Frenchies love being outdoors and need regular daily exercise to keep themselves in peak physical condition. However, there’s a big difference between going for a short walk and taking your French Bulldog hiking.
Can you hike with a Frenchie? I personally don’t recommend hiking with a Frenchie as they simply aren’t cut out for long walks, particularly when the weather is hot. However, it depends on how you define what hiking is.
For example, we take our French Bulldog into the local forest and will hike up and down hills and through the woods for sometimes up to 30 minutes – providing it’s cool. You can hike with a French Bulldog at this level, providing its fitness levels are ok.
However, if you want to hike with a French Bulldog for a whole day, then this has to be completely out of the question. They are a small breed who will breathing difficulties and will lack the stamina required to hike all day.
But that doesn’t you can’t take your Frenchie on a hiking expedition, but you do need to set the expectation that your hike is going to be a very short one, and I don’t recommend more than 40 minutes to an hour – this will exhaust most French Bulldogs.
If you have never gone for a longer walk with your Frenchie and are unsure if the dog will cope with it, here’s how to prepare for a short 30-minute hike.
How to hike with a Frenchie
Before you expose your French Bulldog for a longer walk than normal, you should take the following precautions and hiking preparations:
1. Ensure your Frenchie has had a recent health check
Before a longer walk then normal, make sure your Frenchie has had a recent trip to the vets, so you know he’s physically able to do a short hike.
Things vets typically check Frenchies for are issues with their breathing, such as stenotic nares (narrowed nostrils), and respiratory problems.
2. Train your Frenchie for the hike
If you have a fat French Bulldog whose only exercise has been leaving the couch for the food bowl, then there’s no way you should be hiking with them – it will be too much of a shock to their system and they won’t make it very far at all.
Instead you should take things slowly, and train them with a couple of short walks near your home each day, building the distance and time up incrementally.
An exercise plan could be something that your vet helps to design based on their age, weight, and existing levels.
3. Choose an easy hiking route
Frenchies can be very muscular dogs, but they are not great at scaling extreme angles, such as stairs. They are also not known to be good swimmers. Based on this, you should plan to hike an easy route, avoiding rough paths, steep slopes, and deep water.
You should also plan to take regular breaks and rests, because Frenchies get short of breath very easily.
Handy Hint: If you do go hiking with your Frenchie and he starts to overheat you need to act immediately. Here’s what to do with an overheating French Bulldog.
What to take hiking with a Frenchie
Being prepared with the right gear is absolutely essential for a safe hiking trip with your dog. Some of the must-have basics include:
- Flea and tick collar (and check for ticks as you hike).
- Fresh and clean drinking water to prevent dehydration.
- Dog poop bags to keep the area clean and hygienic.
- The right collar or harness (here’s what I recommend).
- Dog collar with name and address on in case he gets lost.
- First aid kit for you and your Frenchie.
- Umbrella in case hot sun becomes a problem.
- Dog snacks and treats for an energy boost.
- Dog backpack in case the hike gets too much (here a dog carrier on Amazon).
- Dog boots to cope with a rougher terrain (here’s what I recommend).
What dogs are better for hiking with?
If hiking is important to you, then I’d recommend a completely different breed. According to the American Kennel Club, the following breeds are best for hiking trips:
- Siberian Husky
- Australian Shepherd
- German Shorthaired Pointer
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Alaskan Malamute
- Portuguese Water Dog
Many people think of French Bulldogs as being lazy dogs, this simply isn’t true. However, that doesn’t mean they are physically cut out for long hikes in the wilderness. They are not the right dog for you if this is what you are planning.
As a general rule of thumbs, Frenchies can cope with a couple of walks each day, both of which can last between 30 and 45 minutes – not really much longer.
Based on that, French Bulldogs can hike, but be prepared for a very short hiking trip. They won’t be able to deal with anything that’s longer than that.