Most dogs love the outdoors, but some active dog breeds really take it to the next level. If you enjoy taking hikes, mountain climbing, skiing, swimming or participating in other outdoor sports, grab your gear and consider getting an active dog breed who loves outdoor adventure as much as you do.
As a certified animal behavior consultant, I often make recommendations on how to address dog behavior problems. Choosing dog breeds who match your lifestyle means fewer potential behavior problems. For outdoorsy humans, active dog breeds mean less boredom for you both.
Active dog breeds, like sled dogs bred for stamina or for extreme weather, may be a good choice for outdoor activities. Canine breeds with a hunting heritage also might enjoy hikes or a splash in the pool. If this matches your lifestyle, discover nine dog breeds who will be your sidekick for any adventure.
1. Alaskan Malamute
Malamutes are one of the largest sled dog breeds. Standing up to 25 inches tall, these working group dogs are built with the strength to pull heavy objects, such as sleds, over long distances.
Malamutes come in gray to black wolf colors with a characteristic dark “cap” over their white faces or a dark “mask” surrounding brown—never blue—eyes.
Personality-wise, Malamutes are friendly, devoted and highly trainable, as well as free thinkers. Don’t be surprised if your Malamute has her own opinions about how to perform commands! Malamute are ideal winter sport companions and love kicking up the snow with their favorite humans.
2. American Pit Bull Terrier
With strong bodies and gentle demeanors, Pit Bulls have been used as catch dogs for cattle and as hunting dogs throughout history. Pitties have massive heads with close-fitting short coats in nearly any color. Other characteristics include pricked or flat ears and round eyes that are hard to say no to.
This large, lovable breed is known for her strength, courage and heart. American Pit Bull Terriers are highly trainable and very affectionate when well socialized. They’ll hike with you for hours, carry a backpack and might even excel at mountain climbing!
Beagles are tireless hunters who are born to sniff and run. These medium-size dogs stand 13 to 15 inches tall. Their most distinctive features are their floppy eats and short fur coats with colorful patches of white, brown, black and red.
These friendly pups are apt to willingly run to a friend or a stranger with a happy wag. Always up for a stroll through the fields or woods, Beagles also make great hiking companions.
A distinctive breed known for her short white coat and black polka dots, Dalmatians have served as ratters, draft dogs, shepherds, bird dogs and retrievers, pack hounds and as guardians of the coach and horse. In the past, Dalmatians trotted beside horse-drawn carriages to help protect and guard horses, as well as the carriage when unattended. While they no longer serve this role, Dalmatians absolutely need exercise and activity.
Dalmatians are quiet canines who are quite protective of family and property. They excel as hunting dogs and make great jogging partners.
5. Doberman Pinscher
A large, elegant, short-haired breed, Doberman Pinschers have been used for police and protection work. Dobies are muscular dogs with traditionally docked, short tails and ears cropped long and held erect. Colors are black, red, blue or fawn with rust markings.
These agile, intelligent pups are energetic, excitable and fearless. Dobies are active companions for anyone who enjoys the outdoors.
Originally bred as water retrievers, Poodles comes in three sizes. While Toy and Miniature varieties enjoy outdoor activities, Standard Poodles really excel at them because of their larger size. Their distinctive double coat comes in a variety of colors, and is a cascade of profuse, wiry curls with a wooly undercoat.
Poodles are extremely intelligent, friendly, high-energy dogs who get along well with strangers and children. They may enjoy swimming with pet parents as well as playing water sports.
As affectionate as they are muscular, Rottweilers used to drive cattle and pull carts. More recently, however, they’ve been police dogs.
Rotties are a medium dog with short, black fur highlighted with rust markings. Calm, courageous and confident, Rotties sport an aloof attitude.
These intelligent and extremely protective dogs need assertive dog handlers. Rotties enjoy hiking and climbing.
These snow-white dogs have served as watchdogs, hunters and later as sled dogs. After their thick, white, fluffy fur, the most distinctive appearance traits of Samoyed dogs is their pricked ears and curled tails.
The Samoyed personality is described as happy and childlike, with an independent nature and a natural “smile” that wins hearts. If you love winter sports, this is the breed for you, as they prefer staying outside in the cold rather than lounging in front of the fire.
9. Siberian Husky
Siberian Huskies are sled dogs known for being runners in sled races. They sport thick, dense medium-length fur, pricked ears and curled tails. The Husky’s eyes may be brown, blue or one of each color.
Huskies are extremely intelligent, so much so that they might think you’re nuts when you try to train them. These vocal dogs often yodel and howl similar to wolves.
Huskies make great family dogs. If you live in a cold climate, they’ll happily adore and maybe even participate in cold weather sports with you.
Enjoying the outdoors with your pup is a great way to bond together. Chances are any of these nine active dog breeds will be up for grand adventures. Just be sure your canine athlete is prepared with appropriate gear, like snow or climbing booties, dog life jacket or a hot weather cooling vests.
Amy Shojai, CABC, (www.SHOJAI.com) is a certified animal behavior consultant for cats and dogs, and the author of more than 30 award-winning pet care books. She lives in North Texas with a smart-aleck Karma-Kat, and fun-loving Bullmastiff, Bravo.