Active families will need to adopt a pet that fits into their routine. Having a dog breed that doesn’t mesh with your active lifestyle may mean that your need to adjust your schedule, which isn’t something any family enjoys doing. More than that, dog owners who already have a furry friend who is quite active will benefit from bringing in a second active breed for their pup to have as a playmate.
In this guide to the 10 most active dog breeds, we look at which energetic dogs are best for active families and what traits they have that make them good companions.
Most Active Dog Breeds
1. Australian Cattle Dog
Intelligent, sturdy, and active, the Australian Cattle dog was originally bred as a herding dog. They were developed by Australian settlers so that ranchers could better handle the herds of cattle that they had on their large ranches. As such, they have strong herding instincts, but there’s more to the breed than that. Although they were built for herding, these athletic dogs are also amazing at dog sports and can easily provide their own mental stimulation; given that they have some doggie toys and open space.
2. Australian Shepherd
Australian Shepherds did not originate in Australia. Actually, they were developed during the Gold Rush in the 1840s USA to be used as herding dogs – much like the similarly named Australian Cattle dog. Though these pups have retained their love of working, they make great family companions when paired with owners that prefer an active lifestyle. If you’re looking for a four-legged friend that can keep up with your daily runs or help you on the farm, the Australian Shepherd is exactly the dog breed you need.
3. Bernese Mountain Dog
Another cattle dog that is an active breed is the Bernese Mountain dog. These versatile working dogs came from the farmlands of Switzerland, so they’re no strangers to a hard day of work. Although they’re a large dog breed, which can be off-putting to new dog owners, they are extremely friendly and loyal. You’ll quickly notice that your Bernese is very lovable. They are a high-energy breed, and their size should be something that you take into consideration. There’s little point in adopting a dog you don’t think you can handle.
4. Border Collie
Accepted by the American Kennel Club and often seen in canine sports and dog shows, the Border Collie is an affectionate and energetic breed of dog from the herding dog group. They’re smaller than other herding dogs, which can make them a more desirable pet than other high-energy dogs from the herding group. Active owners will appreciate that Border Collies are energetic, though they can be stubborn and strong-willed. With a good trainer, you’ll be able to take their daily exercise to the dog shows and let the dog world be amazed at your pup.
5. English Springer Spaniel
English Springer Spaniels are also commonly seen at dog shows. Outside of their daily exercise in the dog park, you’ll have a friendly and obedient dog that has a joyous playful side. They may not seem like a high-energy dogs at first, but when English Springer Spaniels are given the love they need, they make wonderful companions for life. They’re a dog of a smaller stature, which can be more suitable for homes with young children if you’re worried about owning a big dog.
6. Golden Retriever
Although some may believe Golden Retrievers to be lazy dogs, we can’t say we know why that opinion has formed. The Golden Retriever is one of the most active dogs out there, and they’re also absolutely gorgeous thanks to their shining golden coat. They are among one of the most popular dog breeds in America, likely thanks to their loyal and loving personality. Golden Retrievers have been used as hunting dogs, trackers, sniffers, and have been employed as police and therapy dogs.
7. Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russell Terriers came into existence around 200 or so years ago. They were developed in England in the United Kingdom to become hunting dogs. Also known as Parson Russell Terriers, these independent dogs may be small, but they’re clever and can be a bit of a handful. It’s best to keep your Jack Russell from getting bored with a mental exercise or two, or you may find that your furnishings suffer. Once trained, this energetic dog will happily be by your side during long walks and vigorous exercise. If you aren’t an experienced owner of dogs, we wouldn’t suggest picking a Jack Russell Terrier as the first breed you bring home. These popular dogs may end up running rings around you.
8. Labrador Retriever
Similar to Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers make excellent four-legged friends. They’re extremely energetic, which is what we assume you’re looking for in a dog if you’ve stumbled across our guide to the most active dogs out there. Labradors, like all dogs, benefit from reward-based training. This is good to remember after bringing your pup home for the first time because they aren’t going to respond to any negativity in the way that you might want them to. Labradors are one of many popular breeds known for enjoying physical activity and outdoor adventures, so why not try taking them along on bike rides or find a hiking trail nearby?
9. Miniature Pinscher
We hope we’ve surprised you by adding this toy breed dog to the list. Miniature Pinschers may be small but they have decent guarding instincts and make a very alert watchdog. They are prone to over-barking, but this is a trait that can be trained out of dogs with enough time and enough (and a good professional dog trainer). Above all else, though, these pups are fun-loving and proud. They’re incredibly brave for their size and aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves or protect their owners. The image of a small, yappy dog may be funny at first, but no intruder will be laughing if your Mini Pin catches sight of them.
10. Siberian Husky
Known for being strong enough to pull sleds for miles and miles, the Siberian Husky is a high-energy breed with beautiful markings. Many people searching for their first dog will gravitate towards Huskies because of their striking eyes, but there’s much more to this dog breed than what they look like. Although they can look a little intimidating, Siberian Huskies are good-natured and affectionate. They are perfectly behaved around children, though you should never leave a young child alone with any dog.
Where to Find Puppies of These Breeds
Many of these breeds are on the American Kennel Club database and that means that you can access the AKC marketplace to try and find registered breeders who may have a puppy available for sale. Thankfully, the AKC vets all of their breeders and has a set of standards that must be upheld for a breeder and their litters to be eligible for a listing on the marketplace.
Alternatively, why not consider checking your local shelter and asking if they have any high-energy dogs that may suit you? Shelters will let you come and meet the dogs in person so that you can get a feel for how you and your possible new companion may work together. The dog you find may not be one of the breeds that we’ve listed here, but all dogs have unique personalities even if dog breeds share similar traits.
What to Feed an Active Dog
When figuring out your active dog’s diet, it’s important to give them the right nutrition to support their lifestyle. Find a high-quality dog food filled with wholesome ingredients and a single protein source before you go looking for anything more complicated. Just because your dog is active doesn’t mean you need specialized dog food. That train of thought is more likely to lead you down a path where you’re overspending on overpriced dog food products, instead of buying something just as good from another dog food brand.
Dog Breeds to Avoid
When choosing a dog breed, it’s important to decide what kind of dog you want – if you’re looking for any particular personality traits, grooming needs, their size, etc. For the purposes of this guide, if you’re looking at just active dogs, here are breeds that don’t fit into that trait:
- Basset Hound
- Boston Terrier
- Bull Mastiff
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Chow Chow
- French Bulldog
- Shih Tzu
Strangely enough, some sources disagree with the idea that a Bernese Mountain dog is high-energy. They are not a lazy dog breed, though they can appear to be because of how calm they are. Once your get your Bernese up and running, you’ll see just how much energy they have. Additionally, some dogs from breeds known to be active may just be lazy. These are seen as the exception, not the rule.
Dogs that are Surprisingly Active
Pembroke Welsh Corgis are among the dog breeds that you don’t expect to be active and high-energy but are. They may be small, and they may have short legs, but neither of these factors holds the Pembroke Welsh Corgi back when they get excited.
The Pomeranian is another surprisingly active breed. These pups are so often seen as cute, little lap dogs that wander around gardens and just putter along, but they can be very spry. They may be fluffy, but don’t underestimate their speed once they get going!
Our third surprising canine is the Yorkshire Terrier. Often owned by older individuals, Yorkies are seen more as a housepet with little need to run around like bigger breeds can and do. But the secret of the Yorkshire Terrier is that they love a good run and will keep an active owner on their toes.
There are plenty of small and toy dog breeds that make excellent hiking buddies and great running companions. Don’t underestimate a dog just because they’re on the smaller side. Remember to research any dog breed that you’re interested in to see what fellow dog owners and websites like the AKC say about the dog’s personality, traits, and how to care for them.
If you're shopping around for a shelter dog to bring home instead of buying from a breeder, it's always best to meet the dog in person. By meeting dogs that your local shelter considers energetic, you may end up with any breed of dog, at any age, who just happens to have that spark of energy that you're looking for. It's completely possible that you may find Labrador Retrievers or other athletic dogs in a shelter.
Your energetic dog, whether they are a Doberman Pinscher, a Shetland Sheepdog, or some other breed entirely, will need mental stimulation every day. This should include one-on-one playtime outside of their regular exercise, walks that are of a good length of time, interaction with various toys, and interaction with other members of the household. Remember that the common active dog is fun-loving, smart, and loyal.
In complete opposition to the subject of this guide, let's take a quick look at the dogs that are known for being couch potatoes. There's a short list above that contains some inactive dogs, but if you want a true couch potato dog, try one of these breeds: The Chinese Crested, the Japanese Chin, the Maltese dog, the Brussels Griffon, or several variants of the Spaniel breed. Be aware that your lazy dog still needs a good amount of exercise each day.