It shouldn’t surprise us that many dogs considered the easiest to train also have the highest energy levels. The same intelligence and increased drive to perform that make them quick studies makes them highly attuned and reactive to their surroundings and driven to pour their hearts into everything they do.
All dogs need daily exercise and stimulation, but some breeds have inherent traits that make them need more than most. Adding any animal to your family requires time and effort, but keeping up with breeds known for abundant energy can require an exceptionally flexible household. No matter how adorable that puppy is at ten weeks old, the eventual much larger adult needs at least as much attention and more exercise.
Before you commit to a specific breed, assess your situation honestly. Perhaps your circumstances prevent having your high-energy dream breed right now. Just because you don’t currently have the time or space to handle your dream dog’s high energy doesn’t mean you won’t eventually. Either wait for things to change or consider a less intense breed that might be perfect for your situation. If you’re ready now and have a flexible, active lifestyle, consider one of these breeds as a companion that can keep up with you.
Jack Russell Terrier
The Jack Russell Terrier, the constant companion of foxhunting equestrians for decades, diverged into two AKC recognized breeds – the Parson Russell and the Russell Terrier. Reverend John Russell created the original breed to “go to ground” at the end of the foxhunt. After the fox had been chased back to his den by the pack of foxhounds, it was the Russell’s job to dive in and get the fox out of its burrow.
Horses and riders chasing across the countryside to hunt foxes is a thing of the past, but the Russell’s energy and prey drive has not diminished. A ratter and small vermin hunter of great ferocity, he must be well socialized to tolerate cats, and any smaller animal may tempt him to give chase. If you live in an area with groundhogs and other large rodents, keep your Russell on a leash so his courage doesn’t trap him in a fight he cannot win.
The Dalmatian breed originally guarded the horses and the coaches they pulled in pre-automobile times. They had the stamina to trot alongside the coaches over miles and miles of terrain daily. Although the breed’s history is obscure, by the 1800s, Dals were accompanying the Romani as they traveled the continent.
Because the Dalmatian’s original purpose was to guard horses and coaches, their protective instinct remains. They make dependable watchdogs. Dalmatians are also excellent partners for runners and hikers and perfect for energetic families. Without a fenced yard and regular exercise, Dalmatians may become noisy and destructive simply because they’ve been unable to burn off enough energy.
Shetland Sheepdogs’ sensitivity makes them exceptionally attentive and responsive pets. They excel at obedience, agility, and herding trials that productively channel their energy and intelligence. For the right individual, they can be easy to train.
They prefer a quieter home and are ill-suited to a loud, overly stimulating environment. They tend to bark and be wary of strangers, making them well suited as watchdogs.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Corgis are herding dogs and have plenty of energy to drive cattle by nipping at their heels. While highly trainable due to their intelligence, Corgis are less biddable than Retrievers because they think for themselves as a good herding dog should.
Although Corgis learn desirable behaviors quickly, they just as quickly learn how to circumvent authority. Corgis are independent thinkers; even if they quickly grasp what you want them to do, there’s no guarantee they’ll do it. They pair best with an experienced owner committed who understands the breed.
The Siberian Husky’s ancestors were originally bred in northeastern Asia by the Chukchi as family companions and endurance sled dogs. The Chukchi maintained the purity of their sled teams for many generations, and these dogs were the direct forerunners of today’s Siberian Husky. Huskies still have incredible endurance, and they retain their high prey drive.
Early socialization may not be enough to keep your other small furries or pets like chickens safe from harm. Sharing your active lifestyle with your Husky with regular exercise strengthens your bond and will help you stay healthy and happy. Securely leash your Husky to keep him from bounding away after small animals, and he will make a great jogging partner.
Labrador Retrievers’ eagerness to please their human partner makes them one of the most popular family companions. The breed has a long history of working side by side with people and is athletic and biddable. They are praise motivated, and while they may not learn as quickly as some other breeds, they learn happily and willingly.
Their intelligence, pleasant nature, and desire to please make them excel in fields as diverse as a hunting companion, guide dog, search-and-rescue work, therapy work, and narcotics detection. Labs like most everyone, so trips to the dog park for games of fetch or jogs around the neighborhood are opportunities to socialize for both of you. They can calmly settle and relax in the home when given sufficient exercise.
Like the Labrador Retriever, the Golden Retriever lives to please its owner. Their retriever instinct makes them naturally biddable dogs, so even though they are high energy, it’s not so difficult to keep them. They look to their owner for direction.
Inherently obedient, the Goldens’ devotion to their family is part of what makes them so trainable, and their intelligence and ability to learn commands are the other. Goldens are the life of the party at dog-friendly sporting and children’s events and never tire of fetching a ball for any child willing to throw it.
Border Collies are the most widely used herding dogs in many countries. They are incredibly clever and highly biddable. Their AKC breed description goes so far as suggesting they have the “uncanny ability to reason.”
This same ability to make a decision based on multiple factors makes the Border Collie able to decide to move the herd when out of range of his Shepherd. This independent streak is necessary for a good herding dog but may frustrate his owner if he ignores his commands.
Australian Shepherds are another breed often found around stables. Popular with modern riders for their attractive patterns, they originally developed as heelers to move cattle. European fortune seekers moved to Australia in the 19th century to try their hands as ranchers. They brought herding dogs with them and created this rugged breed.
Some of these ranchers set sail to California to begin working cattle there. They brought the new breed along. The local ranchers were so impressed by the dogs that the Aussie is still the cowboy’s canine colleague of choice. Aussies will try to herd anything from cattle to cats, and their heel-nipping habit isn’t for everyone.
English Springer Spaniel
Many say that Labradors are more trainable than English Springer Spaniels. There might be some truth in this, but the reality is that a Springer Spaniel does more than only retrieve in the field, so one can expect they’ll require more extensive training.
They have a tremendous amount of drive and energy to handle the multiple tasks in the field. The Springer flushes small game one minute, sits back for the hunter to take a shot, and then retrieves. Springers love long walks, retrieving, and swimming and are suited to an active outdoor lifestyle.
Although Miniature Pinschers have abundant energy, they are small enough that one can meet their exercise needs without a lot of yard space or mileage. Min Pins efficiently eliminated rats on the farmstead, which explains their high prey drive today.
They may give chase to smaller pets and even children. They push the envelope of what they are allowed to get away with. A firm but gentle approach to basic obedience commands will help keep him from running the household.
Well known as one of the most intelligent and trainable breeds, Poodles are as high energy mentally as physically. Poodles may not be as eager-to-please as the Golden, but their active, thoughtful nature keeps them in tune with their person’s wishes.
The popularity of circus “trick dog” shows was one of the driving forces behind breeding smaller versions of the Poodle because the clever, highly trainable dogs were perfect entertainers.
So, although these pups are small, they need plenty of exercise to keep them happy and prevent them from becoming overweight. Ideally, Beagles need two long walks every day, and they should have access to a fenced yard where they can play off-leash.
Beagles still work as hunting dogs in certain parts of the country, They hunt in pairs or packs, and their owners still swear by the breed’s great nose, easy-to-follow voice, and enthusiastic approach to rabbit, fox, and other small game hunting. Beagles tend to wander, so keep him securely leashed unless you’re in a fenced area. To help keep your Beagle from destructive boredom, entertain him with a selection of Beagle-friendly dog toys.
The Irish Setter is among the swiftest of all sporting dogs and is built for speed and grace. The Irish Setter’s glossy mahogany to chestnut coat makes him among the most beautiful dog breeds.
With a loving temperament and plenty of energy to fetch tennis balls for the kids, he’s a great dog for active people. This Irish Setter may be your perfect match if you want an adventurous and energetic exercise partner. He needs at least an hour of exercise every day to stay happy.
German Shepherd Dog
German Shepherds go to great lengths to please their owners. Their intelligence, loyalty, and obedience make them very trainable. German Shepherds’ legendary protective characteristics keep them attuned to their person’s needs.
Trainers initially developed Schutzhund for GSDs, and although many breeds work well for Schutzhund, the German Shepherd excels. Intelligent and trainable, he is highly biddable and eager to work with his handler.
Boxers love their families, and their boundless energy makes them a perfect fit for an active family who loves to play outdoors. Boxers could play outside all day in temperate weather but need a securely fenced yard to do so safely. They are athletes who can jump much higher than the average dog, and he’ll clear a four-foot fence with ease.
Your fence should be at least five to six feet tall, and you may still need to add an invisible fence to keep him secure. Ideally, you’ll be able to offer him at least two long walks daily plus additional playtime. Boxers love to be with you, so provide him with plenty of dog toys to help occupy him indoors.
While particular breeds are known for being more energetic than others, every dog is an individual. Your pup’s energy level will fluctuate with age and even with the seasons. A dog that relishes a two-hour run in sixty-degree weather may suffer at the same distance in hot weather. If you find your high-energy companion suddenly struggling to keep up, a trip to the vet may be in order.
When you’re ready for your high-energy dream breed, your first considerations with your new pup are crate training and socialization. It will take a more gradual approach to crate train an active breed, but your pup must have a safe, familiar space within the house if he must be confined.
Because your high-energy breed needs ample exercise both with you and when you’re unable to be with him, consider chew toys that will help him channel his frustrations without destroying the house. For breeds with a high prey drive who are likely to bolt unexpectedly when on a leash, an extra secure harness will help avert disaster. Be sure to microchip your dog and register the chip to protect him if he escapes your yard. With a little extra planning, you and your high-energy dog will be living the max life together in perfect harmony.