Dog Exercise Needs by Breed

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Photo by Stephanie, Roslindale

Exercise recommendations for dogs range between 30 minutes and two hours of moderate to high-intensity activity daily. The time and intensity vary so widely because different dog breeds have distinct exercise needs. Some breeds are natural athletes with an abundance of energy to burn throughout the day. Others take life at a slower pace and don’t require the dog equivalent of CrossFit—a few daily walks do the trick.

Here’s a sampling of the exercise requirements of a few sporting and working breeds—the breed categories most within our wheelhouse—as well as recommendations for high-energy breeds, and which lower-energy dogs require less exercise.

Exercise Needs for Sporting Breeds

Photo by Janie, Midland

Typically, sporting breeds are energetic and athletic dogs who require at least an hour of exercise each day. If you don’t give your gundog enough exercise, he may use up excess energy through destructive chewing, barking, digging, and other nuisance behaviors. The Clumber Spaniel is one of the few low-energy sporting dogs who doesn’t need frequent vigorous exercise.

Exercise Needs for Labrador Retrievers

Photo by Tim Bronson

Labrador Retrievers are affable, energetic dogs who need an abundance of daily exercise. Somewhere between one and one-and-a-half hours of vigorous activity is about right for the breed.

Because Labs are highly playful and eager, finding exercises for them is a snap. If you’re a hunter, field training and upland hunting are always excellent options for this versatile gundog. But most Labs also love swimming, hiking, agility courses, running, and a simple game of fetch in the back yard.

Though they’re energetic, food-loving Labradors are prone to canine obesity, which regular exercise and a healthful diet can combat. Finally, challenging exercises keep Labs mentally engaged, which is important for this intelligent breed.

As you might expect, Labrador puppies have an abundance of energy, as well. But when exercising puppies, the most important thing is to avoid overexertion, which can cause ailments in fast-growing joints and bones. When dogs are young, they get enough exercise through eager exploration of the yard, your home, the neighborhood, and your local parks.

Exercise Needs for German Shorthaired Pointers

Another high-energy gundog, the German Shorthaired Pointer needs a full two hours of varied exercise every day. Though walking should be part of your GSP’s daily routine, leisurely walks aren’t enough activity for this athletic breed. Good exercise options for the German Shorthaired Pointer include brisk walks and hikes, agility classes, flyball, and field training.

Because of the GSP’s short coat and lean build, he’s at elevated risk of hypothermia in cold weather and requires a warm dog jacket or coat whenever he’s outdoors in winter.

Exercise Needs for Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers need at least one hour of intensive exercise each day. Field training and hunting are good exercise strategies that keep your Toller on the move and mentally engaged. If he’s not a hunter—or on his days off—other good exercise options include games of flyball or hide-and-seek in the yard, in addition to his regular walks.

This rambunctious breed developed from a mix of high-energy dogs, including retrievers, spaniels, setters, and collies. An excellent family dog breed, your Duck Tolling Retriever will enjoy your kids’ involvement in his daily exercise.

Golden Retriever Exercise Needs

Photo by Dirk Vorderstraße, via Wikipedia, used by CC BY 2.0

If your Golden is a gundog, field training and hunting will take care of a lot of his exercise needs. If he’s a family dog, play fetch and other games with him in the yard along with his usual walks (which should extend beyond the end of the driveway).

Similar to Labradors, Golden Retrievers are at elevated risk of obesity. The issue is twofold—Goldens really enjoy their dog treats and, though high energy, they won’t dash around and get exercise on their own like some zippy breeds. They need an exercise routine that ensures more than an hour of vigorous exercise daily.

Another smart dog, your Golden will benefit from mental stimulation through puzzle toys, obedience training sessions, agility classes, and games of hide-and-seek, for example.

Brittany Spaniel Exercise Needs

Brittany Spaniels need at least an hour of high-impact exercise per day—two are better. Training for the field and long hunting trips are perfect opportunities for exercising this tireless sporting breed, but exercise is necessary even when you’re ready for a rest day.

Nor will a Brittany take a break just because it’s raining—daily exercise will help prevent unwanted destructive behaviors. An abundance of stamina means more intense physical activity than a short walk around the block is a must for this energetic breed. 

Athletic and attention-loving Brittany Spaniels often enjoy agility, running, or hiking. Scentwork and nose games can engage the Brittany’s mind and body for double-duty exercise. Keeping a spirited Brittany entertained and exercised during the day means your companion is more likely to relax by your side in the evenings—but don’t be surprised if she insists on games of fetch right up until bedtime.

Springer Spaniel Exercise Needs 

Energetic Springer Spaniels need one to two hours of exercise per day: Without exercise and attention, this breed may become destructive. This hunting breed is a whiz in the field, and sporting training provides necessary mental and physical stimulation. In addition to engaging in basic training, going on hunting trips, and practicing field exercises, take your Springer on long walks, play games of fetch, jog together, and practice agility to tire out this boisterous breed.

A Springer Spaniel’s favorite place is by your side: He prefers exercise that involves the entire pack. Exploring trails and wooded areas, wandering riverbanks, and early morning running are ideal for burning this breed’s excess energy.

Other Dog Breeds That Need an Exercise Routine

Many breeds within the herding, terrier, and working groups have energy to spare, and benefit from structured and challenging physical exercise beyond daily walks and wandering around the yard.

Typically, these breeds have an athletic build, a certain bounce in their step, and energy that lasts throughout the day. They also often have an alert, engaged expression—a clear sign they enjoy being in the mix and on the move. Examples include Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Old English Sheepdogs, German Shepherds, Irish Terriers, Airedale Terriers, and Siberian Huskies.

Let’s take a closer look at the exercise needs of some of these high-stamina, enthusiastic breeds:

Working Dog Breed Exercise Needs

German Shepherd Exercise Requirements

Healthy adult German Shepherd Dogs require a minimum of one hour of exercise daily. This could be a combination of two brisk walks, and a dog sport, such as fetch, Frisbee, agility, running, or swimming.

Though originally bred for herding, German Shepherds have developed into versatile working dogs because of their keen intelligence, loyalty, even temper, and dogged determination. Often used as police and military dogs, drug and bomb detectors, search and rescue dogs, and service dogs, GSDs need to stay mentally engaged, as well, with puzzle toys, hide-and-seek games, or advanced training.

Rottweiler Exercise Requirements

Running, splashing, fetch, hiking—you name it, the energetic Rottweiler is ready. This breed needs plenty of activity every day to prevent destructive behaviors due to boredom, and to prevent excessive weight gain. Divvy up the exercise between the physical—long walks, romps in the yard, and hiking trips—and include mental stimulation as well. Rotties learn the basics easily, so moving on to advanced tricks training or agility challenges both the body and the mind.

While plenty of exercise leads to a better-behaved Rottie, take it easy: Agility and strenuous activity should wait until your dog reaches adulthood to prevent damage to growing joints and bones. And Rottweilers can overheat on hot, humid days. Break up the required hour (or more) of exercise into shorter sessions throughout the day instead of doing it all at once.

Bernese Mountain Dog Exercise Requirements

Bernese Mountain Dogs need at least an hour of exercise per day to help maintain a healthy weight and curb destructive behaviors caused by boredom. With enough exercise, a Berner is happy to relax near his people. Without it, he’s likely to pick up undesirable behaviors or engage in nuisance barking.

Daily walking and jogging give the social breed a chance to greet neighbors and new friends, a favorite activity second only to playing. Hide-and-seek games are great mental and physical exercise—Berners are a common breed trained for search and rescue, so the scales may be tipped in his favor. Agility is a good option to burn lots of energy, but as with all slow-growing breeds, save it for adulthood to prevent injury.

Other High-Energy Dog Breeds Need Quality Exercise, Too

Often, it’s helpful to consider what your dog was originally bred for when creating his exercise routines. Many herding dogs enjoy Treibball, a sport in which dogs ‘herd’ large balls. If you have a small terrier, consider Earthdog training and trials, where the dogs ‘hunt’ rodents in cages placed within burrows (no rodents are harmed, and terriers practice their instincts). Scent-work trials give breeds in the hound group the exercise and mental stimulation they need.

Bulldog Exercise Requirements

Whether you’ve got a British Bulldog or a Frenchie, exercise isn’t a top priority for these low-energy breeds. A walk around the block (your bully will likely set the pace) and a few minutes romping in the yard are usually enough. Bulldogs are couch potatoes who are happy to doze through the day, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook regarding exercise: Regular walking and activity are necessary for health and to prevent unwanted weight gain. Set aside 20 minutes for a walk and play a little fetch indoors, and your bulldog will be happy to warm your feet (or favorite chair) the rest of the evening.

Poodle Exercise Requirements

Energetic Poodles were originally bred for hunting and need plenty of exercise, but the amount and intensity depend on your dog’s size. Larger Standard Poodles need an hour or more of exercise per day. Smaller Miniature and Toy Poodles also need about an hour of exercise, broken up into shorter bursts throughout the day.

Aside from strolling around the block, Poodles enjoy hiking, agility, games of fetch, and splashing at the beach. Standard Poodles make fantastic running partners, while Toy Poodles prefer shorter outings at a slower pace. It’s not all about physical exercise: The Poodle is considered the second most intelligent breed, so spend plenty of time on advanced training and brain games to exercise the mind, too.

Corgi Exercise Requirements

The Corgi, one of the internet’s favorite dogs, is a playful, energetic herding breed that loves romping in the great outdoors. The hardy breed needs daily exercise to burn off energy, but some activities are difficult for the short-legged canine. While this determined dog is an admirable agility competitor and a champ at fetch, the Corgi doesn’t possess the stature for intense hiking or long runs. While he’s capable of scaling rocks and conquering steep inclines, a Corgi is at risk of spinal injury if he falls or jumps from too high. Instead, your short and stout companion should get exercise to work body and mind: Brain games, hide-and-seek, advanced tricks, flyball, or herding games make great options.

Boxer Exercise Requirements

Very high energy levels mean Boxers need plenty of playtime, long walks, and daily runs to prevent destructive behaviors. A single walk just won’t do: To really tire out a Boxer, expect to take multiple walks each day in addition to playing in the yard and working on training. Consistent training is a large part of life with a Boxer—but training doesn’t have to be repetitive. Boxers like to keep things fresh rather than stick with the same old routine. Agility and advanced tricks offer mental stimulation and burn energy; combine running, hiking, and play for a thrilling exercise routine—your Boxer will thank you.

LowMediumHighIntense
French Bulldog
Bulldog
Great Dane
Boston Terrier
Havanese
Mastiff
Chihuahua
Maltese
Basset Hound
Bichon Frise
West Highland White Terrier
Poodle, Toy
Poodle, Miniature
Beagle
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Dachshund
Yorkshire Terrier
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Miniature Schnauzer
Shih Tzu
Pomeranian
Cocker Spaniel
Pug
Newfoundland
St. Bernard
Labrador Retriever
Golden Retriever
Poodle, Standard
Rottweiler
Bernese Mountain Dog
English Springer Spaniel
Cane Corso
Collie
Rhodesian Ridgeback
Shiba Inu
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Akita
Portuguese Water Dog
English Cocker Spaniel
German Shepherd Dog
German Shorthaired Pointer
Australian Shepherd
Boxer
Siberian Husky
Doberman Pinscher
Shetland Sheepdog
Brittany
Miniature American Shepherd
Border Collie
Weimaraner
Belgian Malinois
Vizsla

Beyond your dog’s breed, other important considerations are his age and health. Older dogs will not have the stamina they once had, and may also have ailments that limit mobility. Regular exercise is still important for an older dog, to keep him fit and engage his mind, but his routine may require modifying. On-the-go puppies usually give themselves enough exercise while they explore, play, and learn. Pushing puppies to over-exercise can cause lasting problems in their fast-growing bones and joints.

When creating an exercise routine for your dog, move between high-intensity activities that support cardiovascular health and muscle building, and low-key activities such as walking, hiking, and training sessions for mental stimulation. Then make sure the activities are fun. The best exercises are always the ones you and your dog are raring to enjoy every day.



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