Hiking or backpacking with your dog is awesome! It’s more than just exercise; it’s an adventure that makes the bond between you and your pup even stronger. According to Dr. Joan Warf Wiggins, people who hike with their dogs tend to be more active. So, grabbing your pup for a hike not only keeps them happy but also helps you stay fit.

Best Dogs for Hiking

Not all dogs are made for long hikes, so picking the right buddy for your adventure is key. Here’s a look at some of the best hiking partners from the dog world:


Golden and Labrador Retriever dogs are superstars on the trails. They love to move and can handle different types of ground like champs.

"Golden Retrievers are naturally adventurous and make eager hiking companions," says a recent study by Dr. Rebecca Utz, which found that having a dog like this can really boost your outdoor activity.

These are active family dogs and with proper obedience training, they are one of the best dog breeds to take with the whole family when you go hiking, camping, or backpacking. They also love swimming in any lakes or rivers you come across. Remember, Goldens and Labs are not the only retrievers to pick from. Other great hiking retriever buddies include:

  • Flat-Coated Retriever
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever

We have to also give an honorary mention to the other dogs originally bred to retrieve from the water like the Poodle. The Poodle is an active dog that does great on hikes, and the breed also comes in three sizes, so a mini Poodle makes a great choice if you are looking for the best dog for hiking.

Nordic Breeds: Huskies and Malamutes

These snowy breed dogs are built for cold weather but watch out — they love to chase and might pull you off the trail if they spot a squirrel!

So while Huskies make fantastic hiking dogs, they are known for being stubborn and ignoring your recall. This can make chasing local wildlife or getting lost a potential problem.

So, keeping them on a leash is a good idea. Despite their strong prey drive, their endurance is unmatched, making them perfect for long winter hikes.


Need a workout buddy? Dalmatians were born to run. They used to run alongside carriages, so they’ve got the stamina for any high-energy hiker. They’re great for those long trails that keep going and going. If you are a fast-paced hiker that loves to cover long-distance (and if you like running), the Dalmatian is your dog.

Small Dogs Ideal For Hiking: Jack Russell Terriers

Don’t let their size fool you. Jack Russells might be small, but they are full of energy and can keep up on rough trails. They are perfect for hikers who like a little speed and agility on their hikes.

Other small breed dogs that will love a good hike include active terriers like the:

  • Fox Terrier
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Beagle
  • Dachshund (but be careful that the Doxie or Wiener dogs don’t overdo and put too much strain on their backs.)

Herding Dogs: Border Collies and Australian Shepherds

If you’re into a mix of fun and challenge, herding dogs are for you. They’re super smart and have tons of energy.

"These breeds not only provide company but also a boundless sense of energy and they love being active," according to the insights from dog hiking experts.

Another great herding dog that loves hiking is the Australian cattle dog or heeler. One of the best things about these herding breeds is their high trainability. This means that if you put the effort into their obedience training, it’s easier to let them off leash to roam, because they are more likely to come back when you call and follow crucial instructions like “stay” while you are setting up camp.

Hunting Dogs: Vizslas, Pointers and Weimaraners

These dogs are all about the great outdoors. They have sharp senses and love to explore. Plus, they’re really good at staying on track and making sure you do too. They’re also super athletes! Other hound dogs like the Catahoula Leopard Dog and the Coonhound are also made for trekking through wilderness, just make sure their hunting.

Dog breeds That Are Not Ideal For Hiking

In general, all dogs will love a stroll in the wilderness. However, not all dogs may be ideal for long-distance trekking that can take a toll on their bodies. Let’s have a brief look at some breeds that may not be ideal for really committed hikers.

Strong but Steady: German Shepherds

The German Shepherd may seem ideal for hiking, and there are certainly GSDs who are great at this activity. However, unlike the Dalmatian or the Husky, these dogs are not really made for long distance.

German Shepherds are loyal and protective, making them great hiking buddies for shorter trails. However, they're not the best for very long hikes as they can have hip issues, especially as they get older. It’s important to know your dog’s limits and keep hikes to a length they can handle comfortably.

Small and short-nosed (brachycephalic) Breeds: Bulldogs, Pugs, Chihuahuas

These little guys might love a good stroll, but they're not cut out for tough trails. Bulldogs and Pugs can have a hard time breathing, especially in hot weather or on strenuous paths. Chihuahuas, while spirited, can get tired quickly and might find rough terrain overwhelming. These breeds are better suited for short, leisurely hikes and need plenty of breaks.

Gentle Giants: English Mastiffs and Other Large Breeds

Big dogs like English Mastiffs can enjoy hiking too, but just like driving a big truck on a narrow road, bigger isn’t always better for long distances. These dogs can suffer from joint issues and heat exhaustion due to their size. It’s crucial to pick easier trails that won’t put too much strain on their bodies.

Dog Hiking Backpack

Hiking with your dog is one of the best adventures you can share, and having the right gear is essential. Dog backpacks are perfect for carrying everything your pup might need on the trail.

There are two main types of doggy backpacks: one that you can wear to carry a smaller or senior dog (or a dog with mobility problems), and another that your dog can wear to carry their own supplies.

Backpacks for Carrying Dogs

When your smaller or older dog needs a little help on a long hike, a dog carrier backpack is the way to go. These are perfect for carrying senior dogs, small breeds like Pugs, or any dog that might struggle with mobility but still enjoys the outdoors.

The best dog backpacks for carrying your pup allow you to be hands-free and can also store essentials like treats and water. Here are some top picks:

  • K9 Sport Sack Plus 2 Dog Carrier
  • Kurgo G-Train Dog Carrier Backpack
  • Apollo Walker Pet Carrier Backpack
  • YUDODO Reflective Pet Sling Carrier
  • Timbuk2 Muttmover Luxe BackpackManhattan Portage Sirius Traveler Dog Backpack

Backpacks Worn by Dogs

For the active dog who loves a job, having their own backpack can make a hike even more rewarding. These backpacks are ideal for athletic dogs without mobility issues and can include breeds like Huskies, herding breeds, and hunting dogs. They can carry their own water, food, bowls, and other essentials, balancing the load and giving them a sense of purpose. Here are some of the best options:

  • Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack
  • OneTigris Hoppy Camper Dog Pack 2.0
  • Ruffwear Front Range Day Pack
  • Ultimate Direction Dog Vest
  • OneTigris Mammoth Dog Pack

Using a backpack can enhance your hiking experience with your dog, but it's important to monitor their comfort and ensure the backpack is properly fitted.

Additionally, keeping track of your dog, especially in unfamiliar or challenging environments, is crucial. That’s where the Petcube GPS Tracker comes in handy, allowing you to monitor your dog's location in real-time to ensure their safety.

Dog Hiking Leash: A Dog Hiking Essential

When you're hitting the trails with your pup, a good hiking leash is not just useful—it's essential. A hiking leash keeps your dog safe and under control, especially in unfamiliar or wildlife-rich areas. Whether it's preventing them from chasing local wildlife, which can be harmful to both the animals and your dog, or keeping them close in potentially dangerous situations, a hiking leash is a vital piece of gear for any outdoor adventure with your dog.

Importance of a Hiking Leash

  • Wildlife Safety – As highlighted in this book, free-roaming dogs can disturb local wildlife. Keeping your dog leashed helps preserve the natural environment and prevents them from running after animals, which could lead to dangerous encounters.
  • Hiker Comfort – Even if your dog is friendly, not everyone is comfortable around dogs. A leash prevents your dog from approaching other hikers who might be afraid or uncomfortable around dogs.
  • Dog Safety – Keeping your dog on a leash also means they're less likely to run into potentially hazardous situations, like encountering a bear, snake, or rough terrain.

Pro-tip: even if your dog is friendly and well-socialized, it’s not a good idea to let them run up freely to greet other dogs on a hike. The other dogs may not be friendly, and a fight can cause long-term psychological damage to your pup. So, never let your dog approach a strange dog without first establishing if it’s okay to do so.

Choosing the Right Hiking Leash

A hiking leash is different from your everyday leash. It's specifically designed to handle the rigors of outdoor adventures. Here are some of the best hiking leashes that combine durability, flexibility, and safety features:

  • Ruffwear Hitchhiker Leash – Ideal for long hikes with its adjustable length and sturdy tie-off options.
  • Kurgo Quantum 6-in-1 – This leash offers multiple configurations for different hiking needs, making it versatile for any trail.
  • Iron Doggy Hands-Free Dog Leash - Perfect for trail running, this leash offers adjustable lengths and is great for keeping your hands free.
  • Wilderdog Reflective Rope Leash – Excellent for bigger dogs, this rope leash is tough and has reflective stitching for low-light conditions.

Remember, the right leash can make all the difference in keeping your hikes enjoyable and safe. And for added safety, consider equipping your dog with the Petcube GPS Tracker. This device ensures you can always keep track of your dog's whereabouts, giving you peace of mind on any adventure.

Dog-Friendly Hikes

Exploring nature with your dog is one of the greatest joys for any pet owner. However, finding the right spot where both you and your pup are welcome can sometimes be a challenge. Fortunately, there are plenty of dog-friendly hikes and trails that allow you to enjoy the outdoors together.

Finding Dog-Friendly Hikes

Apps like AllTrails are invaluable for discovering trails where dogs are welcome. These apps provide detailed information about trail conditions, the difficulty level, and whether or not it's suitable for dogs. They also often include user reviews, which can give you a sense of how suitable a trail is for your hiking needs and preferences.

Best Dog-Friendly Hikes by Region

So, let’s look at some all time favs to take your pup hiking by region.

Northern Region

  • Cascade River State Park, Minnesota – Offers scenic views and well-maintained trails suitable for dogs.
  • Acadia National Park, Maine – While some trails require leashes, there are many paths where dogs can explore freely.
  • Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont – Vast trails where leashes are often optional, ideal for well-behaved dogs.

Central Region

  • Shawnee National Forest, Illinois – Features multiple trails that are perfect for a day out with your dog.
  • Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio – Known for its beautiful waterfalls and dog-friendly trails.
  • Custer State Park, South Dakota – Wide open spaces and rugged terrain ideal for adventurous dogs and owners.

Southern Region

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina – Offers numerous trails where dogs can join their owners on leashes.
  • Congaree National Park, South Carolina – Some leash-required trails through unique old-growth bottomland hardwood forest.
  • Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Texas – A fantastic spot for dogs, but they must remain on leashes.

Importance of Keeping Your Dog Safe on Trails

While exploring these trails, it’s crucial to keep your dog safe by keeping them on a leash where required and making sure they don’t disturb the wildlife or other hikers. The Petcube GPS Tracker is an excellent tool for keeping an eye on your dog's location, ensuring they don’t stray too far and are safe throughout your adventure.

Remember, always check local regulations before heading out, as rules can change based on the season or environmental.


What Are Essential Items to Bring on a Dog Hike?

When preparing for a hike with your dog, several essentials should be on your list:

  • Water and a collapsible bowlHydration is crucial for both you and your dog.
  • Dog hiking backpack – For carrying their own supplies if they're physically able.
  • First aid kit – Include items specifically for dogs, such as paw protectors and tick removers.
  • Durable leash and collar with ID tags – A sturdy leash is vital for safety and control, particularly in areas with wildlife and other hikers.
  • Poo bags – Always clean up after your dog to maintain the cleanliness of the trails.
  • A GPS Tracker – an essential item to have in the event that your dog goes missing and you can’t find them.

What Is the Best Way to Carry a Dog on Hikes?

The best way to carry a dog during a hike depends on the dog’s size, age, and stamina:

  • For small or aging dogs – A dog carrier backpack that allows you to carry them on your back comfortably. These are especially useful for long hikes where your dog may tire easily.
  • For injured or disabled dogs – A specially designed pet stroller or a more robust pet carrier with proper support, ensuring they can enjoy the outdoors without the walk.


Hiking with your dog can be a rewarding experience that strengthens the bond between you and your pet. By using the right tools like AllTrails to find the best dog-friendly routes, and by packing the essential gear for both safety and comfort, you can ensure that every adventure is enjoyable and stress-free for both you and your pup. Remember, the key to a successful hike is preparation and respect for the environment and other trail users.

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