Good dog breeds for hiking

I am a land surveyor in Alaska, so I spend most days in the woods, and when I’m not working I am usually playing outside one way or the other. Either way, my dog comes with me if at all possible.

I think any well-trained dog makes a suitable hiking companion, but I own a five-year old Saint Bernard named Lita. Not an obvious candidate for a good hiking breed to some, perhaps, but Lita has turned out to be a great choice for me.

Female Saint Bernard’s were considered by the early European monks who raised them to be ‘too soft’ to be rescue dogs, whereas the males would often go out alone on searches that could last three or four days. This may lead to the impression that while male Saints have an advantage over their female counterparts, but in my experience, both can handle themselves in the wilderness very well.

I’ve taken Lita on countless hikes over where we cover over twenty miles in a day, and never had a problem. More often we travel shorter distances, but endurance is never an issue. She is friendly, so meeting other people or dogs is rarely a problem, and if it is, she is obedient enough to come to me immediately. This latter trait is also handy when we encounter wildlife.

Alaska has wildlife everywhere. Lita can and does (usually) alert me to the presence of bears. She can’t fight them as well as certain other breeds, and that’s fine by me. I am happy with her being a gentle, loving girl that I can walk down Main Street or up the mountain. While she is very well-mannered, I have seen her get attacked by sled-dogs several time and know that she can defend herself ably, even if she prefers not to… There are wolves up here as well, and if you see them, it is nice to have a dog that can’t be easily carried away by them. I don’t have to worry about that as Lita weighs in at 110 pounds and stands as tall as most male wolves.

Porcupines are a problem up here too. My old dog, a male Australian Sheppard mutt, repeatedly got into them and no amount of calling or subsequent visits to the vet to remove the quills, which I imagine would be extremely painful, could stop him from pursuing the things. When Lita encounters them, however, I tell her to sit and she does, and she’ll sit there watching the thing until we can get past it.

She loves chasing squirrels and marmots, however, and runs around seeking them constantly, which can be very entertaining. If she actually caught one, she’d probably try to play with it, like she

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