10 Small Dog Breeds To Take Hiking

by Stuart | Last Updated:   July 1, 2021

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There are many beliefs, claims, and stereotypes that small dog breeds are not good for the outdoors. Well, that’s an incorrect generalization. 

Many small dog breeds are actually wonderful hiking partners. Some dog breeds are better suited to hiking than others; however, due to their character traits and genetic conditions.

In fact, hiking and other outdoor adventures carry remarkable benefits for any dog, including small ones. It is a great way to exercise and interact with nature. You just need to take some important precautions before you set out.

If you’re an active and adventurous person, there are lots of small breeds that love going hiking just as much as you do. In the article, we are going to highlight the small dog breeds that make good hiking buddies.

small dog breed on hike walking across a bridge in the forest

1. Jack Russell Terriers

Jack Russell Terrier hiking on rocks with waterfall in background

Dog breed group: Terrier group

Average height: 10 to 15 inches

Average weight: 13 – 17 pounds

Temperament: Affectionate, energetic, loyal

Life expectancy: About 10-15 years

Jack Russell Terriers are small, adorable, and loving dogs. They are intelligent and athletic with endless energy. Jack Russell Terriers were originally bred to hunt foxes and other small ground-dwelling game. They are known to be fearless and sometimes even aggressive towards other animals.

The Jack Russell Terrier packs a lot of personality into its small body. These energetic and spirited dogs thrive when they are with their family. They have a high energy level and are active indoors and out.

Jack Russells make excellent hiking and outdoor adventure companions. Although small in size, they have stamina and endurance for the toughest trails. Their energy will never tire, even after your longest adventure.

2. Beagles

Dog breed group: Hound

Average height: 13 to 15 inches

Average weight: 18 – 30 pounds 

Temperament: Friendly, curious, merry

Life expectancy: About 12-15 years

The Beagle is one of the most loved dog breeds around. They have a signature look with soft facial features and classic floppy ears. 

Beagles have a friendly, sweet, and affectionate personality. They are curious and intelligent but can sometimes also be mischievous. They love to be around people and make wonderful family companions. 

Beagles are playful dogs who are full of energy. They need exercise and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. Beagles make wonderful outdoor adventure companions and will keep up on the trails with ease. Be aware though, these hounds tend to follow their nose if not properly leashed on the trail.

3. Miniature Pinscher

Miniature Pinscher hiking on trail standing on wooden bridge post

Dog breed group: Toy group 

Average height: 10-12.5 inches

Average weight: 8-10 pounds

Temperament: Proud, fearless, fun-loving

Life expectancy: About 12-16 years

Miniature Pinschers, also known as the king of toys, are fun-loving dogs with a compact, wedge-shaped physique. The tiny Min Pin is full of vigour and is a bundle of energy. They need plenty of exercise and companionship.

They have a stately appearance and self-assured attitude with a dynamite personality. If given the chance, this fearless little dog will rule you and your household.

Miniature Pinschers are fearless, energetic, athletic, and intelligent dogs. They must be kept busy both mentally and physically to stay happy and healthy. These hardy little dogs make excellent hiking and outdoor adventure companions. They will absolutely love the chance to go on a long hike with their family.

4. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Pembroke Welsh Corgi hiking in the grass with tongue out

Dog breed group: Herding

Average height: 10-12 inches

Average weight: Up to 30 pounds (male), up to 28 pounds (female)

Temperament: Smart, alert, affectionate

Life expectancy: About 12-13 years

The Corgi is a beloved dog with a Royal history. Queen Elizabeth’s signature companions, they were originally bred to herd cattle, sheep, and horses. The Corgi has a double coat, with a thick undercoat and a longer overcoat.

The small, cute, and compact Corgi is one of the world’s most popular herding breeds. They love physical activity and are happiest when they have a job to do. Corgis make great walking and hiking partners. Avoid taking your Corgi for a hike during extreme heat or cold. Always provide plenty of cool, fresh water after exercise.

They make an affectionate family companion as long as they exercise regularly. The strong and athletic little guys excel at canine activities like agility, herding, obedience, and tracking events. This breed needs a lot of attention and does best when kept near a human companion.

5. Miniature Poodle

Miniature Poodle hiking in the grass

Dog breed group: Non-sporting group

Average height: 11 to 15 inches

Average weight: 15 to 17 pounds

Temperament: Intelligent, loving, loyal, mischievous

Life expectancy: About 12-15 years

Miniature Poodles are awesome little poochies known for their intelligence and playful nature. They have a dignified personality and love the company of their human owners.

Miniature Poodles are energetic and crave mental and physical challenges. They are very active dogs that require regular exercise to suit their high energy level and to avoid health problems. Due to their highly intelligent nature, they require a gentle but firm hand with training to ensure that they become obedient. 

They excel at performance sports like obedience, agility, and hunt tests. Overall, they have the stamina for hiking adventures and are trail-friendly.

6. Norwich Terrier

Norwich Terrier taking a break from hiking in the grass

Dog breed group: Terrier group 

Average height: 10 inches

Average weight: 12 pounds

Exercise requirements: Alert, curious, affectionate, gregarious, loyal

Life expectancy: About 12-15 years

Norwich Terriers are among the smallest working terriers. They thrive on human companionship and are known for their affectionate nature. Norwich Terriers are loyal and alert and that makes them an excellent watchdog.

Norwich Terriers have a high prey drive and are exceptionally courageous and agile. They tend to chase any animal they consider to be prey (which can be anything quick moving and their size or smaller).

Norwich Terriers have high physical needs and require regular exercise to keep them fit and to help them expel excess energy. They thrive on athletic activities and hiking can be an awesome means of engaging them physically and mentally.

Due to their athletic build, they can hike for miles. This active terrier is a wonderful companion for outdoorsy owners and makes an excellent hiking partner.

7. Dachshund

Dog breed dachshund, walking in the evening, in the summer in the park

Dog breed group: Hound group

Average height: 8-9 inches (standard), 5-6 inches (miniature) 

Average weight: 16-32 pounds (standard), 11 pounds & under (miniature)

Temperament: Spunky, curious, friendly

Life expectancy: About 12-16 years

Dachshunds are short-legged, long-bodied, playful, and amusing dogs. They were bred to follow scents and hunt down badgers. This little fellow is incredibly loving and affectionate to the entire family.

Dachshunds are intelligent and easy to train dogs. They have good memory retention, are eager to please, and respond well to praise.

Remember that Dachshunds have a delicate back. They need regular exercise to stay fit and to build strong muscles to support their longer back. They make good hiking buddies, but should be exempted from very rigorous hiking trails. Miniature Dachshunds are light enough to carry or wear in a backpack if they need a few minutes to catch their breath.

8. Pomeranian

Pomeranian hiking with woman with mountains in background

Dog breed group: Toy group, companion dogs

Average height: 6-7 inches 

Average weight: 3 – 7 pounds

Temperament: Inquisitive, bold, lively

Life expectancy: About 12-16 years

The Pomeranian is a small dog that stands out for its cute, fluffy, teddy-bear-like body. They have a bold, curious and alert nature. Being an interesting toy breed, Pomeranians have gained huge popularity around the world.

Poms combine a tiny body and a big personality. They seem unaware of their small size and are always eager for adventures. Despite their small size, Pomeranians are quite active dogs. 

These independent, bold dogs are playful but have minds of their own. They form solid bonds and make wonderful companions. Some Poms are mischievous, outgoing, and into everything. They enjoy the chance to run, play, and go hiking. When taking your Pom for a hike, be cautious of your surroundings.

9. Papillon

Papillon hiking in the grass

Dog breed group: Toy group; Companion dogs

Average height: 8 – 11 inches 

Average weight: 5 – 10 pounds 

Temperament: Happy, alert, friendly 

Life expectancy: About 14-16 years

The Papillon, also known as the butterfly dog, is one of the oldest toy breeds. Paps are happy, alert, and friendly dogs. They are considered very smart and highly trainable canines. 

Papillons are active and enjoy having a yard where they can run and play. They are intelligent and have excellent agility. Paps are athletic and perform well in canine sports.

Papillons are incredibly adventurous dogs. They will eagerly look to keep up with your hiking and other outdoor activities. Be aware that, due to their spaniel heritage, Paps will chase after squirrels, chipmunks, and even insects. 

10. Miniature Australian Shepherd

Miniature Australian Shepherd headshot with white background

Dog breed group: Herding

Average height: 13 – 18 inches (33 – 46 cm)

Average weight: 15 – 35 pounds (6 – 16 kg)

Temperament: Intelligent, energetic, trainable, and loyal

Life expectancy: About 12-13 years

Miniature Australian Shepherd, or Mini Aussie, is a good-natured, bright, and family-friendly pet. They thrive on human companionship and want to be involved in all activities. With a Miniature Australian Shepherd, you get an Australian Shepherd’s personality in a tiny package.

The little powerhouse is a sporty, versatile, and energetic dog. This small breed expects to have a very active lifestyle. They have a friendly and non-aggressive temperament.

Miniature Australian Shepherds are good for outdoorsy and active people. Their average exercise requirement is greater than 40 minutes per day. They can serve as a great hiking partner.

Pet Parent Tip: Regardless of the breed, senior dogs and puppies cannot perform intense exercises. Senior dogs usually have decreased physical strength and mobility issues. On the other hand, puppies still undergoing some level of bone development should be carefully monitored on any walks and kept on a short leash to prevent injuries or accidents.

Gear You Need For Hiking With Your Small Dog 

Having the right equipment and being prepared for every situation can stop a problem from turning into an emergency. Here are some of the supplies you should include for happy and safe hiking with your small dog.

Before you go, make sure that your little furry friend is free from any open wounds. They might become infected in the wild, especially if they cross muddy creeks or puddles.

Benefits Of Hiking With Your Dog

Hiking is a great form of physical exercise and a fun way to spend more time with your little pal! Check out some of the benefits of hiking with your small dog.

  • Mental stimulation: Boredom is often the culprit of many undesirable dog behaviours; including: stress, anxiety, aggression, and barking. Hiking offers a variation in terrain that is fun and interesting for a dog. It provides valuable mental stimulation, reduces your dog’s boredom, and gives them some new and different places to sniff out.
  • Exercise: Dogs show their excessive energy through negative behaviour at home. A regular hike can also prevent your small dog from becoming overweight or developing health problems.
  • Build stamina: Taking your small dog on a hiking trip can build its endurance. This stamina will also help with other physical activities in the future. 
  • Boost enthusiasm for outdoor activities: Taking your little buddy on hikes can be a fun way to boost their enthusiasm for participating in outdoor fun. It will also help to calm their nerves and add variation to their routine.
  • Offer a great binding experience: You will bond more deeply with your fur buddy when enjoying activities together. Spending quality one-on-one time together while hiking will help to strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend.

Pet Parent Tip: Always consider the limits of your individual dog’s body and mind. If your dog develops obvious pain or discomfort during a hike, stop immediately and make your fur buddy comfortable and/or carry them back to your car.

How Far Can A Small Dog Hike?

It’s difficult to give a “one size fits all” answer to this type of question. However, healthy and active small dogs will be able to hike for 10 miles (give or take). Most small dogs aren’t going to be performing at their peak physical performance, unless you’ve done a lot of training with them.

Always start off small especially if your small dog is new to hiking. Aim for a mile the first time and assess how your small dog is doing before continuing.

Wrapping Up 

Keep in mind that certain small breeds aren’t made for long trails. This is especially true for dog’s prone to breathing issues and especially in hot weather (such as taking a Pug for a long walk in July). As a responsible dog parent, you need to take necessary preventive measures by starting small and building up to longer hikes.

It is always better to consult your vet before engaging your small dog in a new physical activity.

At the end of the hike, check your small dog carefully. Look for any signs of injury or infections, burrs in his coat, or ticks and fleas. Once you and your dog get home, bathe your fur buddy and then settle down for a cozy sleep after a fun-filled day.

Remember, a tired dog is a good dog!

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Stuart loves blogging about his hobbies and passions. Sir Doggie is a place for him to share what he learns while being a pet parent. Click here to read more.