Leash Training

Top Off-Leash Dog Breeds: Perfect Companions For Outdoor Adventures

by Alison Page

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Most states have pretty strict leash laws. However,  most regions have areas where dogs are permitted to run off-leash, such as dog parks. Romping and playing without the restriction of a leash is great fun for both your pup and you provided your dog is obedient to recall. 

But are some dog breeds more reliable off-leash than others?

Read this guide to find out 20 breeds that typically make the best off-leash dogs!

20 Best Off-Leash Dog Breeds

For most pet parents, the ideal dog is one that loves to stay close to you, whether you’re out running along the trail, biking through the wilderness, or simply staying put in your backyard.

The following breeds are considered to make the best off-leash dog breeds.

1. Rottweiler

Rottweiler dogs run on green grass in park

The Rottweiler is an ancient breed that was originally bred way back in Roman times to work as a guardian to herds of cattle.

Despite their rather fierce appearance, Rotties are even-tempered and placid, showing unwavering loyalty to their owners. When well-trained, these dogs are obedient and reliable when off-leash.

2. Irish Terrier

Typical Irish Terrier in the garden

The Irish terrier is another ancient breed that makes an excellent off-leash pup. Hailing from Ireland, these lively, active dogs are one of the oldest terriers known for their beautiful red coats.

These dogs are active and intelligent, needing strong leadership from their owners. However, once these pups have formed a strong bond with you, they will come back to you reliably when you’re out exercising your canine companion off-leash.

3. Boxer

Boxer dog running in a park

Boxers have the reputation of being hyperactive, scatterbrained dogs that have extremely high energy levels.

It’s certainly true that the Boxer has lots of energy to burn off, but these lovable canine clowns are wonderful with kids and make fantastic hiking companions for adults, too. This breed responds well to positive reinforcement training techniques and will be reliable off-leash once the basic commands are in place.

4. Border Collie

Border Collie

The Border Collie is a working breed that is used today for herding sheep.

This dog is considered to be the most intelligent breed in the world and can be trained to take part in various off-leash activities, including agility classes, as you can see in this awesome video!

This active breed can make a wonderful jogging or hiking companion if you enjoy spending time outdoors.

5. Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland Sheepdog is a miniature breed that originates from the Shetland Isles and is descended from Rough Collies.

The breed was originally a working dog that was used for herding sheep in the rugged mountains of its homeland. These days, the Shetland Sheepdog is more often used for companionship or in the show ring.

This attractive, dainty dog breed is extremely intelligent, making them easy to train and one of the best off-leash dogs out there.

6. Labrador Retriever

Man training a guide dog e1611768961471

The Labrador retriever is an excellent breed for families.

These friendly dogs are highly trainable and love to spend time around their human owners, making them an excellent choice for off-leash activities. The Lab needs plenty of exercise and is a good companion for you if you enjoy outdoor activities, such as hunting and off-leash hiking.

Labrador retrievers are often seen working alongside people as service dogs, performing several varied roles, including guide dogs, emotional support dogs, and search and rescue dogs.

7. Flat-Coated Retriever

Flat coated retriever

Gamekeepers in the United Kingdom originally used flat-coated retrievers as working dogs. Latterly, the breed was used as a gundog and for companionship.

These are beautiful dogs with silky coats that come in black or liver colors and feature feathering on the dog’s legs.

Flat-Coated Retrievers can be somewhat stubborn to train, but their intelligence and willingness to please their owner make the Flat-Coated Retriever a pretty reliable off-leash breed.

8. Belgian Shepherd

Belgian Shepherd puppy resting on the grass in the park

The Belgian Shepherd was originally used for guarding flocks of sheep and as a farm dog. 

These intelligent dogs are easy and willing to train and are a popular breed with police forces around the world. The Belgian Shepherd forms a strong bond with its owner, making this an excellent off-leash breed that also excels in obedience training classes.

9. Vizsla

Hungarian Magyar Vizsla

The Vizsla is an unusual Hungarian breed that can make an excellent off-leash dog. 

Vizslas are gentle, energetic, and affectionate dogs that have been around for hundreds of years. These pups were originally bred to work alongside people as hunting companions, and they can form a strong emotional bond with their owners. 

10. Keeshond

Gray dog Keeshond

The Keeshond is a variety of Spitz that comes from Holland.

These dogs have remarkable reflexes, learn quickly, and are keen to please their owners. Keeshonds are loyal to their family, love children, and get along brilliantly with other dogs and pets. 

The modern breed is sometimes used as an emotional support animal and even a guide dog. Easy to train and intelligent, the Keeshond makes a reliable off-leash dog.

11. Catahoula Cur

Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog

If you have never heard of The Catahoula Cur, you might be surprised that this is Louisiana’s official state dog! These days, the Catahoula Cur is known by the American Kennel Club as the Catahoula Leopard dog. 

The dogs were bred to hunt wild boar, and this mild-tempered native dog breed is loyal and easy to train. Since these pups can suffer from separation anxiety, they don’t do well when left alone, which makes them excellent off-leash pups.

These are very loving, family dogs but can be aloof with strangers if not socialized early. Like other herding breeds, the Catahoula Leopard dog is not aggressive but is a natural leader. 

12. German Shepherd Dog

Obedience Training german shepherd

The German Shepherd Dog, or GSD, is an awesome working breed that makes excellent off-leash dogs.

GSDs are the most common breed used as police dogs. Although not aggressive by nature, the German Shepherd can be trained to chase and knock down escaped criminals and use its sense of smell to search for drugs. The GSD is also used as a guide dog and in a search and rescue role.

These pups are protective, loyal, intelligent, obedient, and trainable, so you can typically allow your GDS off-leash without fear that he won’t come back to you.

13. Brittany Spaniel

Brittany Spaniel

Brittany spaniels come from France, and they can make excellent off-leash dogs, even in very large outside areas.

This close-hunting breed shares genetics with the English Setter, making them easy to train, sweet-natured, and obedient.  

14. Poodle

Fluffy Butt white poodle

Poodles were bred to accompany duck hunters in their native Germany. These working dogs are extremely intelligent and trainable and can make excellent family pets.

As an added bonus, this breed has a single, curly coat that doesn’t shed, making the Poodle an excellent choice for those with pet allergies or a dislike of vacuuming!

15. Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinscher

The Doberman was created to work as a personal protection dog and is often the breed of choice for those wanting a guard dog. 

These dogs are quite easy to train, being highly intelligent and eager to please. Once you’ve trained your Doberman Pinscher properly, you’ll be able to allow him to romp off-leash without worrying that your pet won’t come back to you.

16. Puli

Puli dog outdoors in nature

The Puli is an unusual herding breed that comes from Hungary that was often used in tandem with the larger Komondor for guarding livestock.

Pulis are noted for their corded, dreadlock-like fur. These intelligent dogs must be trained from a young age to be permitted to roam off-leash in open spaces. These dogs love to be at your side, making them ideal jogging and hiking companions.

17. Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd is a herding breed that never stops working!

These intelligent dogs love to learn and can form a deep attachment with their owners, making them ideal for off-leash games and exercise.

18. Golden Retriever

young white golden retriever e1635644242734

Golden retrievers come from Scotland, where they were bred to retrieve waterfowl without damaging the birds’ delicate skin.

Goldens are among the most popular dog breeds for those who want an intelligent breed prone to sticking close to its owner. The Golden retriever is quite an intelligent dog breed that’s also incredibly kind, friendly, and pretty trainable. All those qualities make these pups the ideal breed for off-leash exercise and family fun.

19. Dalmatian

Dalmatian dog running in the Park

The Dalmatian is a hardy breed that comes from Croatia and was around as early as 1719. The modern breed has been used as firehouse dogs, guiding firemen and horses to the fire.

These dogs have a very strong hunting instinct, but you can train your loyal Dalmatian to stick with you when off-leash.

20. Harrier

Two Adult Harrier Dogs Standing Beside River 1

The Harrier is an excellent hunting breed that’s been around since the 1300s, although its exact heritage is uncertain. These dogs are very definitely bred to work, and there are still around 160 packs of Harriers in Ireland that are used for trail-hunting hares.

This friendly breed is tolerant, sweet-natured, and cheerful, making them excellent family dogs. Although Harriers can be stubborn and easily distracted, typically by an interesting scent, they can be trained to come when called and can then be exercised off-leash.

FAQs

In this part of our guide, we answer a few of the most commonly asked questions about off-leash dogs.

Q: What breed of dog is least likely to run away?

A: A well-trained dog that’s confident and happy to be with its owner is unlikely to run away, regardless of the pup’s breed.

However, it’s generally accepted among dog owners that working breeds, such as Border Collies, German Shepherds, and Labrador retrievers, are perhaps less likely to run away than other breeds.

Q: What dogs have the best recalls?

A: Again, when it comes to recalls, it’s usually working breeds, such as Border Collies, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and the like, that are most obedient.

That said, my German Shepherd Border Collie crossbreed was not the most reliable when she was young! She would regularly run after hares while we were out walking, disappearing over the horizon and totally ignoring my pleas for her to come back. 

However, as she got older, my beloved pet’s recall improved considerably. By the time Jess was one year old, she was generally pretty reliable.

Q: What is the most hassle-free dog?

A: That depends on what you mean by “hassle-free!” A Pug could be a contender if you want a calm dog that doesn’t want much exercise and has an even temperament.

However, if you want a dog that doesn’t shed much and is easy to train, then a Poodle or a Goldendoodle might be worth considering.

Q: Are dogs happier off-leash?

A: Most dogs absolutely love to play and run off-leash! It’s natural for a dog to be free to make his own choices and move at his own pace. In fact, if you asked them, most dogs would choose an off-leash run over a walk on the leash.

Q: Do dogs enjoy being off-leash?

A: Most dogs love to be off-leash, provided their owner is close to them and the environment they are running in is safe. That said, some nervous pups can be quite afraid of being allowed to run off-leash and prefer to remain attached to their owners by a leash. 

Q: What age can dogs be trusted off-leash?

A: There’s no specific age when a dog can be trusted off-leash.

If you have a well-trained dog that reliably comes to call every time, and you’re walking him in a safe area without traffic, wildlife, or livestock, you can probably trust him off his leash.

Final Thoughts

If you enjoyed our guide to the best off-leash dogs, please share the article with other readers.

According to our in-depth research, with a few exceptions, it’s the working dog breeds that tend to make the best off-leash pups. Working and herding dogs have been bred over centuries to be easy to train, loyal, and obedient, making them the ideal choice for an off-leash dog.

Is your dog reliable when you allow him to run off-leash? What dog breed do you have? Tell us in the comments box below.

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