Best Dogs by Outdoor Activity


No one likes the idea of head­ing into the out­doors alone. Even few­er peo­ple like head­ing out with some­one they dis­like. Hav­ing a dog as your adven­ture part­ner is the best of both worlds: com­pan­ion­ship with­out the drama.

They’re just as hap­py to be out as you are, and at the end of the day, that’s all any­one wants. But before you go out and grab a new friend, con­sid­er your favorite out­door activ­i­ties and how your new part­ner might fit.

Most retrievers—including Labrador and Gold­en varieties—are fan­tas­tic in water; it’s the rea­son they are so often used by duck hunters to retrieve game. But, for some watersports—like paddleboarding–a full grown retriev­er may be too large. If you’re look­ing for some­thing small­er, but equal­ly water-prone, con­sid­er poo­dles, most spaniels, or a leg­end among H20 canines: the Por­tuguese Water dog.

For bik­ing com­pan­ions, you want one thing above all else: endurance. For long rides, it’s doubt­ful you’ll ever find a dog that can keep up with man and machine, but there are a few breeds that can come close. Dal­ma­tians, Grey­hounds, and Weimaran­ers have excel­lent sta­mi­na and high ener­gy lev­els, a per­fect com­bi­na­tion for long cycling trips.

For snow-bound out­doors types, you’ll want a dog that has endurance and is built for cold envi­ron­ments. The obvi­ous win­ner here is the Husky, but you can depend on his close cousin, the Mala­mute as a near tie. Oth­er breeds that do well in the snow include retriev­ers, Aki­tas, and most moun­tain dogs.

At the out­set, it seems like most dogs would be great hik­ing com­pan­ions. How­ev­er, hik­ing rep­re­sents unique chal­lenges. On pop­u­lar trails, you may encounter legions of peo­ple, includ­ing chil­dren in tight spaces and nar­row trails. There are also lots of dis­trac­tions while hik­ing, which could pose a poten­tial dan­ger for you and your best friend if they decide to pur­sue that dis­trac­tion. The bot­tom line is, trail dogs should be above all, ruth­less­ly obe­di­ent and intel­li­gent. For that job, con­sid­er bor­der col­lies, sheep­dogs, and Ger­man Shepherds.

Per­haps the best dog you can imag­ine is the one that you can leave at home with­out hav­ing to wor­ry that they’ll tear apart your apart­ment with unspent ener­gy. For the per­fect lazy dog who’ll patient­ly wait while you adven­ture, go for a bull­dog or a pug. They’re low-ener­gy and don’t need a lot of space.