Bernese mountain dog standing in a field of grass

Breeds of dogs that need the most exercise

All dogs need to stay active, but your dog may need to be more active than others

Is your dog a bundle of energy or a canine couch potato? Your pet’s energy level can depend on several factors, such as age, size, and breed. Puppies seem to be made of fur and kinetic energy, mature dogs settle into a routine, and senior dogs slow down.

But, regardless of the age or size of a dog, they all need physical activity to reduce anxiety, combat boredom, and maintain good mental and physical health.

Understanding their needs can help you create an exercise routine that reflects your dog’s age and condition.1 Part of that understanding is knowing the common traits of your dog’s breed or mix of breeds.

Sporting and herding dogs

Bred for jobs that require endurance, these groups have the greatest need for a daily workout.2 They include retrievers, spaniels, collies, pointers, and German shepherds. Include training and tricks along with exercise and vary routines to keep the attention of these robust dogs.2

Smaller and medium-sized sporting dogs such as border collies, shelties, and Australian shepherds excel at activities like agility that challenge their intelligence and obedience as well as their muscles.2


Energetic terriers — a group that includes everything from little Westies to schnauzers of all sizes—need almost as much exercise as sporting or herding dogs. One hour a day of fun exercise will keep them in good condition.2 They also benefit from toys and mentally stimulating interaction.2


This group ranges from loping bassets to perky beagles to muscular greyhounds. Because the dogs in this class are so varied, their exercise needs depend on their size, age, and general fitness level. As with all breeds, it’s wise to ask your veterinarian about the type and duration of exercise that suits your dog.2

Don’t overexert these breeds

Flat-faced dogs like pugs and bulldogs are prone to both respiratory problems and obesity.3 They still need exercise but shouldn’t be over-taxed. The way these breeds are built puts them at risk of overheating.3 Their activities should be limited to a small area and curtailed in hot weather. Similarly, dogs with heavy coats, including Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes, old English sheepdogs, and komondors thrive in winter’s chill but need to be cautious in warmer weather. 1

What’s your own energy level?

Having a dog whose energy level matches yours is ideal.2 Dogs that love to run and play for extended periods are great for active pet parents. Breeds well suited for joggers include boxers, German shorthaired pointers, English setters, Brittany spaniels, vizslas, dalmatians, and even pint-sized Jack Russell terriers.2

Senior dogs and people

Older dogs may no longer be able to run as far, jump as high, and maintain their balance well as they did when they were young. Their reduced activity requirements make them good companions for people who aren’t especially active. Senior dogs, lap dogs, and toy breeds may be a good match for them. Although older dogs do not require a lot of activity, they still need light daily exercise, such as a good walk.1 Check with your veterinarian to make sure your senior dog has the appropriate exercise regime based on her health and age.1

Other factors

Weather should be a factor you consider when it comes to exercising your dog. Like humans, canines are susceptible to heat stroke when the temperature and humidity soar, as well as frostbite when the thermometer plummets.4, 5 Short-haired dogs benefit from wearing a coat in the cold. Also, paws should be inspected after every outing for cuts, nail condition, and damage from salt in winter. Keep your dog hydrated by carrying a portable bowl and water.4

The right level and type of exercise can help your pet AND you stay happy and healthy. To determine the right type of exercise for your dog, consider her breed, size, age, and health to select a dog that matches the amount of exercise that you can give them and work with your vet!1


  1. Burke, Anna. How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Every Day? American Kennel Club.
  2. Exercise And What You Need To Consider. Dogs Australia.
  3. What do I need to know about Brachycephalic dogs? RSPCA.
  4. Warm weather pet safety. American Veterinary Medical Association.
  5. Cold weather animal safety. American Veterinary Medical Association.

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