15 Dog Breeds That Can Climb Trees (With Videos)

Dog Breeds That Can Climb Trees

It may come as a surprise to many that certain agile and adventurous dogs can conquer not only vast landscapes but vertical tree trunks as well. While not a common canine skill, tree climbing showcases the versatility and athletic prowess of these incredible breeds.

But what dogs are capable of tree climbing?

While climbing trees isn’t a natural behavior for dogs, certain breeds can climb trees to some extent, especially when chasing prey. Such dogs are the Treeing Walker Coonhounds, Treeing Tennessee Brindles, American Leopard Hounds, Catahoula Leopard Hounds, Jack Russells, Border Collies, Plott Hounds, Ratt Terriers, Norwegian Lundenhunds, Beagles, Australian Cattle Dogs, Belgian Malinois, and more!

Before we introduce you to these athletic and adventurous breeds, we’re going to talk about whether dogs can actually climb trees, and whether you should let your dog climb them.

So, let’s delve into the intriguing world of tree-climbing dogs and explore what makes them the extraordinary companions they truly are!

Can Dogs Climb Trees?

While it sounds like a simple question, whether dogs can or cannot climb trees, it doesn’t actually have a simple and straightforward answer. So, let’s break things down a bit.

Some dog dogs can in fact climb trees, especially certain breeds, such as the Treeing Walker Coonhound, Catahoula Leopard Dog, and certain terriers, due to their hunting instincts or unique physical characteristics. However, not all dogs have the same ability or inclination.

But even for these breeds, as for all dogs, climbing trees is not a natural behavior for a few  reasons:

Reason 1: Lack Of Specialized Claws

Dogs are not built like cats, which have retractable claws that are sharper and curved, making them perfect for gripping onto tree bark. Dogs have non-retractable claws that are designed for running and digging, not for climbing.

Reason 2: Body Structure And Weight

Most dogs are heavier and not as flexible as cats. Dogs don’t have the same skeletal structure that’s designed for climbing, instead, they are generally built for endurance and speed on the ground rather than agility in the trees. Climbing requires a certain degree of flexibility and lightness that many dogs do not have.

Reason 3: Absence Of Prehensible Abilities

Dogs don’t have prehensile tails or the ability to grip with their paws like some animals do. Prehensile features allow animals like monkeys to grasp tree branches and navigate the treetops.

That being said your dog’s tail can help them with climbing since even a non-prehensile tail is designed to help your dog with skillful movement while running, as well as with balance when they’re walking along a narrow surface or as AKC suggests “dogs that enjoy climbing various surfaces will use their tails to balance on uneven footing, such as rocks or trees.”

Reason 4: Lack Of Evolutionary need

Dogs, as descendants of wolves, and later on incorporated into hunter-gatherer societies, evolved as pack-hunting animals, traveling across long distances and chasing down their prey on the ground rather than fetching them from the trees. They are simply not equipped with the necessary skills or body adaptations to be proficient climbers.

Reason 5: Fear And Lack Of Confidence

Climbing a tree is usually not something a dog will find interesting, especially if we’re talking about a tree that is completely vertical that requires a more flexible animal. It’s also possible that even if a dog does end up climbing a tree the experience might quickly become scary, which will deter them from climbing a tree in the future.

While some dogs may be more adept at tree climbing because of their breed, and environment, it’s usually in response to a specific situation or stimulus, such as chasing prey or a toy, as well as training.

Should You Let Your Dog Climb Trees?

When it comes to dogs and tree climbing it’s best to not encourage this behavior. Although it may seem like a fun and exciting activity for your dog, it can pose significant risks, even for breeds that show this ability.

Your dog can become stuck and require assistance to get down, which can be a stressful experience. The risk of injury is also high. Dogs can fall and suffer from a variety of injuries, including broken bones, sprains, and internal injuries. Even if your dog seems to be a proficient climber, all it takes is one misstep to result in a serious injury.

Instead of tree climbing, there are many other ways to provide mental and physical stimulation for your dog. Activities like fetch, tug-of-war, agility training, puzzle toys, or simply going for a walk or run are all great alternatives.

If your dog shows an inclination for climbing, consider enrolling them in a professionally-supervised agility course, which can provide a safer outlet for their climbing instincts.

Lastly, always remember to supervise your dog while they are engaged in physical activities to ensure they are safe and behaving appropriately. Regular vet check-ups are also important to ensure your dog is in good health and can safely participate in their favorite activities.

15 Dog Breeds That Can Climb Trees

Before we begin exploring the following breeds it’s important to note that while some of the breeds on our lists possess tree-climbing abilities you will find that some of these breeds are not natural tree climbers, but their athleticism and intelligence make it easier to climb or learn to climb trees.

It’s also possible that other dog breeds, that are not included on our list, are capable of mastering the skill of tree-climbing. This, of course, doesn’t mean you should teach your dog to climb trees no matter what their background is, especially if you’re not an experienced dog owner and trainer.

1. Treeing Walker Coonhound

The Treeing Walker Coonhound is a remarkable breed and while they are capable of tree-climbing, they actually got their name for their hunting tactic rather than tree-climbing.

Treeing Walker Coonhounds will trail their prey and chase it up a tree and they will attempt to climb the tree, by using their front paws and nails to grab onto the bark. Unlike the dog in the video, most Walkers instead of actually climbing the tree will keep guard below the tree and bark at the prey.

As you can already tell, these dogs are hunters by nature, often used for raccoon hunting, where their “treeing” skills are highlighted. They’re athletic, enthusiastic, and have an astounding sense of smell.

A Walker Coonhound has an energetic and outgoing personality, making it an exciting companion for active owners. Their boundless energy necessitates a good deal of exercise to keep them content and healthy. That being said these dogs also enjoy being proper couch potatoes after their needs have been met!

Training can be a joyful experience due to their intelligence, but their strong prey drive might require some patience, and leaving them off their leash is out of the question unless you can provide them with a safe area that’s surrounded by a really high fence where they can’t escape by jumping and climbing over it.

Socialization from an early age is essential to curb their hunting instincts around other pets. The breed may not be the best choice for first-time dog owners due to their high energy and stubborn streak. However, their affectionate nature and loyalty make them wonderful companions for seasoned dog owners.

2. American Leopard Hound

The American Leopard Hound, is another treeing dog used to force naturally climbing animals into trees, where they can be assessed or shot by hunters. This feature was primarily utilized in hunting boars in their native Louisiana. This is a powerful and agile breed with an uncanny ability to climb trees.

These dogs are well-muscled, robust, and love to stay active. With a confident and assertive personality, they are highly intelligent and require consistent training and plenty of mental stimulation.

The American Leopard Hound requires a lot of exercise, so they’re an ideal fit for owners who enjoy outdoor activities. Because of their strong hunting instincts, early socialization is key, particularly with other animals.

This breed can be quite challenging for first-time owners due to their high energy levels, assertiveness, and complex exercise needs. Sports such as agility, obedience, and herding trials are suitable activities for this breed.

3. Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terriers are small, but they pack a lot of energy and agility into their compact frames, including the ability to climb trees. Known for their spirited and fearless nature, Jack Russells were originally bred for fox hunting, a trait that drives their athletic pursuits, including tree climbing, as long as that tree is not branchless and doesn’t grow in a straight line.

These dogs are highly intelligent, making them excellent learners, though their stubborn streak can be a challenge. They require plenty of exercise to keep their active minds and bodies satisfied. Socialization is crucial to ensure they get along well with other pets.

Jack Russells can be a bit too much to handle for some first-time dog owners because of their high energy levels and independent nature, their hunting instinct, and the urge to explore, can lead your Jack Russell to wander.

They excel in various dog sports like agility, flyball, and terrier races, which provide great outlets for their energy while also challenging their intelligent minds. Despite their challenging traits, their loyalty and love of fun can make them wonderful companions in the right home.

4. Border Collie

Known for their astounding intelligence and agility, Border Collies, while not natural climbers, have the capability to master tree climbing with the right training. These dogs are workaholics, originally bred for herding sheep, which makes them extremely athletic and active.

Their sharp minds and quick learning abilities make them relatively easy to train, but they do require consistent mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. Border Collies need a significant amount of exercise, making them suitable for active families or individuals.

Early socialization is important to ensure they’re comfortable with various environments and situations. They can be quite a handful for first-time owners due to their high energy and complex exercise and mental stimulation needs. Dog sports like agility, herding events, and obedience competitions are great ways to channel their energy and intellect.

5. Catahoula Leopard Hound

Also known as the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog, this breed is a skilled tree climber thanks to their heritage as boar and squirrel hunters. This breed is robust, agile, and energetic, with a strong desire to work and stay active. That’s why they’re not suited for the city or as an apartment dog.

The Catahoula’s assertive and independent personality is balanced by their deep loyalty to their family. These dogs require a lot of physical exercise and mental stimulation, so an active lifestyle is essential.

Training a Catahoula can be an enjoyable experience due to their intelligence, but their independent streak might require some patience. Early socialization is key to prevent any potential aggression or territorial behaviors.

This breed will most likely be a bit challenging for first-time dog owners due to their high energy levels and strong-willed nature. However, they excel in activities such as agility, herding trials, and obedience training, making them great partners for experienced handlers.

6. Treeing Tennessee Brindle

The Treeing Tennessee Brindle is a breed with a natural talent for tree climbing, stemming from their history as a treeing and hunting breed. These dogs are not only athletic and agile but also have a unique brindle coat and a melodious bark.

This breed is intelligent, friendly, and very eager to please, making them relatively easy to train, but they can be a bit stubborn at times. The Treeing Tennessee Brindle requires regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy, but they’re generally less intense than some of the other tree-climbing breeds.

Socialization from an early age is important to ensure they get along with other pets. These dogs need an experienced owner because they can still be a handful for first-time dog owners. You also need to provide them with the necessary exercise and are willing to engage in consistent training.

They thrive in activities that engage their hunting instincts, such as tracking trials or mock hunting events and you can try dog sports like agility, obedience, and rally. Their loveable nature and loyalty make them a wonderful addition to the right family.

7. Plott Hound

The Plott Hound is a powerful, agile breed known for its excellent hunting skills, which also extend to tree climbing when they’re on the trail of prey. Originally bred to hunt boars, these dogs are robust, athletic, and determined, with a strong prey drive.

According to AKC, “Because the Plott is extremely prey driven, he should always be walked on a leash.”

They have a confident, friendly demeanor and form deep bonds with their families. Training a Plott Hound can be a rewarding experience, although they can be a bit independent at times. They require a good amount of exercise to keep them content, so an active family would be the best fit for this breed.

Early socialization is also important to ensure a well-rounded dog. While their independent nature may present some challenges for first-time dog owners, their loyalty and enthusiasm can make them great companions. Engaging in sports like tracking trials or agility can be a fantastic way to keep these dogs physically and mentally stimulated.

8. Rat Terrier

Rat Terriers are energetic, agile dogs with a surprising ability to climb trees when motivated and given the right tree. This breed was originally used for farm work and vermin control, contributing to their athleticism and active nature.

Rat Terriers are intelligent and eager to please, making training an enjoyable task, although their independent nature can sometimes make them a bit stubborn. They require a moderate amount of daily exercise to keep their minds and bodies healthy.

Socialization from an early age is crucial to ensure they’re comfortable with other pets and various environments. Their energy levels and occasional stubbornness, and as Barri J. Morrison, DVM puts it, this breed is “downright difficult for inexperienced dog parents who aren’t prepared to set (and stick to!) firm and consistent rules.”

With consistent training, they make excellent companions and you should consider engaging your Rat Terrier with activities like agility, flyball, or barn hunt trials that can be great outlets for their energy and instincts. Remember that Rat Terriers have a strong prey drive, and they should never be allowed off lead.

9. Norwegian Lundehund

The Norwegian Lundehund is a unique breed with fascinating physical adaptations, such as extra toes and flexible joints, allowing it to climb steep cliffs, even trees if trained. Originating in Norway, these dogs were used to hunt puffins on precarious cliffs, as you can see in the video, contributing to their agile nature.

Lundehunds are intelligent, alert, and have a cheerful demeanor, but can also exhibit a strong-willed streak. Regular exercise is essential for this breed to keep them happy and to maintain their health.

Training can be a challenge due to their independent nature, and early, consistent socialization is important. This breed may be difficult for first-time dog owners because of their unique exercise needs and independent streak. According to AKC, “the Lundehund is very sensitive and can develop trust issues, and harsh training methods should never be used. ”

They thrive in activities that capitalize on their agility and problem-solving skills. Despite their quirks, Lundehund’s affectionate and playful nature makes them a unique and rewarding companion for the right person.

10. Australian Cattle Dog

The Australian Cattle Dog is an extremely active and agile breed, bred for herding cattle in the rugged Australian outback. While not a common tree-climber, they possess the athleticism to do so.

Known for their hardworking nature and intense stamina, these dogs are always ready for action. They’re incredibly intelligent, which makes them responsive to training, but they can be a bit independent.

Australian Cattle Dogs require a substantial amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation to keep them healthy and content, otherwise, they may get into mischief. This is the perfect dog for you if you’re looking for a running partner, or if you’re ready to engage with your future ACD in some work, sports like agility and herding trials, as well as obedience competitions, or even regular exercise.

As with most dogs, especially the breeds on this list, early socialization is important to ensure a balanced temperament. Their high energy levels and need for mental stimulation may make them challenging for first-time dog owners, but their loyalty and protective nature make them excellent companions for experienced handlers.

12. Beagle

Beagles are small to medium-sized dogs known for their incredible sense of smell and tracking abilities. While they are not typical tree climbers, their strong instinct to follow a scent can occasionally lead them up a tree.

According to AKC, “Beagles are escape artists, so an exercise area must have a fence at least five feet tall that extends underground to prevent tunneling.

Beagles are known for their friendly, outgoing personalities and they love being part of a pack, making them great family dogs. Training can be fun but challenging due to their sometimes stubborn nature.

Beagles need a good amount of daily exercise to prevent them from becoming bored and if left alone for too long they can resort to unwanted behaviors like barking and being destructive. Early socialization is crucial to ensure they get along with other pets.

They can be a good choice for first-time owners due to their size and friendly nature, but they do require consistent training. Beagles enjoy activities like tracking trials or agility, which make the most of their natural instincts.

13. Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois look a lot like German Shepherds and they are just as highly active, and intelligent dogs, known for their work in police and military roles around the world. Though tree climbing isn’t a common activity, their athleticism and drive could potentially allow them to master it.

They are exceptionally quick learners and require consistent mental stimulation to keep their sharp minds satisfied. The Belgian Malinois requires an active lifestyle to channel their energy, with plenty of exercise and work tasks. Socialization from an early age is key to ensure they are well-rounded dogs.

Their high energy, intelligence, and sometimes protective nature can be challenging for first-time owners. However, for experienced handlers, they make excellent companions, they do however need lots of attention and love. They excel in various dog sports like agility, obedience, tracking, and protection work, making them versatile working dogs and companions.

14. German Shepherd

German Shepherds are one of the most versatile working breeds, known for their intelligence, strength, and agility. While often used as police dogs, they are not trained to climb trees, but because they possess incredible agility it could be used to potentially teach them to climb trees. But as mentioned earlier, because this is not a safe activity you might want to avoid it altogether.

German Shepherds are incredibly intelligent, making them highly trainable, but they do require consistent mental stimulation to avoid boredom. They are an active breed that needs plenty of daily exercise, excelling in a variety of dog sports like obedience, herding, tracking, agility, and protection work.

Socialization from an early age is critical to ensure they are comfortable in various situations and with different people and animals. Due to their protective nature and need for consistent training and mental stimulation, they might be a challenge for first-time dog owners. However, with the right handling and training, they make loyal and devoted companions.

15. Vizsla

Vizslas, also known as Hungarian Pointers, are highly active and agile dogs originally bred for hunting. While they’re not typical tree climbers, their athleticism and drive could allow them to learn.

Vizslas are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, often forming close bonds with their families, and don’t like being left alone, otherwise, they can become whiny and barky. They’re quick learners, which makes training an enjoyable experience, but they do require mental stimulation to keep their minds sharp.

It might come as a surprise but Vizslas are actually

Early socialization is important to ensure they get along well with other animals and are comfortable in various environments. Vizslas may not be the easiest companions for first-time owners and their high energy levels require commitment.

They thrive in activities that engage their natural hunting instincts, like tracking trials, agility, and mock hunting events. Their affectionate nature and loyalty make them excellent family pets.

Honorable Mention: New Guinea Singing Dog

The New Guinea Singing Dog is a wild breed known for its distinctive vocalizations, agility, and flexibility, including the ability to climb trees that are closely related to those of a cat, thanks to their ability to spread their legs sideways to 90°. They can also rotate their front and hind paws more than domestic dogs.

While this breed may look somewhat like an Akita, it originated in the highlands of New Guinea, with flexible joints that allow them to navigate complex terrains with ease. This breed’s tree-climbing ability has evolved as a survival mechanism in their native terrain.

While this is a wild breed, most of these dogs in New Guinea are somewhat domesticated, many of them are kept by widows and bachelors, and hunters keep at least two for assisting them with hunting.

As you can imagine you won’t be able to get your hands on this unique wild breed and perhaps you shouldn’t, even an experienced dog trainer is probably going to struggle training the New Guinea Singing Dog, and even if they are successful their natural wariness of strangers may persist.

Closing Thoughts

As our journey through the captivating world of tree-climbing dogs is coming to an end it’s crucial to remember that while these breeds have the potential to ascend trees, doing so comes with risks.

Falls and injuries can occur, especially when dogs are unsupervised or climbing high. Tree climbing should be a supervised activity, with safety measures in place to protect our furry friends from harm.

Ultimately, the best way to enjoy the dynamic energy and unique abilities of these breeds is by engaging them in activities that exercise their minds and bodies while keeping them safe.

So, whether your pup is a climber or a runner, here’s to the shared joy and adventures our dogs bring into our lives!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *