Any healthy, fit, and playful dog can participate in outdoor activities. While not all can carry backpacks, run for miles, or pull a sled, the following breeds are superstars in this regard.
#1: Australian Shepherd
Aussies (who are American, not Australian, despite the name) make the top of my list. Not only can they do anything—and do it brilliantly—but they stick closely to people and are less likely than many other breeds to get into mischief. Whether you want to play flying disk or a simple game of catch, take up sheepherding or agility, or just go on a long, long hike with a pal who can carry his own gear, the beautiful Aussie is your guy (or gal). This breed will also watch your campsite for you.
#2: Border Collie
The Border Collie combines problem-solving abilities with wicked athleticism. He’s a perfect trail companion. Warning: Border Collies are demanding dogs to own and require your constant involvement in their activities. Relentlessly busy, the Border Collie needs actual work to do and tasks to accomplish to keep him at the top of his game. He’d be oh-so-happy if you would just give in and buy a flock of sheep for him to manage. He will also keep the books for the sheepherding business.
#3: Labrador Retriever
The ever-amiable Labrador enjoys any outdoor activity but prefers those involving (a) water and (b) you, not necessarily in that order. Hiking, camping, flying disk, moderate trail running—they love it all. Labs are also great with children and more reliable off-lead than many other dogs.
The Vizsla is, quite simply, tireless. The perfect companion for long-distance jogging or running, this Hungarian beauty is a gentler and more mild-mannered dog than most others on this list. However, like other high-energy breeds, the Vizsla can literally become neurotic without vigorous exercise every single day. Vizslas get along well with other animals and people.
#5: Siberian Husky
When the weather is cold, Siberian Huskies are ready to go. Their hearts are as big as the great outdoors, which is where they belong. No dog on earth is a better partner or companion for winter runs, sledding, and skijoring. But when it gets warm, turn on the air-conditioning because these dogs can overheat quickly. Some are predatory with smaller pets and not reliable off-lead.
#6: German Shorthaired Pointer
This well-round hunting dog can swim, hike, and even run with a bike. Both friendly and smart (if a bit willful), the German Shorthaired Pointer combines a slightly aloof demeanor and territorial bark with a general goodwill. But unless he is given the exercise he needs, he can be wantonly destructive in the house.
#7: Bernese Mountain Dog
Hardy and patient, friendly to all, this native Swiss breed is a perfect family pet. He’s also the ideal hiking companion for cool weather. He can carry his own gear, too. However, the Berner is a poor choice for hiking in the summer months (unless you live in the Alps) because his thick coat can cause him to overheat. Females tend to be a bit smaller than males and may handle warmer weather better.
#8: Rhodesian Ridgeback
The lion-hunting Rhodesian Ridgeback is a powerful runner, able to keep up with a bike without turning a hair. This breed can also handle warm weather better than most large dogs. This is a strong, territorial dog, however, and needs a determined and competent owner. Some individuals are not good with other pets.
The glorious “gray ghost” thrives on long-distance running, hunting, swimming, and biking. There is no more elegant dog, but left without sufficient exercise, he can become barky and neurotic. Weimaraners can be predatory with smaller animals and bossy with their owners. They fare best with experienced dog owners who can provide the attention and exercise they need.
#10: Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog has one of the most stable temperaments of any breed: friendly, balanced, and fun. Like Labrador Retrievers, PWDs are reliable off-lead and love hiking and water activities. They are fond of retrieving, especially from the water. This perfect family dog is an all-around winner.
Diane Morgan is a pet care expert in Williamsport, Maryland, who has authored numerous books on dog care and nutrition, and has also written many dog breed and horse books.