facing when you go hiking. In other words, the Vizsla is a worthy hiking companion because of its experience as a versatile, all-around sporting dog.
Vizlas have a muscular yet streamlined body. It is gentle-mannered, capable of staying cordial with other dogs and other hikers on the trail. However, it can also be fearless and protective of its owners. This is one characteristic that you would want to have in a hiking dog. You would also want it to serve as your canine bodyguard.
The Grey Ghost is Germany’s most trusted hunter for the royalty. It is a large dog that hunted bears, boars, and deer. Weimaraners are best known for their stamina and physical endurance. They are relentless when it comes to hunting prey. With the correct training, this trait can prove invaluable on the hiking trail.
Weimaraners have lots of energy. They are the perfect hiking buddies of seasoned hikers who can walk up to 30 miles in a single day. These dogs also have an intense desire to live and work with their human masters. Hence, when you do head out to hike, you can always rely on the Weimaraner to keep you company.
Head over to our review of Dog Food for Weimaraners for more choices.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Good Hiking Dog
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, any dog can be a good hiking companion. However, everything depends on the place where you are going to hike as well as the distance of the hike. Hence, it is important to consider the following parameters or factors when deciding on the type of dog you wish to bring in your hike.
One of the most important commands that hiking dogs should be able to master is the recall. In other words, the dog should come to you the moment you call its name. Hiking trails are always set in unfamiliar territory. Except for a few markers, it is easy to get lost. As such, you should have a dog that is very easy to train in terms of basic obedience. Hiking dogs need to put down anything they have in their mouths when told. They should also know how to walk beside you and never ahead of you. A dog’s trainability can go a long way towards enjoying a good hike with your pet.
A hiking dog should be calm and amiable. Remember, there are now many hikers today and most of them will also have their dogs with them. It is crucial that your hiking dog doesn’t get all too excited whenever they see or meet another hiker with his or her dog. You do not want to bring an anxious or fearful dog or a canine with some behavioral issues. Otherwise, you will have to address these issues first before you can take the pet for a hike.
Small and toy dog breeds can always go on a hike. However, because they have a very fast metabolism, they will also tire very fast. There is a greater chance that you will be carrying them for most of the trail. If you go for large or giant breeds, they are more prone to joint and heart problems. And if they fall ill or are injured in the woods, it would be difficult for you to carry them by yourself. As such, a dog that is medium-sized or one that weighs between 30 lbs and 60 lbs should be fine. Of course, if you think you can carry a 100-lb dog should it get ill, you’re more than welcome to bring it along.
- Energy Level
Low-energy dogs may not be able to hike very far or fast enough to cover more ground. Hyperactive dogs tend to be quite difficult to control since they want to take charge of almost everything. This can be a real problem when you are hiking on a trail that only allows dogs on leash. The good news is that you can try weighing them down by letting them wear a doggie backpack. This will be extra work for them, helping them use up their energy. Dogs with moderately-high energy levels are perfect for hiking. They can keep up with you on the trail and will be content on settling down for the night.
- Type of Coat
This is one of the most important factors you need to consider whenever you go hiking to a particular place. If you’re hiking in the Arctic, then a thick-coated dog should come in handy. If you are hiking in the Grand Canyon, such a type of coat may not be ideal. As much as possible, choose a dog with a shorter coat as it is a lot easier to clean. It will also not trap dirt and debris, while also making it easy to spot abrasions or minor skin irritations.
Almost any other dog can be a hiking dog. However, only those with the stamina, endurance, intelligence, and trainability can make the cut as the world’s best dog breeds for hiking.