When you think of high energy dog breeds, your mind might immediately conjure up images of a Labrador Retriever playing frisbee or a hyperactive Springer Spaniel bounding around, but active dogs come in all shapes, sizes and personalities.
We often associate energetic dogs with herding and working dog breeds such as the Border Collie or Australian Shepherd, but smaller, non-working breeds such as the Terrier can be just as sprightly. One thing they all have in common, however, is that they not only need a physical workout, but mental stimulation too. These dogs like to be busy whether its playing fetch, figuring out puzzle toys, going on a walk or agility training in the park.
If you want a high energy dog, these 10 breeds are a good bet. Just make sure you’ve got the time, space and patience to feed their energy.
PetsRadar's guide to high energy dog breeds
1. Border Collie
It’s no coincidence that the Border Collie is often found in the countryside – this breed lives for the outdoor life. Bred as a sheepdog, if it’s not used to herd livestock, it can be found herding children in the family if it’s not taught otherwise. This agile dog has lots of energy and needs plenty of exercise (around two hours per day). They love to run so make wonderful jogging partners, but they’re also very intelligent and like to be given jobs, whether that’s chasing a ball or solving a puzzle game.
2. Australian Shepherd
Originally a European breed, the Australian Shepherd was taken to Australia by the Basques in the 1800s in search of greener pastures and later to California where these dogs became known as ranch dogs and were used for herding by cowboys. The tireless breed maintains its herding instincts by chasing animals and people, but they’ll also be happy playing frisbee or being trained for agility sports. Australian Shepherds also need more than two hours of exercise a day and can become quite short-tempered and stubborn if they don’t get it. Otherwise, they’re friendly and loyal dogs.
3. Australian Cattle Dog
Similar to the Australian Shepherd, the Australian Cattle Dog is a ranch dog, but they were bred by Australian settlers to herd cattle by nipping at their heels. The “happy heeler” as it is known, has drive and stamina as it had to endure the harsh weather and working conditions in Australia.
If they don’t get the exercise they need, Australian Cattle Dogs will become bored and destructive so it’s important to take them on long walks for at least 45 minutes twice a day. If you do this you’ll be rewarded with an affectionate and protective dog who will follow you around everywhere.
4. Russell Terrier
These dogs may be small, but they make up for it with their high-energy and lively personalities. During the mid-1800s Russell Terriers were used as hunting dogs to chase foxes and they still love the pursuit. A warning, however. These dogs are better suited to experienced owners with a firm hand as training them is no easy feat.
They need at least an hour of exercise each day otherwise they can be quite mischievous, barking, digging and chewing things they shouldn’t. They can be aggressive with other dogs, wary of strangers and may overwhelm small children, but if you know what you’re getting they can also be a wonderful companion.
The Weimaraner (named after the Court of Weimar) was originally used by noblemen in Germany during the 1800s to hunt bears, wolves and mountain lions, but as these became more rare they hunted birds, rabbits and foxes. The breed needs lots of exercise (at least two hours a day) and proper training so it is better suited to experienced owners. They do not like to be left alone and can suffer from anxiety if they are. If it gets the attention it needs this sleek and elegant dog is a loving pet.
6. Siberian Husky
Developed by the Chukchi people in eastern Siberia to pull sleds, these hard-working dogs were built for power and endurance. Bred for harsh weather conditions, they’ll be happy outdoors and enjoy going for long walks, hikes or runs.
The Siberian Husky needs obedience training and is not well-suited for first-time owners or apartment dwellers. You’ll want a big garden with a well-built fence as they are notorious escape artists. However, if you’ve got the space and the time, this is a sociable and friendly, not to mention stunning pet.
While Dalmatians, famous for their role in Disney’s 101 Dalmations, are known for their spotted coats, a little-known fact is that they were once coaching dogs. Built for speed and endurance, the breed would run alongside horse-drawn carriages to ward off highwaymen and for this reason, today, they are perfect for active owners who want a companion for their daily jog or cycle. As in the film, Dalmations can make great family dogs for parents with older kids, if trained properly and socialised at an early age, as they are friendly and playful dogs.
8. Labrador Retriever
Originally from the island of Newfoundland off the coast of Canada, the Labrador Retriever was used to help local fishermen retrieve fish from the water. Today, the breed is still used as a working dog, employed as a guide dog, therapy and search and rescue dog thanks to its agility, intelligence and good temperament. However, they also make sweet and loving family dogs. They are easy to train and lots of fun as they love to run, swim, play fetch and learn new tricks.
9. English Springer Spaniel
If you’ve ever met a Springer Spaniel, you’ll know they’re often enthusiastic, hyperactive, friendly and playful. Bred in England during the 17th Century, these working dogs were used to flush out gamebirds – their name actually derived from the fact that they ‘spring’ into action when on the hunt. This lively breed still loves the chase as they’re bundles of energy. Springer Spaniels make great family dogs as they’re intelligent and easy to train, as well as gentle and affectionate. Just don’t leave them alone for long as they will get bored and barking may become a problem.
While the Poodle may be known for its hair-do, its grooming is actually a nod to its past. Poodles were used to retrieve birds from the water and hunters would groom their dogs leaving fur around the joints and vital organs to protect them from the cold, but still allow them to hunt with ease.
The hunting breed is an active dog that loves to run and swim. They are very intelligent and make loyal and loving family dogs. Just make sure they get enough physical and mental stimulation or they will get bored and misbehave.
High or low energy dog breed?
While the dogs on our list have bags of energy, this is not the case for all breeds. If you’re someone who likes to take it easy and enjoys spending time indoors relaxing, then opt for a low-energy dog instead. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Bulldog, Chow Chow, Pug, and Bassett Hound will still need to exercise for their health, but they’ll be more than happy spending most of their time curled up with you on the sofa.
Former editor of World of Animals magazine, Zara is a freelance writer with a passion for wildlife. Born in South Africa, she developed a love of animals from an early age. She is currently looking for a bigger house just so she can get a cat and a dog.
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