January 16, 2024
Fido’s Fitness Regime: How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?
All dogs need exercise to promote both mental and physical health. However, most owners aren’t sure if their dogs get the right amount or even how much they need. The amount of exercise your dog requires can vary drastically depending on breed, age, weight, and even pre-existing conditions. A couple of laps in your neighborhood might be sufficient exercise for some four-legged family members, but some dogs require much, much more.
Here’s a run-down of 10 types of dogs and their specific exercise requirements.
“Sporting Dog” breeds, also known as “Hunting Dogs”, such as Pointers, Setters, Spaniels, and Retrievers, were bred for long days of work and are built for long days in the wilderness.
These friendly, energetic, and playful breeds are highly active and intelligent, so they almost always have plenty of energy to burn. They would be best suited with 1-2 hours of activity a day and would feel right at home hiking, swimming, or on a long walk. If you have the space and time, you may also consider signing your dog up for dock diving classes or organizing faux hunting exercises. Here are some great hunting dog exercise tips from Alpha Dog Nutrition!
Dogs in this group include Bernese Mountain Dogs, Boxers, Dobermans, Schnauzers, Rottweilers, and Huskies.
Originally bred to sustain long hours serving as sled dogs, rescue dogs, or on a farm, these breeds know how to get things done. They prefer longer, steady exercise and can do well hiking in any terrain. 1-2 hours of moderate activity is ideal for these breeds, and be sure to avoid any high-intensity exercise. Working dogs require mental stimulation just as much as physical, so you may also consider bikejorning, search and rescue, or agility activities to help keep your working dog busy AND happy. Learn more about all of these activities and more here!
“Herding Dogs” originally earned their name by wrangling livestock. Dogs in this group include Sheepdogs, Collies, and Shepherds.
If you own one of these breeds, you (or your children) may have experienced being herded by them. That’s because these dogs are happiest when they have a job to do. An hour or two of high-intensity exercise is ideal for these breeds, with sports such as agility, dock diving, frisbee, or fetch as fantastic options. Playdates with dogs of similar exercise needs are also great. Puzzles, training, and stuffed toys are good ways to help these pups get the mental exercise they need. Here’s a great guide for indoor AND outdoor activities for your herding dog!
Terriers were first bred to hunt and keep houses free of vermin. Common terrier breeds include Airedale, Irish, Jack Russell, Lakeland, Scottish, Welsh, and Yorkshire.
Terriers are small dogs with BIG personalities. They aren’t afraid of larger dogs, cats, or children and generally have no problem telling them who’s the boss. They aren’t all feisty but, they all require a moderate amount of high-intensity play. An hour of moderate play and a half-hour of intense play should be sufficient for variations of these breeds. Try mixing in games of fetch with a consistent walking routine.
Hounds were bred to do one thing: hunt. Common variations of hounds include Beagles, Bassets, Coonhounds, Foxhounds, and Dachshunds.
Hounds are known for their superior stamina, and they never seem to run out of energy. Originally serving as hunting dogs on long excursions, Hounds do well on long walks, hikes in any terrain, and love mental stimulation such as puzzle toys or a game of hide-and-seek. One hour to one-and-a-half-hour of exercise is ideal for these breeds. If you want to get adventurous with your hound’s exercise, consider mixing in some training challenges like a mealtime treasure hunt, nose work, or tracking trials. Here’s a guide to all three!
These hounds are also built for one thing: to run. Common variations include Basenji, Greyhounds, Irish Wolfhounds, Scottish Deerhounds, and Whippets.
Unlike traditional hound dogs, sighthounds require a mix of different exercises throughout the day. Originally bred to chase down animals, they thrive on short intervals at high speeds, you always want to ensure they are getting short spurts of high-intensity work. They also enjoy a regular schedule of moderate-intensity walks, as well as free play with a purpose! Games of fetch, puzzle toys, agility courses, and playdates with other dogs are great ways to give your dog a mental AND physical workout.
Inside or outside, these dogs can exercise anywhere. Common small dogs include Chihuahuas, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Maltese, Miniature Pinschers, Pomeranians, Havanese, and Miniature Schnauzers.
Dogs that classify as “small breeds” are more likely to crave human interaction than exploration. Due to their small size, they can be exercised inside with games of fetch and hide-and-seek. While they also enjoy walks, they don’t require the same amount as their larger counterparts. A half-hour to an hour of moderate exercise should suffice. It’s important that, due to their small size, dogs in this category can become easily over-exercised or overheated. Here are some tell-tale signs your dog is being overworked.
Large breeds need space conducive to their size. “Giant Breeds” include Alaskan Malamutes, English Mastiffs, Cane Corso, Great Danes, Great Pyrenees, and Saint Bernards.
Giant Breed dogs do not require much exercise, they just need a space big enough to move around. Due to their size, hip and joint issues are common, so avoid overexertion. These dogs are big fans of swimming and short walks. A half-hour to 45 minutes daily should be plenty for these gentle giants. Here’s a list of things to remember and exercise ideas to fulfill the needs of your large breed dog!
Identifiable by their distinct short noses and flat faces, popular Brachycephalic Breeds include American Bulldogs, Boxers, Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs, Pekingese, English Bulldogs, Pugs, and Shih Tzus.
These dogs have a hard time breathing in general, and their short noses can lead to several potential health issues, but they still make wonderful pets! They do best with short periods of low-intensity exercise, and a couple of walks totaling one half-hour to 45 minutes should be plenty of physical activity. Also, don’t forget to take it easy on them in the heat.
Senior Dogs & Dogs with Pre-Existing Conditions
If you have an older dog or a dog with pre-existing conditions, they most likely require less exercise than normal. Consult your veterinary provider to best understand your dog’s unique situation and physical needs.
Whatever your dog’s exercise needs are, there are several activities you can include them in beyond walks around the block. Swimming, dock diving, agility training, dogsledding, bike riding, skateboarding and hiking are just a few ideas to get off the couch and out there with your pup! Exercising with your dog will improve both your and their mental and physical health. It will also help to create a stronger bond between the two of you!
Remember, this information ONLY applies to adult dogs. Puppies should be eased into an exercise routine slowly over the course of their first year.