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the search for a dog
Woman running with dog

The essentials

  • There are all kinds of high-energy dog breeds — High-energy breeds come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments.
  • High-energy dogs aren’t for everyone — Certain breeds require daily exercise to thrive. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time staying active with your dog or have space for them to run around, consider a low-energy breed.
  • All dogs need exercise — Even if you opt against a high-energy dog, low-energy and medium-energy dogs need exercise, too. They might not need as much or as strenuous exercise as a high-energy dog.

If you lead an active lifestyle and you’re looking for a dog to accompany you on your adventures, a high-energy breed might be a good fit. High-energy dogs are fun and intelligent and love staying busy throughout the day. If you’re willing to keep up with their needs, you may even find that your high-energy dog makes you fitter and healthier over time. At the very least, they’ll make exercise a lot more fun.

These 12 high-energy breeds all make wonderful companions. Just remember that active dogs require active owners. Avoid high-energy breeds if your lifestyle doesn’t support their exercise needs or you lack space for them to run around and let off some of that energy.

1. Border collie

Border collie running
Average Height 18 to 22 inches
Average Weight 30 to 55 pounds
Description An immensely intelligent and tireless worker that excels at dog sports

Border collies are among the smartest, most athletic dogs out there. Originating from sheepdogs, their natural instinct is to chase and herd. They’re known for using an intense stare to control flocks, and they apply this focus to every task they’re given. Their strong work drive makes them fast learners and easily trainable. They do especially well with agility training.

If you’re willing to give your collie lots of daily exercise, they could make a good running partner. Otherwise, make sure you give them a regular job to do, as they can get destructive if they can’t let off their excess energy.

2. Siberian husky

Siberian huskies running in snow
Average Height 20 to 23 inches
Average Weight 35 to 60 pounds
Description This visually striking dog is a great long-distance runner that thrives in colder climates.

Siberian huskies were bred to pull heavy loads over long distances in packs of sled dogs, so it’s no wonder their endurance is so great. You’ll have to keep a close eye on them, though, since their instinctual urge to run makes them notorious escape artists. Since huskies were bred to withstand cold climates, be careful about overworking them if you live somewhere hot. Big families, big houses, and big, fenced-in backyards are best for this friendly working dog.

3. Australian shepherd

Australian shepherd chasing frisbee
Average Height 18 to 23 inches
Average Weight 40 to 65 pounds
Description A highly intelligent working dog that loves to channel its energy into physical activities like herding

Another herding dog by nature, Australian shepherds have an almost unmatched level of energy. They’re always looking for something to do and are highly intelligent, making them ideal dogs for sports like agility and disc competitions. At a minimum, they should at least be allowed to run around in a big enclosed space for an hour or two every day. Don’t be surprised if your Australian shepherd gets loud, destructive, or even starts chasing people if they miss out on the mental and physical stimulation they need to thrive.

4. Labrador retriever

Labrador retriever running
Height 21 to 24 inches
Weight 55 to 80 pounds
Description An ultra-friendly dog that’s as outgoing as it is energetic

Labrador retrievers are the most popular dogs in America, and it’s easy to see why. They’re affectionate, easy to train and do well around large families. They were bred to assist fishermen on the island of Newfoundland, Canada, performing tasks like hauling nets, fetching ropes, and retrieving fish. Naturally, retrieving and swimming are some of their favorite things to do. They also make good hunters and excel at canine sports like agility, obedience, tracking, and dock diving.

5. Boxer

Boxer playing on beach
Average Height 21 to 25 inches
Average Weight 60 to 70 pounds
Description This muscular breed makes for great guard dogs, but they’re sweet and silly around the people they love.

Boxers are medium-sized dogs that need lots of exercise to maintain their strong appearance. They’re smart, graceful, and alert when needed, but they’ve also got a silly streak that makes them great family dogs. Boxers are naturally inclined to run and jump around, and they’re big enough to accidentally knock people over if they don’t learn to control their actions from an early age.

Be firm with your boxer’s training and give them at least an hour of exercise a day, and they’ll settle into the family just fine.

6. Dalmatian

Dalmation running
Average Height 19 to 24 inches
Average Weight 48 to 55 pounds
Description A smart, curious breed with an athletic build and an iconic spotted coat

Dalmatians are naturally-protective dogs bred to guard horses and coaches. They’re a muscular, dignified breed with lots of stamina and make great long-distance running and hiking partners. Dalmatians are also highly-intelligent dogs that shine in obedience and agility competitions.

While they need plenty of exercise to stay happy and out of trouble, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your Dalmatian when you let them run around. They like to run fast and far, and they’ve been known to run away if let off the leash.

7. German shepherd

German shepherd running in water
Average Height 22 to 26 inches
Average Weight 60 to 90 pounds
Description A brave, loyal, and highly intelligent working dog that excels at all kinds of tasks

If there ever was an all-purpose breed, the German shepherd is pretty much it. They’re super smart and super active, bred for intensive activities like herding and police and military work. When a German shepherd decides you’re a friend, they’re sweet and fiercely loyal. On the other hand, they get anxious and defensive when they feel threatened.

German shepherds need constant companionship and exercise, usually upwards of two hours a day. Without these things, they can grow frustrated and take out their feelings by chewing and barking. If you’re away from home frequently or for long periods, you’ll be better off choosing a different breed.

8. Australian cattle dog

Australian cattle dog
Average Height 17 to 20 inches
Average Weight 35 to 50 pounds
Description A strong, agile herding dog that’s happiest when busy and active

Also known as the blue heeler or Queensland heeler because they were bred to herd cattle by nipping at their heels, the muscular Australian cattle dog is a direct descendant of the wild Australian dingo. Their large frames and hardworking spirits make them excellent running partners. They also excel at all kinds of canine sports, including agility, obedience, rally, flyball, and flying disc competitions.

Adopting an Australian cattle dog is a big commitment. While they’re devoted to their owners, they’re also incredibly protective of their territory, which can lead them to become defensive around strangers. If you’re not wearing them out with lots of daily mental and physical stimulation, there’s a chance they’ll turn destructive.

9. Jack Russell terrier

Jack Russell terrier running
Average Height 10 to 15 inches
Average Weight 13 to 17 pounds
Description An upbeat, clever little dog that’s a favorite among dog sports enthusiasts for its speed and fearless personality

Referred to as Russell terriers and Parson Russell terriers by the American Kennel Club, this dog was bred to hunt foxes in England about 200 years ago. Today, they’re still fast enough to keep up with foxes and horses alike, and they love digging things out of the ground. Jack Russells are incredibly smart, but their wit makes them tough to train. While they’re generally warm and affectionate towards people, they can be aggressive toward other dogs and animals that resemble prey, including cats.

Jack Russell terriers need 30 to 45 minutes of vigorous daily exercise — not to mention lots of off-leash play in an outdoor space — to let off their excess energy. If you’re ill-equipped to handle a high-energy dog that will try to outsmart you now and then, this breed might not be the best choice for you.

10. Beagle

Beagle playing with stick
Average Height 13 to 15 inches
Average Weight 18 to 30 pounds
Description A natural-born hunter and loyal companion, this hound dog is also beloved for its gentle temperament and friendly attitude.

These compact dogs are bursting with energy and are beloved by people everywhere. Popular with hunters, beagles are scent hounds by nature and love to spend their time following interesting smells, though this can get them into trouble when they run off to get a whiff of something good. Beagles were bred to hunt in packs, so they love company and tend to show their people lots of affection.

To keep your beagle healthy and out of trouble, give them at least an hour of exercise a day. Treats are also good for keeping destructive behavior to a minimum.

11. Poodle

Poodle agility
Average Height 15 to 22 inches (standard)
Average Weight 40 to 70 pounds (standard)
Description Poodles come in three different sizes (toy, miniature, and standard), but they’re all noble, proud, and whip-smart.

One of the classiest breeds around, people love poodles for their proud but playful personalities and keen intelligence. They’re also incredibly athletic dogs, descended from an old European breed developed for hunting waterfowl. At home, they’re always ready to play. In the world of performance sports, poodles steal the show in obedience, agility, and hunt tests.

Give your poodle regular exercise and they’ll do pretty well in most home environments. Give them consistent obedience training from an early age, as some poodles develop bad manners if left untrained (especially toy and miniature poodles).

12. Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois running
Average Height 22 to 26 inches
Average Weight 40 to 80 pounds
Description A proud, hard-working herding dog that adores spending time with its owner

The Belgian Malinois is a confident, protective dog that loves staying active and spending time with its people. They physically resemble the German shepherd at first glance, though some claim Malinois are a more agile and alert breed. All that energy and intelligence make the Malinois popular police, guard, and search-and-rescue dogs. They’re sweet and affectionate around the people they know and love, but their instincts can make them wary of strangers.

Be ready for a big commitment if you decide to adopt a Belgian malinois. They’re happiest with 60 to 80 minutes of exercise a day, preferably off-leash in an enclosed space with tall fences. They also make good jogging and hiking partners if you enjoy getting some outdoor exercise yourself.

High-energy dog training

Physical exercise helps them burn off excess energy, but training sessions give them the mental stimulation they’d ordinarily get from performing a job like herding. A couple of long training sessions per week are OK, but many pet owners find that their dogs respond better to smaller intervals of obedience training throughout the day (usually around five minutes per session). Treats are also great motivators when training high-energy dogs and can be used to help them focus on learning basic commands like sit, stay, and lie down. Learning new things gives dogs the mental stimulation they crave and subsequently calms them down.

You could also consider hiring a professional dog trainer or attending training classes with your dog if energy levels are an issue. Professionals have extensive experience working with different breeds and can correct problems for which most owners aren’t equipped. Once your trainer gets to know your dog and the specifics of their breed, personality, and history, they’ll be able to guide you through all the techniques you need to raise a healthy, friendly, and respectful pup.

Dog sports

Dog sports are another option for high-energy dog owners. Structured events like agility, obedience, and retriever competitions offer dogs great mental and physical stimulation and can drastically improve their behavior. For one, sports are physically intensive, tiring dogs out and releasing feel-good endorphins in their limbic systems. Additionally, sports require dogs to listen and respond to commands. This skill trains their minds and translates to daily life, where they often become more responsive and focused.

Feeding high-energy dogs

Just like high-energy dogs need high-quality exercise to stay their happiest, they also need high-quality food to fuel that exercise. Look for dog food formulas high in protein to help them build lean muscle and foods high in healthy fats to replenish the energy they expend while running and playing. Just remember to consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet, as they’ll be able to recommend the best food for your dog’s exact nutritional needs.

In some cases, additional food may be needed to prevent or improve chronic health conditions. ZipZyme™ Omega is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA, the most important omega-3 fatty acid. ZipZyme™ Omega, grown from ocean algae, is natural, safe, and plant-based. In addition to the traditional health benefits afforded by omega-3 products, ZipZyme™ also supports a healthy balanced metabolism, a key nutrient to maintain health and vitality in active dog breeds.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the most high-energy dog?

There’s no single breed that’s objectively more high-energy than the rest, but the breeds featured in this list are some of the most athletic out there. Even among dogs of the same breed, energy levels may vary — every dog is different in terms of its personality.

Which dog breeds are the most active?

If you lead an active lifestyle and enjoy getting regular outdoor exercise, an energetic dog could be a great choice for you. If your lifestyle is more sedentary, consider a different breed.

Is an energetic dog right for me?

If you lead an active lifestyle and enjoy getting regular outdoor exercise, an energetic dog could be a great choice for you. If your lifestyle is more sedentary, consider a different breed.

How can I entertain my high-energy dog?

Regular exercise is imperative to keeping a high-energy dog tired and out of trouble. On top of this, regular training sessions offer energetic dogs the mental stimulation they would normally get from performing a job like herding. Activities like dog sports offer the best of both worlds, allowing your dog to sharpen their mind and let off their pent-up energy at the same time.

What should I feed my high-energy dog?

High-energy dogs do best on high-quality dog food packed with protein and healthy fats. Omega-3 fatty acids like the one found in ZipZyme™ Omega promote healthy development from puppyhood. Always consult a vet before feeding your dog anything new.