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If you’re a dog owner, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this question before: how far can my dog walk?
Now, if you’re an outdoor-loving, active person like me, you’ve probably taken this question one step further to: how far can my dog walk in a day?
Before I took my miniature poodle Baloo hiking for the first time, I wanted to make sure that he could join me on hikes. It’s so much more fun when you’re four-legged friend is with you. So, I’ve done some research and this is the result.
If you’re just looking for a quick answer: the average dog can walk about 10 miles per day.
BUT, not every dog is the same!
There are lots of factors that can affect your dog’s walking ability. So, let’s have a closer look at that.
How many miles can a dog walk in a day?
Now, let’s look at this question a bit more in depth.
Just like humans, dogs have different stamina and fitness levels. Not every dog will be able to walk 10 miles in one day. And there are others who manage 20 miles with ease.
Pawsitively Intrepid assumes that a dog without training can walk an average of 5 to 10 miles in a day. With proper conditioning, it should be easy for a healthy dog to walk for about 15 to 20 miles in a day.
Baloo is a very fit dog with a hell of a lot of energy. Yes, he’s small but he’s got more energy than most people do! So, we’ve been doing 15 miles per day hikes for 2 or 3 days in a row a couple of times. However, I don’t think he would be able to do 20 miles per day for more than 3 consecutive days without proper training.
Factors that impact your dog’s hiking skills
As I’ve said, not all dogs are able to walk the same distance in a day.
So, here are a few factors that can impact your dog’s walking ability.
Age & Health
Age and health are two important factors. Neither a puppy, nor an old dog will be able to walk as much as a young and healthy dog.
If your dog is under 1 year old, he’s not ready to go on longer treks or hikes, yet. As a rule of thumb, a puppy is allowed to walk 5 minutes per month of his age at a time until he’s about 1 year old (for small breed dogs). Until then your dog’s bones and joints are still relatively soft and longer walks can harm his health. If your doggo has just surpassed his first birthday, you still shouldn’t rush the hiking training. Start slowly with the preparation (see below) and when he’s about 1.5 years old, it should be fine to go on a first full-day hike.
For large breed dogs you should even extend the period until he’s about 1.5 years old before you start the hiking preparation.
If you want to learn more about how to prepare a puppy for hiking, check out my article about the 10 things you need to know before hiking with a puppy.
On the other hand, if your dog is over 10 years old, he most likely won’t be able to go only day-long hikes, either. If your dog is used to walking and hiking a lot, it’s possible to take him hiking even at an advanced age. For older dogs, it’s best to consult your vet to be sure that he’s still able to join you on your hikes.
Your dog’s breed is also a very determining factor.
Some breeds are virtually built to be active. And others are just couch potato by nature.
Generally, all breeds that used to be bred for hunting, herding and other demanding activities, are very well built for hiking. These breeds can walk long distances, even without much training. They just have it in their genes.
A few examples are: Rhodesian Ridgeback, Border Collie, Siberian Husky, Jack Russell Terrier, Poodle, Labrador Retriever, Australian Shepherd.
On the other hand, all brachycephalic dog breeds can generally only walk for about 30 min at a time. This is because they usually have breathing issues. So, even with training, it’s virtually impossible to go hiking with dogs such as Pugs or French Bulldogs. Some breeders now only breed flat-nosed dogs without those issues. In that case they’ll surely be able to walk longer as well.
Next, let’s have a look at stamina.
Have you ever felt really unfit, but your friend convinced you to go hiking, anyway?
How did you feel?
Was it easy and pleasant?
Or did every muscle ache after the first hour walking, let alone the next day?
Well, I’ve been there, hiking for longer than my body was in shape for.
And while I like the challenge, boy, did my legs hurt the next day!
Now, Fido feels the same!
He can’t express how he feels. But it’s really the same as with us. Dogs that aren’t used to walking long distances usually can’t do it just straight out of the gate. They have to build up stamina, just like you.
In my complete guide for hiking with small dogs for beginners, I go over how to get your dog in shape. It’s specifically targeted towards small dogs. But their bigger siblings need to learn just the same things.
As I’ve mentioned before under “breeds”, some dogs have a good stamina by nature. The consequence is that they’ll suffer greatly if they don’t get enough exercise. In that case they’ll use every opportunity to get rid of their excess energy which naturally keeps them in shape.
Just like us, some pups just don’t feel like hiking and prefer to stay in and cuddle on the couch.
However, this is rare. Most dogs love adventures, meeting new furiends and sniffing all the smells. Mostly, the reason is rather, that your four-legged friend just isn’t in shape, yet.
If he really can’t keep pace with you, though, even after extensive training, then maybe it’s just not for him.
If you still want to take him hiking, you might want to consider getting a dog backpack carrier. Make sure to check out my 6 best dog backpack carriers to help you choose one that fits!
Another factor to keep in mind is the trail difficulty.
The distance your dog can walk in a day also greatly depends on the trail difficulty. As soon as it gets really steep and rocky, both human and doggo will be able to cover much less ground than on a completely flat trail.
Make sure to keep that in mind when planning your hike.
Hiking with a small dog
I feel like most people don’t really wonder, how long their large breed dog can walk. The question comes up more often for small dog breeds.
How far can a small dog walk?
I’ve answered this question in depth in my other article about the question: how long can a small dog walk. In short: most small, active dog breeds can walk for 5 to 6 hours in a day. With proper training, he can even keep that up for a couple of days in a row.
An average dog and human walk about 2.5 miles per hour. So this equals about 12.5 to 15 miles in a day for an active small dog.
Best small dog breeds for hiking
I’m really passionate about active small dog breeds. Some small dog breeds just make for perfect hiking companions and most people have no idea about it!
So, these are the most active small dogs:
- Miniature Poodle
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Miniature Pincher
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Norwich Terrier
If you want to learn more about these breeds, make sure to check out my post about the 10 best small dog breeds to take backpacking.
How to train a dog to hike
Now, let’s look at the important part: how can you get your dog to actually walk that much in a day?
This is just a quick overview. For a more in-depth information, particularly for small dogs, check out my preparation guide.
In order to start building up your dog’s stamina, you first need to know where he’s at right now. If your dog’s daily exercise consists of mostly 15-minute walks, you need to start there!
Extend your daily walks by a few minutes every day.
Don’t rush it! It’s better to add a few minutes on a consistent basis than to just do several hours all at once.
If your dog can’t keep up with you at some point or is totally exhausted afterwards, take a step back and do a little less again.
Build it up
Once you’re doing hourly walks on a consistent basis, you can add a little more every now and then. Try 1.5 hours, 2 hours, 2.5 hours, 3 hours. Mix it up a little and see how it goes.
Once your dog can walk for 3 hours with ease, you should be able to take him on a day-long walk or hike.
Choose the right trail
As I’ve mentioned before, the question “how far can a dog walk in a day” also greatly depends on the trail you’re walking on.
So, make sure, you choose a trail that’s appropriate to your dog’s fitness level.
It’s best to start with flat and easy trails. Then you can gradually build it up and try trails with some steeper parts.
Let’s wrap this up quickly.
An average dog can walk about 10 miles in a day.
With proper training you can get this up to about 15 to 20 miles per day for active dogs. For breeds that were bred for hunting or herding, you should be able to go even higher.
However, preparation is key.
Make sure to build up your dog’s stamina until he can join you on hikes with ease.
Have fun adventuring with your pupper!