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The Most and Least Active Dog Breeds

Your Expert Guide
Amanda Brahlek

When you’re looking for your new best friend, it’s important to choose a dog that will match your lifestyle and energy. Part of finding the perfect fit for your family is choosing a breed or combination of breeds that mirror your active or relaxed day-to-day life. To help make your search easier, we’ve identified the most and least active dog breeds.

The Most Active Dog Breeds

If you’re a hiker, runner, or you enjoy day-to-day adventures, you will want a sidekick that can keep up. The most active dog breeds range in size, but all are tenacious, energetic, and ready for their next challenge.

1. Border Collie

A Border Collie won’t simple keep up with you, it will outpace you and may even outsmart you. This energetic, brilliant, working breed loves to stay busy and learn from its owner. This athletic dog will happily and agilely go trail running, hike a mountain, or go for a swim.

2. Australian Shepherd

Known for its beautiful coat and stunning eyes, the Australian Shepherd is more than just a pretty face. This dog loves to stay busy. It can’t resist the instinct to herd, so you’ll often find them sprinting through a field toward a flock of birds or rounding up other dogs at the dog park. This highly intelligent breed is perfect for owners that love the outdoors and challenging their furry best friend with new tricks and training.

3. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

The Corgi makes up for its short stature by out-running, out-maneuvering, and out-smarting dogs nearly three-times its height. This tenacious and bright breed was used for herding, and it’s never lost its unbreakable work ethic. This bold and confident dog is daring, gutsy, and unafraid of any adventure you’re willing to go on.

4. Jack Russell Terrier

If you want a compact, cute, and fiery companion, look no further. The Jack Russell may be petite, but this dog won’t tire when it comes to long hikes or runs. This bright and spunky breed will likely put you through your paces by recovering quickly and learning promptly.

5. Golden Retriever

By far one of the most popular breeds in the United States, the Golden Retriever is robust and determined. Goldens will happily keep pace on bike rides or join on a hunting trip. Year after year this amazing breed shows off its ability to learn, obey, and excel in canine sports competitions.

6. Labrador Retrievers

By far one of the most lovable and sweetest breeds on our list, the Labrador Retriever is outgoing, limber, and uniquely obedient. Known as one of the hardest working hunting dogs, this breed loves to show off its athletic ability. An excellent swimmer with a pleasant disposition, Labs are reliable dogs for active families.

7. Shetland Sheepdog

This gorgeous breed offers brawn and beauty. The Shetland Sheepdog comes from the Shetland region where their agility was put to the test. Luckily, this small but persistent breed flourished and became one of the most trainable and energetic family dogs. Happy to trot beside you as you jog, this dog is great option for runners, bikers, and families with kids.

8. Catahoula Leopard Dog

This breed was born and bred in the swamps where it took on hogs and cattle. Known for their endurance, the Catahoula won’t readily tire or give up on a three-day camping trip, and its independent and hardworking nature make it a natural fit for families that spend more time on the go than at home on the sofa.

9. Poodle

Whether you’re looking at a full-sized standard or a mini Poodle, this dog can be a whirl-wind of energy and delight. Not only is the Poodle reported as one of the smartest dogs you’ll find, but this highly energetic dog loves to splash in lakes, streams, and the beach. It’s not afraid to get its pristine and majestic coat a little muddy.

10. Miniature Pinscher

Any Min-Pin parent will tell you these dogs have a giant personality. They don’t know they’re not as big as other dogs, so they don’t back down when it comes to a challenge. They can leap over fallen trees, large rocks, and dive into lakes like there’s no tomorrow. This sporty breed is ideal for dog owners that want a manageable breed that loves to run, run, run.

The Least Active Dog Breeds

If you live a busy life or in an urban area where it’s a bit more difficult to get away to hiking trails, you don’t necessarily want a dog bursting at the seams for a game of fetch. If you don’t have the time or ability to exercise with a highly active dog, you risk a dog that may become bored and destructive. You will want a dog that doesn’t mind lounging and relaxing with you in the evenings.

1. Basset Hound

When you leave for work, it’s highly likely that your Bassett Hound won’t have budged from his place on the sofa until your return. A slow-paced walk daily and a few potty breaks are all that are needed to keep a Basset happy. And it’s likely just a walk or two will prepare this low-key breed for another long and lazy nap.

2. Havanese

Known for short bursts of energy and playfulness, the Havanese is a low-energy, low-maintenance dog when it comes to exercise. You’ll spend more time combing its hair than teaching it leash etiquette. Havanese enjoy spending time indoors and relaxing with their families, but they adjust well to their owner’s work schedules, too.

3. English Bulldog

They may be physically passive, but English Bulldogs don’t lack when it comes to personality. These plump dogs have a hard time staying trim because they love lying around rather than running. In fact, this short-snouted breed struggles to breathe when pushed too hard physically. And with a top-heavy head and short legs, they often can’t even swim.

4. Great Dane

Regal and lethargic, Great Danes are a great dog for owners that don’t want a larger breed that will tear up the sofa if they don’t burn enough calories in a day. This lumbering giant loves napping and resting rather than spending the day chasing squirrels and rabbits.

5. Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu can be a bit naughty and playful without running you ragged. This charming breed loves hanging around the house or apartment. When it’s ready for a bit of exercise, a short game of indoor fetch will suffice. And when it’s tuckered out, you can tend to its regal mane.

6. Chow Chow

When you think of a Chow Chow, its purple tongue is probably the first thing that comes to mind. This thick-coated creature would rather relax with a bit of air conditioning than go for long walks. Its size makes it perfect for owners that want to catch up on Netflix over the weekend with a sturdy and laid-back canine companion.

7. Pug

It may be just a coincidence that “Pug” rhymes with “slug,” but you may not think so after you learn how low-key these pooches can be. The Pug will light up with energy and excitement when meeting a stranger but will likely settle down and take a nap within moments of greeting them. The Pug does better in cooler climates and can have a hard time breathing when overheated, making it a poor choice for sports and hikes.

8. Maltese

The Maltese looks perfect curled up on a lap rather than running laps around the track. This diva dog doesn’t like to get its coat messy. It prefers being brushed and pampered in the comfort of its own home. This pup is ideal for senior dog parents and owners that enjoy making the most by relaxing during their downtime.

9. Italian Greyhound

This choice may surprise you, but this dog is the best of both worlds. Petite and feisty at times, this speedy pup will run in short spurts just to hunker down and sleep for hours on the sofa. The Italian Greyhound’s bursts of energy are short-lived, so a few walks or some yard-time is all one needs to expend its energy.

10. Japanese Chin

Head-strong and attractive, the Japanese Chin prefers apartment living to camping or swimming. This bright breed is quite curious but not so active. Often described as “Catlike” this dog prefers grooming, sleeping, and climbing on the back of the couch when allowed. They love cuddling up to their pup parents and often exhibit heightened insight into their owner’s emotional state.

Most Active Dog Breeds for Specific Situations

Best medium breeds for active families:

Border Collie, Golden Retriever

Best dog breed for extreme outdoor activity:

Catahoula Leopard Dog

Best dog breed for agility exercises:

Labrador Retriever

Most versatile active breeds:

Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Australian Shepherd

Best small breed for hiking:

Jack Russell Terrier

Least Active Dog Breeds for Specific Situations

All-around least active dog breed:

Bassett Hound

Least active lapdog:

Havanese, Maltese

Least active large breed:

Great Dane

Most versatile low-key breed:

English Bulldog, Italian Greyhound

Easily trained low-activity dog breed:

English Bulldog

Choosing a breed that fits your activity level helps ensure success for you as a dog parent and for your dog to adjust to your home. When choosing the right breed, remember that mixed-breed dogs will often share activity levels with their parents’ breeds. It’s always a good idea to consult your local shelter or breeder.


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