I rescued a cat and her kitten a few months ago and just had them spade.
Training them into couple of lean mean hiking machines, not. lol
Just finished a book by Tom Ryan called "Following Atticus." His miniature schnauzer climbed all 48 NH peaks IN WINTER with him! (Tried it twice the next winter or two, but never completed the twice-through). He did buy the dog a coat and muk luks for the winter hikes, but he was only the second dog to do this particular feat - that would be climb all the peaks in winter. We have a miniature schnoodle, and she was an incredible hiker when she was younger. I think it's the whole small dog with long legs thing. I know this isn't what you had in mind, but something to consider. On the other hand, our dog HATES camping! Hiking, yes, camping, no!
Nice dog book, BTW. The man totally put me to shame. Once he decided to do the 48 peaks, he finished them off in 11 weeks, and started his winter climbs a couple of months later. Makes me think I can do just fine on the trail. It took me over 20 years to do 13 mountains. Hoping to do the 13 this summer NOT on the AT, so I finish my 48 while I'm doing the AT.
dont know if you have bitten the bullet and chosen your canine companion yet but I would like to add that I have had the most problem with Labs, when I hike. I have run into labs the most and they have also been the least friendly on trail. Growling and barking at me while there owner being 5 minutes behind them shout at them and then at me ensuring me that little fido is friendly while the dog is showing me its pearly whites. If you get a dog make sure it is hiking with you not in front of you and is not going to hinder others progress along the trail.
I also agree with Papa D, you should go to a shelter and get a mixed breed.
Happy Hiking and good luck finding a furry companion.
I also agree with Lea13, that the most important thing is the individuals personality! Didnt Martin Luther King say something to this affect?
"I have a dream that dogs will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their coats but by the content of their character." - Martin Luther King Charles Spaniel Jr.
1. Make sure you can take care of yourself on the trail before you try to take care of a dog.
2. I have a husky/malamute mix <3. He's great in the winter. In the summer we don't hike between 11 AM and 3 PM, give or take. Find a shady spot with water and siesta! Be warned that these dogs have LOTS of energy, take a long time to train, and don't do well if they are left alone. You can trim their hair, but not shave them. Also they're primitive dogs, so they have a very strong predator instinct (very hard to train not to chase rabbits and deer). It's cruel to own these dogs unless you can give him lots (hours) of exercise per day even off the trail.
On the other side of the coin, my dog LOVES hiking. While some people say it's cruel to take a dog on the trail, it'd be cruel to NOT take this guy out hiking (unless it's hot outside). We go for 30+ mile dayhikes (in cool weather), and he's still not tired at the end of them.
3. I've had a bullmastiff (the purebreed, not a mutt). Great suburban house dog, awful trail dog.
4. Get a mutt. They're healthier.
I'd also look at a saluki/azawakh, canaan dog, and carolina dog. Those dogs struggle in the heat far less than most other breeds, as far as I know.
We rescued a chocolate lab and she is terrific hiking dog very friendly smart and strong.labs r awesome dogs
Personality is way more important than breed when it comes to a good dog.
aside from the all the good advice above, here's my $0.02: (and I'm somewhat biased, having two Jack Russells , a small B.C. Mix and a pit bull)
Pits are great, and they are tanks, but it is hard to manage others' expectations and fears about them. I love my girl but not everyone is welcoming of her. A pit mix would be awesome though! My pit has short fur, and she definitely needs a coat in winter.
Large breed dogs like labs, retrievers and mastiffs ( to name a few) can be prone to joint issues that could be exacerbated by the trail. . . and can even affect young dogs. Getting not-a-puppy could help with this, and getting the dog vet checked will a full orthopedic exam.
and last, some of the dogs I wish I had to take on the trail: Australian Cattle dog-rugged as all get out, and they seem to manage both heat and cold fairly well. They can be nippy though due to the nature of their breed, but are extremely loyal and trainable. Wire Haired Pointing Griffon or a German Wire Haired Pointer? Both have coats that can get dirty but clean up fast, durable field type dogs.
Good luck with the dog search, Somewhere out there on Petfinder or in a Rescue is the exact perfect dog you're imagining!
Pumpernickle or rye are the best but bagels are good too.
I'd take "Miss Piggy".........and then ditch her!
I had a Yellow Lab that stayed with me on the trail for 13 years and rested at home for 5 more. She was the best Pup
Bernese Mountain Dog! (of course I'm biased). Big dog, but not as big as a Newfoundland, but just as pretty. No drooling and a lot less shedding believe it or not. Is a little sensitive but the most loyal, calm, athletic, well-behaved dog I've ever had or met. At home he holds down the floor but on the trail he's perfect. I never have to leash him or worry about him leaving or around people. Check out regional Berner rescues!
My two cents is like this. As an avid hiker and also a 4 year dog trainer think like this.
Size: bigger dog = more food. yes it also means it could carry more in a pack but if nothing else, cost goes up. also it takes more room in your tent or shelter if people are that nice.
Coat: the A.T. weather is erratic at best just due to changes in latitude and elevation. a medium coat would probably be ideal. some weather protection against rain/snow etc, but not so much that they over heat too quickly.
Energy Level: self explanitory
Tenacity: Just because you have a high energy dog, doesn't mean it actually likes to push itself. you need a dog with that gusto.
Natural Loyalty: some dogs just like to be close to you, others have a higher prey and or freedom drive. That could drasticly affect the hiker compatability. A dog with naturally high loyalty will be easier to train and keep track of.
Last Thoughts: No matter what you know there will be plenty of conditioning involved but you know that. I am a dobermann man myself and due to his coat I am seriously debating his A.T. capability despite his moderate weather capabilities. Honestly the best dog I ever hiked with was my ex wifes golden Retriever buddy. The are always top on the obedience training lists, have a mellow temperment but a solid build, and have a decent coat. He stopped and waited at every corner of the trail for me to catch up and even after a 43 mile two day hike gone terribly wrong due to a flooded river I was supposed to be able to ford(also lost all my toenails that trip) he never tired. Plus even people who don't always like dogs tend to warm to them. "sit Ubu sit"
Female German Shepherd. Obedient. Loyal. Good temperament and enjoys human and canine company. The wolf-like body let's her go all day too.
Long-haired dogs have a difficult time with ticks too...
Our best hiking dog was a rescue...they said she was a boxer-lab mix, but we are sure she was part pit. Ah, she loved to hike. Our current English Setter is too hyper when he sees a bird or any animal (squirrel, chipmunk, etc.) and goes crazy...