The Best Dog Breeds Built for the Outdoors

18+ Best Dog Breeds That are Built for the Outdoors

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With so many different dog breeds around the world, it is pretty easy to find a canine companion that is the perfect fit for your lifestyle and climate. Whether you are looking for a running partner, working farm dog, trail companion, hunting hound, sled dog, sport dog, or just want an energetic pup to hang outside with, there is the perfect dog breed out there for you!

What to Consider When Choosing a Dog Breed

There are a few different things to consider when looking for a dog to spend time outdoors with.

Climate

Choose a dog that is best suited for your climate. For warm-weather areas, look for a dog with a short single coat. Lighter-colored dogs tend to ward off heat better than dark-colored dogs who absorb the sun’s rays. For these warmer climates, avoid the brachycephalic breeds. These short-faced breeds overheat easily and have a hard time breathing in general, but especially in the heat. For cold-weather regions, choose a dog with a thick double coat that is bred large and stocky.

Purpose

What are you planning to do with your dog outside? A working dog should be bred for work, whether it is guarding, herding, sledding, or hunting. A sport dog should be lean and agile with a high energy level. A leisure companion should be friendly and energetic.

Age

It is always fun to take a puppy outside, but keep in mind, puppies tend to play hard and sleep hard. They often become tired quickly. You always want to make sure your puppy is fully vaccinated before spending a lot of time outdoors, especially around other dogs. Senior dogs, on the other hand, might not have as much energy or may be less mobile. They may prefer to lounge in the sun or shade and watch the activity as opposed to being in the center of it. Young to middle-aged dogs tend to do best outdoors, especially for activities.

Health

Consider your dog’s health. Make sure he or she is fully vaccinated and protected against internal and external parasites. Take your dog to get yearly checkups at the vet. Sporting dogs and those who are extremely active should also have regular orthopedic exams and should be in top condition. Ensure your dog is being fed a high-quality, protein-rich diet. If your dog has any infections or injuries, limit their time outdoors until they are feeling better.

Now to pick the best dog breed for the outdoors!

Hunting Dog Breeds

The best hunting dog is one that is healthy and has good genetics. They should have a strong prey drive, an athletic build, be well-socialized, and smart. Different hunting breeds excel at hunting various types of game.

Foxhounds

The English and American Foxhounds are independent, smart, easy-going hounds with a high prey drive. They were built for running deer and hunting fox.

Labrador Retrievers

Commonly known as labs, these dogs are one of the most popular dogs in the U.S and bred for bird hunting. They are usually up for anything and love to be active.

Pointers

English and German Shorthaired Pointers were bred to be slim and speedy and pros at hunting birds.

Runner-ups

  • Springer Spaniels
  • English Setters
  • Beagles

Water Dog Breeds

Water Dogs

Image courtesy of Pexels

Dogs bred for being in the water tend to have somewhat of a water-resistant coat. These dogs hunt waterfowl, retrieve, and rescue.

Labrador Retrievers

These loveable dogs make a second category since they are known to love water, whether hunting waterfowl or competing in dock diving competitions.

Portuguese Water Dog

These water-loving dogs actually have distinctive webbed feet! They were bred to help fishermen catch fish, retrieve lost items in the water, and swim from boat to boat delivering messages.

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

This retrieving breed has an oily waterproof coat meant for the water.

Runner-ups

  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
  • Golden Retriever

Farm Dog Breeds

Farm dogs can be bred for many different jobs the most common being herding and guarding livestock.

Australian Shepherds

Aussies are known for their high energy and drive to herd. They are athletic, agile, and hardworking dogs bred for herding sheep.

Border Collies

These dogs were also bred for herding sheep and are extremely athletic. They are commonly top runners in agility courses as well.

Great Pyrenees

These gentle giants are found on the farm as livestock guardian dogs. They roam the pastures and are loyal to their herds and people.

Runner-ups

  • Blue Heeler
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Anatolian Shepherd
  • Collie
  • Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Cold Weather Dog Breeds

Cold Weather Dogs

Image courtesy of Pexels

These Northern or Arctic dog breeds have light-colored, thick, double coats and were bred to withstand freezing temperatures as sled dogs or guardian dogs in cold climates.

Alaskan Malamute

Malamutes were bred to be sled-pulling dogs. They are strong, stocky, and love the cold weather.

Bernese Mountain Dog

These laid-back, friendly beasts were bred for pulling carts and working the farm in the mountains of Switzerland. They have thick lush coats and thrive in cooler temperatures.

Siberian Husky

Huskies thrive in the cold and are great sled-pulling dogs. They have heavy double coats to protect them from the snow.

Runner-ups

  • Samoyed
  • Norwegian Elkhound
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Akita

Warm Weather Dog Breeds

Dogs bred in warm weather climates have thin, short hair, a single coat, and a long lanky build.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Originating in Africa, Ridgebacks are tough hunting dogs that also make great active companions.

Weimaraner

Athletic and strong with a distinctive short gray coat, these dogs were meant for sport.

Vizsla

These are great athletes for hunting and sport. They also make for fantastic hiking and running companions.

Runner-ups

  • Pointers
  • Basenjis

Other Great Outdoor Dog Breeds

  • Rottweilers
  • German Shepherds
  • Belgian Sheepdogs

How to Keep Your Dog Safe Outdoors

Once you have found your perfect outdoor canine companion, follow these tips to keep them safe for all your adventures.

Regular Check-Ups

Take your dog to yearly checkups to make sure they are in tip-top shape. This is important for every dog, but those that spend time in sport, competition, hunting, agility, herding, or any other activity should be kept lean and healthy.

Vaccines

Make sure your dog is up to date on all the required vaccinations for your environment.1

Parasite prevention

To protect your dog from annoying pests that can cause illness, keep your dog on regular flea, tick, heartworm, and intestinal parasite prevention.2

Appropriate shelter

For those dogs who spend most of their time outdoors, make sure they have adequate shelter and protection from the elements. They should also be provided with a comfortable sleeping arrangement such as an outdoor/weatherproof dog bed, enrichment, and fresh food and water.

Identification

In the scary situation where your dog runs off on his or her own adventure, making sure they have some sort of ID on them can help reunite you. Some recommendations are microchips, ID tags, and engraved collars.

Gear up

When going out, make sure your dog has a well-fitting collar on and a sturdy leash. If your dog is going to be outside in the cold for a prolonged period, fit him or her with a jacket, coat, or booties to help protect them from the elements. Hunting dogs, or those hiking near hunting areas, should be equipped with a safety vest.

Nutrition

For any athlete or working dog, consult with your veterinarian on the best diet for them. In general, choose a high quality, protein-rich food and always provide access to fresh, clean water.3

Article Sources

Pet News Daily uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Wallace RM, Cliquet F, Fehlner-Gardiner C, et al. Role of Oral Rabies Vaccines in the Elimination of Dog-Mediated Human Rabies Deaths. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020;26(12):1-9. doi:10.3201/eid2612.201266
  2. Raza A, Rand J, Qamar AG, Jabbar A, Kopp S. Gastrointestinal Parasites in Shelter Dogs: Occurrence, Pathology, Treatment and Risk to Shelter Workers. Animals (Basel). 2018;8(7):108. Published 2018 Jul 2. doi:10.3390/ani8070108
  3. Fiacco DC, Lowe JA, Wiseman J, White GA. Evaluation of vegetable protein in canine diets: Assessment of performance and apparent ileal amino acid digestibility using a broiler modelJ Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2018;102(1):e442-e448. doi:10.1111/jpn.12764.
Dr. Amanda Jondle
Dr. Amanda Jondle, DVM practices small animal surgery and integrative medicine. She is a graduate of Iowa State University Veterinary School.