Are Dalmatians Good Hiking Dogs? (Pros and Cons)


Dalmatians are a unique breed of dogs that are known primarily for working alongside firefighters. They also became popular after they appeared in the Disney movie, 101 Dalmatians. But these spotted dogs are so much more than their one of a kind coat.

If you have a Dalmatian or are considering one, you might be wondering if they would do well with someone who has an active, outdoor lifestyle.

Are Dalmatians good hiking dogs?

Overall, the positive characteristics of Dalmatians far outweigh any possible negative ones. In general, this breed of dog would make an excellent hiking companion.  With their quiet yet friendly personality and boundless energy, they are sure to make your time on the trail much more enjoyable.

What Makes a Good Hiking Dog?

To answer this question, let’s look at the characteristics needed in a dog that causes hiking together to be a positive experience.  The best breeds of dog for hiking are those that are medium-sized or larger.  They should be large enough to easily hike on trails and have legs long enough to step over obstacles such as rocks, tree branches, and other debris.

Smaller dogs with shorter legs can easily get worn out quickly.  If you plan to hike for several miles, you’ll want a canine companion that can keep up and won’t need to be carried back home.

Dogs should also be able to safely exercise without getting out of breath or having trouble breathing.  Breeds with flat faces or short noses such as pugs or bulldogs are not suited for a lot of exercises because it can be dangerous for them.

Regardless of breed, age plays a big factor in whether or not a certain dog will be good to take with you hiking.  Young dogs under one year of age should not be taken hiking because it could be too strenuous on their still-developing bodies.

Some dogs’ bones and joints don’t mature until they are at least two years old, so intense periods of exercise could have long-lasting damage.  The same is true for older dogs that are slowing down or experiencing pain in their joints.  It’s best to keep them at home or only take them on short walks on trails that are not particularly strenuous.

Positive Characteristics of Dalmatians

As a breed, Dalmatians usually have a medium to large build.  Both male and female Dalmatians have a weight range of 45 to 60 pounds and stand around 20 inches tall at the withers.

Their size makes them good for hiking because their long legs can run and jump easily.  Dalmatians can easily navigate a trail and will do well spending a lot of time outdoors.

Their signature fur is white with black spots.  When they are born, baby Dalmatians are white and their spots develop and darken over time, usually in a few weeks.  Their short coat also makes them good hiking dogs because they don’t need a lot of grooming or maintenance.

If they go off the trail and get into burrs or thistles, it will be easy to clean their fur and pick any sticky foliage off.  The same goes for dogs that like to roll in the dirt and mud.  With short fur, you can easily clean them and they will also dry quickly.

Short fur also means they will stay cooler even if they exert themselves a lot.  A longer coat can cause some dogs to overheat while hiking, especially on a warm summer day.  But Dalmatians will keep relatively cool even while doing vigorous exercise.  Still, make sure to provide your dog with plenty of water anytime you are out hiking together.

One of the best reasons to consider a Dalmatian for hiking is their need for vigorous exercise. This breed of dog is very energetic and usually needs more than half an hour of exercise every day.  In fact, if they don’t get enough exercise, they can get bored and start to engage in destructive behaviors.  To keep them happy, this athletic type of dog will need to go on walks, runs, or hikes on a regular basis.

Such a strong need for exercise can give you the extra push you need to get outdoors and go for a hike.  If you’re already very active, having a dog that can keep up with you will make your own excursions into nature that much more enjoyable.

Dalmatians are also known for having strong endurance which is ideal for long hikes or backpacking for several days at a time.  They will be full of energy and ready to go again the next day after a night of rest.  Not only that, but they love being outdoors and on the trail, so hiking provides a great outlet for all their pent up energy.

When it comes to their personality, most Dalmatians are quite calm in demeanor. They are often friendly and will not bark a lot.  This makes them polite when hiking on trails that are heavily populated.  You won’t have to worry about them barking or getting aggressive with other people or dogs on the trail.

Being out in the woods or mountains means you and your Dalmatian could encounter wildlife along the way.  While you should observe leash rules whenever hiking with your dog, it’s important to note that Dalmatians have a generally low prey drive.

This means they aren’t very likely to dart off after every animal they see, whether it be a squirrel, deer, or something even bigger.  This relaxed nature means they will remain calm in the presence of animals which is important if you have a dangerous encounter where a barking, aggressive dog could make the situation worse.

Dalmatians also don’t have a lot of serious health problems that would prevent them from hiking or exercising a lot.  They don’t have many joint problems although some are affected by hip dysplasia.  However, this percentage is quite small and is often exacerbated when a dog is overweight.

Negative Characteristics of Dalmatians

Because Dalmatians do have a slender build and shorter hair, there is a chance they could actually get too cold while out hiking in cooler temperatures.  This is one of the reasons a Dalmatian could be a slightly less ideal hiking dog.  But you can easily find a jacket for your dog or simply opt to hike in temperate conditions.

Although Dalmatians have a short coat, they shed constantly and heavily.  This requires owners to frequently brush their short, dense coat to try to control shedding. In some situations, while hiking, this could be problematic.

You may need to clean your camping gear more often to remove all the excess dog hair. If you are bothered by dog hair on your clothes, you might not be able to wear an outfit as many times while backpacking.

Although their energy would be considered a positive thing for most hikers, families who will be hiking with young children might find it to be quite overwhelming.  In fact, families with young or small children are often cautioned against getting Dalmatians because they can be too energetic.

Dalmatians are very smart dogs. However, they do have a reputation for being difficult to train. If your dog, in particular, is not trained, this could be a hindrance on the trail.  Dogs that are well-behaved do well on trails and should come when called to ensure their safety.

However, if your dog is well-behaved and has already been trained, then this shouldn’t be a problem.  In fact, they can be an asset because their intelligence means they make good watchdogs and could even protect or defend you against dangerous animals.

About 30 percent of Dalmatians experience hearing problems, including being completely deaf or have hearing in only one ear. If your dog is hard of hearing, they can still go hiking but extra precautions might need to be taken.

Make sure to leash them so they don’t run off and then fail to hear you when you call them. You might want to bring a whistle that makes a more shrill sound that they will be able to hear. If you want to rely on your dog for protection, it’s best to seek an alternate method if your dog has difficulty with its hearing.

Dalmatians Are Good Hiking Dogs

Overall, the positive characteristics of Dalmatians far outweigh any possible negative ones. In general, this breed of dog would make an excellent hiking companion.  With their quiet yet friendly personality and boundless energy, they are sure to make your time on the trail much more enjoyable.

But before you hit the trail with your Dalmatian, make sure they are fully updated on all their vaccinations.  Put your contact information on their collar or make sure their microchip is also updated.

Dogs that will be on the trail should always be in good health without any open wounds that could get infected.  Always examine your dog for fleas and ticks when you’re finished hiking to make sure they don’t get out of control.

Remember to bring plenty of food and water for your dog, including a portable or collapsible bowl so they can drink easier.  You may also want to bring a doggy first aid kit that has basic materials such as bandages, disinfectants, and other medications your dog may need.

Once you know your dog is in good health, there’s nothing to stop you from hitting the trail and going for miles on end.  Your Dalmatian will enjoy accompanying you out into nature and can easily keep up for you for as long as you want to hike.

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Rickie Arms

Hi, I'm Rickie Arms, owner of Glampingorcamping.com. I am so invested in writing the best and most informative articles for you that I went out and bought a travel trailer just so I could write about it for you. I spend just about all of my off time both camping and glamping so I can share everything I have learned and will learn with you. I have spent my whole life camping and over the last 10 years, I have spent a large amount of time checking out glamping experiences with my wife and kids as well. Thank you for coming by and we hope to see you back here getting great information in the future. Rick Arms-

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