Best dog breeds for hiking and outdoors

If you are a dog owner who enjoys hiking and exploring the great outdoors, having your dog accompany you on your adventures can be so much fun for both of you. But is your dog up to the task? While most dog breeds will thrive with regular walks, lengthy hikes up and down the countryside are a whole different ballgame, requiring physical strength, endurance and mental fortitude.

Naturally, working and hunting dogs that were bred to have these characteristics tend to be well suited to strenuous activities like hiking and jogging, while more sedentary breeds are probably best left to gentler forms of exercise. In addition to having strength and stamina, to make good hiking companions and outdoor adventurers, dogs need to be obedient, intelligent, resourceful and have excellent recall skills. Make sure that your dog will stay with you and follow your commands and before you let them off-leash; they need to be responsive in risky situations like encountering wildlife or toxic plants.

This list of breeds suited to hiking and outdoor activities comprises popular Australian dog breeds and takes into consideration the Australian climate and conditions. There are many other breeds that may also be well-suited to these activities, while not every individual dog that is one of the listed breeds may be an ideal candidate. Whatever your dog’s breed, start of slowly and build up gradually to a lengthy expedition. Also take into account your dog’s fitness level, temperament, and love of the outdoors, regardless of its breed.


Australian Cattle Dog

Athletic, energetic and intelligent, the Australian Cattle Dog – also known as the Blue or Red Heeler, depending on their coat colour – makes the ultimate hiking and trekking partner. A herding breed developed to work with cattle in the vast cattle stations of outback Australia, they can go the distance and handle both cold and hot conditions.

As a super-active breed, the Aussie Cattle Dog is better suited for experienced pet parents who can commit to regularly exercising their dog through long walks or runs. They are also extremely loyal, like constant tasks and/or activities, and can easily be trained in everything from basic obedience commands to more complex agility exercises. The breed is ideally suited to dog sports like agility, flyball and herding trials.

Temperament: Intelligent and loyal
Weight:  18 to 22 kg
Height (max): 51 cm
Activity level: Very high – needs frequent, vigorous exercise
Life span: 12 to 15 years
Coat: Short, double coat
Pros: Good family dog
Cons: Becomes bored if not given an outlet for their energy



Australian Kelpie

Australian Kelpies are lithe, muscly, medium-sized dogs that were bred to drove and muster livestock across vast expanses of rugged terrain for hours at a time, with energy to spare. Their intelligence, excellent working dog abilities and mental aptitude make them excellent hiking partners. They also excel at flyball, agility and other sports that require a combination of mental and physical stamina.

Kelpies are as devoted to their families as they are to their livestock and make loyal companions. They do best with very active owners who provide lots and lots of exercise and are not suited to apartment living as they need space for their limitless energy. Always needing a job to do, if Kelpies could talk, their favourite expression might be, “Let’s go!”

Temperament: Intelligent and loyal
Weight:  14 to 20 kg
Height (max): 51 cm
Activity level: Very high – needs frequent, vigorous exercise
Life span: 11 to 15 years
Coat: Short, close, rain-resistant outer coat and short, dense undercoat
Pros: Fast learner who enjoy a challenge
Cons: Master escape artist (going over and under fences) and zealous herder



Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd – also known as the Aussie – is loveable, medium-sized working dog with a huge amount of energy. Intelligent, adventurous and athletic, they were bred as herding dogs and thrive on always having a job to do. Well suited for hours of strenuous activity, Australian Shepherds make excellent hiking partners and running partners and excel at dog sports such as obedience, rally and agility.

This breed is ideal for an active family that can provide them with plenty of physical and mental stimulation. Very smart, exceedingly loyal, and closely bonded to their owners, the Aussie will stick right by your side on the trail. Easy to train and highly work-oriented, they are a favoured breed for their ability to work as service or narcotics dogs  or as children’s companionship animals.


Temperament: Intelligent, alert & affectionate
Weight: 23 to 29 kg
Height (max):  53 cm
Activity level: Very high – needs frequent, vigorous exercise
Life span:  13 to 15 years
Coat: Medium to long
Pros: Fast learner
Cons: If you don’t give an Aussie a job to do, he will find one that you may not like!



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Border Collie

Another herding breed that loves vigorous activity, the agile and athletic Border Collie makes the perfect partner for hiking and other outdoor exercise. Renowned for its intelligence, enthusiastic work ethic and high energy level, the Border Collie loves running up a mountain trail as much as a game of fetch in the backyard.

Border Collies have boundless energy and love to run, making them well-suited to active owners. Tolerant of both a hot and cold weather, they will jump for joy when you say “outside” no matter whether it’s sunny or snowing. Highly intelligent, they also need lots of mental stimulation as they enjoy having a job to do. Unsurprisingly, they enjoy – and excel in – agility based games and competitive canine sports like tricks, rally and flyball.

Temperament: Intelligent & obedient
Weight:  17 to 20 kg
Height (max):  56 cm
Activity level: Very high – needs frequent, vigorous exercise & stimulation
Life span: 13 to 16 years
Coat: Medium length, thick, double coat which varies from smooth to rough
Pros: Teaching it to hit the trails off-leash will be a breeze
Cons: Doesn’t like negative feedback or any form of punishment!



German Shepherd

Strong, speedy, agile and resilient, the German Shepherd makes a fantastic hiking and outdoor adventurer, easily navigating rocky paths and challenging trails. Exceptionally loyal to his owner, he will happily run, hike or climb right by your side.

Being a working breed, German Shepherds are extremely active, energetic dogs; they are also very versatile and highly trainable. Used in the military, police, security and search and rescue missions, they are a popular companion animal for active owners such as runners and hikers. They love strenuous activity, need a daily walk or run, love to chase and play catch. They are also very intelligent, so require mental challenges to prevent restlessness and possible destructive behaviour.

Temperament: Intelligent, fearless & alert
Weight: 22 to 40 kg
Height (max):  65 cm
Activity level: Very high need for physical and mental exercise
Life span: 10 to 14 years
Coat: Medium
Pros: An all-rounder that can be trained for almost any kind of work
Cons: Guarding & biting behaviours can develop with inadequate training



German Shorthaired Pointer

The German Shorthair Pointer makes an excellent hiking and running companion who loves exploring new places. Developed as a hunting dog, they have plenty of agility, speed and stamina and enjoy long hours of strenuous activity. They are affectionate, eager to please, keen to work with their owners and love to make new friends when out and about.

Needing intense daily exercise, German Shorthair Pointers make great companions for active, energetic and outdoorsy families.  They love spending time outdoors, as well as playing with people and other dogs, but are happiest with their owner by their side. They will chill on the couch with you for hours, as long as their daily exercise needs are met.

As hunters, they do have a strong prey drive; according to the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America, they are known as the “canine triathlete” because of their skill at hunting, pointing and retrieving. With their wiry frame and short coat, they are better suited to warmer climates.

Temperament: Friendly & affectionate
Weight: 25 to 32 kg
Height (max): 60 cm
Activity level: Very high – lots of outdoor activity & stimulation
Life span: 12 to 15 years
Coat: Short
Pros: Eager to please & easy to train
Cons: Inquisitive nature or boredom can cause them to run away, jump fences & dig deep holes



Golden Retriever

As active and energetic sporting dogs, Golden Retrievers make ideal companions for active owners, whether hiking, bike riding, swimming or playing fetch. Happy, hardy and highly trainable, this breed will quickly learn to stay close by when you’re  outdoors. Natural athletes, they are also very agile and can easily traipse through the woods or climb up a mountain. They also enjoy participating in canine sports such as agility, obedience and tracking.

Golden Retrievers are very friendly and social dogs who love nothing more than spending time with their families while expending their energy. They bond closely with their humans and maintain a youthful sense of playfulness throughout their lives. If they don’t get plenty of daily exercise, they are likely to engage in undesirable behaviour.

Temperament: Friendly, affectionate & gentle
Weight: 30 to 34 kg
Height (max): 61 cm
Activity level: High – daily walks or hikes and fun activities
Life span: 11 to 12 years
Coat: Medium length double coat with a thicker, water-repellent top coat and a soft undercoat
Pros: Very good with children
Cons: Prone to joint problems, so make sure your vet approves before embarking on rigorous hikes



Hungarian Vizsla

The Hungarian Vizsla is a hunting breed that thrives on extreme amounts of exercise and is always ready to go. A natural outdoor dog who enjoys playing and running off-leash, the Vizsla is very muscular and energetic and can romp along the trail all day long. Very friendly and affectionate, and also known as a ‘Velcro’ dog, the Vizsla likes to “stick” to people, making it the perfect companion for hiking and other outdoor adventures. Because of their short coats, they are suited to warmer climates / weather conditions.

Vizslas usually develop a deep bond with their humans, to whom they are very loyal. They love having a task to do and need continuous training and enrichment so they don’t get bored or destructive. These dogs appreciate having space to run, making them perfect for hiking or trail running, but they also need a large, safe enclosed area at home in which to run and play. Vizslas who do not receive adequate physical and mental stimulation can become destructive or develop behavioural problems.

Temperament: Friendly, loyal & intelligent
Weight: 18 to 30 kg
Height (max):  64 cm
Activity level: Very high – 2 to 3 hours per day
Life span: 12 to 15 years
Coat Short, smooth
Pros: His exuberance & goofiness will keep your amused!
Cons: He should not be trusted around small pets.



Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell Terrier is a small but mighty breed with loads of energy, making for a terrific outdoor companion. Originally bred to hunt small vermin and foxes and having a high prey drive, they will relish putting their keen sense of smell to good use on the trail. Their diminutive size also means they make great lap dogs for post-exercise snuggles!

Driven and active, Jack Russell Terriers love to run, dig and play. They enjoy being entertained and are always up for an adventure. The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America says that the breed require plenty of attention, outdoor activity and exercise, so a sporty and energetic owner is ideal, while adventures like hiking trips are perfect. Headstrong and incredibly intelligent, they can become destructive if not well-exercised both mentally and physically.

Temperament: Intelligent, alert & friendly
Weight: 6 to 8 kg
Height (max): 38 cm
Activity level: Very high
Life Span: 13 to 16 years
Coat: Short, smooth or rough
Pros: Generally live to a good age & rarely come down with serious illnesses
Cons: May bark at visitors & strangers who come by



Labrador Retriever

One of the most popular breeds and particularly suited to active families, the Labrador Retriever makes a great hiking companion. Well-behaved, easy-going and highly intelligent, the Lab won’t stray too far away while off of the leash. A working breed that functioned as fishermen’s helpers, they love water, and will happily jump in for a refreshing swim with you after a long, hot hike.

Labradors are energetic and high-spirited dogs who need to be taken on a long, brisk walk or jog at least once a day. Enthusiastic athletes, they love running, swimming and marathon games of fetch and are excellent with children and other dogs. They are always up for new adventures and can adjust easily to a variety of climates and terrain. Friendly, outgoing and affectionate, they also love attention and are happy to relax and cuddle up with their  family on rest days.

Temperament: Intelligent, friendly, loyal & happy
Weight: 25 to 36 kg
Height (max): 62 cm
Activity level: High
Life span: 10 to 13 years
Coat: Short, dense, water-repellent
Pros: An all-round great companion
Cons: Tend to gain weight quite easily



Rhodesian Ridgeback

Strong, athletic and robust, the Rhodesian Ridgeback was developed to hunt large game for many hours over long distances, so makes a great hiking partner. They love engaging in exercise with their owner and make excellent companions for very active owners. They are very independent and dignified dogs who are somewhat aloof and reserved toward strangers, but affectionate and protective with their humans. They have a tendency to bond with one person in the household.

Although not quite as energetic as the herding dogs in this list, Rhodesian Ridgebacks love to run, and they need  fair amount of physical activity to help keep them healthy and happy. They can also get physical and mental stimulation by participating in canine sports such as tracking, agility, and other activities that dog and owner can enjoy together. Because of their large size, strong will and independent nature, they need an experienced owner with a firm but patient approach.

Temperament: Protective & independent
Weight: 30 to 40 kg
Height (max): 69 cm
Activity level: Moderate to high – daily long walks & play sessions
Life span: 10 to 12  years
Coat: Short, smooth
Pros: A devoted companion who bonds closely with his owner
Cons: Very strong prey drive, so should be in a safely enclosed area when off leash



Siberian Husky

The Siberian Husky is a working breed that was originally bred to pull sleds and carts long distances in the harsh Russian climate. Powerfully built dogs with great endurance and lively spirits, Siberians are always ready for adventure, making them excellent partners for those looking for a dog that will keep them entertained on long hikes. Their thick coat makes them more suited to winter adventures in the cold weather.

Huskies are gentle, alert and very social dogs that enjoy spending time outdoors with their owners, including hiking all day long or going on a trail run. They are well-suited to a laid-back owner who is willing to provide regular mental and physical challenges; if not sufficiently stimulated, they may become destructive or run away. With an independent streak, obedience training is essential and off-leash only permitted when the recall command is perfected.

Temperament: Friendly, independent & intelligent
Weight: 16 to 27 kg
Height (max):  58 cm
Activity level: Very high – 2 to 3 hours per day
Life span: 12 to 15 years
Coat Long, dense, double coat
Pros: His personality & intelligence will keep you entertained for hours!
Cons: Can become overheated when exercising in summer / hotter climates




Originally bred to work for long hours outside, the Weimaraner is a hunting breed that loves to spend a lot of time on the trail. With natural stamina and speed, the Weimaraner excels at both short and long distance activities, picking up the pace when required for a sprint. Liking to stay close to their owner, they make excellent hiking partners.

Weimaraners are loyal, affectionate, and fun-loving dogs who require a lot of exercise and entertainment. They love chasing but need more than just a game of fetch at the park. It’s best if their owners are either very physically active or have acres of farm land for the dog to bound in to its heart’s content.  They require a good deal of human attention and will never show a desire to spend time apart from their owner.

Temperament: Friendly, strong-willed & alert
Weight: 32 to 36 kg
Height (max):  69 cm
Activity level: Very high – 2 to 3 hours per day
Life span: 10 to 12 years
Coat Short
Pros: Friendly and affectionate towards its owner
Cons: If left without human contact for extended periods of time, the breed is susceptible to separation anxiety.



A pet insurance policy with Bow Wow Meow will help ensure you can always afford to give your pet the best treatment.




This article is written by

Nicky Klugman

Nicky is our Marketing Communications and Content Specialist. She is an animal-lover who is particularly interested in animal behaviour and the relationships between humans and their pets. While growing up, dogs were always an integral part of the family. Nicky is mum to three human sons and a rescue pup called Dobby.

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*Please note, any pet insurance advice provided is general only. Refer to the applicable Product Disclosure Statement for details of Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance cover.
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