Best dog breeds for the outdoors: Labrador retriever in aspen grove

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!

Best dog breeds for the outdoors: Labrador retriever

Labrador retriever

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.

Read more about this dog breed from the American Kennel Club

Best dog breeds for the outdoors: Australian cattle dog

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.

Read more about this dog breed from the American Kennel Club

Best dog breeds for the outdoors: Hungarian Vizsla dogs

Hungarian vizsla

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.

Read more about this dog breed from the American Kennel Club

Best dog breeds for the outdoors: Bernese mountain dog

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.

Read more about this dog breed from the American Kennel Club

Best dog breeds for the outdoors: Samoyed


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.

Read more about this dog breed from the American Kennel Club

Best dog breeds for the outdoors: Border collie

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.

Read more about this dog breed from the American Kennel Club

Best dog breeds for the outdoors: Bloodhound


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.

Read more about this dog breed from the American Kennel Club

Best dog breeds for the outdoors: Siberian husky

Siberian husky

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.

Read more about this dog breed from the American Kennel Club

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.

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  • avatar

    what about the American Brittany. Loves the outdoors.

    • avatar

      Just what I was going to say. Brittany’s are the best!!! Love American and French Brittany’s. Best dog ever!

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    I agree with your picks but want to add our Aussie Retriever. She’s athletic and lovable and loves to work along side us outside. She thrives on it.

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    I would like to add Anatolian Shepard , outstanding breed ! 3 traits, personal protection,property and live stock guardian. We have had all 3 traits, work extremely well together.

  • avatar
    Jeffrey Pierson

    All good picks but you missed my favorite the Great Pyrenees, bred for the outdoors they are excellent guard dogs for livestock. So many to choose from makes for hard choices.

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    You have to include the German Shorthair Pointer

    • avatar
      Jim Mejeur

      I agree on the GSP. Endless energy, loyal and easily trainable.

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    The American bulldog has unrelenting loyalty, stamina that goes on forever, and in the home a 100 pound lapdog. Over protective of the pack makes this a great dog for kids and their safety. I currently have my second bulldog and will continue owning this breed.

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    German Shepherds! I have had several over 50 years. Protective, loyal, obedient, loving and intelligent. Great if you have kids but they are very protective of their pack and all weather hardy.

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    I would ad the Great Pyrenees and German Shepherd.
    Both loyal, intelligent protective nature loving breeds.
    Have had both, very impressed!

  • avatar

    Had Two labs .Great dogs but two Springer spaniels are loving and great outdoor dogs. You have to love dogs to have them as they are always into something that’s not neat

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    Akbash! Akbash are excellent outdoor companions. Mine is an Akbash Lab mix and she’ll be backpacking with me this summer…

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    I agree with your picks but would add the Golden Retriever! Our golden Josie has been on many outdoor adventures with us and has loved every minute of them.

  • avatar
    michael eggenberger

    It all depends on the climate. Hot or cold.

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    Having had hounds (black and tan coon) I can tell you that getting on the scent is exciting once, if you’re not hunting that is. But when your pup catches that scent and they take off it can be hours to get them back and no amount of training can really break that. Having a bloodhound sounds like a terrible idea for outdoorsy folks who don’t hunt especially if they don’t have great patience in training and some gear like a training collar. I don’t know why Germann Shepard’s didn’t make the list. Great outdoors dog…trainable, rugged and loyal to a fault.

  • avatar
    Dan Riggs

    The PLOTT HOUND. Bred to hunt boar and bear. Also a good watch / guard dog. can herd and is good with people. One of the few breeds from the USA and the official dog of North Carolina.

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    Totally German Shepherds!! Have had 5 in my 62 years and what an awesome outdoors dog. Living in FL requires us to watch the hot season though, and don’t let them over do it. We like to run a garden hose over them after a work out and they just love it.

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    Paula Wilkinson

    catahoulas rule the day loyal and plenty of go but can be reined in easily vocal but not aggressive

  • avatar
    Stacy A

    Hi why didn’t you champion the millions of beautiful affectionate healthy dogs much healthier than inbred pure breeds
    All the dogs in kill shelters in the USA
    Wouldn’t it have been the godly thing to do to help the dogs that are homeless
    Instead you clueless people advertised over bred dogs with terrible health problems because the breeders inbred them for years
    So much cancer in dogs
    Please do a piece on the wonderful loving healthy amazing shelter dogs
    I’m an actress and every time I go to set with my rescue the cast and crew all love her so much
    Adopt don’t shop
    Any by the way there are so so many homeless Siberian huskies because people buy them and can’t handle them as they need a lot of exercise and they are best suited for someone who can handle there beautiful energy
    They do make wonderful pets so adopt a husky
    Every pure bred dog has a rescue organization
    If your heart is set on a viszla another dog that needs a ton of exercise go to the vizla rescue and adult one
    Hunting dogs the best are the hound dogs you find in the shelters
    Thank you

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