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Q&A: What Are the Best Dog Breeds That Can Live Outside?

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Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Cattle dogs are sturdy and active, but they don't do well with lots of alone time.

Cattle dogs are sturdy and active, but they don't do well with lots of alone time.

Can We Get a Dog If It Has to Live Outside?

"My family and I live on 5 1/2 acres of beautiful land in Michigan that includes hiking woods and a spring-fed pond. Although my husband has allergies, we do have a Malshi. I would like a medium-sized dog that likes hiking, biking, and swimming, and will enjoy playing with the kids outside. The dog will have a run and a barn (with shade) to spend time in during the day while we are at work and can spend the rest of the time being with family.

The new dog will have to sleep outside because of allergies. Is this too much alone time for a dog? Would an adopted dog be okay?" —Doreen

Medium-Sized, Active, Outdoor Dog Breeds

There are so many great medium-sized dogs to choose from that will meet your needs and do well in your environment.

  • Australian Cattle Dog: I have a Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog), which is the perfect size for your family and does very well outside (at night she sleeps in the barn with the sheep). That said, these dogs do poorly when left alone.
  • Vizsla: Vizslas are a very energetic breed too and sound like a good fit for your family, but they are not "hypoallergenic" and they struggle when left alone.
  • Australian Bernedoodle: Since your husband is allergic I think you are better off with an Australian Bernedoodle. The breeders have several sizes available, and since they are a Poodle cross they are one of the most "hypoallergenic" breeds around. They are still tough enough to handle the cold because of the Bernese crossbreeding but do not have a heavy coat and do well in the summer too. The breed does well in an apartment but is also very suited to running around a yard and sleeping outside. Do a search and look for images of the Australian Bernedoodle to make sure you like their looks; breeders can be a little hard to find and you may have to be on a waiting list but it is worth it.
  • Basset Hound: Of the dogs that do well when left alone, the Basset is your best choice. Unfortunately, Bassets can be a little hard to train and are definitely less energetic than an Australian Bernedoodle.
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Is Adoption the Way to Go?

The main problem with adoption is finding the right dog to meet your needs. Some dogs are up for adoption because of behavioral problems, but most are potentially great pets, even if they are not what you are looking for.

Finding a hypoallergenic dog that will not tend to provoke your husband's allergies (or possibly one of your son's allergies later on) can be much more difficult. Take a look on Petfinder to see if you can find a dog that is active and young enough for your kids but won't provoke allergies.

I think the Australian Bernedoodle is the best option amongst all of the choices available, and if he or she is able to spend the time you are away from home with your Malshi, they will do just fine. Best of luck with your new family member.


This article is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from your veterinarian. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Dr Mark

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