Whether you’re an experienced trekker with a thru-hike under your belt or a day hiker who loves to connect with nature, finding a suitable canine companion to keep you company on the trail is vital. Although most dog breeds enjoy a daily walk, there are some who love nothing more than scrambling across difficult terrain, crossing creeks and reaching a summit. It’s time to pack a pocketful of pet-friendly trail snacks and start making tracks with these dog breeds built for hiking.
Posted by Billy Francis
Jack Russell Terrier
High-energy hikers can meet their match if they choose to give a Jack Russell Terrier a home. Originally bred in England for hunting, these lively little pups are happy to join the pack on long-haul hikes. In fact, Jack Russells need around 90 minutes of exercise every day to stay happy and healthy. If you have time to devote your love and attention, this bitesize breed is a bundle of fun and can handle just as much activity as their larger canine counterparts.
Looking for somewhere unique to explore with your new best friend? Go to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, CO for a trek that feels like you’re exploring another planet. Afterwards, enjoy an out-of-this-world stay at this cozy cabin with your pup.
Labrador Retrievers are an outgoing bunch, which makes them the “pawfect” partner to help make new friends on a thru-hike. Labradors are as much at home on the water as they are on land, so hikes with stream crossings and natural pools to paddle in are a great fit for this breed. Even though some Labs have been clocked at 35 mph over short distances, they are known for their endurance and will be happy to keep their tails on the trail all day long.
Hikes with a payoff are always the most fun. Take your lovely Labrador on a pet-friendly waterfall hike, like the two-mile loop at Cummins Falls State Park in Cookeville, TN, and cool off in the water together along the way. Dry off and relax with your four-legged friend at this modern cabin by Bear Lake.
Are you curious about Mountain Curs? This rare and beautiful breed started life treeing and trailing small game and is most at home exploring winding trails and darting through the forest. Nowadays, they make a great addition to the trail crew thanks to being tough enough to withstand rigorous activity. It won’t take long to train your intelligent new puppy with important hiking etiquette like recall and walking to heel.
Find freedom together in California’s Central Desert Region at Cap Homme and Ralph Adams Park in Palm Desert. The Cross Trail features a huge, iconic cross at the summit and the park is also home to a large off-leash area where your Cur can practice her recall. After all that fun, spend the night at The Village Palm Desert nearby.
Border Collies love to romp around fields and herd sheep, making them great companions on the farm. But, these alert, energetic and intelligent pooches are just as happy exploring trails. Border Collies have a relatively low prey drive, which means that with the right training they’re not likely to stray from the path if they spy a critter deep in the woods. Collies are also bundles of energy and need at least two hours of exercise a day, but they can go much longer if you’re planning a strenuous trek.
Visit the trails that surround one of the seven natural wonders on a Grand Canyon adventure with your brilliant Border Collie. Book a room next to one of the greatest views on the planet at the popular pet-friendly Yavapai Lodge in Arizona.
Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog from Switzerland was bred to pull carts through the mountains, which lends itself nicely to traversing tricky trail terrains. This large and loveable breed has a thick coat to help them handle long winter hikes in colder temperatures and their calmness around other people and animals makes them great companions on more popular pathways. Bernese Mountain Dogs are the biggest breed on our list and can easily carry their own essential items in a sturdy backpack on longer thru-hikes.
Test out Fido’s skills on the steep terrain at Chimney Rock State Park. The park features challenging hiking trails that lead to amazing 75-mile views. Your pooch will feel right at home in the mountains at The 1927 Lake Lure Inn & Spa.
The Beagle’s bays and howls may not be suitable for a small home or apartment, but their recognizable yodel-like sounds make them easy to find if they venture too far from the trail on a hike. Beagles are very energetic and will take hikes up to ten miles in stride. Hiking is one of the best ways to help your fun-loving and affectionate Beagle bestie to relax.
Shenandoah National Park is home to 500 miles of trails, and most welcome leashed dogs. Start short with your Beagle on the Fort Windham Rocks Trail, a segment of the Appalachian Trail less than one mile in length.