While taking any dog into your life will probably boost your fitness levels as you get out and about on your daily dog walks, there are definitely some energetic dog breeds that will really fit into the life of serious fitness fanatics and those who are looking for a dog as an exercise partner (as well as a beloved companion.)
Many of the most energetic dogs are bred to work, or do an active job (i.e., gundogs, pastoral breeds, some of the working breeds, and some terriers) will best suit an active owner but also some have specialist skills you might not have thought about.
Whether you need the best dog breeds for active/busy families, or for yourself, see our list of the best dog breeds for active lifestyles:
1. Bracco Italiano
A Bracco Italiano is one of the less common gundog breeds that were designed to run at a steady pace for long periods. This means that once an adult, the Bracco can make an excellent running partner for all sorts of athletes. Who needs a trainer when you’ve got a Bracco?
Possibly one of the most recognised dog breeds, the Dalmatian was bred to run behind or under the rear axle of a carriage pulled by horses – possibly all day, at equine speeds, without a break! These are an energetic dog breed whose greatest joy (and need!) is to run so need an owner who feels the same way – and they seem to have an enduring bond with horses too. It isn’t just runners and riders that can enjoy the extreme fitness needs of the Dalmatian – they work very well as a cross-country cyclist’s companion too.
One of the racier of the gundogs, Pointers are great dogs for active people as they make head-turning running partners. Their blood has even been used in the breeding of some of the modern sledge dogs, as they combine an athletic shape with the joy of running. They can do extremely well at CaniX and other types of off-road running while adding some style and uniqueness.
4. Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky is the ultimate long-distance sledge dog but you don’t need snow to get out there with a Husky - they’ll adore dry-land mushing with a scooter, rig or bikejoring - or they can turn their paws to CaniX if wheels aren’t your thing!
5. Parson Russell Terrier
Not all dogs for active lifestyles are large! The Parson Russell Terrier was bred to follow a horse out hunting without tiring, so fell-running, parkour or CaniX should be no problem for this fun, game little terrier who effortlessly combines activity with a more pocket-sized companion.
If you prefer the water to the land, Newfoundlands are the dolphins of the doggy world (if dolphins were huge, bear-like and hairy.) As long as you have the kind of home that can house one of the true canine giants who come complete with a thick, vast coat that can take days to dry, this pooch that loves to swim is a great dog for active people! If your weekend passion is wild-water swimming or kayaking, or you want to try your hand at water rescue, the Newfie could be a great companion. Just be aware that the life-saving instincts of the Newfoundland can lead them to ‘rescue’ people from the water who do not want to be rescued and returned to the shore by an enormous and very determined dog!
With a Poodle to fit any sized house, they make the best dog breed for active families. This is a dog who wants nothing more than to be with their people, but they’re athletic and clever too. Back in their history, the combination of this activity and trainability led them to being celebrated as the perfect circus dog! Every dog sport is within their grasp – so you can do Heelwork to Music, obedience, agility, parkour – or even teach them yoga, and then join in!
8. Rhodesian Ridgeback
The Ridgeback is a stunning-looking, strong, stamina-athlete bred to hunt and pursue lions. While this isn’t a sport that is likely to be in any athlete’s training plan, this is a dog to help you beat your best time fell-running or enjoying a slightly slower long-distance yomp up any hill, mountain or Munro you fancy.
9. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Another active dog in a smaller package. They may be shaped like a velvet-covered concrete block, but the Stafford Bull Terrier can certainly move. People often forget they were active, working dogs and as such they love having a job to do that lets them be with their beloved owner every second of the day. Heelwork to music, agility, hoopers, CaniX, fell running, hill walking, parkour… whatever activity you want to add into your fitness routine, they can take it all in their stride and they’ll always have a big grin to encourage you on! Not always happy or social around other dogs, the Staffie is the ideal human fitness companion.
10. Border Collie
Last but possibly the most energetic dog, the Border Collie is a cross between the most extreme athlete trainer you will ever find and Einstein! Trainable, clever, active and highly driven, these are dogs who need to use their brains and their bodies to stay healthy and happy. Hill walking, fell running, long-distance walking or orienteering, agility, heelwork to music or CaniX (and ideally all of these!) will all get you moving together. Just be aware, the Border Collie doesn’t do rest days!
How to safely exercise with your energetic dog breed
It is important to remember that puppies and adolescent dogs are not fully developed and so any exercise programme needs to wait until they are adults to prevent injuries that could have life-long effects. Once they reach adulthood, they’re ready to exercise with you!
We hope this guide on dogs for active lifestyles was helpful! If you’re looking for the opposite of this type of pooch, make sure to check out our lazy and calm dog breeds next. If you’re still a bit unsure, check out our dog breed selector tool for that extra bit of help.