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Advice and suggestions for dogs who like long hikes.

Hello Everyone,

I am looking for some advice on adopting a dog in the near future. I love to hike and I want to start doing multi day hikes. I have always had greyhounds which are wonderful, but are really not great if the weather is anything, but mild. Any thoughts on specific breeds or mutts? Or any advice would be appreciated.


8 Replies

I have the fondest memories of Mary, our Black lab mix who was an avid hiker, enjoying both day trips and overnights.  She was a hardy soul, but i made sure there was enough water for both of us.  I found it useful to get her a pair of saddlebags so she could carry some of the load.

Incidentally, I just read a piece concerning the demise of greyhound racing and the availability of greyhounds for adoption.  I have never bee around one, so i have no idea of their capabilities....

I definitely have a preference for mutts and mixed breeds.  Everything we know about genetics suggests that purebreds have a constrained gene pool and a lack of diversity.

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@Lile Thanks for reaching out!

What a lucky pup you will have! Taking my dog(s) hiking and biking has been such a rewarding experience for all parties. I've had two dogs (up until a week ago, more on that later), a black lab mix ( @hikermor is spot on that mixes, particularly black lab mixes in my humble opinion, are the best!) and an alaskan husky mix (a sled dog). Hadley, the alaskan husky, is still with us and, at 6 years old, isn't showing any signs of slowing down. Her breed is built to run long distances over rough and remote terrain. My main concern with her on long hikes is making sure she has enough water to stay cool and hydrated. I always make sure to check trail conditions and updates to see if water is available. If not, then I'm packing it on my back!

As the owner you'll just want to get to know your dog as well as you can so you can appropriately gauge their ability to go far. Additionally, when I was living in Alaska and venturing out very far into the backcountry with Hadley, I would carry an emergency dog carrying harness just in case, knowing it would be unlikely that I would be able to carry her in my arms, much less leave her behind if I needed to go for help. Typically I would be bikepacking with her, so it didn't take up a lot of room on my bike.

Trail dogs are the best! Last week we brought home a new black lab mix into our family, Apollo, and we're working with him to grow up to be an awesome adventure dog too! Right now he just kinda sleeps a lot...


Apollo the adventure puppy.Apollo the adventure puppy.Pretty good brand placement if I do say so myself.Pretty good brand placement if I do say so myself.On the hunt.On the hunt.That tongue though.That tongue though.

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@Lile Hey Lile!  I have two golden retrievers who are great hikers.  They are my third and fourth goldens and they have all been wonderful hiking partners.  Palau (my first dog) lived to be 10 1/2 years old.  My second, Cinnamon lived to 12.  They each hiked about 200 miles per year.  They could easily handle 12-15 mile days.  And this was true in their senior years.  They loved to swim.  My two current dogs (Sophie who's almost 11, and Jaden who's almost 10) fit that same mold.  Golden's are easily trained, so you can get them to carry a lot of their food.  They can handle adverse weather, love water... Mine hike in the desert (during the winter), in snow, and during pleasant weather.  They can be trained to stay close.But I often have them on a lead as many people fear dogs, so having them linked to me keeps people calm.  Also, it keeps them from being too curious about skunks or porcupines.  If you brush them once or twice a week, their fur is very manageable. 


Consider a Texas Heeler  or the breeds that make it up (Aussie shepherd & Aussie cattle dog mix). These dogs were bred to work cattle in the sun, and can go all day long. I've got a heeler-border collie mix and she's great on the trail, plus small enough (38 pounds) not to take up my entire backpacking tent.


@JoBu Great suggestions!

I've known some border collies who were almost smart enough to pitch the tent for you! Heelers and cattle dogs make for great trail dogs!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Another advantage of border collies is that their intelligence makes them highly trainable. I let the dog off leash when we hike because it's easier for me. My dog always comes when she's called, and if she sees people on the trail before I do she runs back to me to be put on the leash for when we pass. 

@Lile congratulations on your future adventure buddy! Dogs really are the best, and being able to share your love of the outdoors with them makes it that much better.

My former dog Tahoe was a incredible adventure mutt (we think black lab and dobermann) that lived until 16.5 and hiked without any issues until about 14. The biggest concern I had with her were having enough water because she was black and needed lots of water, so I would check out my water sources ahead of time and pack water accordingly. I would also check her pads and nails periodically throughout the hike to make sure there were no issues. And I always brought a first aid kit for myself AND her just in case. 

My current dog Hank is a full-bred yellow lab that we adopted when he was 6. He was incredibly overweight when we got him (check the before and after below). Thankfully he is much healthier now and LOVES going on adventures, but I do take it a bit easier on him because I'm concerned about his hips from being overweight for so long. So if you you can find out about their past as much as possible, it helps you make good decisions about their possibilities and limitations. With larger full-breed dogs, you do have to be a bit more concerned about hip dysplasia anyway. Also, you want to make sure that any pup is full grown before you take them on long hikes so that you don't damage their growth plates! 

Have fun and post pictures when you adopt your buddy!

Hank right after we adopted himHank right after we adopted himHank 1 year laterHank 1 year later

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

YAY FOR ADOPTING! ❤️ I'm always a huge fan of the mutts and shelter dogs. I rescued my girl Swayze back in college. She was a Vizsla, but her previous owner didn't realize just how much energy she would have, and she was too much for her to handle. I adopted her when she was only 7 months old. She was the best adventure buddy I have ever had: she hiked the entire Appalachian Trail with me, and actually gained weight doing it! Most dogs look emaciated the further north they go, but she surprised me with how well she did that when we got off trail, I Googled Vizslas and endurance. Turns out, they're one of the best endurance breeds out there, and have successfully run half marathons with their humans, etc. Because a lot of people aren't prepared for the level of activity that Vizslas require, there are many Vizsla rescues out there that you could look into. 🙂 

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.