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Are Golden Retrievers Good Hiking Dogs?

Are Golden Retrievers Good Hiking Dogs?

Golden Retrievers are loyal and loving family dogs, which is why they are such a popular dog breed in the United States. These active dogs make great adventure partners, but how would they cope on strenuous hikes?

In this article, we will explore the answer to that question and see exactly why Golden Retrievers are such great hiking dogs before you hit the mountains with your pup.

Is a Golden Retriever a Good Hiking Partner? 

Golden Retrievers are incredibly versatile dogs. They make great service dogs and therapy dogs, brilliant family companions, and are just a real joy to be around.

As an added bonus, they are excellent hiking dogs too!

Here are some of the main reasons why Golden Retrievers make such great hiking dogs.

They have lots of energy and stamina

These energetic dogs can easily keep up with you when you are walking long distances. They are high-energy dogs with lots of stamina, which means they will not tire easily.

These properties, coupled with their trainability and need to be close to their humans, make them great hiking companions, especially for long hikes or multi-day backpacking trips in the mountains.

They love swimming

Golden Retrievers are excellent water dogs with a strong affinity for swimming. Not only do they love it, but they are really good at it as well. If your hiking trails involve river crossings or skirting the shores of a lake, then your Golden Retriever is the perfect partner to have by your side!

They are eager to please

Golden Retrievers love pleasing their families. This inherent property means they are one of the easiest dog breeds to train. Their love for their owners also means that they want to stick by your side. This makes them good hiking dogs, as they will stay close, even on difficult trails.

They have strong paws

Golden Retrievers have strong paws that were specifically bred into the breed to make them strong swimmers. But your dog’s paws are for more than just swimming! The strong paws of your Golden Retriever mean that they can also withstand running across tough terrain.

Golden Retrievers’ paws are also larger than many other breeds. This means they have a lot more traction when clambering over rocks during your hike.

And if you are scared of your dog’s paws getting injured on ragged stones or thorns, you can always invest in some dog boots for long hikes.

They can carry a load

Your Golden may look all fluffy and cuddly, but under that double coat is a muscular body. This means that you can strap them into a harness with bags, and your dog can easily carry a small load, like excess food and water, while on the hike.

Golden Retrievers vs. Other Dogs as Hiking Companions

So we have answered the question, “Are Golden Retrievers good hiking dogs?” but how do they compare to other breeds? 

Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Australian Cattle dogs are all known to have a similar temperament to Golden Retrievers. They are high-energy dogs with high intelligence and brilliant trainability. This makes them great hiking companions as well. Any working dog breed that is loyal to its owners will enjoy going on hikes.

It is worth noting that smaller dog breeds – although they may have high energy levels – are not the best hiking partners, especially for long hikes.

Other big breeds, like Great Danes or Saint Bernards, are also not competent hikers as they can be clumsy on rough terrain and lack the agility of Golden Retrievers.

In the end, the ideal hiking dogs are the dogs that meet the requirements of their owners. Each dog is unique, and you might even stumble across a laid-back Golden Retriever who hates going on hikes!

Preparing Golden Retrievers For Hikes

We know Golden Retrievers are good hiking dogs, but you can’t just load your dog in the car and head into the mountains. There are a few steps you need to take to properly prepare your Golden for any duration of hike:

  • Ensure your dog is in good health. Dogs with health issues should not go on long walks away from home. Before taking your dog on a hike, also make sure it is up to date on all its vaccinations. If necessary, take them for a vet check-up prior to any long hikes.
  • Gradually increase your dog’s exercise level until it is fit enough to go hiking on some tougher trails. If your dog is not used to hiking, it will suffer immensely. Slowly build up their stamina until they can enjoy a hike with you. This will also reduce the risk of injury.
  • Get a good pair of hiking boots for your pup. Even with naturally tough paws, they can still get hurt on rough terrain. The boots will help to protect their paws from any cuts or abrasions.
  • Get your dog used to safety gear. If your dog is not used to a harness, backpack, or any other safety gear, start getting them used to the gear before going on the hike. Start by letting them wear the gear at home or on short walks. This way, they will be much more comfortable during the hike.
  • Make sure to bring along enough water and food, as well as any other essentials. These essentials include a first-aid kit, poop bags, and extra water if you are not hiking near any water bodies.
  • Practice basic obedience training. Your dog should be well-trained before you hit the trails, especially if you plan on letting your dog run free. Golden Retrievers are intelligent and easy to train, but they may dash off after a critter. Refresh their basic obedience training by practicing “stay,” “come,” “heel,” and “sit.”
  • Learn trail etiquette. Humans and dogs should all follow the “leave no trace” rule. Make sure to always have poopy bags with you, and double bag their poos so that you don’t risk leakage. If your trip is longer than a day and there are no dustbins on the trail, you can bury the poos in 6-8 inch deep holes, away from any water resources.

With just a little preparation and forward planning, your Golden will be the perfect hiking partner.

Hiking with your dog is a brilliant bonding experience, but you want your dog to feel comfortable on its first hike.

Before you set out, also make sure to check the trail regulations to double-check check your dog is welcome on the trail, especially on long-distance hikes where you may not be able to return home quickly.

What Should I Pack For a Hike With My Dog?

Hiking with your dog is a wholesome adventure, but you will have to pack the necessary items to ensure both you and your pup have an enjoyable experience.

Here is a list of items that you should consider packing for your hike:

  • Food and water: Bring along treats and snacks, like jerky or protein bars for dogs. Bring along extra water bottles and a collapsible water bowl.
  • First aid kit: Your first aid kit should contain tweezers, gauze, bandages, and alcohol to clean any wounds.
  • Medication: If your dog is on any medication, bring enough along for the duration of the hike, as well as some extra in case you get stuck.
  • Leash: Even if you plan on letting your pet run off-leash, always have a leash and harness on hand. Having control over your dog will keep it safe.
  • Poop bags: No one enjoys stepping in poop, and it is up to you to clean up after your dog. Bring some hand sanitizer for yourself or even gloves!
  • Protective gear: If the trail crosses over some tough terrain or sharp rocks, consider bringing along some booties or paw wax to protect your dog’s paws. If large parts of the trail are in direct sunshine, pack a cooling vest or cooling collar, or a wet towel to cool down your dog.
  • ID tags: Keep your dog’s collar or harness with ID tags on your dog at all times. Make sure the tags have up-to-date contact information. You should also microchip your dog if you plan on hiking often.
  • Towel and brush: Bring a brush and towel to dry and groom your dog after a swim or a romp in some mud. This will prevent their fur from matting and pulling at the skin.

How Often Should I Take a Golden Retriever Hiking? 

How often Golden Retrievers should go hiking depends on several factors. Of course, these dogs love exploring the outdoors from a very young age, but it is up to you to keep your dog safe (more safety tips below).

The frequency of taking your dog hiking will depend on your dog’s age, health, and fitness level.


Puppies are still growing and should not be taken on long walks or hikes. Pups do require daily exercise, but they should only be let out for 10 to 15 minutes each day while they are still growing.

From around 6 months of age, you can begin walking your Golden for longer periods of time.

Young Golden Retrievers (around 1 year and older) have plenty of energy, and this age is the best for taking your dogs hiking.

When Golden Retrievers get older (it depends on the individual dog, but generally from 8 years), they can develop joint problems, which can influence their hiking abilities.

It is best to always consult with your vet before taking your young or old dogs for long hikes.


Golden Retrievers with health problems should not be taken out on strenuous hikes. This can possibly worsen their condition or, in some instances, lead to a costly operation or even death.

Always consult with your veterinary practitioner if your dog has known health complications. It might be best to just toss your sickly pup a ball in the backyard!

Fitness level

Golden Retrievers that are not used to hiking should not simply be released onto the trails. This can lead to severe injuries.

It is best to slowly build up your pup’s fitness level by starting with short walks around the neighborhood. Gradually increase the frequency and duration of the walks until your dog is fit enough to go for a short hike.

Judge how your dog is coping with a shorter hike, and either spend some time further improving its fitness level or move on to longer hikes.

Safety Tips When Hiking With a Golden Retriever

Hiking with your pup is a really fun and rewarding experience for both of you!

However, it is not always all fun and games on a hiking trail. It is important to keep safety precautions in mind when hitting the trails with your best friend.

Below are some safety tips to keep in mind when hiking with Golden Retrievers.

When shouldn’t I take my dog hiking? 

There are certain situations when it is not safe to go hiking with your dog. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Extreme temperatures: Weather conditions are not always perfect for hiking. When it is too hot or too cold, it can be dangerous to take your pup for a hike. High temperatures can cause overheating or heat stroke, while cold temperatures and snowy conditions can cause hypothermia. Always check the weather forecast before you go for a hike.
  • Rough terrain: If your planned trail has rocky parts, steep inclines, or is generally just a tough or challenging terrain, then it might not be very safe for your dog. Always choose a trail that matches the fitness level and abilities of your dog.
  • Injury or illness: Do not take your dog for a hike (or even a long walk) if it is still recovering from an illness or injury. Rather wait until your dog is completely recovered before heading out on an adventure.

How far can my dog hike?

Golden Retrievers are well-known to be active and energetic dogs. But it is important to remember that every individual dog is different and has its own limitations.

The distance your dog can hike will depend on its age and fitness level. It is best to always start on shorter hikes and gradually increase the distance and frequency of the hikes.

If you notice your dog is becoming tired or uncomfortable, it is best to either stop for a while to rest or turn back home.

To gauge how well your dog is performing on a hike, observe their body language and pace. If your dog is panting heavily, slowing down, or starting to lag behind, they need a break and some water.

Vets will be able to provide you with information on how far your dog can hike.

Generally speaking, Golden Retrievers can hike around 5 to 10 miles if they are fit, but again this will depend on the individual dog.

Other safety precautions during hiking

Always keep these safety tips in mind while hiking with your furry friend:

  • Keep an eye out for heat stroke. If your dog is excessively panting or sweating through their pads, it is time to relax and take a break. Let your dog lie down in a shaded area and give them some water until their panting slows down.
  • Don’t overdo it. Whether it is your dog’s first or 100th hike, don’t walk too fast or too long without stopping. Always check on your dog. Notice whether they are limping or panting or whether their heart rate is too high. If you notice any of these things, it is time to stop, return home, or continue on tomorrow.
  • If there is dangerous wildlife in the area, like bears or coyotes, it is best to keep your dog leashed during the hike.
  • Some dogs love snacking as they walk, and wild plants make a fun nibble along the way. But, these plants can be poisonous, so it is best to stop your dog from licking or eating any wild plants on the trail.
  • Avoid Foxtails in grassy areas. If foxtails do get on your dog, immediately remove them with a pair of tweezers. Foxtails can be fatal, so if you notice any sneezing, head shaking, or discharge from the eyes, immediately turn around and take your dog to the vet.
  • Make sure to pack tick repellant or treat your dogs for fleas and ticks before heading out on your hike.

Is it Healthy for a Golden Retriever to Go On Hikes?

 Having answered the question “are Golden Retrievers good hiking dogs?” we now need to turn our attention to another question: is hiking actually good for Golden Retrievers?

The short answer: yes!

Hiking is a brilliant form of exercise for both you and your pup. It allows Golden Retrievers to burn off a lot of energy while also mentally stimulating them.

Golden Retrievers need frequent exercise and plenty of fresh air to live a healthy and happy life, and hiking is one way to achieve that. Hiking provides a much-needed change of scenery and mentally stimulates your dog by allowing them to explore new environments and smells.

Physically, hiking enables your dog to build muscle, strengthen joints and retain a healthy weight. It also improves their cardiovascular system, which can prolong their lifespan.

Mentally, it curbs boredom, and they can get social interaction when they run into other hikers on the trail.

Hiking does have a dark side, though. There can be potential hazards on the trail. Snakes, wild animals, and uneven terrain can pose a threat to your Golden, so always be prepared with a snake bite kit, first aid kit, and the emergency number of your vet.

Learn More About Golden Retrievers with Barks In The Park

Do you have any more questions about Golden Retrievers that you want answered? Or are you curious about any other dogs? Barksinthepark has all the answers you need!

Whether you are setting out to get a new puppy and want to research different breeds, volunteer at your local dog shelter and want to know more, or simply want a fun read about dogs, Barks In The Park is the number 1 resource for all things dog!


Are Golden Retrievers water dogs?

Golden Retrievers are excellent swimmers and love being in the water. This makes them brilliant hiking partners, especially on trails with water crossings or water bodies nearby.

Goldens were originally bred to retrieve game from land and water environments and would have to swim to fetch ducks and other waterfowl. Their webbed paws, double coat, and strong body make them excellent swimmers.

Are Golden Retrievers adventurous?

Their natural eagerness to please, as well as their loyalty, makes Golden Retrievers ideal adventure buddies. They will love hiking, camping, and swimming – as long as they can be by your side!

Are Golden Retrievers the best dogs for hiking?

Although Goldens love going on outdoor adventures, there are plenty of dogs that are great hiking companions. Working dogs, like Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Huskies, Vizlas, and Pointers, are all great adventure partners and will love joining you on a hike!

How far is too far for a dog to hike?

A medium to large dog with a healthy fitness level should be able to hike 5 to 10 miles without problems. With proper training and gradually increasing the hiking distance, fit dogs can hike up to 20 miles. However, when it comes to 30 miles, you may be pushing the limits of your dog’s abilities (and your own!).

Final Thoughts

So, are Golden Retrievers good hiking dogs? We can say with certainty they sure are!

Not only do they love adventures with their families, but they are also naturally fit and energetic. This makes them the perfect hiking partner.

Each dog is different, and you need to ensure your dog is fit enough to tackle the trails. But once you get your dog out there and enjoying the mountains, you will have a devoted hiking partner for life.