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Backpacking w/ dog?
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Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: Re: re: ocd in herding dogs on 03/21/2007 17:13:38 MDT Print View

OK, that certainly ain't a kelpie. Never seen one of those in Aus before, thats for sure!

If that was an Australian working dog it would get so dirty and full of burrs, grass seeds and prickles as to be useless.

Am wondering what people's thoughts are as to maintaining coats like that?

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Backpacking w/ dog? on 03/22/2007 10:02:19 MDT Print View

>>Are there other breeds of dogs that I should look into?<<

Uhmmm.... The lightest one?

Sorry couldn't resist


Joshua Gilbert
(joshcgil2) - F

Locale: Seattle
Austrailian shepherds on 03/22/2007 11:10:53 MDT Print View

So, the wikipedia article that steve posted didn't quite get the origins of this breed right. They aren't californian, as it says, but rather the descendents of basque herding dogs. I think that when large groups of basques emigrated to Austrailia, they brought these dogs with them to work on sheep ranches, and from there came to north america. I was in northern spain last year and saw a bunch of what we call "austrailian" shepherds working sheep and cattle in picos de europa national park.

As for the coat, they are kind of like huskies, in that they have a coarse outer coat that is very weather resistant, and a soft inner coat. They definitly get matted up, and you have to brush them occasionally if you don't want them to drop big clumps of hair on the rug. Overall though, their coat doesn't give them any problems, and I've seen them on cattle ranches. They don't look as good, but they are still highly functional.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Re: Backpacking w/ dog? on 03/22/2007 11:11:29 MDT Print View

>>Uhmmm.... The lightest one?<<

I'd say the opposite, get a large one and have him carry a portion of your gear :). Since you aren't carrying it (hopefully) weight doesn't matter a whole lot.
Or you could just bring a pack mule, or better yet a mountain goat as they can go a lot more places.


Diana L
(mysticmoose) - F

Locale: Great Lakes region
Re: Backpacking w/ dog? on 03/25/2007 08:48:37 MDT Print View

I also support the idea of a herding dog as a trail dog. I have a German Shepherd mixed with maybe husky or akita (I got him at the shelter), and he's a great trail companion. He loved the pack right away, and he definitely has the energy to keep going, and going, and going. With proper conditioning, I'm certain your dog could keep up with you.

You'll also need to do some conditioning to get him used to the weight. My dog carried 7 lbs on his last trip with very little training beforehand. That was a bit under 10% of his bodyweight. He didn't seem bothered by it at all, though he was happy to just lay around once we got into camp. When we stopped for breaks, he never shied away from the backpack, though.

Be aware that if you get a German Shepherd, he/she will most likely be very protective and that will increase on the trail. My dog is pretty quiet, but he will bark to let me know someone is near our camp. He's friendly to strangers on the trail, but once in camp, he goes into guard-dog mode. Also be aware that people you meet may be nervous around dogs they perceive as dangerous.

As far as trail etiquitte, I've trained my dog to stay behind me on the trail. He will occasionally wander a bit to investigate, but he knows that when he's wearing his pack he needs to stay close. I keep him leashed if I'm likely to encounter others, mostly for their peace of mind.

Hiking with a dog can be very rewarding, but make sure your dog is well-trained. That alone can spell the difference between a great trip and disaster.

MRT - August 25-29 044

Edited by mysticmoose on 03/25/2007 08:51:47 MDT.

William Finch
(sekihiker) - F

Locale: Kings Canyon/Sequoia
breed preference on 04/05/2007 10:50:20 MDT Print View

I prefer to hike with my Yorkie, Beans. She weighs just six pounds so it's no big deal if I have to carry her some of the time. She stays nearby and can climb as well as if not better than I can. She is not yappy and doesn't chase wildlife. She eats very little and never complains. Her feet get a little swollen now and then and I just carry her. She does well at water crossings if it's not too deep.

Check out her short bio and a photo at:

J Bailey
(jbaile38) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Thank You All For The Advice...Here's my Dog on 04/18/2007 12:01:44 MDT Print View

I really appreciate everyone's input, it helped immensley. I'd been watching the Colorado shelters and adoption networks looking for a suitable dog to bring hiking for long distances. I also consulted with a vet who was of great help.

I finally brought home Maggie, a 1.5 year old female German Shepherd mix. She's allready been out on some trails across the front range for some short day hikes, no longer than an hour and a half. She loved it.

I've started building her stamina and the toughness of her pads, as well as her obedience training: we're enrolled in a three month class.

I just ordered her pack and some booties, the vet helped me choose suitable equipment, also a light insulating layer, something warm to sleep on and other misc. small stuff. In short, we're heading towards taking overnight trips in late may when some of the snow is starting to recede.

I don't always tie her up outside like that, she just would not hold still to take a picture.

Thanks Again


Edited by jbaile38 on 04/18/2007 12:03:28 MDT.

Diana L
(mysticmoose) - F

Locale: Great Lakes region
Re: Thank You All For The Advice...Here's my Dog on 04/19/2007 06:37:52 MDT Print View

You found a beautiful dog... May you have many happy hikes together :)

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Thank You All For The Advice...Here's my Dog on 04/19/2007 09:24:46 MDT Print View

Congrats on your new hiking partner :)

Kevin Stephens
(KyKevin) - F

Locale: Land of Arches
.. on 06/15/2007 03:25:31 MDT Print View

I hike with my Lwellin Setter and wouldnt tradde a minute of it for anything.........after all nice to have him point the grouse out before I step on them and have a heart attack :)

adam brenner
( - MLife

Locale: Olympics and Cascades
A vote for smaller breeds on 03/16/2009 09:58:34 MDT Print View

We have two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (about 15 lbs. each). I find them to be great multi-day hikers, where I am hiking 10-15 miles a day. On snow they tend to float on top and not post-hole. They can climb most stuff and when it gets too steep, it's real easy to carry them with the Ruff wear 5 point harness. We've belayed them down a 40 foot ladder. I can fit the two of them in my 2 person tent with lots of room to spare. When we get cold, my wife and I each can take one in our sleeping bag as an instant heater. People on the trail are less freaked out by their being off leash.

Elliott Non-Disclosed
(Snowboarda42) - F
ACD on 04/03/2009 18:04:38 MDT Print View

Australian Cattle Dog gets my vote too.Roo

David Lewis-Gever
(dgever) - F - MLife

Locale: Brooklyn
Best Breed For Hiking on 04/06/2009 21:35:53 MDT Print View

I have seen this discussed alot both here and on whiteblaze, and have been surprised that no one has suggested the Rhodesian Ridgeback. This is a link to short video about them
Some of the amazing features for hiking
1)The most thickly padded paws of any dog breed
2)bred to go 24 hours with out food and water
3)Able to run 30 miles with a hoarse
4)Immune to insect bites
5)Tick repellent coat
6)Resistant to both hot and cold temps
7)They also ignore strangers so for those of you that don't like dogs on the trail don't worry

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Backpacking w/ dog? on 04/06/2009 22:02:39 MDT Print View

Rhodesians are cool dogs. They will ignore people, but they'll sure watch them. My favorite breed to hike with -

Backside of El Capitan, Texas

Doesn't mind as well as most of the breeds listed though; can be whiney, and is expensive.

Edited by skinewmexico on 04/06/2009 22:04:10 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Backpacking w/ dog? on 04/07/2009 00:51:01 MDT Print View

The breed doesn't matter nearly as much as extensive training and socialization! The obedience classes will train you in how to train your dog. I was shocked at some of the things I'd been doing wrong of which I was completely unaware but which the instructor spotted immediately. It's usually expected that each class level will need to be repeated at least twice--the first time to train you and the second time to train your dog. The class situation also trains your dog to work in the presence of distractions (like other people and dogs). I spent a lot of money training my dog (Lab/Golden cross) and it was worth every penny. You might consider a beginning agility course later on. By the time your dog has learned to go through tunnels and over teeter-totters, she won't be scared of hazards you'll encounter out in the mountains.

Please remember that larger dogs like German Shepherds, Labs and Goldens tend to have sensitive joints (all these breeds are prone to hip dysplasia) and don't become fully mature until two years old. Hold off on more than very light packs and really long hikes until then. Your conditioning program sounds excellent; just don't rush it too much.

Maggie is a beautiful dog--may you enjoy hiking with her for many years to come!

A few other things I've learned: Crate training helps produce a dog that will lie quietly in the tent. The dog learns to regard the crate as a place of refuge and transfers this to the tent. Taking along a comb and combing the dog's hair at bedtime not only reduces the amount of loose dog hair (my dog sheds constantly) but removes any creepy crawlies, like ticks, that may be crawling around. Frontline or K9Advantix kills ticks but not until after they bite, so there could be quite a few on your dog's fur. It's a good idea to do this after spring dayhikes, too, before you put the dog in the car to go home, to prevent arachnid hitchhikers. Besides, most dogs enjoy being groomed, so it's a chance to bond. Always make the dog "Wait" before going out the door (at home or in the tent). While mad dashes after an escaping dog may amuse your neighbors, it's better to teach the dog always to let you go first.

Edited by hikinggranny on 04/07/2009 00:58:58 MDT.

Michael Landman
(malndman) - F

Locale: Central NC, USA
Re: Backpacking w/ dog? on 04/07/2009 09:46:43 MDT Print View

I hiked with my Wolf/Husky/Malamute cross (1/2 Husky). He could go all day at a much faster pace than I. He would lope at 5 or 6 mph, and could do this non-stop. It was a bit confusing for folks to see a "Coyote" with a dog pack on. He also munched on small rodents he cought for snacks on the trail.

Amy Reid
(marmot8) - MLife

Locale: central Sierra
Training Training Training on 04/07/2009 12:18:45 MDT Print View

Kodi - Sunrise DW

Mary is right. Breed isn't as important as conditioning, training and being a responsible handler.

Knowing that you're going want to take your dog in the back country is the first in a line of considerations for selection. Temperament, agility, and size will be important for how you'll live day to day with your dog. Working dogs, from Samoyeds, Malamutes and Huskys to Border Collies, Kelpies and Aussies (and everything in between) are excellent for packing and can be great family dogs. The working breeds are numerous. They need lots of attention, exercise and thrive on having 'jobs'. They may or may not fit into the rest of your lifestyle. But on the packing side, the larger the dog, the more food they'll need.

Whether you choose a working breed, a sporting breed or an Evolution Dog (aka Mutt), training will make the difference in your (and others') experiences on the trail. Start early and be diligent with obedience training. Find a good professional trainer to help teach you to be a good handler. DON'T work the dog off-lead until its REALLY ready. Be patient. The rewards will be worth the work.

If you plan on having your pup carry a pack, get it early, but don't put any weight in it until they're a year old. You can start before then with just paper in the pack to let them get used to it. They can carry 1/4 their own weight, but shouldn't carry any until they're 12 mo. old. Wolf packs makes some great packs designed for working dogs ( but there are lots of companies that make them. I've had a WP Bandito for my dog since she was about 6 months old. After 4 years of use in the Sierra high country and foothills (read granite & brush) it shows little wear & tear.

Toughening up pads can be harder than it seems. I run mine on pavement next to my bike and she's still gotten tender hiking long periods on granite in the high country. Consider having your pup carry a set of MuttLuks ( or other boots in their pack just in case. (If your pup has dewclaws, check that the strap for the boots doesn't run across the dewclaw, this can cause irritation or a wound.) I helped some people extract their 115# Rottweiler out of the wilderness with a bad case of couch paw once and would hate for any dog to go through that. (This is another good reason to consider size). The pup's pack should also include some basic first aid.

Most importantly, take every opportunity to expose your puppy to new places, new dogs, new people, different situations. Socialize them early and often.

Be responsible on the trail. In areas of heavy use, observe leash regulations, even if you believe your dog is well behaved and can handle being off lead. Sometimes its a drag. While working as a wilderness ranger in a heavy use area, I was charged multiple times by dogs off-lead in an area where leashes were required. In every case the owners swore the dog was a 'nice dog' etc. etc. Even 'nice' dogs will get protective in strange situations with strange people and unfamiliar territory.

Good luck!
Kodi - Sunset SL

Edited by marmot8 on 04/07/2009 12:20:48 MDT.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: Re: Backpacking w/ dog? on 04/07/2009 13:47:42 MDT Print View

Adding post to: "Backpacking w/ dog?"

Re: Backpacking w/ dog? Posted 03/22/2007 10:02:19 MDT by Einstein X (EinsteinX)

>>Are there other breeds of dogs that I should look into?<<

Uhmmm.... The lightest one?

Sorry couldn't resist


Like this?

Ours is 24" at the shoulder and weighs 29 lbs.

Very light on his feet.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Backpacking w/ dog? on 04/08/2009 15:16:50 MDT Print View

"Uhmmm.... The lightest one?"


Helix: 9lbs...helix

Size really doesn't seem to matter to him, although occassionally we have to carry him over some tricky bits. And that's one of the nice things about a small dog-they are easy to 'extract' or otherwise assist because you can easily carry them. He too can go all day without tiring, and his pads are now well seasoned.

We used to have a ridgeback. Nice dogs!

Bill Reynolds
(billreyn1) - M

Locale: North East Georgia Mountains
Backpacking dog on 04/08/2009 15:40:47 MDT Print View

This old guy has put in a lot of miles with me and is a great hiking companion. I hope he and I both finally get to do our thru of the AT in 2010. He is an 80 lb Flat Coat retriever named "Yonah" which means Black Bear in Cherokee.Yonah