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A very wet dog

Finding an active dog

If you’re a dog lover who enjoys an active lifestyle, you’ll likely want to find a pet that shares your enthusiasm for the outdoors. Whether you’re into hiking, running, cycling, camping, or hunting, there’s a dog out there that’s a perfect fit for you. So how do you conduct your search, and what characteristics do you look for when seeking the ideal outdoor companion?

Importance of Breed

Some breeds are more predisposed to an active outdoor lifestyle than others. Huskies, Newfoundlands, and Bernese Mountain Dogs, for example, are muscular dogs with layered coats that make them resistant to cold temperatures, even when wet. If you’re an all-season hiker in an area that gets snow, one of these breeds may be ideal for you.

other dog breeds have been bred to enhance their outdoor activity skill set. Hunting dogs such as Labrador Retriever, Springer Spaniel, and German Shorthair Pointer are agile, wilderness-savvy breeds that don’t mind venturing off-trail into the high weeds or shallow ponds. If you’re looking for an outdoorsy pet that’s an intelligent problem-solver, you may want to consider one of the herding breeds, such as the Border Collie or Australian Shepherd.

And if you what an active breed that’s more comfortable close to home you may want to consider a smaller animal, like the Jack Russell Terrier or Miniature Pinscher—two small breeds with big-dog personalities. Of course, no two dogs are like, so a lot depends on the individual animal itself.

Shelter Adoption

If you’re adopting from a shelter, you’ll have the opportunity to meet a range of animals before making your choice. You can tell a lot about a dog’s personality from its body language and affect. Active and engaged animals are typically curious and approachable, whereas sedate or skittish dogs will usually be hesitant to approach a stranger.

Shelter workers are a great resource when trying to assess a dog’s personality. Ask those who’ve worked most directly with the animals to describe the personality of any dog you’re considering. Chances are they’ll be able to provide information helpful to your decision-making process. Shelter workers may also know something about an animal’s backstory—such as its age, overall health, and how it came to the shelter. By looking both at breed and individual characteristics, you can often refine your selection to one or two animals.

You and Your Lifestyle

In many ways the most important variable in this equation is you. Dogs naturally bond with people and are eager to please us, so your dog will likely be predisposed to doing the things that you enjoy. Also, almost all dogs enjoy exercise to some degree, so the more you take your dog along on your adventures, the more acclimated the animal will become to your lifestyle. The thing to remember is that your dog will want to do the things you enjoy and will probably leap at the chance to get out of the house for a romp.

Editor’s Note: With your pooch by your side, the great outdoors can be an exciting place full of fun and discovery. Here are some pet safety tips for bringing your dog along on a hike, swim or camping trip.


Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.

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