There’s nothing quite like seeing a dog unleashed and out in his or her element, splashing through ocean waves, disappearing into a thicket of trees after some unseen critter or bounding without a care in the world over the crest of a ridge. Our loyal companions stand by us day and night, through weather foul and fair, offering companionship, support and wisdom that goes beyond words.
To celebrate all that is wonderful about our canine partners in adventure, here are eight of our favorite dog breeds made for the outdoors. And, yes, we know there’s no way we can do justice to all the purebreeds, crossbreeds and mutts who bring joy to our every day. Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
These fun-loving guys are like the all-terrain vehicle of the dog world: boisterous, rugged and a pleasure to be around. Water, mud, mountain trails… the Labrador embraces it all. Bred as fetching sport dogs—yes, we say that as much for their looks as their skillset—labs are the bird hunter’s favorite furry friend. In short, a dog that’s got your back on any adventure.
Australian cattle dog
Bred to herd cattle through the unforgiving terrain of the Aussie Outback, the Australian cattle dog is built to work but has a protective, pack attitude that’s caring yet no-nonsense. A Mick “Crocodile” Dundee character, if you will.
If the Hungarian vizsla was an athlete, he’d be an Ironman triathlete. First bred as field dogs for the aristocratic hunters of the Austro-Hungarian empire, these guys combine the instincts and poise of a pointer with the loyalty and measured temperament of the retriever.
Bernese mountain dog
Combine the frame of a Ford F-150 with the personality of an Audi, and that’s the canine you can expect in a Bernese mountain dog. Originating from the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps, these dogs have done duty as cart “horses,” herding animals, guard dogs and avalanche first-responders. They are also gentle giants known for their calm, sociable nature.
Originating from the frigid expanses of Siberia, Samoyeds are congenitally programmed to crave the outdoors. That snowpuff fur is there for a reason, so think Samoyed if your outdoor playground involves snow (and/or plentiful outdoor spaces in which to run). These puppers are tough, but have a heart of gold inside that rugged exterior.
Another sheep-herding specialist, Border collies are primed and athletic, if a little hyperactive at times. Think of them as the 800-meter Olympians of the group, ready to run with the pack but make a fast break to the front when the need arises. The breed was first introduced to help manage sheep herds on farms throughout the hilly region of northern England and the Scottish Borders, hence the name.
The bloodhound’s somewhat dopey-looking countenance belies a temperament that’s all endeavor and curiosity when on the trail. Bloodhounds are known for their lovable company, despite being originally bred in the Middle Ages for the more aggressive purposes of tracking and taking down wild boar, deer and other quarry. These big 100-plus-pound units are robust and often quite stubborn, which certainly helps when the going gets tough.
Gaze into the glacier-blue eyes of a husky and you’d be forgiven for putting her in a cape and calling her a Marvel superhero. Which is pretty much the pedigree of these pack dogs, famous for lugging sleds across the frozen tundra and the mentality of leave-no-dog-behind. Huskies are also whip-smart, no bad thing when Mother Nature is pushing you to your limits.
Don’t agree with our picks? Got a favorite breed of dog that you love to have beside you on your adventures? Tell us in the comments section.