Many of us would love a dog, but are intimidated by the idea of lengthy walks day and night, all year round, in all weathers. What’s not often considered is that there are a number of breeds that actually require little in the way of exercise. That’s not to say they’re lazy (although some may be) – they’re just built that way! Here we look at 15 of the most popular low energy dogs for those with a hankering for a canine but no passion for non-stop exercise…
These dogs have characteristic long backs and short legs. That makes them unsuitable for activities that involve leaping and twisting such as chasing after a frisbee; this kind of strenuous activity can be harmful. On the other hand, they do have a degree of stamina and need their exercise, like any other breed. The average adult dog should have around 45-50 minutes’ of exercise a day, preferably split over two sessions. Getting out and about also helps develop their social skills and provides the stimulation they need to prevent boredom!
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These chunky dogs may not be enthusiastic about the prospect of exercise, but they do need around an hour daily. While they may grow to no more than 14 inches at shoulder height, they can weigh as much as 65lbs! As well as having a firm hand when it comes to feeding, you’ll also need to ensure they have a decent walk daily. Obesity in Basset Hounds can result in severe back problems. Because they were bred for hunting in packs, you’ll find they love the company of both human and other dogs and animals.
One of the rarer dogs on the list and contrary to what’s suggested by its name, it’s not descended from Egypt, but from Malta, where it was bred to hunt rabbits. This gives you a clue as to its behavior. While it’s likely to bolt after small animals or moving targets and therefore needs to be kept on a tight leash in high risk areas, those energy levels are soon burned up. After a 30 minute walk is done, then this is another hound that’s more than happy to chill at home the rest of the day.
You might think it’s crazy that a dog built for speed and racing appears on a list of low-energy dogs. Sure, they’re fast, but that’s just used up in short bursts of energy. The average greyhound only needs two walks a day, each of about 20 minutes or so. The rest of the time, they’re happy to sit in front of the gas fire and snooze! They also tend to have lovely temperaments, as they’re friendly, gentle and non-aggressive towards children and other pets too. Their bony frame and delicate skins make them unsuitable for rough play or outdoor living, though.
Check out our article on the Best Dog Food for Greyhounds.
Old English Sheepdogs
The Old English Sheepdog isn’t the most high maintenance of dogs in terms of formal activity and exercise; it needs about an hour a day of vigorous walking in two or three sessions. However, that doesn’t necessarily make them ideal for living in confined quarters such as a flat or apartment. They also need to be surrounded by the great outdoors, so they can roam around by themselves and play in addition to their formal walks. Their long, shaggy coat, one of their most distinctive features, is best kept short in warm temperatures as this breed has a tendency to overheat.
Bred to be companion dogs, so naturally highly social and friendly. Their short noses – not to mention little legs – means they will struggle with a great deal of exercise – sensitive to heat and difficulty breathing if over-exert themselves. A short walk round the neighborhood or a stroll in the garden once or twice a day will be sufficient. Let him go at his own pace, but do use walks as an opportunity to train him or reinforce training , show him whose boss. A Peke with insufficient training can be a real handful.
While they do need regular exercise, this tends to be only in short bursts. Two twenty minute sessions a day are just fine. In fact, in some weathers, you may have a job getting your pug to go out with you at all! They aren’t keen on the cold and rain, and wind can cause them eye problems. They are also liable to overheat in very warm weather – overall, it’s best to avoid extremes of temperature. Be careful and observe them when they’re on the leash. While they’ll do their best to keep up with you, they may struggle after a while.
Check out our guide on Dog Food for Pugs for more info.
Don’t be fooled by this dog’s size – he’s not at all aggressive or intimidating; in fact the Great Dane is known as the gentle giant. While this breed does need a certain amount of exercise, it won’t have the stamina for running or long distance hikes. Make sure your adult dog gets around half an hour to 60 minutes’ energy-burning exercise a day; and it’s great if he has a large yard available to play in too. These bursts of energetic activity are important to keep lungs, heart and muscles healthy, and also to ensure not too much weight-related stress is placed on joints, a high-risk area for dogs of these types.
You may also like our guide on Dog Food For Great Danes.
The Cesky was specifically bred in Czechoslovakia as a dog that would not only hunt as part of a pack but also run prey to ground when acting solo. Despite that breeding, though, their temperament while not wrapped up in the thrill of the chase is patient, gentle and friendly. They may need up to an hour’s exercise every day, but with long backs and short legs, this need not be a long-distance run. Their very strong instincts may override even the most rigorous obedience training and make them liable to take off after ‘prey’ when out and about. They may, therefore, best be kept on the leash except when in enclosed areas.
These tiny so-called ‘toy’ dogs are one of the least demanding in terms of exercise, but they do still need some. They’re feisty and agile and need a good fitness routine to keep themselves healthy, not to mention well-behaved at home. Plan a routine 20 minute walk at least once a day, and ideally twice. The pace should be steady – no need for your pup to become breathless. Occasional short sessions of chasing a ball or running round an obstacle course are good for cardiovascular health too. But do try and prevent your Yorkie from jumping down from heights which can damage their knees.
Take a look at our review of Dog Foods To Feed Your Yorkie.
King Charles Spaniels
This is another toy breed – in fact, its alternate name is the English Toy Spaniel. While originally bred as hunting dogs and retaining those instincts, they generally have low energy. They’re also prone to a range of health conditions such as cardiac issues, so are far better suited to the sedate, lapdog lifestyle than an overactive existence. One or two short walks a day, maybe even just round the neighborhood, will be sufficient. Speaking of those strong hunting instincts, though, keep your pooch on her leash as she’s liable to dash off after any prey and has no road sense whatsoever!
Head over to our review of Dog Leashes.
For such big dogs, Irish Wolfhounds have impressively modest needs for exercise. Bred as sighthounds, they exert themselves in short bursts, so they can achieve all the energy-burning they need in two bursts of activity a day, approximately 20 minutes a time. This can be free play in a large yard or garden, although your dog will also benefit from being walked on the leash in your neighborhood for socialization and training purposes. Large dogs such as this are often prone to specific ailments such as bloat or gastric torsion, which occurs when exercising too soon after eating, so always check with your vet if unsure.
From one of the largest dogs, we come to one of the tiniest, the adorably petite Chihuahua. Yet even this little pet needs exercise to keep its heart and lungs healthy and strong, and to prevent obesity, which is something small dogs are predisposed to. Around 30 minutes is plenty, given that your dog will also be otherwise active throughout the day. This can be split into two sessions, and it doesn’t matter how you do it. Even a run around the house is good, although most owners prefer the formal walk around the block on a leash. Just remember how tiny your dog’s legs are compared to yours and don’t drag her too far!
See our round-up of Dog Food for Chihuahuas.
Like many dogs on this list, the Bulldog is brachycephalic, which means the bones in the face are much shorter than they should be for a dog of their size. This often results in respiratory among other health issues, which means that this breed is not physically up for lots of exercise. They’ll enjoy a short walk or play on a daily basis, but this pup is certainly not one to accompany you on the hiking trail. Nor is the Bulldog a fan of the heat, so he shouldn’t be out during the hottest times of the day.
You may not believe it, but there are very good reasons why the Labrador Retriever has made our list of low energy dogs…ok, they are on the large side and have bundles of energy. But don’t let that rule them out. Like some of the other dogs on the list, they prefer their exercise in short, intensive bursts, and then make perfect, relaxed house dogs the remaining 23 hours of the day! And retrievers like to – well, retrieve. Which means you can stay in one spot throwing the ball for them and they’ll keep on bringing it back till they tire. Worth a thought, anyway!
You may also like our guide on Dog Food for Labs.
- Dog Breeds, The American Kennel Club