The Best Hiking Dog ~ Is It Yours?
THAT! That right there is why I think Hendrix is THE best hiking dog EVER! He even knows to read all the valuable information at the trail head!
Oh! And Hendrix The Hiking Dog absolutely LOVES all the “fun” poses I place him in, for photos! What? I am serious!
Okay! Okay! Yes, I know Hendrix cannot read! And, while he might be a very obedient pup, he probably doesn’t really LOVE posing! So, what does make for the best hiking dog? I get asked this question often. I see it posted on social media often, followed by hundreds of comments, professing this or that breed to be the “best”.
BONE: Deciding which dog is the best hiking dog is as easy as deciding which church has all the right answers! Everyone has an opinion, and everyone thinks they are right! While each breed has characteristics that you will find, the majority of the time, in that particular breed, every dog is unique.
With that said, let me touch on a few points that I think do help in the decision on the best hiking dog to choose.
- How big/powerful of a dog can you actually handle? Are you strong enough to handle a large breed on the other end of your leash if the dog were to lunge at a squirrel, or another dog? Even the best trained dogs will have temptations to “misbehave”.
- Are you wanting a dog for added protection on the trails, or are you just needing/wanting a companion? While I believe the right dog in the wrong hands is a bad idea, I take comfort in knowing, if need be, my dogs can be intimidating. While they are almost too friendly when given the command, “It’s okay”, I have no doubt they would not just allow harm to be inflicted on me. Since I am on the trails, 90% of the time, by myself, this is comforting for myself, and my loved ones.
BONE: IF YOU CHOOSE TO HAVE AN AGGRESSIVE DOG, IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO BE ABLE TO HANDLE SAID ANIMAL, INCLUDING TRAINING AND CONTROL OF. I cannot tell you the times that I have seen people on the trails with huge dogs that they cannot keep up with, or keep in their own space. A dog that is out of control, and “walking the human” can create a dangerous situation, from dog fights to human fights. Any dog that is not in control is not the best hiking dog; regardless of specific breed.
3. What can you afford? Feeding big dogs takes a lot of food!
4. Where do you live? Some places have restrictions on dog breeds. If you can continually exercise your dog, even a big dog can be in an apartment, if allowed. While smaller fur babies need exercise also, it is a bigger challenge to get in enough exercise in the living room, if you have a big dog.
5. What kind of hiker are you? Are you content to casually saunter down the well beaten path a couple of miles, taking in the fresh air and joy of seeing your fur baby exploring the world? Or are you more of a get as far out and away as possible, perhaps for several consecutive days in a row? I have seen more than one Chihuahua atop some pretty impressive summits, but as a general rule, a sturdier dog will withstand the stress of hard core hiking better than a Yorkie. I will say, though, it is nearly impossible to get my 95lb. Akita mix in my backpack when he gets tired. 😉
While these questions are not the only ones to consider, they are definitely a good starting place. At some point, I suggest you just start visiting available options, and interact with them. Which dogs do you feel a connection with?
If you already have your hiking buddy, tell us below how you made your chose YOUR best hiking dog! What are some of your suggestions in choosing a canine hiking partner?