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Breed Selection for Adventure Dogs

There are many factors you want to evaluate when selecting a breed of dog if you’re expecting them to be an adventure dog or utilize them in a survival scenario Most factors mainly revolve around how you want to utilize them, however other factors include possible climate/weather where you live and when you usually hike/explore, available space and so on.

A word on climate, generally  speaking most dogs can acclimate to their environment fairly effectively, but some dogs are by far better for some climates than others, or may need some assistance to function in them. As will some breeds are just flat out are a bad choice for certain environments.

Any of these breeds can be general companion animals and adventure dogs as they all tend to have the energy and endurance required for it. Some may have traits or temperaments that need to be overcome if they are not something that you are not looking for in a dog. So We recommend you think about what you are wanting to do with your dog and focus on breeds with the traits that requires to give you the best outcome possible.

We are going to cover entry level breeds first, these breeds are usually easier on the first time or inexperienced dog owners and are a good place to start.

Hunting Breeds
*Make sure you are looking for working line breeders when sourcing these dogs if you plan to use them for hunting or as adventure dogs. Their are many breeders that are breeding them for companionship or looks only and attempt to breed out their hunting traits as well, their physical performance can be lesser because they may not be using that as a trait for breeding selection.

Labradors: Labs come in two varieties American and English. American tend to be larger of the two. One of the most popular sporting dogs and are great for beginners they are known to be able to remain calm even in stressful situations. Often used for therapy, assisting the blind, or as police dogs(scent-work only). They do well with children and other pets generally however they are prone to overeating and weight gain. They are adaptable to both cold and heat. Generally a flushing breed they don’t usually warn you when they find their prey but they are good at retrieving small game once it is down. Usually too friendly to be considered for security other than an alarm.

German Short Hair Pointer: GSPs Tend to be higher energy than labs and require a lot of exercise. Their shorter hair leads them to be better in warm environments than the cold. They are friendly and good with families. Evident by their name they are pointers which means they will indicate on their prey before they disturb them giving you the chance to get ready. Used both for small game and birds and in some countries big game indicating dogs, and used for scent-work by law enforcement they are a medium sized versatile breed.

*Protection training a K9 should be done by or with a reputable trainer with experience in the discipline. repeated maintenance training is required to keep them sharp and stable and can be done via training groups that are usually done with a trainer that can usually be found in most major cities.

German Shepherd Dogs: GSDs are one of the few entry level dogs that could be considered for protection. Unfortunately, due to bad breeders and non working breed standards this breed has found it self in bad shape and it is becoming increasingly hard to find good healthy working lines. Extensive breeder vetting is required before purchasing a GSD for working purposes but it can be done and they can make great family dogs as well. They are a Medium to large breed dog with moderate to high energy levels that is adaptable to most climates but better in cooler ones than hotter due to their longer hair.


Just about any breed can be used for scent work provided they have the drive for is but both the hunting and protection breeds are primarily used for this by law enforcement and the military.

mushing/load hauling

*Just about any mid to large breed dog 50-80# can carry gear and equipment for hiking. Keep in mind that you should keep the weight they carry less than about 25% of their body weight.

Newfoundland: Historically bred as a cold weather working dog. They have been used to haul carts and avalanche rescue. This breed accompanied Lewis and Clark on their expedition to the west coast. A larger breed they will require more food to maintain their weight and have a propensity for hip issues. They also will require more space to move around comfortably. How ever their larger size will allow them to carry more weight.

If you are looking for more of the sled pulling/mushing side while you could find a dog of any breed that is willing to pull but they may not want to pull the distance that is needed. Huskies how ever are bread for that and are the primary go to for anyone looking at getting into mushing or need a dog to pull a sled or cart. They do not handle the heat well and were bred for cold weather which will be a limiting factor for some. They will require extensive obedience training and still can not be 100% depended on to stay around if they are off leash. They are bred to run and when they start running they do not want to stop. They also tend to have a higher prey drive which means they can be an issue around smaller pets and live stock. They are all very high energy and can be loud, they require lots of exercise. THat being said they can make geat family dogs but you may have alot of work ahead of you to over come some of their traits if they are not what you are looking for.

Alaskan Huskies: were originally split off as a breed from Siberian huskies when they were bred with other dog breeds. They are smaller, bred for speed and long distance and primarily used for racing.

Siberian Huskies: Medium sized and the stereotypical sled dog even though they have become primarily pet dogs out side of the northern regions.

Malamutes: Large load haulers. They were primarily used for hauling freight in the far north, these dogs are bigger and slower but can pull a larger load than the other breeds.

Multi purpose

Most people are looking for breeds that can do multiple things

A word on mutts/mixed breeds/and shelter dogs:

These dogs should not be written off. Mixed dogs tend to be healthier than pure bred because their genetic pool that goes into them is more varied which naturally eliminates or lessons heath issues that build up in pure bred blood lines. Now finding a dog at a shelter will require more knowledge and experience or help from someone who does if you are looking for something more than just a companion. If you have someone who knows dogs and how to evaluate them or you do your self, you could very likely find a dog at a shelter that has the traits and abilities that you are looking for and save a dog in the process. You just have to know exactly what you are looking for as far as performance and traits(Size, temperament, drives) and possibly put appearance on the back burner, You may find the perfect dog as far as ability, he just may not look like you would expect.

ADVANCED OWNERS ONLY: These dog breeds require more experienced dog owners are not for first time/beginner dog owners. Research the breeds extensively if you fall into this category and if you can get some hands on time visiting with them first, do so, so you know exactly what you are getting into.


Catahoula Leopard Dog: CLDs were bred as working ranch/hunting dogs. They are extremely high energy, they require lots of exercise, and are better suited in situations where they have more space and a job to do. They are very weary of people outside their day in day out family and are very protective of their family, land, and house, sometimes being referred to as the Malinois of hunting dogs. They don’t like to be left alone for long and are better suited in homes with a stay at home individual or where they can go with to work. Their short coat makes them generally suited for warmer climates. Typically used for hunting hogs they can also be used to hunt birds and small game but they may not retrieve them for you.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever: CBRs are excellent at waterfowl retrieval and bred for colder environments and water. They tend to be very strong willed and require a handler that is patient with a steady consistent hand in their training to prevent bad behaviors. They have webbed feet that makes them great swimmers, as well as generally have a great ability for scent work lending them selves to search and rescue and occasionally bomb/drug work. They have a strong guarding instinct which when channeled correctly can be use full but can become in issue in multi dog house holds when it comes to dinner time or toys.


Belgian Malinois/Dutch shepherds: The go to for most Military and Law enforcement work they can range from 50 pounds up to 70 pounds on average. Extremely high energy and require extensive daily exercise and mental challenges. They are very intelligent and can pick up on their training very fast, but can also build up unwanted behavior based on unconscious cues from the handler. Consistency is a must with these dogs and we recommend working with an experienced trainer if you do not have experience training dogs. Handlers must be very deliberate in their gestures and words when working with the dogs to avoid them picking up unwanted behaviors. They can be an issue when it comes to households with small children or small animals due to their mouthiness, herding instincts and prey drive if their training is not taken seriously and or the other family members don’t know how to behave around and interact with them safely, however a well trained dog can be brought into a family effectively provided every one is on the same page as far as what to expect.

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