Can Dogs Climb Trees?

can dogs climb trees

Dogs are well known for their tricks but climbing a tree is something we just don’t associate with dogs. So the next time you look up at a squirrel in a tree, they might be thinking of a way to climb up a get it.

Yes. Dogs can climb trees. In fact its not a trait many dogs have, but there are certain dogs that are capable of climbing trees. The majority of dogs do not have the flexibility in their legs for climbing trees and their claws are not as sharp. Some dogs have overcome these disadvantages to enable them to climb trees naturally. 

Although the vast majority of dogs cannot climb trees, there are still some that can. In this article, we take a look at some of the breeds that can climb trees and what makes them different from other dogs.


Dog Breeds That Can Climb Trees

There are not many dog breeds that you could definitively say climb trees. When deciding on what dog breeds to categorize as tree climbers you have to establish dogs that are more physically adapted to climbing trees.

Jack Russell The Jack Russell is a quick agile dog that tends to be well balanced with a low center of gravity. These traits make the Jack Russell one of the likeliest breeds to be a tree climber. The Jack Russell was bred to be a hunting dog, initially used for their ability to chase rabbits into their burrows. This instinct to chase small woodland creatures encourages them to follow their prey up into the trees. It’s not uncommon to see a Jack Russell attempt to climb a tree after a squirrel, but then its also not something to be expected.

Treeing Walker Coonhound According to the American Kennel Club these dogs are known to be smart and loyal. Again this dog was used for hunting, mainly because of their intelligence, sense of smell, and loyalty. The Treeing part of the name comes from the fact that when hunters used to track down game such as raccoons, which would scurry up trees for safety. The Treeing Walker Coonhound would stay below the tree trapping its prey and calling out to oncoming hunters. In the event that the tree wasn’t too complex to climb they would pursue their prey even further up the tree. These dogs have been seen climbing trees although they are still favored more as pets today than hunters.

New Guinea Singing Dog These dogs are much rarer than the previous two in this post. The New Guinea Singing Dog is extremely vocal, hence the name was given to it. These dogs are known to live in the wild and are great at climbing trees. They have naturally flexible spines and legs, which allows them to curl themselves up into a tree. These dogs can be found mainly in zoos and are not recommended as pets.

Louisiana Catahoula Leopard – This is another hunting dog known to be capable of climbing trees. This dog is agile with huge amounts of energy allowing them to pursue prey for many miles. Their ability to climb trees possibly originates from them being trained to chase game up trees and vocalize their location for companion hunters.

These are four dogs that are most commonly referenced when talking about dogs climbing trees. These dogs don’t necessarily have anything profoundly different about them, which allows them to climb trees. Most light agile dogs would be able to climb trees given the right tree structure. It’s just not something they are naturally born to do, whilst the most likely cause for a dog climbing a tree is their relentless drive to catch their prey.

Why Does My Dog Climb Trees

The reasons why a particular dog consistently climbs trees are down to a few factors. Firstly the dog in question may have been taught to climb trees, for example, if it is a rescue dog or it may have seen someone climbing one and copied them. Secondly, a dog has an instinct to hunt  and this can often be the cause of a dog stuck in a tree. Dogs are fairly reactive animals and if they were to see something shoot up a tree they may not think twice about whether they can climb it, or get down for that matter. Lastly, your dog may be curious and decided to challenge themselves, it is, after all, an unnatural trait but one which many dogs are capable of.

How High Can Dogs Climb Trees

The height of a tree is not something that matters too much. When a dog climbs a tree it is entirely up to how brave the dog is and the general structure of the tree. A good structure tree with lots of wide level branches will be easier to climb than one with thinner branches with clusters of sticks. Climbing trees can be a fun thing to do for your dog and even more amusing to watch. However, you must not let your dog climb to high as this will inevitably end up with your dog getting stuck or worse them fallen straight to the ground. Dogs, unfortunately, do not land the same as cats and that goes for climbing trees too.

What Is Treeing

Treeing is a method in which hunters would use dogs to chase game up trees, essentially trapping them until the hunter arrived. Treeing dogs will vocalize themselves in order to alert the hunter to what they have cornered. Sometimes dogs would accidentally alert the hunter to the wrong tree, hence the expression “barking up the wrong tree”.  This technique is not only used for hunting but for observation purposes. Researchers can use dogs to chase prey into a tree to be tagged for research.

This hunting style could have been where certain breeds of dog got their instinct for climbing trees. It could be correct to assume that hunters may have trained their dogs to go that extra distance up the tree to finish the prey off.

What Trees Are The Easiest For Dogs To Climb

As mentioned before the ability for a dog to climb a tree lies in their physicality and the structure of the tree itself. Although dogs can get a high foothold on a tree with a running jump, the easier a tree looks to climb to more likely your dog is going to give it a go. The easiest trees for a dog to climb are ones with wide thick branches that are low to the ground. If a dog feels they cannot climb a tree they will most probably circle it barking. Check out our article on how high can dogs jump. 


The final word on this question is that dogs are more than capable of climbing trees. However, it entirely depends on the breed of dog and their athletic ability. The structure of the tree is also a big factor when a dog wishes to climb a tree, dogs will not usually climb too high if the tree feels at all unstable.

Dean Lissaman

As a child I grew up around dogs and have loved them ever since. I now have a beloved Golden Retriever who enjoys exploring the outside world. Being an outdoor enthusiast has inspired me to create the ultimate resource on relating both dogs and the outdoors. For more information on me check out my about page.

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