The best dog breeds for hiking and camping are those that were originally bred for outdoor work and hunting. They are strong, have seemingly endless amounts of energy, and they can withstand harsh weather.
If you want a dog that will accompany you on your adventures outdoors, here are the top 10 best hiking and camping dog breeds.
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Top 10 best hiking and camping dog breeds
1. Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky is one of the hardiest dog breeds. It was bred as a sled dog in the harsh and cold terrain of Siberia.
Because they thrive on a lot of exercise, a Siberian Husky is perfect for outdoor adventures. It’ll easily keep up with you when hiking and doesn’t mind spending a night outdoors when camping.
The thick double coat of the Siberian Husky makes it ideal for cold weather camping.
Siberian Huskies have a high prey drive so consistent positive training is crucial in managing his hunting tendencies. You’ll need to keep the dog on a leash most of the time when you are outdoors.
The Siberian Husky is a gentle breed that’s very family-friendly and good with children. So feel free to bring him along on family camping trips.
2. Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan Malamute is a close relative of the Siberian Husky.
Alaskan Malamutes were also bred as sled dogs, and thus can endure harsh weather outdoors. They have good endurance and will enjoy hiking long distances with you.
Because of their history sledding and carrying heavy loads, Alaskan Malamutes are strong. So don’t hesitate to get your dog a backpack. He’ll be more than happy carrying his own food and water.
Similar to Siberian Huskies, Malamutes have a strong prey drive and can be difficult to manage outdoors without proper training.
You’ll need to establish yourself as the pack leader and constantly provide obedience training.
Alaskan Malamutes are great with people, but because of their prey drive, keep an eye on them when small kids are around.
A Bloodhound is perfect if you often go on long hikes. Because they were bred as hunting dogs, they have developed the stamina to follow a scent for hours.
A Bloodhound will keep up with you with energy to spare.
The main challenge with Bloodhounds is the sometimes independent streak that makes training take longer than with most other breeds.
They can be especially troublesome outdoors. Any whiff of an interesting smell triggers their prey drive and it’ll be difficult to get him to listen to you.
So developing a reliable recall in the dog is very important, as is having a strong leash on the dog at all times when outdoors.
Bloodhounds are great with people and kids, so they are great for both solo and family camping trips.
4. Rhodesian Ridgeback
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is another hunting dog breed famous for its powerful sense of smell.
They are strong and athletic, making them perfectly suited to intense outdoor activities like running and hiking.
Like other hunting dogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a strong prey drive that you need to manage through early and consistent training.
And even then, you’ll need to keep the dog leashed most of the time when you are outdoors.
While a Rhodesian Ridgeback can be aloof with strangers, it is not aggressive and gets along with family members and other pets.
5. German Shepherd
The German Shepherd was bred as a working dog, mostly for herding sheep. Even today, it’s still used for different kinds of jobs like search and rescue and law and order.
Despite their slim build, German Shepherds are strong, agile and athletic. They can endure long hikes even on rough trails.
The breed’s double coat makes it suited to cold weather camping, but it also adapts well to hot conditions though you should always be careful to protect them from too much heat or cold.
A German Shepherd’s intelligence, loyalty and obedience makes training easy. They learn commands quickly and are willing to follow them.
If you want a dog that you are sure will do as you say when outdoors, a German Shepherd is one of the best picks.
Here’s a video of a German Shepherd on a trail. As you can see, it’s possible to let a German Shepherd walk off the leash in permitted areas thanks to their obedience. Just make sure he’s well trained.
6. Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog is an excellent pick for cold weather campers and hikers. It’s native to the Swiss Alps so it can withstand cold temperatures.
On the flip side, they don’t handle high temperatures very well and can overheat easily. We don’t recommend this breed for hiking and camping in hot climates.
Bernese Mountain Dogs have a large imposing body, but they are one of the most gentle and affectionate dog breeds. If you do a lot of family camping, this is a great dog to get.
They are highly tolerant of children and their antics and go along well with other pets.
Bernese Mountain Dogs have a lot of energy, and enjoy regular hikes and other outdoor activities. They can even carry their own loaded backpack.
Another trait that makes a Bernese Mountain Dog great for camping is that they are easy to train and exhibit a high level of intelligence and obedience.
If you are looking for a small dog for hiking and camping, a Beagle is one of the best choices.
This American favorite is highly energetic, clever, and makes for a friendly and loyal companion.
The Beagle is a scent hound, a hunting dog that relies on its strong sense of smell to seek out prey. For this reason, it can be difficult to handle outdoors.
Once it catches a scent, recalling it can be difficult. So a leash is a must-have when going hiking.
While very friendly and great with kids, Beagles can be stubborn and are easily distracted. This makes training more difficult compared to other breeds.
You’ll need to be patient with training and rely on positive reinforcement.
8. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
If most of your hiking or camping trips involve a dunk in the water, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the best dog breed to accompany you.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is best known as a great swimmer. The dog can swim for hours and can do it safely even in strong currents.
They are also happy hiking for miles.
Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are relatively easy to train though you should always keep an eye on your dog when around kids and strangers. Sometimes, the dog’s protective instincts can cause trouble.
If you mostly hike and camp in hot areas, you need a heat-tolerant dog breed like the Vizsla. It has a single short coat that allows the dog to tolerate hot weather without overheating.
On the downside, Vizslas require extra gear when it’s cold as their short coat doesn’t provide much protection.
We don’t recommend this breed if you often do winter hikes and camping trips.
Vizslas are natural hunting dogs, so they thrive outdoors. They display lots of energy and endurance, and don’t mind getting into water.
They are easy to train thanks to their high level of obedience and loyalty. But you must be gentle with it due to their sensitive temperament.
10. German Shorthaired Pointer
The German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) is another good choice for warm weather adventures outdoors. It has a short coat that allows the dog to withstand moderately high temperatures without getting too hot.
Originally bred for hunting, GSPs have incredible amounts of energy, speed, and endurance. They need to stay active to burn off energy, so hiking and other outdoor activities are perfect for it.
Watch out for the GSP’s strong prey drive. He will take off after a rabbit or other small animal without warning. Adequate training and a leash are important in managing the dog on the trail.
Conditioning Your Dog For Outdoor Activities
If you plan to get a dog for camping and hiking, don’t wait until they are the right age and then take them on a 10 mile hike.
Even outdoor-loving dogs need gradual conditioning from when they are puppies. Otherwise, you risk injuries and joint problems.
Take the dog on daily walks and build up to short hikes on an easy trail. As they get stronger and more confident, you can start tackling longer hikes and difficult terrains.
Wait until the dog is the right age and strong enough before you put a backpack on them.
Remember to also keep up with training. With time and patience, even difficult to train breeds become manageable.
Regular health checkups are also important for active dogs. Have the vet check for hip and joint problems, and other issues common with that particular breed. Also, be aware of basic safety measures.
As your dog ages, gradually dial down how intensive your activities are. Go on shorter hikes, choose easier trails, and avoid camping in too-cold or too-hot weather.