When you think of a hiking companion, a larger dog probably comes to mind. After all, larger dogs are usually able to travel further distances on account of their long legs. Plus, rocks, fallen trees, and other debris are less of a problem for more massive canines.
However, smaller dogs can be suitable for hiking as well. Of course, not all smaller dog breeds are suitable for this physically strenuous activity. Some dogs, like pugs, are not designed to travel long distances. If you want a hiking companion, you need to ensure that you choose the right breed to accompany you on the trail.
In this article, we’ll go over 11 of the best small dogs for hiking. All of these breeds are small active dogs.
The 11 Best Small Dogs for Hiking:
1. Miniature Pinscher
Out of all smaller dogs, Miniature Pinschers are likely some of the most athletic. These small, active dogs are sturdy and agile, which makes them perfect for hiking. They usually love hikes as well. They are energetic and love adventure. They love fast-paced, rigorous exercise. Some of these dogs may need to be taken on long walks to keep them in tip-top shape and out of trouble.
This breed does have a strong prey-drive, however. They will bolt after wildlife and other dogs. You should always keep them on a leash because of this. All in all, this is our pick for the best small dog for hiking.
While Beagles are not extremely small, they are smaller than most canines. They weigh about 20 pounds on average. As they were bred to hunt and track hare, they are made for long journeys. This makes them the perfect hound for hiking. They also prefer a slower pace in most cases, which makes them great if you like to take your hikes slow.
Beagles also make great companion dogs. They aren’t tiny, but they aren’t very large either. They are gentle and laidback. Despite their history, they don’t need much exercise. However, they can hike quite a bit when asked to. They are great with children and friendly with strangers. Perhaps most importantly, you don’t have to worry about Beagles. They don’t get in trouble and just love life.
3. West Highland White Terrier (Westie)
This Scottish terrier was bred for fox hunting. Its stark white coat was encouraged to differentiate it from the prey, which is essential during a hunt. Because this breed was bred to hunt, they have a lot of endurance and can hike a long distance. They are also extremely healthy, so there aren’t any health problems that may get in the way of a hike.
West Highland White Terriers are also friendly. There should be no problems when you run into other people on the trail.
The Yorkshire Terrier is a tiny dog. They can weigh as little as 7 pounds. However, they are incredibly sturdy and quite energetic. They are inquisitive and need a bit of mental stimulation as well. As you may have guessed, this makes them perfect for hiking. They will happily walk a moderately-length trail.
Yorkies are hunting dogs, despite how they may appear. They have a strong prey drive and will dart after wildlife. You should keep them on a leash at all times.
Chihuahuas may seem like a dainty dog. However, they are incredibly energetic. This can make them a good dog for hiking. Their small size also means that you can pick them up and carry them easily over obstacles they may not be able to navigate by themselves. You can even stick them easily inside your backpack or a carrier designed specifically for dogs. There is a reason they’re known as “purse dogs.”
The only problem with Chihuahuas is that they can be a bit aggressive, which may be a problem when coming across others on the trail. Early socialization is vital to ensure they won’t bark at everyone they see.
6. Jack Russell Terrier
Despite their small size, the Jack Russell Terrier was bred to hunt foxes, and they are very good at it. Their past makes them extremely high-energy, though. They are some of the most high-energy dogs in existence. This can be a good thing on the hiking trail, however. They are inquisitive as well, so they typically enjoy hiking.
They have a powerful prey drive, though. They will chase just about everything. We highly recommend keeping them on a leash at all times because of this.
7. Cairn Terrier
The Cairn Terrier is an ancient breed. They were initially working dogs and ratters. They are hard-working, though not as energetic as some of the other dogs on this list. They have a keen sense of smell and love to sniff – a hobby they will surely use on the trail. They are not as fast-paced as other small hiking dogs, but they can hold their own on the trail.
They are strong and sturdy on top of being well-tempered. They are usually friendly but not so people-oriented that they’ll bark at everyone they see.
8. Miniature Schnauzer
The Schnauzer has a broad range of personalities and temperaments. However, the mini version is typically very sturdy and alert. They can be spirited but are typically quite friendly. While they love their people, they tend to be aloof towards strangers (which can be perfect for busy trails where you don’t want your dog to ask everyone to pet them).
The Miniature Schnauzer is not extremely energetic, but they do have a decent endurance level. They can hike quite a long way. They do have a strong prey drive.
9. Alaskan Klee Kai
The Alaskan Klee Kai is a miniature version of the Siberian Husky. However, it isn’t truly a “mini” version. Instead, it is a separate breed that was bred to look like the husky. They are very high energy, just like a full-sized Siberian Husky. They are active and love exercise, which makes them perfect for hikes. They can be a bit shy around strangers, so early socialization is essential.
They are very agile, as well. They are excellent climbers and very good at navigating the trail. They are compatible with colder conditions as well, thanks to their double coat.
10. Norwegian Lundehund
While this dog is rarer in the United States, the Norwegian Lundehund is decently common in Norway, where the dog originated. This is an extremely unusual dog. They have a few “gifts” that are unique to their breed. For example, they can turn their head backwards, and their legs can bend to a 90-degree angle. They also have six toes – all of which are useable.
In practice, all of these features make them very agile. They can navigate the trail better than any other dog out there. They can get around obstacles and fit into spaces other dogs just can’t. Plus, they never get stuck, as they can turn around in even the tightest spaces.
Pomeranians may not look like they’re made for the trail. However, they would probably disagree with you. These small dogs are nicknamed “the little dog who thinks he can.” They are confident and spirited. In their mind, if any dog can do it, they can. These dogs are inquisitive, which makes them perfect for the trail.
While they aren’t as energetic as other dogs, they can be carried easily if they get tired before the trail’s end.
Featured Image Credit: Audrius Vizbaras from Pixabay