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Can Dogs Climb Trees? The Truth (7 Reasons + 7 Videos)

Can Dogs Climb Trees

You’ve seen dogs climbing on beds, couches, even tables.

But what about trees?

There are videos on the Internet. 

But is it a one-off occasion? Or is typical for all dogs?

To get the answer to the big question…

Read on to discover:

  • Dog breeds that are known to be tree climbers.
  • An unexpected reason why dogs can climb trees. 
  • 7 easy steps on how to teach your dog to climb a tree.
  • And a lot more…

Can dogs climb trees?

Some dogs can climb trees. They’re able to do it due to an adrenaline rush, arboreal locomotion, or dewclaws. Or they could be a hunting or herding dog breed. They may also be trained to climb or use the treeing method. Some police dogs are specifically trained to do that.

7 dog breeds that can climb trees (with videos)

#1: Pit Bull 

Pit Bulls are known for their loyalty and friendliness. Aside from that, they also have strong physical traits. 

This breed will not let you down when it comes to:

  • Agility.
  • Strength. 
  • Intelligence.
  • Training ability. 

Due to these traits, Pit Bulls are able to climb high places with ease. Just take a look at how swift this Pit Bull can climb trees:

Trivia: Did you know that a Pit Bull holds the record for being the highest wall climber?

Antara, at the age of 3, sets a record for the highest wall a dog has climbed. She easily managed to climb a 13 ft. (4 m.) vertical wall. 

#2: Catahoula Leopard Dog 

Next on the list is the Catahoula Leopard Dog. Which is known to be a tough hunting dog. 

Catahoula Leopard Dog’s notable traits are being:

  • Smart.
  • Energetic. 
  • Determined. 

This breed also requires a lot of exercises. Since they’re bred to work in forests and swamps. 

Due to these amazing traits, they’re able to climb trees easily. And this video proves that:

Fun fact: Catahoulas are the oldest canine breed to live in North America. 

#3: Belgian Malinois 

Now, let’s talk about the Belgian Malinois. 

This breed is known to be protective. Which may get aggressive if not trained well. 

So, if a Malinois sees a threat, they’ll immediately take action. And they’ll use their great chasing prowess.

Not only that, but they’re also amazing tree climbers. So don’t even think about escaping a Malinois by climbing a tree. Because they can surely get you. 

Take a look at how they do this:

#4: Jack Russel

Of course, the active and hunting experts. 

Jack Russels have all it takes when it comes to climbing. 

“What do you mean?”

First off, Jack Russels have a body with compact muscles. They’re also incredible when it comes to agility and endurance. 

Plus, their hunting drive and activeness are perfect tools for climbing trees.

I bet you don’t see this every day:

#5: New Guinea Singing Dog

Did you know what’s the rarest dog in the world?

It’s none other than the New Guinea Singing Dog. 

You might wonder what makes them different from the rest.

Let’s start with their unique name. They’re called the New Guinea Singing Dog for a reason. 

And that is due to their beautiful singing-like vocalization. Their howls have different pitches that are almost like birds. So, they sound like a singing flock of birds when they howl all together. 

They also belong to medium-sized breeds. But the difference is they have shorter limbs than others. 

Aside from that, their legs are pretty flexible too. They can easily rotate their paws which is rare in canines. 

Sounds weird, right?

And these rare abilities allow them to be great climbers. They can climb rocky and steep surfaces. And even on the thick branches of trees. 

Now, let’s see how good they are at climbing trees:

#6: Border Collie

The intelligent Border Collies can also be great climbers. 

And that is due to their herding behavior and active lifestyle. 

Border Collies are popular for their unique method of herding. AKC says that they use “the eye” to intimidate sheep that they herd. 

Aside from that, they’re also fit for country living. Since they can make use of their agility in farms and ranches. And that makes climbing a tree an easy task to do. 

Sit back, relax and watch how they do it:

#7: Treeing Walker Coonhound 

Their name says it all. Treeing Walker Coonhounds are named after their high-chasing game. 

They’re able to run after their prey fast. 

Chasing will never be a problem even if their prey climbs into trees. And they can do that thanks to their special abilities. Which are:

  • High speed.
  • Intelligence.
  • Confidence.
  • Good sense of smell. 
  • Locating things quickly. 

Take a look at how they amazingly climb trees here:

BONUS: German Shepherd

German Shepherds are known for their role as police dogs. But this popular breed can also be good at climbing. 

German Shepherds are working dogs in nature. And GSD parents say that these canines can do anything because of their:

  • Agility.
  • Scent tracking. 
  • Guiding ability.
  • Therapeutic assistance. 

Still not convinced?

Here’s how a German Shepherd climbs a tree by chasing a cat:

You might also like: Revealed: Why German Shepherds Are Used As Police Dogs

7 reasons why (some) dogs climb trees

#1: They belong to the hunting dog breeds 

Hunting dogs are the most capable of climbing trees.

The reason for that is their high prey drive. 

Hunting dogs have 2 types and these are:

  • Hounds – These hunting dogs are after running and chasing prey. Raccoons, squirrels, and rabbits for example. 
  • Gun dogs – These hunters opt to find hiding prey that camouflages. 

It’s easier for hunting dogs to climb a tree if there’s prey. It’s because they get excited when they sense quarry around. 

They’ll be more eager to hunt their prey down if they see one. And they’ll even climb a tree to get it. 

Breeds that belong to the hunting dogs include:

  • Beagle.
  • Bloodhound.
  • Brittany Dog.
  • Pit Bull Terrier.
  • English Setter. 
  • Boykin Spaniel.
  • American Foxhound.
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever. 
  • German Shorthaired Pointer. 

Study says that pure hunting dog breeds make better successors. This study tested a pure Whippet’s (hunting dog breed) litter. The result showed that they increased in racing speed by 11.6%. 

Aside from that, hunting dog breeds improved their:

  • Blood flow.
  • Endurance.
  • Cardiac function. 
  • Cognitive performance.

#2: They’re herding dogs 

Hunting dogs aren’t the only breed that can climb a tree. The herding dog breeds can do that too. 

Herding dogs are bred to group certain livestock. It could be sheep, cattle, or goats. 

And they do this mainly for protection from predators. And to easily lead livestock move in a certain place. 

What’s more interesting with the herding dogs is their special skill. 

Wondering what’s that?

Herding dogs are undeniably smart and strong. As they can lead and protect livestock at the same time. 

They’re pretty athletic too. They have incredible agility and fast speed. 

And all these attributes made climbing a tree an easy task for them. 

Breeds that belong to herding dogs are: 

  • Beauceron. 
  • Border Collie.
  • Great Pyrenees.
  • Belgian Malinois. 
  • German Shepherd.
  • Australian Shepherd. 

Trivia: Did you know that whistles can affect herding dogs’ performance?

A study suggests that 14 herding dogs reacted to a whistle signal while herding. The researchers say that the longer the whistle, the more active the herding dogs get. 

#3: Having an adrenaline rush 

A dog may climb a tree if they get an adrenalin rush. 

“Tell me more!”

Adrenalin is a body chemical that dogs and humans alike have. And it rushes when we’re excited, anxious, or in distress. 

Dogs may feel that too. Especially if they’re naturally reactive. 

Let’s take a dog with a high prey drive for example. Seeing a squirrel walking around will trigger their adrenalin. 

It’ll make them excited. There’s a high possibility that the dog will run after the squirrel.

And this little squirrel will then climb a tree. Hoping to save their life from the doggo. 

But a dog’s adrenaline rush may push them to climb a tree. Without really knowing what they’re doing. 

All they think about at that moment is to get the squirrel. No matter what it takes. 

That’s why some dogs happen to be rescued from a tree. Just like the GSD from the previous video who chased a cat. 

This incident is likely to happen if a dog isn’t trained to climb. Their adrenaline rush was the one that made them capable of climbing a tree. 

So when they’ve finally calmed down, they’ll be confused. They won’t be able to figure out how to go down. 

Reading tip: 13 Unexpected Reasons Why Dogs Sit In High Places + 3 Tips

#4: Being trained to climb 

A dog may also climb a tree if they’re trained to do so. 

Some dog parents love to teach their pooch different tricks. And the climb trick might be one of those. 

Teaching a dog how to climb can be useful in the future. Such as riding a car or visiting a vet.

It’s most helpful during an emergency situation. Climbing during a flood for example. It helps dogs save themselves when such situations arise. 

Now, let’s assume that your pooch has learned the climb trick. 

Some dogs love to impress people with their tricks. Especially if they get rewards such as attention. 

So, Just like a child who wants to show off their newly learned skill. There’s a great chance that Fido will climb high places. And a tree isn’t an exception for that. 

#5: Possessing arboreal locomotion 

A dog can climb a tree if they’re capable of arboreal locomotion. 

Arboreal locomotion refers to the ability of animals to move on trees. It includes climbing, going down, and moving from one branch to another. 

Aside from that, arboreal locomotion is not only used when climbing trees. It can also be useful in climbing mountains and rocky, steep places. 

Most animals that can do this are chimpanzees and koalas. But canines are capable of it too. 

Especially those who’re in medium-sized breeds. It’s because they can balance themselves more than the large and tall breeds. 

With this in mind, some dogs will also be capable of climbing trees if they have…

#6: Dewclaws 

Having a dewclaw helps a dog to climb a tree. 

Take a look at your dog’s foot. 

Have you seen the tiny finger on the side of their foot?

That is a dog’s dewclaw. Now, try to hold it and move it around. 

You can feel the bone but it’s flexible, right?

The reason for that is because it doesn’t connect to a dog’s leg. It’s actually attached only to their skin. 

PetMD says that aside from climbing trees, dewclaws can also be used in:

  • Holding objects.
  • Climbing out of the water. 
  • Getting a better grip on ice surfaces. 

Here’s a list of some breeds that have dewclaws:

  • Briard.
  • Dalmatian. 
  • Doberman. 
  • St. Bernard.
  • English Bulldog.
  • American Pitbull.
  • Catalan Sheepdog. 
  • German Shepherd.
  • Anatolian Shepherd.
  • Norwegian Lundehund. 

#7: Treeing method

Ever heard of the treeing method in dogs?

Yup, it’s a thing! To be precise…

It’s a technique used in hunting. This is when a treeing dog will chase the prey until it goes up to a tree.

The reason for that is it’ll be easier for hunters to see prey. They’ll just look up where the treeing dog barks and that’s it.

The hunters will then decide if the prey will be killed or spared.

Treeing dogs are trained to do this. So not all dogs can do the treeing method. 

Aside from that, most of the treeing dogs are hunting dogs. As I’ve said earlier, they’re capable of climbing trees. 

How do you teach a dog to climb a tree?

Disclaimer: not all dogs can climb trees. There are certain factors that make a dog capable of climbing trees. Just like the ones I’ve mentioned above. So, if none of these 6 factors apply to your dog, don’t force your canine to climb a tree. 

You can teach a dog to climb a tree by teaching them the “climb” trick.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Provide a platform for your dog to climb. 
  2. Make your dog stand near or beside the platform. 
  3. Lure your dog by using their favorite treat. 
  4. Hold a treat and let your dog sniff it. Make them want to follow it.
  5. Move your hand to the platform. Make sure your dog is following it and slowly getting into the platform. 
  6. Reward your dog if their whole body is on the platform. 
  7. Lastly, let your dog leave the platform by commanding “free”.

Watch this video for a more in-depth tutorial:

Practice this consistently until your dog masters the trick. After that, you may double the height of the platform. 

If your dog climbs it, increase the height. 

Then, if your dog seems to be capable of climbing a tree’s height, you may try it. As long as you start trying on trees with low branches. 

Warning: Never force your dog if they don’t want to. It’s best to keep our dog’s well-being a priority more than anything.