Just like we need exercise to stay healthy, so does your dog. However, not all dogs are created equal — not all dogs need to engage in the same type or amount of physical activity.
There are many factors that help determine what your dog needs, like breed, age, size, body type, and overall health. At each stage of your dog’s life, your dog will have different requirements for energy, stimulation, and stamina. It is important to keep their limitations in mind.
If you’re a new pet parent or are unsure of exercise requirements for your dog, we’re here to help.
Why is Regular Exercise Important
Regular exercise has numerous benefits such as keeping them agile and limber, improve their sleep quality, build confidence, and reduce tummy issues.
It is said that a tired dog is a good dog. Lack of exercise can really affect your dog both physically and mentally. They can get super anxious, especially larger breeds, and their overall mental health and behavioral development can decrease. Your pup could also start doing unwanted behaviors, like destructive chewing, barking, hyperactivity, and digging.
Remember, mental stimulation isn’t always the same as physical stimulation. Your pup needs both. So do yourself (your shoes) and your dog a favor and give your dog the proper amount of exercise.
Exercise Tips for Every Breed Type
Like we said, not all dogs will need the same amount and type of exercise. Larger breeds are more prone to joint problems, while shorter dogs don’t do well with long-distance walks. Short-nosed dogs often struggle with vigorous exercise and toy breeds and those that are brachycephalic (aka squished face) can tire easily.
When exercising your dog, use common sense to judge if they are getting enough exercise. Are they pacing around the house? They aren’t getting enough. Are they absolutely exhausted after walks? You might want to reduce the amount or split it up. Are they refusing to go outside? They’re over-tired.
But it’s not that black and white. So let’s break this down….
Long Legs, Short Nose
These dogs tend to be low to moderate-energy dogs. Exercise for these types of dogs can be difficult to pinpoint. Too much exercise, especially at a young age, can hinder proper growth and can cause health issues. Too little exercise can lead to muscle loss and weakness.
Therefore, you’ll need to figure out the perfect balance for your pup.
Breeds: Boxers, Chows, Mastiffs, etc.
Type of Exercise: Brisk walks for 20-30 minutes
Large Dogs (Height/Girth)
Daily exercise is very important for larger breeds to maintain a healthy weight and to keep their muscles and joints strong. However, that lengthy and strenuous walks are hard on your dog’s joints. So you’ll need to find that happy middle ground.
It is also important since large dogs are often couch potatoes and have serious lounging tendencies.
However, you should probably keep strenuous activity to a minimum until they reach a year old, at least. This is because it is unsafe to over-exercise large breed puppies since their skeleton hasn’t fully developed yet.
Breeds: Great Danes, Greyhounds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, etc.
Type of Exercise: Short, brisk walks for about 30 minutes or less
Short Legs, Short Nose
Toy breeds are often prone to obesity and sometimes pet parents of these breeds tend to not take them out as often.
Brachycephalic breeds have a hard time with exercise since their noses are flat. So you may want to split up exercise into sessions rather than all at once.
Breeds: Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Shih Tzus, etc.
Type of Exercise: Obstacle courses or 20-30 minute walks
Short Legs, Normal Nose
Small dogs naturally burn more calories at a resting state than other larger breeds, so they tend to require less physical activity. Too much activity and your pup may experience hip and joint issues, as well as unwanted weight loss.
A mixture of low impact and high energy activities throughout the day is best for this type of dog. They are very energetic and love to sniff around, so both physical and mental stimulation are important.
Breeds: Yorkies, Chihuahuas, etc.
Type of Exercise: Hide and Seek
Long-Backed, Short Legs, Long Nose
These breeds have delicate, tiny, and awkward bodies so it can be hard to know how much exercise your dog needs.
Too much exercise can affect their physical development, while too little exercise can risk weight gain that can be dangerous for their long backs.
Basically, be mindful of their energy levels, but don’t push them too much and avoid anything that involves them leaping.
Breeds: Dachshunds, Basset Hounds, etc.
Type of Exercise: Playing fetch, brisk 20-30 minute walks
Long Legs, Normal Nose
These dogs are highly energetic hunting dogs with a high level of stamina. In fact, after about a year, these dogs can run as many as three miles at a time.
Without the proper amount of exercise, their pent-up energy can become destructive and they can develop other behavior issues.
Not only is exercise important for health reasons, but these types of dogs benefit from them in terms of stimulating their sights, sounds, and smells.
Breeds: Pointers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, etc.
Type of Exercise: 30-45 minute walks
These dogs are a very high-energy, working breed. They were originally bred for physically demanding work for hunters. They would hike, run, and swim in sometimes difficult conditions.
Even though they are now mainly family pets, they still have those genetics. They are built for and crave a lot of physical activity. Additionally, these dogs tend to put on weight pretty easily which can cause numerous issues, like joint problems, heart disease, increased blood pressure, and risk of diabetes.
Signs of soreness after exercise will be more obvious with giant breeds.
Breeds: Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Springer Spaniels, Poodles, etc.
Types of Exercise: 20-30 minutes swimming
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