If you love the great outdoors and are looking for a dog to walk, run, hike, camp, swim or explore right alongside you, we have just the list. Many of these breeds were created for outdoor work, from the Alaskan Malamute (bred to pull sleds across harsh terrain) to the Portuguese Water Dog (who, as her name implies, prefers being wet). Just remember, before you engage in any activity with your dog, ask your vet to examine her to make sure there aren’t underlying medical conditions preventing her from hitting the trails.
Of course, every dog is different (you would be hard-pressed to find a Jack Russell Terrier who doesn’t dig, for example). So you can’t assume that your dog will love the outdoors simply because of her breed’s tendencies. And just because a dog loves the outdoors, doesn’t mean she should live outside. It is best for these pets to live inside the home with their families.
If you enjoy hiking and are searching for a dog with similar interests, look no further than the Bloodhound. Long, slow walks or hikes allow him to engage his amazing scenting abilities while he explores trails. But make sure he's always leashed — if not, he may follow an intriguing scent and wander for miles before realizing home is nowhere to be found.
American Water Spaniel
Don't let her relatively small size fool you. The American Water Spaniel typically weighs between 25 to 45 pounds, but she has a much bigger mind. She is a tough water retriever with a strong reputation as a hunting dog.
What sort of outdoor activity doesn't the Labrador love? She has been America's most popular breed for 23 consecutive years, and we can't help but think it has something to do with her love of adventure. Many Labs love running, hiking, camping, swimming and dog sports like dock diving.
You may not be familiar with the Vizsla, but this Hungarian hunting dog is an expert in pointing and retrieving. He tends to be an active, people-oriented breed who needs a great deal of exercise — whether that's running, hiking, walking or playing — to avoid becoming bored and destructive.
How could we forget our beloved breed built for the cold? The Alaskan Malamute is the largest of the Arctic sled dogs, bred to pull sleds for long distances in harsh terrain and brutal climates. If you live in a cold climate and are looking for a hardy dog who loves some outdoor time, the Malamute may be your match.
Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russell Terrier owners know that when left without proper exercise and stimulation, he could resort to his outdoor sport of choice — digging — with or without your permission! Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can entertain your true terrier: hiking, terrier races and earthdog tests.
The shaggy, friendly Berger Picard can be a great choice for active families. Once you get the go-ahead from your veterinarian, this French herding dog may be the ideal companion for jogging, hiking or running alongside your bicycle. She loves to swim and can hardly be dragged out of the water.
Portuguese Water Dog
We bet that if Bo and Sunny Obama could mandate a lake be built on the grounds of the White House, they'd do it. Portuguese Water Dogs were bred to be a fisherman’s best friend, helping drive fish into nets, retrieving items from the water, and swimming messages from boat-to-boat. If you're a water-lover looking for the same qualities in a canine, the Portie may be the right breed for you.
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
Many dog lovers looking for a hunting companion have found a kindred spirit in the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. This gun dog is a slow and methodical hunter capable of bringing home feathered and furred game. Even if you're not a hunter, these dogs appreciate an outdoorsy owner capable of matching their levels of intelligence and activity.
If you generally think of outdoor dogs as big, towering breeds, let the smaller Shetland Sheepdog show you otherwise. Many Shelties make great companions for walking, running, or hiking. They tend to excel at the canine sport of agility and love to learn tricks that show off those skills, like jumping over a bar or through a hoop.
You may not think of the Doberman Pinscher as an outdoor breed, but look a little bit closer. Many of these loyal, energetic athletes enjoy hiking, running and agility. In fact, long before we had modern agility and freestyle competitions, the Doberman Drill Team thrilled audiences with amazing physical feats.