a tiny but high energy Jack Russell Terrier dog holds a red ball in his mouth

High, Mid and Low Energy Dogs – Which Woof is Your Match?


Recent Blog:

Nothing could be better than getting a new best friend. Well, one thing could actually. Getting a best mate who will match your lifestyle needs furever! Choosing between a high, mid and low energy dog breed could be the key to this lasting friendship.

Choosing a dog with the right level of energy is good for you. But it’s also good for your future pooch. Imagine landing yourself with a Border Collie bestie who needs upwards of 20 kilometre runs daily. If you’re a couch potato with a penchant for the odd stroll that’s a bit jarring, right? For you and for your dog.

Before we get carried away with too many examples, let’s unpack the specifics of high and low energy dogs plus their mid energy dog mates.

two dogs watch dog tv

Criteria for choosing a high, medium or low energy dog

Like most things, the level of energy a dog needs to spend each day falls on a spectrum. Various factors change how much wild and wonderful energy a dog has throughout their life.

Before settling on a high, low or mid energy dog breed, here are some considerations.

Understanding breed needs is key

If you’re a lover of luxury on the sofa and a good show, then you probably shouldn’t get yourself a dog from the working dog group. That’s right, dogs that have traditionally been bred to work tend to be high energy dogs. Surprise.

Then those who were literally bred to sit on the laps of royalty (see Pug) are renowned for being low energy dog breeds. Doing proper breed research gives you the tools to know and understand how and what types of breeds have been developed over hundreds of years for specific roles.

Dogs that were developed for hunting expeditions and herding cattle are likely to be higher energy pups. They’ve had isolated gene pools selected specifically to create qualities like agility, intelligence and endurance.

Owning a dog like a German Shepherd (just the name alone tells you something about their job skills) means putting in the hard yards when it comes to physical and mental stimulation. Read about Active Dog Month for more info on the different dog groups and some notable breeds that fall into each.

A Dachshund dog which is a low energy dog sits in a box

Be breed conscious but don’t box them in either

You might find that a so-called ‘low energy dog’ loves the occasional brisk walk. Perhaps your high energy dog has days they simply want to curl up under the covers. (In which case see why sleeping with your dog in your bed can have health benefits).

Take the time to do some rock solid research into your favourite breeds’ needs before you become a pet mum or dad. But even then, don’t box your breed in and expect them not to be dynamic in their needs. Give them a schedule they can depend on and allow for a bit of flexibility.

Mi casa su casa: meeting your dog’s environmental needs

Got yourself a nifty apartment on the fifth floor? Is it pet friendly? If so, fantastic!

But even then, not all breeds are happy or able to lead an apartment life. Some dogs like the Newfoundland dog need to have big open gardens. After all, they’re considered to be an ‘extra large’ breed (though dog size doesn’t necessarily dovetail with energy levels). More on dog size and the biggest dog breeds here.

Some dogs are teensy so they can easily fit into your apartment, but that doesn’t automatically make them low energy dogs. The Jack Russell Terrier for example is a small but energetic canine companion. Give him apartment living, sure, but only if you’re also a mover and a shaker with access to parks and great outdoor spaces.

Read about some of the best pets for apartments and lowest maintenance pets for apartments.

Age and health

Take note of the fact that dogs and puppies have four legs, which means double as many joints, muscles, ligaments and bones to care for. In caring for these be aware of health risks like over exercising a young puppy. Even if he or she’s a high energy dog, over-exertion can actually damage their growing musculoskeletal system.

Regardless of whether your woof is considered to be a high, low or mid energy breed, their exercise routine needs to be individualised. Take into account how old and healthy they are when choosing how much and what type of exercise they need. You want to help them stay active while accommodating health needs and reducing health issues.

Later in life problems like hip dysplasia in dogs and arthritis can really be a burden on a dog’s quality of life. Because of this it can pay off to buy a healthy puppy from an ethical breeder (they do health and DNA testing on parents before breeding). It also pays to choose the best puppy games that suit this stage in their lives.

Likewise, older dogs need to do more chill exercises. You might also want to try out exercises that take the load off their legs and hips. More on this in exercising dogs without walking.

New Zealand pet owner hiking with his high energy husky dog

High energy dogs dog breeds with the most energy

Like any good relationship you want to bring out the best in one another. If you love running and walking a high energy dog could really put the wind in your sails. Nothing beats motivation more than a BFF who spurs you on in your workouts.

Oh and need we mention a high energy dog who has their very own high energy human will make a truly happy canine companion? Keep in mind we’re talking long distance running on a daily basis and not the occasional weekend wowser.

Here’s a list of 10 high energy dog breeds who crave an active lifestyle:

  1. Australian Shepherd
  2. Beagle
  3. Belgian Malinois
  4. Border Collie
  5. Dalmatian
  6. German Shepherd
  7. Husky
  8. Jack Russell Terrier
  9. American Staffordshire
  10. Doberman Pinscher

Got your heart set on one of these high energy dogs but you don’t have the time to do the legwork every day? Find out about various options that may make it possible but need some careful planning, like pet sharing and dog agility training.

couple sits on the beach enjoying the mid energy levels of their Labrador dog

Mid energy dogs – less active dog breeds

For every person there’s a matching dog and that goes for those of us with mid energy levels too. Mid level energy dog breeds are those who love a daily walk, enjoy the occasional swim at the beach and are keen for a couple of games of fetch during the course of the week.

A mid energy dog still needs daily exercise however they weren’t bred to pull sleighs and chase cattle over endless hillocks in search of fresh grazing lands. If you’re set on moderate daily exercise, here’s a list of some of the popular breeds:

  1. Bull Terrier
  2. Cocker Spaniel
  3. Corgi
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Great Dane
  6. Greyhound
  7. Labrador
  8. Poodle
  9. Rottweiler
  10. Schnauzer

Even though Greyhounds are renowned for their fast sprints on the track, the truth is they love lying about. Like cheetahs, they’re only good at fast but relatively short sprints. Read about adopting retired Greyhounds in NZ.

When it comes to mid energy levels, an interesting case is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Our national kennel club, Dogs New Zealand, classes this breed as having ‘flexible’ exercise needs. Read about the trials and tribulations of PD pup customer, Rebel the Staffordshire Bull Terrier X.

Speaking of Staffies … have you ever wondered what dog (or cat) you’re most like? Find out what breed you are at heart and share it with your friends – click below:

Low energy dogs – least active dog breeds

If you’re a dog lover who’s all about cuddles with some hangouts in the park or garden then low energy dogs are the perfect pup for you. Many of the dogs on this list fall into the non-sporting and toy dog groups.

Here’s your list of some of the least active dog breeds to choose from:

  1. Australian Silky Terrier
  2. Bulldog (English Bulldogs in particular)
  3. Basset Hound
  4. Chihuahua
  5. Dachshund
  6. Maltese
  7. Pekingese
  8. Pomeranian
  9. Pug
  10. Shih Tzu

Brachycephalic breeds like the Pug and Bulldog listed above have flatter faces. This makes it common for them to be predisposed to breathing problems and overheating. You can just imagine how this design means you really shouldn’t overdo it when it comes to energy and fitness.

A short stroll in the park is ideal, maybe followed by a stint of some good laying about on the couch. Perhaps even while watching some great dog movies!

woman sits in front of a mountainous backdrop with canine companion

Dog exercise requirements for good health

While not every rule-of-thumb always applies to every individual dog despite their breed, some generalisations can help you get off on the right paw.

Such as… In addition to the right type and amount of exercise, having a great diet also helps fortify your dog’s health. And for those unexpected niggles like illness and accidents – that can cost in the thousands – there’s pet insurance.

No matter whether your dog is mid, low or high energy, accidents can and do happen. Having a dog insurance  plan means helping get them back on their paws with the least amount of financial pain possible. Find out about getting one or more months of FREE award winning pet insurance with PD. Click below to get a quote today.

Share on :