Company of Animals

Dog exercise needs by breed

Like humans, dogs come in all shapes and sizes and they are all different. While all dogs need healthy exercise and play time to keep them fit, happy and mentally sound, the amount and intensity required varies enormously. Our expert trainers are here to give you the low-down on “walkies” by breed.

High energy breeds 

Often, owners’ resort to progressively longer walks to try and tire out their pets and thus keep them calmer; however, this can have the opposite effect as the dog purely gets fitter so more of the same is required day after day! For these dogs, consider more metal stimulation to tire them out; this maybe in the form of training, games swimming, scent-work, retrieving or dog sports such as agility, flyball or even doggie parkour!

Herding and Sporting Dogs

Both groups have very high exercise needs and should get at least 60-90 minutes of exercise (which includes free running) daily, twice daily is even better! These are working dogs so are easily bored, so make them work their brains too! Intersperse training sessions with physical exercise to keep walks interesting and still controlled.


These dogs are generally lively, active, and smart so whilst they are usually smaller, they still have significant exercise requirements (a minimum of 60-minutes exercise daily). If you have a large yard, it may be possible to provide some of this exercise at home but it’s imperative your dog still goes out for walks to provide them with mental stimulation and allow them to socialise.


Contrary to popular opinion, sight hounds like Greyhounds often have lower exercise needs, they are sprinters that release energy in quick bursts. Most will be happy with leash walks daily with a brief period of free running to let off steam (30 – 60 mins daily). Scent hounds such as Beagles have higher exercise needs, similar to the herding and sporting dogs.

Toy Breeds

As with the smaller, Terrier breeds, these dogs still need exercise. Again, they may get a significant amount of this in the yard, but they should still go for walks daily to keep them both fit and happy.

Flat nosed breeds (Brachycephalic Dogs)

Particular care should also be taken with brachycephalic dogs i.e., French & English Bull Dogs and Pugs. These breeds often have respiratory issues that prevent them from doing intense exercise and are prone to overheating which can be extremely dangerous. They should only be exercised in short bouts rather than prolonged exercise. 30 – 60 mins a day is normally enough.

Giant Breeds

Larger breeds such as Great Danes and Mastiffs can also suffer if exercised too much and end up with lameness issues such as arthritis. More controlled walking, less running is the key to keeping these dogs fit and healthy, but they will still require a minimum of 45 mins a day.

If you are thinking of changing your exercise routine, we highly recommend you take advice from your vet first.

Fiona Whelan ~ Pet Behaviourist

Fiona has been working at the Training and Behaviour Centre as a behaviour specialist since 2002, and previously ran her own training and behaviour establishment in Lincolnshire for seven years so has a wealth of experience as a behaviour counsellor.