Hiking with your dog can be super rewarding and bonding for both of you.
When you start out hiking you may have a few questions on how to keep your dog safe and happy while hiking.
A common question that pops up is how far can a dog hike in a single day?
Here we’ll help you determine how you can determine a safe hiking distance for your dog, what factors will influence their ability to go long distances and tips on helping them hike longer distances.
How Far Can a Dog Hike in One Day?
When trained and conditioned, healthy dogs can hike 10 to 20 miles per day.
Just how far your dog can hike depends on their size, general health and how conditioned they are to hiking the terrain.
Dogs who are not conditioned to hiking can usually tolerate hiking up to 5-10 miles a day.
Factors that Influence How Far A Dog Can Hike
The big factors that will influence how far your dog can safely hike include the following:
- Their Breed
- The dogs physical health
- Their age
- Their conditioning
- External conditions
Some Dog Breeds Are Better For Hiking
Some dog breeds have physical traits that just make it easier for them to hike longer distances.
This isn’t to say that you can’t have a good time hiking with smaller dogs or breeds that aren’t build for distance.
But it can determine if your dog will be able to keep up without risk of injury or even if they enjoy the hike.
Breed that make great hiking dogs include:
- Siberian Huskie
- Border Collie
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Australian Cattle Dog
- German Short Haired Pointer
This is only a short lists, and there are quite a few other great dog breeds for hiking.
But these breeds are energetic, built for endurance and a great companions to take hiking.
Then there are breeds that aren’t great at hiking like pugs and bull dogs.
Theses breeds are predisposed to respiratory problems and won’t be able to safely keep up for long distances.
Dogs with shorter, denser muscles will over heat quicker and will need to take more breaks.
The Dogs Physical Health Affects How Far They Should Hike
If your dog is in great physical health, they’ll be able to hike longer distances.
This includes their ability to do cardio, along with the condition of their legs, paws and joints.
Dogs with arthritis or are prone to injuries on their paws could risk long term harm if they push themselves during a long hike.
Heart or breathing conditions can also effect the ability to safely hike.
Before attempting to start training your dog to go on hikes, get a check up from your vet.
Discuss if there is any reason you’re dog shouldn’t be hiking for longer distances.
Is Your Dog Conditioned For Long Hikes?
Just like humans, dogs who aren’t use to physical activity will not be able to hike as far as dogs who have been conditioned to hike long distances.
It’s not uncommon for dogs who are conditioned to hiking a few times a week to be able to hike 20 miles or more.
This conditioning however does take time. Simply taking your dogs on shorter distance hikes will help your dog build the endurance and muscle stamina they need to go further later.
If a multiday hike is being planned, conditioning your dog to hike for several days in a row is a must.
They may have the stamina to hike several miles one day, but will be tired and need time to recover.
External Conditions Effecting Dogs Hiking Ability
Of course external conditions, such as weather and terrain will effect how far a dog can hike for.
A sunny day with perfect 70 degree weather will effect your dog differently than a cold day with muddy terrain.
When preparing for a hike with your dog keep in mind the temperature outdoors and the type of ground they will be hiking.
If the terrain is rocky and uneven or the ground is covered in snow, you may need to consider ways to protect your dogs paws while hiking.
Keeping their nails trimmed, toughing up their paws and even the using dog shoes can help your dog hike further without injury.
If it is too hot or too cold, your dog may only be able to hike for a short distance before getting overheated or too cold.
How Far Should You Hike With Your Dog
After considering all the above, you should be able to start gauging just how far you can hike with your dog.
While hiking watch your dogs body language. Are they panting, slowing down and generally having a hard time keeping up?
Then it’s time to break and consider shorter distances until their endurance is up.
Are they energetic, bouncing around and exploring and staying ahead of you?
These are signs that they are doing well and you can continue. Just keep in mind the hike back.
Start off slow and take your dog on shorter hikes and build your way up to the longer ones.
The last thing you want to do is get stuck in the middle of the trail with a dog who can’t go any further.
If you have a smaller dog, and you’ll be able to carry him home if he gets too tired, you won’t have to worry as much.