6 Of The Best Hiking Dogs (Big & Small) That’ll Thrive On The Trail 🐕
6 Of The Best Hiking Dogs (Big & Small) That’ll Thrive On The Trail 🐕

6 Of The Best Hiking Dogs (Big & Small) That’ll Thrive On The Trail 🐕

They say dogs are a man’s best friend, and for those of us who enjoy walking with our furry companions, we know this more than most!

There’s nothing quite like lacing up those boots and venturing into the great outdoors with our four-legged pals.

Best hiking dogs, cute German Shepherd
Waiting for his walkies

For hiking enthusiasts on the lookout for a dog however, choosing the correct breed is VERY important.

Temperament and physical capabilities are some of the main characteristics to consider – you’ll be wanting an active pedigree purposely bred to spend long hours out and about.

While I’m by no means a doggy expert, I have grown up in a family full of both walkers and dogs, so I do admittedly have quite a bit of first-hand experience!

From breeds big and small, I’ve gotten to know some absolutely fantastic mutts over the years who’ve thrived being out on the trails.

Now, while there are numerous amazing dog breeds out well suited there for walkers, I’ve thought long and hard to whittle down this list to my absolute 6 favourite hiking dog breeds.

Interested? Let’s get to it 👇

Best hiking dog breeds

German Shepherd

Best hiking dogs, best breeds, German Shepherd

Maybe I’m bias since I’ve grown up with them all my life, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better companion than a German Shepherd

I won’t lie that they can a real piece of work for the first couple of years! Real mischievous buggers.

Once they settle into adulthood though, they’re some of the most loving, intelligent and active dogs around.

There’s good reason as to why they’ve served in the police force for so many years.

Also named Alsatians, this breed requires lots of hands on attention; especially when they’re pups. A family dog through and through, they love being in the thick of everything and certainly aren’t a breed you should be leaving alone for too long either.

A big bundle of lovable energy, to get the most out of this breed they’ll require proper training and plenty of exercise. Great news if you want a buddy to tackle the trails with!

As a rule of thumb, it’s said an adult GSD will require roughly 90 minutes of exercise daily to keep healthy both physically and mentally.

Often unknown by newbies to the breed however, there are many different lines of German Shepherds which have drastically varying characteristic, so it’s important to choose one that’s right for you.

Long-haired GSDs are going to struggle with walks in warmer climates, while big-boned eastern lines will perhaps be too large for those longer distance hikes.

For instance, my parents currently own a larger eastern line GSD, weighing over 60kg+ of pure muscle. Unsurprisingly, he much prefers his shorter power walks and runs in place of longer rambles! So ensure you find the right Alsatian breeder for you.

Golden Retriever

Cute, energetic, friendly and full of bouncy character – what’s not to love about Golden Retrievers?

Loyal companions with a love for the outdoors, Golden Retrievers were originally bred for long hunts in the Scottish Highlands – meaning they enjoy nothing more than being on the trail with their master.

Cute Golden Retriever, Best Hiking Dogs

It’s generally agreed a Golden Retriever adult should have no less than 60 minutes of exercise each day. This will help them burn off any pent up energy and keep them relaxed and content in the household.

Being amazingly smart, Golden Retrievers will also require frequent mental stimulation, so be sure to keep them occupied with toys and play time!

Also somewhat susceptible to obesity, it’s important to keep your dog’s calorie intake in check along with a regular exercise schedule.

Border Collie

Cute Border Collie Puppy, Best Hiking Dogs

For years Border Collies have remained one of the most popular walking companions.

Successfully employed as herding dogs for centuries, Border Collies are intelligent, loving, loyal and hyper energetic.

Working dogs to the bone, this desire to serve means Border Collies are unsurprisingly extremely well suited for hitting the trails.

One of the smartest breeds around, its super important to keep your Collie active and stimulated on the daily, and they’re incredibly receptive to learning training commands.

Border Collie, Best Hiking Dogs

Positive reward-based training will help keep them well behaved and cheerful. They want nothing more than to work and please you.

Depending on age, most adult Border Collie’s will require at least 90-120 minutes of activity each and every day.  No matter how long you walk them for however, they’ll still probably want to play and please you even after you get back home. Clearly not a breed for sedentary types!

Jack Russell

Jack Russell, Best hiking dog breeds

For what they may lack in size, Jack Russell Terriers more than make up for it in personality.

Dating back to the early 1800s, Jack Russells have been specifically reared for hunting foxes and other ground dwelling game, making them one of the liveliest smaller breeds around.

Despite their tiny stature, these mutts are highly intelligent, athletic and require around 60-90 minutes of walk time each and every day. Perfect for hikers wanting a smaller dog breed.

Regular exercise keeps them content in the home and helps avoid unwanted behaviour which can surface if your dog becomes bored.

My Grandad has owned several Jack Russells through the years and they’ve always been more than happy to spend long days out venturing in the countryside with him.

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd, Best hiking dog breeds

Another breed beaming with energy, Australian Shepherds are full of zip and most happy when adventuring outside with their master.

Fun fact – Despite their name, its said these mutts actually originated in America, specifically in the Western States of California, Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho where they tended to the large flocks of sheep grazing there.

Intelligent working dogs who learn quickly and thrive on reward-based training, it’s recommended to give Miniature Australian Shepherds at least 2 hours exercise per day.

Very similar in appearance to Border Collies, Australian Shepherds can be identified through their distinctive & unusual colour patterns. You’ll also find many Australian Shepherds possess piercing blue eyes.

Because of their active temperament, it’s really important you’re able to meet their physical and mental stimulation requirements.

While not yet classed as an official pedigree breed, Miniature Australian Shepherds are rapidly growing in popularity for those who want the same temperament but a smaller stature!

Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dog, Best hiking dogs

An absolute gentle giant, Bernese Mountain dogs are renowned for their caring, easy-going nature and love for the outdoors.

Originally bred for farming duties in the Swiss Alps, Berners love a challenge and make for a great hiking companion.

Being so large and fluffy however, they don’t need quite as much exercise as some of the smaller breeds on our list. They also require far more grooming with how much they shed!

Around one hour of activity per day is recommended, avoiding warmer periods of the day because of heat exhaustion.

Affectionate and eager to please, this breed is extremely receptive to training, amazing with kids and shows unwavering loyalty to its master.

Providing you put in the work, you really would be hard-pressed to find a better family pedigree than the Bernese Mountain Dog.

Other Considerations

Only get a dog if you’re ready to handle the responsibility – The reality of owning a dog is often far removed from what you may first think it’s like. Some people simply don’t realise how much work owning a dog is; even more so owning an active hiking breed!

Do you your research – Each breed is unique and comes with its own characteristics; good and bad. Don’t make any hasty decisions and ensure you’re positive you’ve found the right breed for you & your lifestyle before taking the plunge.

Consider adopting – There are almost certainly dogs around your local area in need of adoption. Why not take a look and see if any of these could make the cut as your new hiking companion?

Happy walking 🐶🚶