A common question for hikers with four legged friends is whether you can take your dog on the Tour du Mont Blanc. Good question. The answer is yes, but not on the entire route. You’ll also need to camp as most of the refuges do not accept dogs. Be aware though that your dog will also be required to be on a leash and/or muzzled on most of the sections.
Remember that the Tour du Mont Blanc is no easy feat for humans and yes it’s the same for dogs. Covering between 12-15km each day with a lot of steep downhill sections, your dog will need to be fit, healthy and prepared to undertake the terrain. We talk below about whether it’s the right thing for your dog to embark on the TMB and what you should do to prepare your dog before this epic hike.
If you’re set on taking your dog with your on your Tour du Mont Blanc adventure, you’ll definitely need to do a degree of extra planning both to your itinerary (to take into account areas where dogs are forbidden) and to your TMB packing list.
1. Dogs are forbidden in the nature reserves
You will not be able to hike stages 10 and 11 of the TMB
Dogs are ‘interdit‘ (forbidden) on a couple of the trail stages in the French section (Chamonix) that pass through protected animal reserves, namely:
➳ Aiguilles Rouge nature reserve on stunning stage 10 (Tré-le-Champ to Flégère)
➳ Carlaveyron nature reserve in stage 11 (Flégère to Les Houches)
Wardens in the above nature reserves will fine you, even if your dog is on a leash. Please do not attempt to walk with your dog in these areas.
➳ Note: you can take your dog into the Les Contamines conservation area as long as it is on a leash.
2. Italian/Swiss sections – lead & muzzle required
Your dog will need to be kept on a leash & muzzled throughout the entire Italian and Swiss sections
Dogs are allowed on the Tour du Mont Blanc Italian and Swiss sections but do need to be kept on a leash at all times and unfortunately muzzled.
As these sections account for around 65% of the trail, you may want to consider if taking your dog on the Tour du Mont Blanc is going to be practical. Remember: the TMB is tough terrain and trust me, you will need both hands for your hiking poles. One way round this is to attach the leash to your waist freeing up both hands. Ruffwear do a good hands free extendable dog leash
Buying a good harness for your dog is a must for the Tour du Mont Blanc. A harness means you can get a good hold of your dog if needed and is a better means of restraint than merely a collar. Martha from Chalet La Foret in Chamonix highly recommends the Ruffwear webmaster harness – she adds “I think it’s absolutely the best one and a brief discussion on the Chamonix dog group a while ago confirmed that. Petzl used to make one but the new model isn’t very good. People often go for the Julius one because it’s got a handle but dogs can absolutely slip out of this, I’ve tested it. People should definitely test carefully by lifting! They do also make an even more secure one called the Doubleback. If you think it’s likely you’ll need to hoist a big dog, it’s better – but they are super expensive! Martha has written an extensive post on bringing your dog to Chamonix. Read it here.
3. Dog passport & vaccinations card
Your dog will need it’s own dog passport and vaccinations card to accompany you on the TMB
Obviously you will need your dog’s passport for arriving in France (or Switzerland or Italy if you are starting your TMB route not from the traditional start point). But did you know that you are legally required to have your dog’s vaccinations card with you to be able to show any officials that may ask. Make sure you have both of these essential paperwork if you want to to take your dog on the Tour du Mont Blanc.
4. How will my dog tackle the ladders?
Ladders on the Tour du Mont Blanc would pose a problem for dogs but …
The only ladders on the Tour du Mont Blanc are on stages 10 & 11, which are the stages which intercept the nature reserves so you wouldn’t be able to hike these stages with your dog anyway.
However, there are a few sections on the Tour du Mont Blanc that have metal foot holds built into the rock to help trekkers. They are few and far between and mostly on stages 10 & 11 which are prohibited with dogs anyhow. It’s something to think about though – would your dog be able to manage on any sections like this or would you be able to carry your dog?
If you’ve encountered any parts of the TMB like this with your dog, please let us know your experience in the comments below.
5. Dogs are not allowed in the TMB refuges!
You will need to camp on the TMB if you want to bring your dog
Refuges on the Tour du Mont Blanc generally do not allow dogs. Which means that you and your four footed pal will need to camp along the Tour du Mont Blanc trail. Camping on the TMB involves a hell of a lot of kit to carry so take this into account when making your decision of whether to bring your dog or not.
It’s possible to camp in the vicinity of the refuges and take your meals there to avoid having to take insane amounts of food and equipment with you, however your dog would not be allowed into the refuge.
6. Preparing your dog
Getting in shape
Trekking every day with the rocky terrain and serious elevation is hard for humans and just as challenging for dogs. Don’t expect that your dog doesn’t need to train and get fit before the off. Be sure to put them on a training programme as well as yourself. Start slowly and build up progressively.
It’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet before attempting the Tour du Mont Blanc. Speak to your vet about your intentions and get a medical done on your dog to assess their overall condition. Remember young dogs may not be able to handle the physical demands of this trek.
Preparing your dog’s feet
Using a pre-tanning solution on your dog’s paws can help harden and prepare their pads for the rough terrain. Use Solipat (a hardening solution which effectively protects the pads of your dog’s paws) and Dermoscent Biobalm, which treats your dog’s dry and callous skin), alternately every other day. Alternatively other dog owners prefer to put shoes on their dogs.
7. Bringing dog food & how to get supplies on route
Try to stay close to your dog’s normal diet
Think about what you will feed your dog during the Tour du Mont Blanc. Will you bring and carry dog food from home, what dog food can you buy along the way? Bear in mind that changing your dog’s diet abruptly can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and a decreased appetite. The last thing you want when you’re hiking this incredible trek.
Obviously bringing a lot of dog food from home is going to be difficult because it’s going to add a lot of extra weight into your pack but it’s necessary to bring enough so that your dog’s entire diet is not 100% changed.
Check what dog food brands are available locally to help you plan. Carrefour supermarket in France has international brand Pedigree which you can order online to your Chamonix accommodation and there is also a Carrefour Express in Courmayeur (Italy) which means you could pick up the same brand there as well. Dog biscuits are called ‘chien croquettes’ in French whilst dog food is ‘nourriture pour chien’ (French) and ‘cibo pour cani’ (Italian).
6. Bring a doggie first aid kit
Be prepared for injuries on the trail
You need to pack some extra first aid items to take care of your dog if she or he injures themselves on the trail. Be sure to include:
1/ styptic swabs – instantly stops minor bleeding
2/ antiseptic spray – a travel size antiseptic spray to deal with minor cuts
3/ saline solution – get some doggie eye drop or standard saline pods to help remove dirt insect’s from your dog’s eyes
4/ gauze and bandages – buy special self adhesive dog bandages or use your own from your first aid kit but remember the bandage has to stay put if your dog hurts it’s paw so it needs to be heavy duty and needs to stay fixed in place. To this end dog booties can be a life saver or a latex rubber glove in your medical kit can be used in an emergency.
5/ pliers or sturdy tweezers – to extract thorns or embedded objects
7. Bring a collapsible bowl
A collapsible water bowl will save space in your pack
Clipped onto your backpack or buried away in a front pocket, a collapsible dog bowl makes it easy to feed or water your dog on the trail.
8. Attach a bell & bring a whistle
A bell and whistle can help locate your dog if they escape the leash
Your dog is supposed to be kept on a leash at all times along the Tour du Mont Blanc. Nevertheless prepare your dog for if they manage to escape or if you’ve let them off in the town or away from the trail by attaching a bell onto their collar so you can easily know where they are. It’s also useful if your dog is trained to a whistle.
9. Bring snacks
High protein snacks can give your dog a boost on long tiring days
Just like you, a well timed high protein snack can give your dog a boost on a long day. Take some favourite snacks with you to help them along the way. Take a look at these high protein yak milk dog chews to add to your Tour du Mont Blanc packing list.
Have you hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc with your dog? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Dogs on a leash are allowed on the following lifts: Chamonix – Planpraz gondola Brévent cable car Praz -Flégère gondola Charamillon gondola Montenvers cog train Plan Joran gondola Bellevue cable car – Prarion gondola Tramway du Mont-Blanc cog train
Dogs are not allowed in the following lifts: Plan de l’Aiguille and Aiguille du Midi cable cars Aiguille du Midi – Helbronner gondola Flégère – Index chairlift Col de Balme chairlift