Dog Tips

Best Hiking Dogs

We know how difficult it can be to convince your friends to go on a hike or a trek with you. But there’s someone who would love hiking with you and it won’t take a lot of convincing. And that’s your four-legged canine buddy. But before picking your dog up and starting to pack your bag for the hike you’ve planned, you need to know the do’s and don’ts. And if you’re looking for a hiking partner in a dog, we’ve listed down some great dog breeds for you. 

The thing to note here is that most dogs are adventurous and would love to explore. However, not all dogs may perform the same on the hike with you. The length of the hike, the size of the dog, weather conditions, etc. play an important role in deciding whether to take your dog for hiking or not. 

What are the Best Dogs for Hiking?

The way the breed of the dog affects its suitability for hiking is its predisposition to medical conditions, coat type, average size and energy levels. Here are some great options for you – 

Bernese Mountain Dog 

Bernese Mountain Dog

A breed with medium energy levels, gentle temperament and high stamina, Bernese Mountain Dogs can be a great hike companion. They are adapted to Alpine environments. They look like large bears from a distance but are more like teddy bears from close. The name itself has ‘mountain’. We don’t think there’s more convincing needed on this one. 

Golden Retriever

A fluffy Golden Retriever stands on a dirt path in a frosty forest.

These extremely popular house pets, not just in the US but the world, are also great hike companions. Golden Retrievers are a hunting breed and hence wouldn’t mind a long hike in the woods with you. They are intelligent and great at understanding human emotions. They are often chosen as guide dogs in the service making them great for following a trail. 

Siberian Husky – 

Siberian Husky

These beautiful dogs were bred to pull heavy sledges through snow. One can be quite assured of their strength and stamina. Siberian Huskies are social dogs and would love to be a part of your hiking group. However, they are not recommended for new owners as they can be quite independent and hence difficult to train and command.

While these dogs are our top 3 picks, many other breeds can be great hike companions. They include – 

What Characteristics Make Good Hiking Dogs?

While we’ve listed some great dog breeds that make good hiking companions, it can’t be said for a fact that all the members of the breed are going to do great with you on the mountain. Similarly, dogs of the breeds that aren’t mentioned can also make excellent hike companions. The better way to look at it is to look for certain characteristics over deciding based on the breed.

If you had to choose a friend to accompany you on your hike, you would not only look for stamina and endurance but probably also how interested and interesting that person is, does he/she has any allergies or medical conditions, and 10 other things. Similarly, when it comes to choosing your four-legged hike companion, along with a stamina check you would want to check multiple other factors. These include – 

  • Size – Small dogs may find it difficult to carry their own weight and large ones may also face the same issue. Large dogs may also be more prone to heart and joint problems. It may also get difficult for you to carry a large dog back in case of an injury in the woods. A mid-sized dog with a weight of around 25-50 lbs. may be better here.

  • Energy levels – You would not want a dog that is too low in energy levels that it refuses to walk or one that is too energetic that it becomes difficult to manage. A mid-high energy level should be great to accompany you on the trail and settle calmly in the tent later.

  • Coat type – Here, the location of the hike will decide the type of coat best suited for it. Warmer climates like Florida may not be great for thick-coated dogs. Apart from that, longer coats tend to get dirtier. The hair may collect more debris and it may become difficult to spot ticks or other patches that may cause infections. Moreover, a small dog may take less time to find ticks and injuries than a big one when you want to shut your tent and go to sleep at night. \

  • Personality – You may want to avoid a fearful and anxious dog as there’s a chance they won’t have a good time.

  • Training – You wouldn’t want to go on a hike with a newly adopted dog that is just getting to learn commands. You would need your dog to know at least the basic commands like sit, stay, come, etc.

  • Breed – The breed of the dog does matter because of the predisposed medical conditions it comes with. Breeds with small-smooshed stout, for example, are brachycephalic and may have difficulty in breathing after an intense walk or higher altitudes. On the other end, large breeds like Great Dane are prone to joint injuries and other musculoskeletal issues. They are also more prone to heart problems.

This doesn’t mean that all small and large dogs should not even be considered for hiking. Ensure that they have had regular vet check-ups. 

How to Find a Dog-Friendly Trail

It involves some simple steps. Here’s what you can do - 

  • Online Research – There are several websites where you can just enter your search criteria and it can give you the list of best trails. E.g., AllTrails, BringFido, etc. 

  • Check Local Parks and Reserves – Most of these have a designated dog-friendly trail. You can visit the website of the nearest one and check it out.

  • Read on forums – There are plenty of pet forums on the internet that can give you first-hand reviews, experiences and recommendations. 

  • Look for amenities – While you’re doing your research, do ensure that the trail has sufficient waste disposal stations, water sources, and shaded areas for rest.

  • Confirm regulations – Some trails may require you to always keep your dog on a leash. 

More About Spot Pet Insurance

Taking your dog on a hike with you is a great idea. It becomes a good physical and mental exercise for your buddy. But at the same time, it can also pose some challenges. Dogs tend to get infections from the woods but eating random things or getting in contact with toxins. These can become severe. And there is always a chance of an accident or injury. 2 things happen when something like this happens. One is your fun gets halted, and you start worrying about your dog’s health, and the second is the treatment costs of these can sometimes put a severe dent in your savings. With pet health insurance, you can save up to 90% of the costs. 

With an accident and illness plan from Spot, you can visit any vet in Canada or the U.S. and receive reimbursement for veterinary services involved with the diagnosis, treatment, or management of eligible conditions. Spot plans can help cover a variety of accidents, illnesses, and behavioral conditions including broken bones, bite wounds, anxiety, cancer, allergies, and more. For an additional fee, Wellness Riders can be added to an accident and illness plan, helping cover the eligible costs of wellness exams, vaccines, dental cleanings, and more. 

Learn more about what pet insurance covers or get a free quote today!

Sources

  1. Thisexpansiveadventure. (2024, May 28). 20 best hiking dogs to keep you company on the trail. This Expansive Adventure. https://www.thisexpansiveadventure.com/hiking/best-hiking-dogs/

  2. Bennett, S. (2019, March 25). Hiking with Dogs 101: Choosing a Hiking Dog - The Trek. The Trek. https://thetrek.co/hiking-dogs-101-choosing-hiking-dog/

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