10 Best Dog Breeds For Vanlife

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
Updated on 17 October 2022

Are you thinking about hitting the road and you want a canine companion?

If that’s the case, you’ll need to think carefully about what dog breed is best-suited for life on the road.

There are a number of considerations, such as the size of the dog, their temperament, exercise needs and whether they’re typically an anxious breed.

Jack Russell Terrier (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Jack Russell Terrier (Photo: Adobe Stock)

It’s worth remembering that every dog is different, even two dogs that are same breed could have different personalities.

In this article, we’ll hear from a number of pet experts, ranging from dog trainers to veterinarians, dog behaviourists to experienced dog owners.

Without further ado, let’s get started and take a look at the best dog breeds for van life.

Brittany Spaniels

Brittany Spaniel (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Brittany Spaniel (Photo: Adobe Stock)

I would generally recommend a low to medium energy breed when looking at good dogs for van life. You might also prioritize a small or medium sized breed. Spaniel breeds like a Brittany or Springer Spaniel could be a good fit, since they are comfortably medium-sized dogs who enjoy being around their people, and have reasonable exercise requirements.

Suggested by Josh Snead, CEO of Rainwalk Pet Insurance

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Labrador Retriever (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Labrador Retriever is probably one of the most common breeds among van lifers, so expect to see a lot of them on the road. Those who plan on hiking will appreciate this breed because it is very friendly and active.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that Labs are normally very energetic – especially as puppies – so you will have to make more stops for them to run. When fully grown, Labrador Retrievers are quite large, which means they’ll need more space and you’ll need to store more food in the van, since they’ll eat a lot.

Suggested by James, Founder Of Neurodoglux.com

Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell looks out the car window (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Jack Russell looks out the car window (Photo: Adobe Stock)

This dog can be the best dog breed for your van life due to its compact size. You can use this dog for a wide range of outdoor activities since it requires less food and water than other big dogs, which makes this dog very special to others.

It is very adventurous and will go for a wide range of outdoor activities with you. The dog is also known for its bravery. It is a fearless dog and won’t cower in the face of a threat like some other breeds. Although it is not large enough, its fierce bark will deter potential threats.

Suggested by James, Founder Of Neurodoglux.com

Ratchi

Rat Chihuahua mix (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Rat Chihuahua mix (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Rat Terrier Chihuahua mix, also known as the Ratcha or Ratchi, is a little lap-loving dog that is not only incredibly cute, but they’re also quite intelligent. Weighing in at 10-15lbs, they are the perfect size for van life travel.

Ratcha are small, making them easy to transport in a car, van, bus, or RV. Every inch of space counts in our camper van, so we appreciate that Dewey doesn’t take up too much space!

They’re low maintenance, requiring only occasional brushing, nail grooming, and baths. They love the great outdoors but they appreciate a good nap or two, making them great travel companions. They’re loyal dogs, happy to go anywhere, as long as you’re there with them.

They live long lives (up to 20 years!), so you can enjoy their company for a long time. They make excellent guard dogs! No one approaches our van without Dewey greeting them with a yappy bark! They have big personalities inside of those teeny bodies that keep you laughing and smiling.

So if you’re looking for a four-legged friend to take on your van life travels, the rat terrier chihuahua mix is the breed for you.

Suggested by Donna, Elementary & Montessori Teacher, Picture Book Author, Elementary Resource Creator, Blog Writer, Digital Nomad, Full-Time Van Lifer & Owner Of Dewey

German Shepherds

German Shepherd at the park (Photo: Adobe Stock)

German Shepherd at the park (Photo: Adobe Stock)

If you have a larger or stationary van, you could consider the German Shepherd.

This breed has a natural guarding streak so your home will always be protected, and they enjoy spending large amounts of time with their owners if they can.

They have thick double coats which can keep them warm on cold nights, and bundles of energy to keep you company on walks.

Suggested by Dr Corinne Wigfall, BVMBVS(Hons), BVMedSci(Hons) And Vet Expert At Spirit Dog Training

Cane Corso

Cane Corso (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Cane Corso (Photo: Adobe Stock)

You should consider a Cane Corso if you’re getting a dog for your next adventure. They are the perfect travel companion for van dwellers. The Cane Corso is a large Italian dog breed known for being loyal and protective. They are excellent guard dogs and make great travel companions. Here are some reasons why a Cane Corso is the best travel buddy:

Cane Corsos have a lot of energy and love to play. They will keep you entertained on long car rides or walks. This breed is also a relatively calm dog. They are not prone to barking or whining excessively, which can be a problem with some dogs traveling. They are very loyal and will always stick by your side. They make excellent guard dogs and will protect you from any danger. Cane Corsos are low-maintenance dogs. They don’t require a lot of grooming or exercise. Cane Corsos are very intelligent and easy to train. They will quickly learn any commands you give them.

Overall, Cane Corsos are great buddies for van life because they are loyal, protective, intelligent, and calm. They are easy to care for and help keep their owners safe while traveling.

Suggested by Mary Joy Maligo, Marketing Assistant To It’s About Dog Website

Dachshunds

Dachshund puppy (Photo: Adobe)

Dachshund puppy (Photo: Adobe)

Dachshunds are friendly and can live in fairly tight quarters. They can perfectly find space on the seats and in the footwells of a van. Just watch out for dogs that are too much for a small, confined space. For example, if you’re considering Dachshunds because they’re small and easy-to-manage, be aware that Dachshunds shed. So if you’re allergic, you’ll have to be careful. One more advantage of a Dachshund is that they’re really good at keeping cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Suggested by Jen Jones, Professional Dog Trainer, Behavior Specialist And Founder Your Dog Advisor

Dalmatians

Dalmatian licks owner (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Dalmatian licks owner (Photo: Adobe Stock)

One of the biggest factors that need to be considered when choosing the best dog for you and your van is their resistance to extreme temperatures and weather conditions. Living in a van, you can’t often regulate the climate like you can in a house. The perfect breed for this is the Dalmation. These dogs are extremely resistant to changes in temperature and they’re traditionally very easy to train. To top it all off, you’re going to have a best friend for life with this friendly, affectionate pups which is exactly what you need for van life.

Suggested by Daniel Jackson, Co-Founder, CEO, and Chief Editor Of Pet Lover Guy

Cavoodle

Cavoodles Lily (Photo: lily_cute_cavoodle / Instagram)

Cavoodles Lily (Photo: lily_cute_cavoodle / Instagram)

The Cavoodle is another great van companion as they love spending time with owners, but still get excited to go on walks and explore new places.

They are low shedding and easy to take care of. If you choose this breed remember you will need to book regular grooming appointments to keep your Cavoodles coat in good health.

Suggested by Dr Corinne Wigfall, BVMBVS(Hons), BVMedSci(Hons) And Vet Expert At Spirit Dog Training

Border Collie

Border Collie (Photo: Nom Nom)

Border Collie (Photo: Nom Nom)

Van life can often mean being constantly on the go, as well as being submitted to the weather more than if you were in an actual house. So you need a dog that has better resistance to different weather conditions, and that has the energy to be on the go every day.

Van life means a lot of traveling, so you will need a dog breed that does well with change, and that can easily adapt to different situations without feeling stress or anxiety.

In order for your dog to comfortably fit into your van life, they will need to be properly trained. Having specific routines or behaviors is essential for safety within the van, so a dog breed easy to train is preferable.

Known as the most intelligent of all dog breeds, Border Collies are high-energy, adventurous, friendly, and always eager to discover new places and things. They are super easy to train, outgoing, and perfectly-suited to the outdoors.

Suggested by Jacquelyn Kennedy, Founder & CEO, PetDT

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