No two dogs are exactly alike, but the breed is a major factor in determining energy level. For instance, many herding and working dog breeds tend to be quite active. These high-energy dogs need both mental and physical exercise to thrive. And if they don’t have an outlet for their excessive energy, they might become destructive or develop other behavioral issues. Energy aside, these breeds vary widely in size, appearance, and temperament. What unites them is they generally like being up and busy for most of the day, and they need an active person who can keep up with them.
Here are 10 of the most energetic dog breeds.
Daily walks alone might not be enough for some high-energy dogs. Consider taking part in dog sports, such as agility or flying disc, to provide your dog with extra mental and physical stimulation.
Border collies are extremely intelligent, energetic dogs bred to be nimble herders with good stamina. They are known for their natural abilities in agility and disc competitions. And they can make excellent pets, but first and foremost, they need a job. Their natural instinct is to herd, but they can channel that into chasing toys or doing puzzle games.
HEIGHT: 18 to 22 inches
WEIGHT: 30 to 55 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Rough or smooth medium-length coat; can be solid, bicolor, tricolor, merle, or sable; well-balanced, athletic bodyback to menu ↑
Australian shepherds also are very smart and active, and they excel in dog sports. They were bred to herd livestock and enjoy staying busy. So they will likely seek out their own “work” in the form of chasing animals or people if not given an outlet for their energy. Some Aussies might act stubborn or aloof if not given structure, training, and sufficient exercise.
HEIGHT: 18 to 23 inches
WEIGHT: 40 to 65 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Medium-length coat; well-balanced body; colors include black, blue merle, red, and red merle
Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian cattle dog is a hard-working, high-energy breed. These dogs have the drive and stamina to herd cattle over long distances every day. And a dog with that much endurance can easily get bored as a pet unless it’s given ample exercise and mental stimulation. Cattle dogs excel at most dog sports and tend to enjoy learning tricks and puzzle games.
HEIGHT: 17 to 20 inches
WEIGHT: 30 to 50 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Strong build; smooth double coat; colors include blue and red with black and tan markings
Jack Russell Terrier
Many terrier breeds are known to be highly energetic, including Jack Russell terriers. These little canines certainly aren’t lazy lap dogs. Without training and vigorous daily exercise, they might channel their energy into digging, excessive barking, and other undesirable behaviors. But they often do well in learning dog sports and other tricks.
HEIGHT: 13 to 14 inches
WEIGHT: 13 to 17 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Smooth or wiry coat; colors include white with black, brown, or tan markings.
The Weimaraner was bred for hunting and continues to have that drive to be on the move, running long distances. These dogs tend to be friendly and affectionate, though some can be hyperactive. Without structured training and a tremendous amount of exercise each day, Weimaraners can become stressed or destructive.
HEIGHT: 23 to 27 inches
WEIGHT: 55 to 90 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Sleek body; short coat; blue to gray color
The Belgian Malinois often works for law enforcement, and it needs some kind of job to thrive. If you choose Malinois as a pet, let your dog participate regularly in dog sports. In addition to ample daily physical exercise, nose work and tracking also are great options for mental stimulation.
HEIGHT: 22 to 26 inches
WEIGHT: 40 to 80 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Muscular body; short coat; colors include fawn, mahogany, and red with a black mask
Siberian huskies were bred to pull sleds over long distances, so it should come as no surprise that they need plenty of exercises. You can embrace those instincts and get your dog involved in sledding for fun. Most huskies appreciate long daily walks, runs, and hikes. Just be careful to avoid overheating in hot climates, as they have very thick coats.
HEIGHT: 20 to 24 inches
WEIGHT: 35 to 60 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Well-balanced body; medium-length double coat; colors include black, gray, red, and white
Dalmatians historically ran alongside and protected carriages, and they continue to have that endurance that allowed them to keep up with horses today. They are driven to work and can become hyper if no job is provided. Some might develop bad habits, such as excessive barking. But for active people, can be excellent running or hiking partners.
HEIGHT: 19 to 24 inches
WEIGHT: 45 to 70 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Long body; short, dense coat; white with black or brown spots
Boxers often are goofy, lovable, and somewhat hyperactive. They can make wonderful companions for all kinds of families, but they need structure and exercise. If your boxer likes playing with other dogs, doggie daycare is a great option to burn energy. In addition, long walks and games are a must.
HEIGHT: 22 to 25 inches
WEIGHT: 50 to 80 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Muscular body; short coat; colors include brindle, fawn, and white with a black mask and/or white markings
Irish setters were bred to be swift hunting dogs, and they need ample daily exercise to match what they would get out in the field. These dogs are typically eager to please, albeit somewhat rambunctious. They respond well to training and excel in dog sports, including obedience, tracking, and agility.
HEIGHT: 25 to 27 inches
WEIGHT: 60 to 70 pounds
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Short to medium coat with long, silky feathering and fringe; colors include red, chestnut, and mahogany
Breeds to Avoid
Several dog breeds tend to be quite laidback and relaxed compared to their high-energy counterparts. Some breeds with relatively low energy levels include bulldogs, chow chows, pugs, Shih Tzus, and basset hounds. But like any animal, these dogs still need exercise to stay healthy despite their reluctance to leave that comfy spot on the couch. They typically can get their energy out with strolls around the neighborhood and some playtime each day.