10 Smaller Dog Breeds that Make Great Outdoor Companions

September 17, 2014

When you think of the best dog breeds for the outdoors you probably think of something along the lines of a Labrador Retriever. Most bigger breeds just seem suited to the great outdoors, right? Don’t count out the little guys just yet, because they love the wild too. Here are some small breeds that can hold their own on the trail just as well as the big guys. 

Everyone’s favorite hunting dog is obviously a great outdoor companion dog. Beagles are notoriously adventurous and love being on the trail. Their short, but course, coats protect them from underbrush and their small size allows them to handle rough terrain with ease. They’re pack dogs, though, so they’re happier if you have more than one.

Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russells are bundles of energy, which makes them perfect for the great outdoors. Believe it or not, they’re great for hikes but they’re actually even more suited for running. They need a ton of exercise to keep them happy so feel free to take them along on your next hike or hunting trip (just don’t expect them to be the quietest trackers.)

Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Somewhat goofy looking, but incredibly agile, Corgis are fantastic outdoor dogs. They’re known for their intelligence and competitive nature, so giving them a task while you’re out and about is important in keeping them focused. They’re also ridiculously friendly, so they won’t attack other animals they encounter in the wild.

Cairn Terrier
Remember Toto? That dog followed Dorothy all throughout Oz and fought off flying hordes of flying monkeys with hardly a peep nor complaint. That’s because Toto was a Cairn Terrier, a breed known for being fearless and loyal to a fault. They certainly aren’t afraid of the wild or any animals they may encounter within it, making them excellent companions for outdoor excursions.

Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen
Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen (try saying that five times fast) is an extremely extroverted breed that makes excellent hunting and tracking dogs. They might not seem like it at first glance, but these guys are natural athletes. Their sturdy legs allow them to travel long distances and run at steady speeds. They are hound dogs, though, so be prepared for a lot of braying if you try to head off on an adventure without them.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier
These little fellas may look like the result of Dachshund mating with a Scottish Terrier, but don’t let that fool you – they’ve got bloodhound roots. Dandies are designed to lay low to the ground to sniff out animals in their underground hideouts. They’ve been used throughout history to hunt for otters and badgers, as well as rabbits and other creatures that like to burrow into the ground. Whether or not you hunt is irrelevant, because these guys just like to be outside.

Lakeland Terrier
These miniature versions of the Airedale breed have been outdoor companions since the 1800s. They were traditionally bred to hunt foxes and other aggressive vermin and were known to tunnel underground for days in pursuit of prey. That’s why it’s probably a good idea to enroll in some heavy training sessions to make sure these guys will stay by your side on the trail. They were also originally mountain dogs, so higher elevations are no problem for them.

Norwegian Lundehund
Few breeds of dog can handle rugged terrain like the Norwegian Lundehund. They were bred to scale rocky cliffs and tunnels of seaside caves in search of Puffins (think parrot/penguin hybrids that can fly). Lundies were sent in after the Puffins and were known to instinctually retrieve them and take them back to their owners alive. A very friendly breed, Lundehunds are great with small critters and are good for both hunters and outdoor adventurists.

Schipperke’s were a popular breed in Belgium in the 1600s. They earned the nickname “little captains” because of their love for the water and use as companion animals among boaters along the canals. They’re still water-lovers today and are fantastic companions for anyone who enjoys spending a day out in a boat on the lake.

Shiba Inu
Shiba Inu’s have a reputation for being incredibly stubborn but, if trained properly, they make amazing hunting dogs. They were developed in the mountainous regions of Japan to help hunt birds, bear, boar, and deer. Today they’re most commonly owned as companion animals, but they crave exercise and are exceptional outdoor partners for anyone willing to put in the time and effort.



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