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Adopting the Right Dog for Your RV Lifestyle

So you want to go RVing? That’s awesome! And, you want to have an adventure dog to RV with you? That’s even better! Taking the following suggestions into consideration can help you pick the right dog for your personality and lifestyle.

Your Personality and Lifestyle

Adopting a dog is not a decision to be taken lightly. It shouldn’t be an impulse purchase like a pair of cool shoes. Instead, you need to evaluate your own personality and how you like to live your life. Are you an active person or do you like to just have the occasional walk? Are you sedentary due to limited mobility or illness? Do you live full time in your RV or just part time? Is your RV small or large? Do you want a small or large-breed dog? An adult dog or a puppy?

These are only some of the questions you should be asking yourself BEFORE adopting a dog to take with you on your RV adventures. Create a checklist of all the personality qualities you have as well as what you want in a dog, and it will make narrowing down the options that much easier. The personality of the dog should closely match what you value and how you are going to be living.

Types of Dogs

As you probably already know, there are many breeds of dogs. There are also millions of mixed-breed dogs waiting to be adopted in animal shelters all across our country. Any dog that you choose should be carefully researched.

There are a variety of sizes of dogs, too. However, don’t let size fool you. A Jack Russell Terrier will be a great deal more energetic inside your RV and feel like it’s taking up just as much space as a Great Dane. However, the small Cavalier King Charles Spaniel would be more than happy to lounge quietly with you on the couch. Again, don’t just go by how a dog looks. Research, research, research!

Pure Breeds

An active adventure dog likes to hike.

Here are some of the more energetic dogs people love to hike, run or bike with: Australian Cattle Dog, Border Collie, German Shepherd Dog, Labrador Retriever, American Staffordshire Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, Brittany Spaniel, German Shorthaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Beagle, and Schnauzers just to name a few.

More calm, laid-back breeds are as follows: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, French Bulldog, Pekingese, Tibetan Spaniel, English Bulldog, Shih Tzu, and Pug.

Mixed Breeds

Dogs who are of unknown mixed breeds need to be given special consideration. If you plan to adopt one of these dogs either from a shelter or rescue organization, you need to visit the dog and carefully evaluate it. You can’t just look up what its breed characteristics are. Take it outside and give it a walk. Ask the shelter staff about the dog’s personality, or if they happen to know about the prior owner, what that person had to say about the dog. If the dog has been in foster care, you can ask the foster family about the dog’s personality. You could also hire an animal behaviorist to go with you to help evaluate the dog you want to adopt. (You can use the IAABC database to find one near you.)

Keep in mind: Other pets you may have in your family need to be introduced slowly to any new dog so they can get used to each other. Meet and greets are always a good idea before adopting, if possible. And, any dog you choose needs to be given daily exercise, no matter their size or personality.

Where to Adopt Your New Dog

I am a huge supporter of “Adopt Don’t Shop.” So, I encourage prospective dog owners to visit organizations that rescue dogs. There are rescues that have full-breed dogs and others that have a combination of full and mixed-breed dogs. That said, some people still want a full-breed puppy so I will include resources for that as well.


The American Kennel Club has a tool to help people find out about specific breeds. You simply click BREEDS A-Z on their site and a pull-down menu allows you to explore dogs by a characteristic or breed. In order to help stop the practice of “backyard breeders” it’s best to follow the AKC’s advice for finding quality, pure-breed dogs. They can recommend reputable breeders across the country, and if you are a full-time RVer, you can pretty much go anywhere to choose your new dog.

I’ll live in your RV with you! is another quality resource for finding any kind of pet available for adoption, all across the USA. When you pull into a city or town with your RV, go to Petfinder’s website and type in the city, state or zip code. Next click on the type of pet you want – dogs. After that, you can narrow down your search by breed, age, and gender as well as how far you are willing to travel to find your new best furry friend. Petfinder will give you pictures of adoptable dogs and will give you contact information for the shelter, foster home, or other organization where the dog is located. Petfinder is where I’ve found both of my rescue dogs. is another option for finding dogs. Here, owners list their dogs for free or a rehoming fee. You need to be very cautious, though. There have been dogs stolen and then listed on Craigslist by unsavory folks who just want to make a buck, at the expense of the dog and its former family. And, this is where “backyard breeders” post most of their puppies for sale. You can never be sure of the health of the animal posted. Even so, there are people on Craigslist who truly want to find a good home for their pet. I can’t stress it enough; make several visits and ask a lot of questions, ask for veterinarian records on the dog listed and research the breed(s) of the dog you find on Craigslist.


RVing with a dog is not a decision to be taken lightly. Take your time. Make sure that the one you decide to adopt is compatible with your personality and activity level, and in the end, you will have an awesome traveling partner.

Please share your dog stories

  • What kind of dog do you want to adopt?
  • Where have you found dogs to adopt?

Let us know in the comments below!


Jeannie / Lead Writer, Tires & Tails

Hi, I'm Jeannie! I'm a full-time RVer with a lifelong need for travel. I used to be an elementary school teacher and had a dog training business in Washington State. I have had numerous pets throughout my life, and love to travel with them. I started my full time RV adventure with one dog and two cats. I currently have a dog who comes with my husband and me on our traveling adventures.

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