Look no further than your dog to find a loyal companion, always eager for an adventure.
Over the course of tens of thousands of years of domestication, humans have designed dogs to fit their lifestyles. They’ve raised working dogs to herd the flock and hounds with sensitive noses to hunt game. Yet despite all their different jobs, at the end of the day, these furry friends are content to snuggle next to you as you watch television or read a book.
To find the right dog for your adventures, it helps to know a little about dog personalities generally. Retrievers are fun, loyal and eager to please. They love the water and will fetch until your arm is ready to fall off. Sighthounds hunt prey with their speed and agility, making ideal companions for active runners. There are many outstanding dog breeds with amazing endurance, agility and personalities. Here are six great breeds for adventure seekers.
Also known as the African Lion Hound, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is native to South Africa, originally bred by Boer farmers to hunt lions. The canine’s trademark characteristic is its ridge, a strip of hair on its back that is in the opposite direction as the rest of the body’s hair. Known to “stare death in the eye and move forward” (as described by a handler in the video above), these muscular and courageous animals — considered the Navy SEALS of dogs — can run alongside horses while hunting for 30 miles thanks to their thick padded feet. Their South African origins make them suitable for difficult terrain and high temperatures.
Originally from Egypt, the Saluki is one of the oldest breeds of dogs, tracing back to the sixth millennium B.C. A sighthound, Salukis were originally bred to hunt gazelles. Independent, gentle and affectionate, these hounds are marathon runners with slower heart rates, pumping more blood and oxygen to the body, allowing them to go on longer. Salukis have long, slender frames and, like the Greyhound, have a double-suspension gallop, running so fast that all four legs are off the ground at the same time. While they make good running companions, it’s important not to leave them unattended. Their love of speed makes them prone to car accidents.
The Weimaraner is a muscular dog, originally bred in Germany to hunt large game, including deer, boars, and bears. Their iconic silver coats, and their eyes — blue at birth, eventually turning amber — give them the nickname “the gray ghost.” Photographer William Wegman brought the breed to the spotlight with his photographs, and his dogs have made cameos on shows such as “Sesame Street” and “Saturday Night Live.” Their keen sense of smell — half of their brain is devoted to the sense — and endurance make them great hunting companions. But their incredible stamina and love to play often wear out their owners.
The smallest of retrievers, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever originated from Canada and was bred for its love of water, ideal for hunting ducks and geese. These high-energy dogs resemble foxes with their white markings and fluffy tails. They get their name from their tails, which toll, or lure, waterfowl into shooting range. After the game is shot, the Toller retrieves it for the hunter. Described as intelligent, alert, and outgoing, these dogs are fun hunting, hiking, and swimming buddies. Like other retriever breeds, such as Goldens and Labradors, the Toller is playful and will readily run into a lake to catch a ball — over and over again.
If you’re looking for a hearty dog, this is it. The Bernese Mountain Dog, nicknamed Berners, were bred to pull carts, handy when on a farm. But they can tow much more than just farm supplies. They’re capable of pulling 1,000 pounds, or 10 times their body weight. One large Berner reportedly pulled 2,200 pounds, about the weight of a car. Imagine hiking with a dog that can tow you on a cart when you’re worn out. These dogs are muscular. Standing roughly the same height as a Labrador at about 23 to 28 inches, the Bernese Mountain Dog weighs about 30 percent more at 90 to 120 pounds. Originally from the Canton of Bern in Switzerland, Berners have long silky coats capable of withstanding cold temperatures. Affectionate and intelligent, these sometimes shy dogs are great outdoors and well behaved at home.
The Alaskan Malamute knows how to tough it in harsh snowy terrain, able to endure temperatures dropping 70 degrees below zero. As sled dogs, these animals are also used to pulling humans in a number of sports, including skijoring (where a person on skis is pulled by a horse or dogs), bikejoring (a person riding a bicycle is pulled by dogs) and canicross (cross-country running while hitched to a dog). While bigger and slower than the Siberian Husky, the Malamute can pull heavier sleds for longer periods. They have broad pads on their paws acting like snow shoes, and their bear-like claws allow them to grip onto the ice without problem. Look no further than the Malamute for a strong, adventurous dog that can bear the cold.
When looking for a canine friend, it’s important to do your research and have an idea of characteristics you want. But realize breeds don’t tell the whole story. Like people, canine personalities vary, and it’s important theirs complements yours. To properly train dogs, find a dog whose energy level isn’t much higher than yours. Take some time and get to know prospective pooches before taking them home.
Loyal, courageous and adventurous — it’s no wonder dogs are man’s best friend.
Image: Edelman ~ p h o t o g r a p h y/Creative Commons
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