Access Special Features, Register Now!

The 10 Best Outdoor Dog Breeds

These dogs love the outdoors just as much as you do.

With the right training, these breeds make for some of the best adventure dogs out there.  But just remember—every dog is only as good as its master.


  1. steve-c

    I enjoy reading other people’s views on the “best outdoor dog breeds,” mainly because of the reactions from the other breeds not mentioned. We all love what we love, and if that “outdoor” companion of yours is as loyal and loving as mine – and loves to play outdoors with the gusto of an adventurous eight year old kid, then you may have a great “outdoor” dog. Truth be told, most breeds, especially the working breeds, hunters and terriers were bred for the outdoor life. The genetic variations have been accentuated for specific outdoor jobs. Whether it was hunting bears, weasels, coons, ducks or rabbits, or if the breed was purposed for protecting from predators, these dogs have aided and accompanied humans for thousands of years. So, in my opinion, with all of these great dog family traits, the real question is what kind of activity will the humans do?

    Profile photo of steve-c
  2. bukaka19

    Clearly this author never seen a pitbull on the mountain. My 2 pits are hurley and marley are world class hikers and dominate anything on the mountains. They are extremely agile and capable of jumping 7+ feet vertical with ease and balance. They do laps around other dogs. Awesome swimmers and can both run for miles above 25 MPH. They have no problem boulder hopping. And because they are extremely strong and brave they easily scare any bears away. They constantly do 15+ mile hikes with minimal fatigue. The ONLY disadvantage to some of the dogs mentioned is needing a jacket in the winter because they have short coats.

    Profile photo of bukaka19
  3. wycobpacker

    I agree w/wildalaskaverizon. We have a Havanese who runs circles around our big collie and can cruise across talus where big dogs slip. Think she can’t keep up? Although just 11 pounds, she did 50 miles off trail in the Winds in 6 days, 30 miles in 3 days on another trip, and topped it with an easy 15 in 2 days, all last summer. She’s smart and very bonded–won’t run off after wildlife. Plus, she doesn’t require as much (heavy) food on the trail. Just because a dog is small doesn’t mean it isn’t a capable backcountry companion.

    Profile photo of wycobpacker
  4. wildalaskaverizon-net

    There seems to be a bias here against smaller dogs. There are plenty of terriers that are amazing hiking and backpacking companions. The Border Terrier is tough and long legged enough for the mountains. Cairn Terriers are at home in rocky areas. Schnauzers of all sizes are agile and love the trail, and despite their pampered stereotype, poodles are amazingly athletic and smart. Small dogs also live longer and are less prone to hip problems as they get older.

    Profile photo of wildalaskaverizon-net
  5. k9fancier

    Interesting but probably does not consider key characteristics of a backpacking (as opposed to a hiking) dog. Trainability, weather resistance or at least compatibility, and size. Huskies, among others listed, are not the easiest breed to train for back country reliability. Border Collies are incredibly smart, but again have a herding drive that can crowd out reliability in the field. If one is considering a dog for backpacking, train it for reliability; having the dog bound off without a positive and reliable recall can be fatal to everyone involved (do you really want that dog to come back with its new best friend?). For cold or even cool weather work, several of the hounds may not be the best choice — and, of course, for warm or hot weather or country, the heavy coated dogs will suffer. All of these dogs seem to have the size and stamina for back country endeavors so the question is proper temperament for back country training and then environmental compatibility. My best back packing dogs were Airedale Terriers: brains, drive, double coating for all-weather use, and adequate size. Of course, I did train them prior to long backpacks — best test: drop on recall. If you can stay your dog, walk away 50-100 feet, call your dog, drop (down) your dog half way through the recall, and then complete the recall, you have at least the foundation for a reliable back country dog. Otherwise, stay on lead or better yet leave the dog for hikes in the park.

    Profile photo of k9fancier

Leave a Reply