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12 Most Active Dog Breeds
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If you enjoy exercising and being active outdoors, consider adopting a dog that can keep up with your lifestyle. Of course, keep in mind that all dogs are different, but the breed can help determine your dog's energy and activity levels. For example, working breeds were bred for specific tasks and tend to be more active and high-energy.
While the most active dog breeds make great companions, they must get adequate exercise to keep them healthy and happy. Even if you're not active, there are ways to keep your active breed happy. Active dogs love playing frisbee, visiting parks, and learning new tricks. However, some may need more daily exercise than others, so it's your responsibility to ensure your dog is getting enough physical and mental stimulation. Wondering if an active dog breed is the right pet for you? Let's look at our list of the most active dog breeds to help you learn more about them and what to expect.
- Small Active Dog Breeds
- Medium Active Dog Breeds
- Large Active Dog Breeds
- Most Active Dog Breeds: FAQs
- Final Notes
Small Active Dog Breeds
Consider a small or toy breed if you're looking for dogs with the longest lifespans. These dogs live longer than large breeds and are easy to care for because of their small sizes. Small active dog breeds are ideal for smaller spaces, but that doesn't mean they'll be happy spending all of their time indoors. Instead, your small active dog will need tons of exercise and mental stimulation.
- Height: 13-15 inches
- Weight: 20-30 pounds
- Lifespan: 10-15 years1
Beagles are dogs with long lifespans, often living up to 15 years when properly cared for. These dogs are known for their floppy ears and loyalty to their human companions. They're fairly independent but love spending time with their owners. In addition, they're generally good with other dogs and fairly easy to care for.1
These dogs love to play and have high energy levels. In addition, they have high mental stimulation needs, so they should have plenty of stimulation (i.e. food puzzles, toys, training, active playtime, walks, etc.).1 Otherwise, you should ensure your beagle gets anywhere from 45-90 minutes of exercise daily. However, at least an hour of walks, playtime, or active playtime with you should be enough to keep them happy and healthy while preventing nervous and destructive behavior.
- Height: 8-11 inches
- Weight: 5-10 pounds
- Lifespan: 14-16 years2
The Papillon is a toy breed that can be happy living in small spaces like apartments. However, this high-energy dog will need tons of exercise if they don't have their own yard. Papillons are often happy, alert, and friendly dogs with beautiful fur and fun-loving personalities. They tend to be incredibly affectionate with family and good with young children. However, like all breeds, they aren't inherently good with other dogs, so their dog park behavior may not be ideal if they haven't been properly socialized.
In addition, even though these dogs are small and can be happy in apartments, they typically want to play non-stop, so you'll need to ensure they get enough physical and mental stimulation every day.
- Height: 6-7 inches
- Weight: 3-7 pounds
- Lifespan: 12-16 years3
Pomeranians are another active toy breed. Most known for their gorgeous, flowing coats and easygoing personalities, these dogs are full of energy. They require regular exercise and most can be happy and healthy with a walk around the block in the morning, but they would also be great at activities like dog agility.3 In addition, while these dogs don't necessarily need a job or activity, you should still give them mental stimulation every day, such as using treat-dispensing toys or puzzles to keep them focused on a task.
- Height: 10-12 inches
- Weight: 9-15 pounds
- Lifespan: 12-14 years4
Russell Terriers were bred as hunting dogs, so they have inquisitive personalities and strong prey drives. They have high energy levels and require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy. These dogs benefit from living with active families who enjoy the great outdoors by taking hikes or long daily walks.4 Russell Terriers must get exercise, or they can become restless and engage in destructive behavior, so you should invest time into daily activities that can tire them out.
Because of their strong prey drive, they should be socialized as early as possible to prevent potential issues like reactivity and aggression while on walks or in public.
Medium Active Dog Breeds
For many families, medium-sized dog breeds between 30 and 60 pounds offer a happy medium between large and small breeds. This is because they have longer lifespans than larger breeds and won't become easily injured as some small dogs might.
- Height: 13-16 inches
- Weight: 15-25 pounds
- Lifespan: 12-14 years5
The Shetland Sheepdog is an intelligent working dog. They're herders from Scotland and resemble Collies but are much smaller. Shelties have a long coat with a dense undercoat, long snouts, and erect ears.5 Since these dogs were bred to herd, they need physical and mental stimulation—and a lot of it! They're incredibly affectionate with family, great with children and other dogs, and highly trainable, making them a great companion to those with active lifestyles.5
- Height: 19-21 inches
- Weight: 30-55 pounds
- Lifespan: 12-15 years6
The Border Collie is one of the most well-known working breeds. They're exceptionally intelligent and love working. Unfortunately, this need to work can often be too much for inexperienced pet parents to handle since these dogs are full of energy and need a job to keep them happy and healthy.6 If you can keep up with the active lifestyle of a Border Collie, they can provide you with affection and companionship.
- Height: 21-24 inches
- Weight: 44-60 pounds
- Lifespan: 12-14 years7
If you're looking for a medium to a large dog breed, consider the Vizsla, a red-coated working dog that's highly athletic and loves to play. The Vizsla is a hunting dog, so they've been bred to run long distances. Therefore, you'll need to provide them with lots of play, exercise, and mental stimulation.7 These dogs tend to crave companionship and want to be by your side, so they may experience separation anxiety or destructive behavior when left alone.
In any case, giving them enough physical and mental exercise is necessary. Luckily, their high energy levels complement their eagerness to please. Since these dogs are natural hunters and love being active, they’re more likely to enjoy agility, hikes through the woods, and long walks.
Large Active Dog Breeds
Large breeds range from 50 to 80 pounds or more, depending on the breed you adopt. Of course, large breeds are great for families, but they're not ideal for small spaces like apartments, unless the pet parent lives a very active lifestyle and spends a lot of time outside with their dog. In addition, large high-energy breeds can be more difficult to control if they're not trained properly, so you should invest in training and socialization early on.
- Height: 27-30 inches
- Weight: 60-70 pounds
- Lifespan: 10-13 years9
If you're looking for an athletic dog breed, consider the Greyhound. Greyhounds were bred for sprinting and hunting, so they have a strong work ethic. Since these dogs were bred for running, you should have a yard and tons of space for them to play. On the other hand, they often get the reputation for being couch potatoes. Ultimately, it depends on the individual dog. They're not ideal apartment dogs if you can't give them physical exercise multiple times a day. Greyhounds have a strong prey drive, so they should not be allowed off-leash until fully trained or if you have a fenced-in yard.
Luckily, unlike many other working dog breeds, the Greyhound doesn't need as much mental stimulation;9 they don't need a job to be happy. However, you should still prevent them from getting bored by using treat-dispensing toys or engaging them in activities that exercise their minds, like training.
- Height: 28-32 inches
- Weight: 110-175 pounds
- Lifespan: 7-10 years10
The Great Dane is a working dog that's surprisingly affectionate for its size. However, even though these gentle giants make great companions, they should be monitored around children because they can easily knock them over. The Great Dane is not a breed for first-time dog owners because their imposing size could present problems, especially during training. While these dogs are highly trainable, they're fairly energetic, so they'll need ample time running and playing throughout the day.10 They can easily become bored or even destructive if you don't have enough space for them. Therefore, they should have a large fenced-in yard and be socialized early on to enjoy activities like going to the dog park.
- Height: 23-27 inches
- Weight: 55-90 pounds
- Lifespan: 10-13 years8
The Weimaraner is one of the most athletic dog breeds and is often confused with the Vizsla because they're similar in appearance. In addition, they're both hunting dogs, but the Weimaraner was developed hundreds of years after the Vizsla. This breed is also a hunting dog and enjoys physical activity and spending time with their human companions. Weimaraners are medium to large dogs that are highly trainable and eager to please. However, their size and high energy levels may be too much for first-time pet parents to handle.8 Instead, these dogs need an owner who is highly active and has the time to enjoy outdoor activities like dog sports, hiking, and running with them.
- Height: 24-28 inches
- Weight:60-100 pounds
- Lifespan: 10-12 years11
The Doberman Pinscher, most known for its powerful yet slender physique, is another large working dog built for speed. This breed of dog was originally created to protect their owners. Unfortunately, they've been portrayed as aggressive, but they're not an inherently aggressive breed, as there’s no such thing as an inherently aggressive breed. They can be protective, but a dog's temperament depends mainly on their upbringing and socialization. Dobermans are highly energetic athletes that need a lot of play and exercise.11
They're highly trainable, but you should keep them in a fenced yard or on a leash because of their protective nature. In addition, since they're full of energy, they should have regular long walks or hikes.
- Height: 27-29 inches
- Weight: 80-150 pounds
- Lifespan: 11-13 years12
The Anatolian Shepherd is a protective, highly intelligent breed. These dogs were bred to protect livestock, shielding flocks from predators. Anatolians are independent dogs, so they're not overly affectionate with their pet parents and instead enjoy spending time alone. This breed is highly independent, so it's best to keep them in an enclosed yard to prevent them from escaping. However, since they were bred to protect livestock, they have a vigilant nature and are lower energy than other dogs on this list.12 Instead, they may enjoy watching over their homes and going for long walks or runs once a day.
Most Active Dog Breeds: FAQs
How much exercise do dogs need?
How much exercise dogs need depends on their breed, age, and health.13 In general, puppies need more exercise than adult dogs and usually get their exercise in short bursts before taking a nap. Meanwhile, how much exercise adult dogs need usually depends on their breed. For example, Russel Terriers need more exercise than a Chow Chow. In addition, your dog's health and individual genetics will also play a role. Senior dogs or dogs experiencing pain may need to exercise less. Still, your dog's exercise routine can be determined by your vet, who will consider everything to help you understand how much exercise your dog needs.
Do dogs get stressed without exercise?
Yes, dogs can get stressed when they don't get enough physical or mental stimulation. Dogs need regular exercise, and if they don't get it, they can become restless, bored, and frustrated.14 Not giving your dog enough exercise can harm their health because it can lead to weight gain, especially if you aren't monitoring their calories. In addition, dogs can easily become bored and engage in destructive behaviors. Ensuring your dog gets enough exercise daily can prevent unwanted behaviors and stress.
The best active dog breeds are those that fit you and your family’s interests and lifestyle. However, the right dog for you depends on your lifestyle. For example, if you enjoy being active, an active dog breed might be the right choice for you. However, if you prefer to spend your days at home on the couch, consider a chill, lower energy dog breed that enjoys the same activities.
Is your dog getting enough exercise based on their breed? Talk to a Dutch vet today. We'll consider your dog's health, age, and breed to determine how much exercise they need every day to maintain optimal health. Try Dutch today.
Kriss, Randa. "Beagle Dog Breed Information." American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/beagle/.
"Papillon Dog Breed Information." American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/papillon/.
"Pomeranian Dog Breed Information." American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/pomeranian/.
Greenberg, Aurora. "Russell Terrier Dog Breed Information." American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/russell-terrier/.
Kriss, Randa. "Shetland Sheepdog Dog Breed Information." American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/shetland-sheepdog/.
Kriss, Randa. “Border Collie Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/border-collie/.
Kriss, Randa. "Vizsla Dog Breed Information." American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/vizsla/.
Kriss, Randa. “Weimaraner Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/weimaraner/.
Paulenoff, Simon. "Greyhound Dog Breed Information." American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/greyhound/.
"Great Dane Dog Breed Information." American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/great-dane/.
Kriss, Randa. “Doberman Pinscher Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/doberman-pinscher/.
Latimer, Matt. "Anatolian Shepherd Dog Dog Breed Information." American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/anatolian-shepherd-dog/.
Burke, Anna. "How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Every Day?" American Kennel Club, 30 Apr. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-much-exercise-does-dog-need/.
"6 Signs Your Dog Isn't Getting Enough Exercise." PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/slideshows/6-signs-your-dog-isnt-getting-enough-exercise.