Colorado is a great state to get outdoors with your dog, sometimes on multi-day backpacking adventures. However, because of the cool temperatures and elevation, not all dog breeds will be suited to the climate. For example, short-snouted dogs like Boston terriers and boxers will have short endurance on the many trails in the Colorado country. They’ll also suffer on steep hikes through higher elevation.
If you intend to get into the great outdoors with your trusted pooch, and maybe even entrust him with a pack himself, you’ll want to consider breed carefully. A breed accustomed to mountain climbs, long hikes, and high elevation will make your time exploring the beauty of Colorado enjoyable!
Backpacking with Your Dogs
Backpacking with pets is on the rise, and several breeds are able to carry a significant amount of weight in a doggie pack. Long-snouted dogs will have greater stamina and endurance on the trail when carrying a pack. Your Jack Russell Terrier won’t be able to carry as much as your Bernese Mountain Dog, however, so keep this in mind.
Labrador Retrievers, Australian Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, and Rhodesian Ridgebacks are excellent backpacking companions. However, this does come with some limitations. Siberian Huskies and Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for incredible, machine-like endurance that can span days. The length of their coats will make hikes in the summer a poor experience as they are prone to overheating. If climbing 14ers and other peaks in Colorado interest you, these are the dogs to have by your side.
You’ll also want to consider whether a breed has a tendency to have hip problems before attempting to place a pack on them. This includes boxers and some retriever breeds.
Best Hiking Breeds
Ready to select a dog to enjoy Colorado’s landscape with? Here are the best breeds to take hiking with you in Colorado.
Even larger and stronger than the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Malamute is a snow-loving dog. The Malamute has a double layered coat and huge paws that make navigating snow easy. This powerful pooch can also hold an impressive amount of weight in a pack.
This shaggy breed is surefooted on rocky terrain, making alpine hikes easy. Not as heavily coated as the Malamute, the shepherd can handle warm hikes much more easily. If you like to explore multiple kinds of terrain, this is an excellent dog to consider. They are also prized for their agility!
Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog is perfect for (you guessed it!) mountain hikes. These long-haired dogs are surefooted and confident, scaling high elevations and rocky terrain with ease. While they don’t enjoy the heat of summer, the higher elevations of Colorado are ideal for these pooches.
If you’ve ever met a border collie, you know how high energy these pooches are. Border collies love hiking trails. They can hike for hours without tiring! Their penchant for obedience is also important on difficult or densely populated trails.
Labradors love to explore and have great stamina. Longer-coated labs like golden retrievers will fare better in colder climates and higher elevation, but you may want to consider additional layers for your short-haired black or chocolate labs.
This huge and powerful dog was once bred to hunt lions. Now, it’s a surefooted and powerful hiker with unparalleled endurance. Because Ridgebacks have short coats, they should not be taken hiking in winter conditions or through the snow.
The Siberian Husky has a two-layered coat that keeps it warm even in the harshest of winter conditions. Because these sled-pulling dogs are bred for their endurance and speed, prepare to race up the snow-capped peaks of Colorado.
Short-haired Vizslas need extra layers or lower elevation. However, these long-legged European hunting dogs are very physical. They’ll jump at the chance to explore meadow and valley hikes with you. We don’t recommend attempting to scale glaciers with these warm-weather beauties.