18 Best Dogs for Hiking and Camping (Big and Small)

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you.

best dogs for hiking and camping

One of the reasons why many people get dogs is to help stay active! Dogs make fantastic companions when you’re hitting the trails, though some breeds tend to do better while hiking than others.

That’s actually one of the main reason I got my Mini Poodle Baloo. Since I live in a city and cycle most of the time, I knew a small dog would be much more convenient. But I also wanted to have an active four-legged furiend.

Well, turns out Mini Poodles are the perfect mix. Baloo certainly is on the top of that activity list! When we go on a hike, he literally walks 3 times as much as I do, because he constantly runs back and forth! I’ve never seen this much energy in such a small dog!

Now, let’s look at the complete list.

Best Big Dogs for Hiking and Camping

Let’s start with the best big breeds for hiking and camping.

Many people only think of big, sturdy dogs when they think of good hiking companions.

So, let’s start with those big ones. But if you want to find the really perfect hiking buddies, you better continue till the end!

There are lots of small dog breeds that not only love adventure, but you can also easily carry them in case they get tired, after all. So, don’t miss those tiny warriors!

1. Husky

Huskies are strong, energetic dogs built for travel. They were bred by the Chukchi people who lived in Siberia. This was a semi-nomadic group of people who bred Huskies as both companion dogs, and dogs that could haul light loads across large expanses of land.

This endurance is what makes Huskies so great at hiking and camping. They’re also perfectly capable of carrying loads in dog backpacks!

2. Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds, or Aussies, were bred to work outdoors. That’s what makes them great hiking and camping companions! They’re super energetic and athletic dogs who will adore being out in nature.

Aussies also tend to form very close bonds with their owners. This means that if you head to any off-leash areas, with proper training you don’t need to worry about your Aussie wandering off too far from you.

3. Border Collie

Like Aussies, Border Collies are herding dogs that are used to working outside. They are very energetic, which makes them great for people who enjoy being active.

Border Collies really enjoy having open spaces where they can run around. They’ll also be able to keep up with you easily while you’re hiking.

Border Collies do best when they have a job to do, as they have very high drives. If you can’t provide them with a job, then taking them on plenty of hikes is a great way to get all that energy out.

4. Weimaraner

The Weimaraner is a unique-looking dog. You can recognize them by their silvery coloring and sleek looks.

Weimaraners were bred to be hunting dogs in Germany during the 1800s. Like Border Collies, this is a breed that loves having a job to do!

Taking your Weimaraner for regular walks is great, but they are very athletic and active dogs who will need extra exercise besides that. They can certainly keep up with you on a hike. In fact, Weimaraners tend to go all in when it comes to exercise. Don’t be surprised if yours decides to outpace you!

best dogs for hiking and camping

5. Standard Poodle

Poodles come in 3 distinct sizes. The first is the Standard Poodle, the largest of the three. Then you have Miniature and Toy Poodles.

Many people consider Poodles to be “frou-frou” dogs. Those who don’t know much about Poodles see them as dogs that are all about aesthetic. But that couldn’t be further from the truth!

Actually, Poodles were originally bred as duck hunters in France. The unique haircuts you see on many Poodles served the purpose of protecting the dog’s vulnerable parts from cold waters.

Poodles are active dogs that are also super intelligent. This means your Poodle will keep up with you on a hike, and can be easily trained to respond to your commands.

best dogs for hiking and camping

6. German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointers, usually shortened to GSPs, were bred as hunting or gun dogs. They have high levels of both energy and endurance, and they’ll manage even the most difficult hiking trails you can find.

GSPs are also really loyal, and love to please their owners. Training your GSP to listen to you, even when there’s a lot going on around him, won’t be hard.

These dogs also love to swim. So, if you go camping somewhere close to a lake or a beach, make sure you make some time for your GSP to play in the water!

best dogs for hiking and camping

7. Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamutes are often confused with Huskies. Malamutes, however, are larger than the Husky. These are super affectionate and loyal dogs that have thick, weatherproof coats.

Like Huskies, Malamutes were bred by a nomadic Inuit tribe called the Mahlemiut to help them transport their belongings on sleds. But while Huskies were bred to pull light loads quickly, Malamutes were bred to pull heavy loads slowly.

Malamutes’ very high levels of endurance, along with their weatherproof coats, makes them great hiking companions if you enjoy more challenging terrain.

best dogs for hiking and camping

8. Vizsla

 The Vizsla is a very sleek-looking dog that comes from Russia. His ancestors were bred during a time when the Magyar people were invading a large portion of Europe. They bred their dogs to be agile, durable, and fast.

Over time, Hungarian nobles began breeding these dogs, and eventually produced the dog we know today as the Vizsla. These are super intelligent and active dogs that need plenty of physical and mental stimulation. They’ll do great on hikes of varying difficulties.

The one thing to keep in mind is that Vizslas shouldn’t run or have very difficult exercise until they’re 18 to 24 months old. Giving them too much vigorous exercise too early can impede their healthy growth.

best dogs for hiking and camping

9. Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is one of the most beloved dog breeds! They come in 3 standard colors—black, yellow, and chocolate.

Labrador Retrievers were bred in Canada to work as water dogs and retrieve downed waterfowl. Because the Canadian waters where these dogs worked could be so icy and cold, they were bred to have short but dense weather resistant coats.

Labs are super energetic dogs who love swimming. If you know of any hiking trails or campground nearby with lakes or beaches, you will make your Lab one happy camper.

best dogs for hiking and camping

Best Small Dogs for Hiking and Camping

Lots of people think that small dogs can’t join them on their hiking and camping expeditions. After all, how can those little legs keep up?

But don’t worry—if you enjoy being outdoors and also prefer smaller breeds, there are plenty of small dogs that make great hiking and camping companions.

For a more in-depth guide, check out the 10 best small breeds to take hiking this summer. Here’s a quick overview.

1. Mini Poodle

Like Standard Poodles, Mini Poodles get a reputation as posh, high maintenance dogs. But in truth, Mini Poodles are super active and adventurous little dogs!

They have tons of energy, and love being active. They’re also really intelligent, which makes training them a cinch! That’s super important, especially if you plan on having your dog off-leash while hiking and camping.

Baloo is definitely the best example for all of this. He loooooves adventure! Not only that, he’s also generally pretty obsessed with me, which means he rarely goes very far and he has a solid recall. That makes off-leash hiking much more fun.

Funny enough, he hates water, though. Something must have gone wrong with his Poodle genes 😉 Whether it’s a lake, stream or rain, he can’t stand it.

But I don’t mind too much, I prefer a dry dog, anyways…

Baloo and me on our last hike. He needs a raincoat, he starts shivering if it gets too wet…

2. Jack Russel Terrier

Jack Russel Terriers were bred in England around 200 years ago as fox hunting dogs. Despite their small size, they are incredibly active and need to be kept busy.

That’s what makes them so great as hiking and camping buddies! Giving them the chance to explore and get rid of their boundless energy will make these dogs incredibly happy. In fact, you might be surprised by how necessary camping and hiking become when you own one of these little guys!

JRTs are also really smart, which makes them easy to train. This is good since they also have really strong prey drives. The most important thing will be to work on your recall! If you need help, here are 13 tips to teach a dog to come when called.

3. Dachshund

Don’t be fooled by their squat, stubby legs! Dachshunds are adventurous and peppy little pups. Although you might need to carry them during more challenging parts of your hikes, they’ll be overjoyed when you bring them on your next adventure.

These dogs do best if you’re more interested in shorter hikes.

4. Pomeranian

Yep, that’s right. These fluffy little dogs made the list!

You might be surprised, since the common image of a Pomeranian is that of a cute little lap dog. But anyone who owns a Pomeranian knows how lively and curious these little dogs are!

They are also really intelligent, making them easy to train. They do tend to have big personalities, and it can be hard getting them to do anything they don’t want to. Just be patient and use lots of positive reinforcement.

5. Miniature Pinscher

Miniature Pinschers were bred in Germany as ratting dogs. They have relatively high prey drives, and very high energy levels. Even though they’re small, weighing only 8 to 10 pounds, these peppy dogs will have no problem on a hike.

Practice your recall with these guys before you start taking them on off-leash hikes or camping adventures. They are free-spirited, and won’t be afraid to find their own fun!

6. Papillon

The French name “Papillon” translates to “butterfly.” This is because of the Papillon’s distinctive butterfly-like ears!

Only weighing in at 5 to 10 pounds, it’s hard to imagine these dogs with their soft, silky fur roughing it in nature.

However, Papillons have a love of adventure. They are also really smart, so training won’t be much of a challenge with these dogs. They do tend to have a stubborn streak, so patience and consistent training is key!

7. Corgis

Like Dachshunds, Corgis have long bodies and squat little legs. They’re super adaptable dogs who bond closely with their owners. Their intelligence makes them easy to train, and their goofy personalities will make you laugh even on your darkest days.

Corgis have surprisingly high energy levels. Although their little legs may not be able to carry them over particularly difficult terrain, they’ll be more than happy to join you on a hike. Like many small dogs, they can be really independent, so you’ll want to watch for any stubbornness.

best dogs for hiking and camping

8. Yorkshire Terrier

This is another dog whose small size masks a big personality. Some Yorkies are perfectly content lounging around the house or on their owner’s laps.

Others, however, really lean into the “terrier” part of their name! They’ll be excitable little pups who love exploring. That makes them perfect for hiking and camping!

Yorkies can be stubborn, so you’ll want to work on training a lot before you hit the trails. But once your dog can come when called and walk respectfully on a leash, he’ll make a fantastic hiking buddy.

best dogs for hiking and camping

9. Norwich Terrier

These dogs were bred originally in the UK to hunt rats and other small vermin. They’re really adaptable, and can live happily in a house or an apartment.

However, Norwich Terriers are also really active, and you’ll need to give them lots to do. Camping or hiking is perfect, since it fulfills their need for adventure and burns off their energy.

Norwich Terriers are also really affectionate. So if you want a dog that can come adventuring with you but who will also snuggle up with you for a night in, this is the dog for you!

best dogs for hiking and camping

Best Hiking Dog Carrier

Bringing a small dog with you on your hikes means there might be times when you have to carry him. If you’re looking for a good carrier, here are 6 of the best dog backpack carriers for hiking.

How Long Can a Dog Hike in a Day?

How far a dog can hike depends largely on his age, breed, and fitness levels. But there are other considerations as well! So how far can a dog hike in a day? Probably more than you think.

How Much Weight Can a Dog Carry in a Backpack?

Getting your dog to carry his own things on a hike is really convenient. But you don’t want to overload him with weight!

Visit this article to learn how much weight a dog can carry in a backpack.

How to Hike with a Dog Off Leash

People have very mixed opinions on whether or not dogs should hike off-leash. The most important thing is the make sure that the area you’re hiking in allows it. The second most important thing is training your dog properly and taking the right precautions!

Interested in learning more? Check out this Dogpackr article, “Hiking with a dog off-leash – 10 tips to make it work.”


Getting a dog is a great way to stay active! Of course, different breeds have different levels of energy. If you’re someone interested in hiking and camping, take a look at these 18 breeds and see which one might be right for your lifestyle.

Recent Posts