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Man and dog hiking in the mountains

Finding the best dog breeds for travel, leisure and adventure

For many of us, our pets are our best friends, and we’re happiest when we do things together. If you’re a runner, you probably want a dog that can match your pace. If you’re content with a good book, a pup that naps at your feet may be the perfect partner.  

To find a dog that’s compatible with your interests, watch how pet parents interact with various breeds. Then opt for a furry friend that enjoys the same activities you do. Here are some examples:

Dogs That Enjoy Swimming

  • It’s a misperception that all dogs like water, but with a standard poodle, you’ll have a great swimming buddy. The breed originated in Germany, where the word “poodle,” as you might guess, refers to puddles.
  • Strong Newfoundlands, bred to tow ships and rescue drowning people, are also excellent water companions. “Newfies” are big dogs with moderate energy levels. Thanks to their thick, furry coats, they can romp in water or snow.
  • “Chessies,” Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, are also fond of swimming, and their double coats contain natural oils that let these high-energy dogs tolerate cold creeks and rivers. 

Dogs That Like Hiking

  • Labrador retrievers are America’s most beloved breed, according to the American Kennel Club. Friendly and outgoing, they crave activity and are happy to hike, run or jog.  
  • As the name implies, Bernese Mountain Dogs do well on rugged, steep or mountainous terrain. They’re strong, but easily trained, and can carry a small pack of their food—or yours—into the backcountry. 
  • Australian shepherds are agile and sure-footed, also good at tackling steep slopes and rocky outcroppings. 
  • If you hike where the weather is often hot, consider a Rhodesian Ridgeback. This athletic dog has good stamina and a short coat that helps keep it cool. 

Dogs That Like Running

  • Vizlas love to run, and have great speed and endurance. A walk around the block won’t suffice for them, but they can live in the city, if they get plenty of outdoor exercise. 
  • Jack Russell Terriers are also good running partners, even if they’re just chasing a ball around the house. 
  • While you may associate Greyhounds with race tracks, Greyhounds may not be good distance running partners. However, they are fast sprinters and can reach speeds of 43 mph (70 kph)!   

Dogs That Like Hunting

  • Labrador Retrievers do it all: run, jog, hike and walk. Properly trained, they’ll fetch the game birds you take down.
  • German Shorthaired Pointers are also adept at following trails, pointing and retrieving after you’ve taken your shot. 

Dogs That Like Boating

  • If you love to sail, consider a Portuguese Water Dog. Bred to live on fishing boats, these athletic, web-footed dogs have been used to drive fish into nets and carry messages between ships. They’re handy, too, if you need them to retrieve an item you’ve dropped in the water. 

Dogs That Like Camping

  • Campers who enjoy the challenge of a cold climate, or skiing, snowshoeing or sledding, will find dense-coated Siberian Huskies are up to the adventure.
  • Alaskan Malamutes can also handle the cold, and their big paws, protected with fur between the toes, practically work like snowshoes.

Dogs To Take On Patio dates

  • Planning on hanging out in a hammock or puttering in the garden? A mild-mannered, family-oriented dog may be the ticket. Bassett Hounds are laid back and slow going, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels need only an easy, daily walk. 
  • Invite a French Bulldog to snuggle in your lap. Toy Pekingese and Pugs, with their short noses, are also relaxed porch pals. 

Editor's Note: Here are some tips for taking your pooch on a patio date at an outdoor café or dog-friendly restaurant.

And don’t forget mixed breeds! Even a dog without a pedigree can be a great partner for all sorts of sports, trips and experiences. With the variety of activities you can do with your dog, make sure you keep them prepared and safe with dog insurance!

Lynn Coulter is owned by two rescue dogs—Molly and Miss Paws—and occasionally blogs at She’s also the author of three books and a freelancer who writes about travel, gardening and more. She and her husband live in metro Atlanta, where they cheer for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and spend their money on dog biscuits.

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