11 Best Off Leash Dogs (Hiking Guide + Photos)

Some dogs can behave perfectly off a leash, although some states may not allow your dog to be off a leash when they leave their property of residence. However, many states will allow you to keep your dog off a leash and let them walk beside you in public.

For many excitable dog breeds, this can be a challenge. Dog breeds who become easily riled may not do as well without a leash as those who are more focused and less distracted by children or other animals.

best off leash dogs
11 Best Off Leash Dogs (Hiking Guide + Photos)

Whether you want to stroll around the park or take your dog on a stunning mountainside hike, plenty of dog breeds will follow you, listen to instructions, and remain focused on the walk ahead.

Our list of 11 best off-leash dogs for a hike, and our accompanying hiking guide, can help you experience something fun and exciting with your furry little friend.

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are friendly dogs who have a high capacity for intelligence. These dogs love adventure and can be seen on boats, strolling around the great outdoors, or digging holes in their backyards.

Golden Retrievers love people and are so friendly that they may introduce you to strangers all day. This friendliness may mean extra training to keep them calm and ensure they don’t jump on small children or roughhouse with small animals.

Golden Retriever smiling
Golden Retrievers have an exuberant zest for life.

Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinschers are fiercely loyal dogs constantly on high alert for danger. This dog breed values affection from its owners and adores spending time playing with young children. Doberman Pinschers will greet strangers but remain slightly weary.

This dog will also keep you and your family safe on hiking trails by alerting you of any danger they perceive.

do Dobermans shed
Do Dobermans shed? (How much?)

Border Collie

Border Collies are very affectionate and have tons of energy to use. This dog breed is medium-sized and will gladly spend their entire day reveling in the affection their family offers them. Border Collies enjoy constant playtime, which means they make ideal hiking partners.

This dog breed is highly adaptable and will thrive in environments that change quickly, making them perfect for families who travel often.

border collie on a hike sits on the ground
A Border Collie takes a breather while on a hike

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are notoriously friendly dogs who are active and energetic. This dog breed adores affection and playtime with other animals and young children. Labrador Retrievers are perfect dogs for a family with many children or pets who need companions.

Labrador Retrievers will have you pausing on your hike to meet everyone you pass. These dogs love change and adapt well to new routines and adventures.

yellow Labrador Retriever in snow
A Yellow Labrador Retriever exploring the winter in light snow.

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds are intelligent and love having tasks to keep them busy. Taking an Australian Shepherd on a hike will keep them occupied for hours, especially if small children are around to play.

an older Aussie shepherd
An older Australian Shepherd

Irish Terrier

The Irish Terrier is a medium-sized dog who loves adventure but remains tender and loving. This dog breed enjoys spending time with small children and their families but prefers to be the only dog in the home. Irish Terriers are watchful and enjoy keeping an observant eye out for danger.

Because of this, they likely won’t reach out to strangers, but they make ideal hiking companions and will alert you to danger on the trail.

Irish Terrier side view
Irish Terrier side view in the studio.

Belgian Sheepdog

Belgian Sheepdogs are vigilant dogs who have a penchant for seriousness. This dog breed is not overtly affectionate or playful. However, this dog is loyal a nd dedicated.

Belgian Sheepdogs will keep you aware of any potential dangers and enjoy the outdoors alongside you.

young and adult Belgian Sheepdog
A young and adult Belgian Sheepdog sit together on a trail.

Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland Sheepdog is playful and loves expending energy outside. These dogs have a similar coat to Australian Shepherds and the same adoration for affection and playtime. A Shetland Sheepdog will keep you alerted to any danger and keep you and your family safe – even as they play.

shetland sheepdog
A half blue eyed Shetland Sheepdog

Siberian Husky

Siberian Huskies are some of the most loyal and excitable dogs. This dog breed is outgoing and adapts well to cold temperatures. Siberian Huskies are perfect hiking partners for colder climates since their coats will keep them warm, and they value their independence.

Siberian Huskies love affection and enjoy playing with other dogs and young children. This dog breed may greet every stranger they meet and invite any young child they encounter to play.

three Siberian Huskies colors
The three Siberian Huskies with different colors are sitting together.


Boxers adore fun and enjoy living a very active lifestyle. A Boxer cooped up in the house will never be as happy as one out on hiking trails, chasing down stray sticks to collect. Boxers love small children and enjoy spending their time playing with others.

These dogs are friendly but may not have you pausing your hike every time someone passes.

boxer dog with stick running on grass
A happy boxer adult runs in the grass with a stick


Poodles are very active dogs who enjoy puzzles and engaging their brains. These dogs value affection, playtime with young children, and spending time with other animals. This dog breed also enjoys going on adventures and observing everything happening in the natural world.

Poodles are friendly and want to stop and play with every stranger they encounter, which may mean extra training.

red poodle puppy on vibrant green grass
Miniature red Poodle playing on a vibrant green lawn.

The Ultimate Off-Leash Hiking Guide

Taking your dog on a hike can be challenging and may pose issues if you don’t have the right equipment or experience. Whether you are trying a new or old route, there are plenty of steps you’ll need to take first to ensure your hike goes as smoothly as possible.

Training your dog and choosing a familiar route can save you time, reduce stress, and make your hike much more manageable.

Choose Familiar Routes

Use a hiking route that you are familiar with and won’t get lost. Choosing a familiar route can make hiking much easier and enable you to focus completely on what your dog is doing and assist them in following your instructions. Acclimating your dog to hiking may overwhelm that at first, and using a familiar route means that you can focus on getting them used to the adventure.

Boykin Spaniel walking in the field
Happy Boykin Spaniel walking in the field freely!

Slowly Introduce New Routes

When trying a new hiking route, use caution and patience. Your dog may be very excitable about all the new smells and sights, but this can lead them to run off, jump on people, or instigate a fight with the wrong wildlife. Consider introducing your dog to new routes slowly and ensure that you both take your time.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Two Greater Swiss Mountain Dog walking at the park together.

Train Your Dog To Respond to Verbal Commands

Your dog will need to be responsive to verbal commands to be successful off their leash. Practice at home using treats and positive reinforcement to help your dog be more comfortable responding to verbal commands.

When your dog has mastered listening to your verbal commands in the home, they can begin practicing outside the home. This process may take time but will enable your dog to listen to you and follow instructions.

Goldendoodle training
A boy trains a Goldendoodle at the park.

Acclimate Your Dog to Various Weather Conditions

Your dog may have a thick or heavy coat, which can be uncomfortable in tropical locations. Consider going for hikes early in the morning and during the winter months. Ensure you bring plenty of water for them to drink and take breaks often.

This can help them acclimate to harsh weather conditions and enjoy their time outside.

white poodle playing in snow
A mini white Poodle, (called Annie), playing in the snow.

Ensure Your Dog Is Calm Around Others

Practice socializing your dog with other animals by taking them to dog parks and praising them if they behave kindly with other animals and humans. Use positive methods like small training treats and affection to boost positive behaviors like being calm, curious, and well-behaved.

a dog and some humans on a hike to the lake
Trip to the lake – the only thing missing? MORE DOGS

Final Thoughts

Some dog breeds do well off a leash and adore hiking with their owners. Whether you want a Retriever with an instinct to bring you sticks and pinecones or an excitable Husky who loves to run, there is a dog breed for you.

Our top 11 best off-leash dogs include those that are intensely loyal and protective. These dogs will ensure your safety and keep animals at bay without bringing harm to their family members or other humans on the hiking trail. Even small dog breeds, like the Irish Terrier, adores hiking and will spend the entire trip glued to your side.

Check your local laws to ensure that your dog can be off a leash, and practice training your dog to listen to verbal commands. When you first begin hiking with your dog, consider going to hiking routes that are familiar and won’t cause either of you to get lost.

Hiking with your furry friend can be a fun and exciting experience, as long as your dog’s breed matches your needs and is trained fully.