Best Dog For Adventures

Introduction

The best dog for adventures is a tough question. After all, every dog can go on an adventure — that is, if you go anywhere with them. But if you’re talking about choosing the best dog for a long trip full of hiking and camping, well, there are plenty of options out there. There’s no such thing as the “best dog for one person’s preference,” but we can point you in the right direction by telling you more details on what to look for when selecting a breed that suits your trip.

Labrador Retriever

Labs were bred in Newfoundland to help fisherman haul in nets, and there’s a reason the breed has been America’s most popular for 26 consecutive years. This is an all-around awesome dog that checks every box: athletic, gentle, loyal, good with kids, and smart enough to do anything.

Weight: 55-80 lbs

Best Qualities: They are born with an instinct to retrieve and swim, an aptitude to be trained, and a strong desire to please. No wonder so many guide and bomb-sniffing dogs are Labs.

Drawbacks: Labs are famously prone to hip and elbow problems, so make sure both the mother and father have been X-rayed for genetic joint issues. Also, silver Labs may be advertised, but any color besides yellow, black, and chocolate indicates crossbreeding.

Siberian Husky

The husky is an ancient breed relative to most of the purebreds on this list. It emerged centuries ago in the Russian Far East and was bred to pull sleds in the snow. It was brought to the U.S. in the early 20th century…to pull sleds in the snow. Huskies eventually became popular as pets because they’re tireless, and have very little aggression, despite their wolfish looks.

Weight: 35-60 lbs.

Best Qualities: Huskies are loyal, and have limitless amounts of energy — provided you don’t live someplace warm.

Drawbacks: If you do live somewhere hot, don’t get one. Your dog will be much less active than he wants to be. They’re very social so are best in a house with at least one other dog. Being sled dogs, they need to run and are prone to making a break for it. Fence your yard.

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Standard Poodle

Few breeds are as misunderstood and maligned. The poodle originated in Germany and was bred to be a water retriever, and the standard is the largest version of a breed that comes in three sizes. (Miniature and toy are the other two.) They don’t have to have that ridiculous hair, either: Those poofs are for show dogs and are only necessary if you want your pet to look like a topiary.

Weight: 45-70 lbs

Best Qualities: Their original purpose was to retrieve birds from water, so swimming comes naturally to poodles, which are very smart and extremely trainable.

Drawbacks: Like Aussies and border collies, poodles are almost too smart. They need to be challenged and exercised daily. Their coat also requires regular maintenance so that it doesn’t get too long and turn into dreadlocks.

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Australian Shepherd

This American breed — that’s right, it’s not from Australia — developed on the vast ranches of the West, where shepherds bred together the best bobtailed herding dogs until they’d created a new one that thrived in the high altitudes. Thus Aussies are comfortable in all types of weather.

Weight: 40-65 lbs.

Best Qualities: These are highly intelligent, motivated dogs that can run for hours, and are so good with kids that farmers have trusted them as babysitters. “These dogs have a high desire to please,” says Colorado breeder Carol Ann Hartnagle.

Drawbacks: Aussies have energy to burn, so they need to run. They also shed their undercoat regularly, so you’ll need a good vacuum.

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Brittany

Originally from France and one of the smallest of the all-purpose hunting dogs, Brittanys work on land or in water. They’re cute and always happy.

Weight: 30-40 lbs

Best Qualities: Sweet, playful, and extremely devoted, they do well with kids and strangers, which makes Brittanys great dogs for most sports and hobbies, on- or off-leash. They are small relative to most hunting dogs, so you don’t need an SUV or station wagon to own one.

Drawbacks: Chill is not a state of mind the Brittany often achieves. This is a high-energy dog, which can sometimes translate to separation anxiety and hyperactivity. Good training can fix both in most cases. Like most bird dogs, they’re also big chewers. Hide your shoes.

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Border Collie

Smart and impossible to wear out, border collies are arguably the best athletes in the dog world. These midsize dogs tend to dominate in canine sports like agility and Frisbee, and are always — always — atop the list of smartest breeds.

Weight: 30-45 lbs.

Best Qualities: Loyalty and boundless energy. Their hyper-intelligence also makes border collies easy to train.

Drawbacks: This is not a dog you can leave alone all day. The border collie was bred to herd sheep for hours at a time, and that work ethic cannot be turned off. They also get bored easily, so you need to challenge them constantly, which is why they’re great for learning tricks.

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Conclusion

Most good shelters screen for health problems when dogs arrive, but you’d be smart to take a dog to a vet for a full screening before committing to an adoption. Woodard says that it’s impossible to know if a puppy is going to grow up to like running alongside a bike or riding in a kayak, but nearly all dogs can learn to love more basic adventures, like hiking. The key is to start training early, build up slowly, and use positive reinforcement — basically, treats — to reward a puppy during a hike, or for staying when you command it not to chase a squirrel. Also worth noting: You can rescue purebreds, too.

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