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the search for a dog
Two medium energy dog breeds playing in the yard.

The essentials

  • Medium-energy dog breeds strike a perfect balance — Medium-energy dogs love a good adventure but don’t require constant stimulation. 
  • Moderately active dogs come in all sizes — Contrary to popular belief, some small animals have high energy, and large ones can have low energy levels. Small, large, and medium-sized dogs all fit into the medium-energy category.
  • All dogs need daily exercise — Regardless of energy level or size, every pup needs an exercise routine. Talk to your vet about exactly how much exercise your furry friend needs.

Dogs, like humans, have different energy levels, and it’s one of the most important factors when choosing the best dog breed for your personality and lifestyle. You want a pet that lives life at a similar pace as you so you can best meet their needs for mental stimulation and physical activity. 

High-energy dogs seem to have boundless energy. They love to run, jump, hike, and play, making them great pets for highly-active families that can embrace their need for frequent mental stimulation. A lower-energy dog breed is content to spend most of its time cuddling and binge-watching Netflix outside of daily exercise needs. 

There’s a middle ground between high-energy dog breeds and low-energy ones. Medium-energy dog breeds are easygoing, moderately active, and flexible. These pups know variety is the spice of life — they’re up for adventures like longer walks and road trips but don’t require constant physical and mental stimulation.

Add these medium-energy dog breeds to your list of candidates if you’re looking for a pet that can strike the perfect balance between adventurous and calm.

The best medium-energy dog breeds

1. American Staffordshire terrier

The medium energy dog breed bull terrier chewing a stick.
Average Height 17 to 19 inches
Average Weight 40 to 70 pounds
Description These loyal, athletic dogs are happy to either exercise or simply curl up on the couch with you.

One of the larger breeds on this list, American Staffordshire terriers, or AStaffs as their people call them, sometimes think they’re lap dogs. These big dogs are highly affectionate with family, including younger children and other dogs. 

Though they love to cuddle, American Staffordshire terriers can also be active dogs who love a good challenge. They’re agile and springy, making them fantastic Frisbee and ball catchers. Long walks and romps in the backyard are also right up their alley.   

2. Border terrier

A medium energy dog breed, the Border terrier.
Average Height 12 to 15 inches
Average Weight 11 to 16 pounds
Description These small dogs are playful but always game to chill on the couch with their humans — including younger kids.

One of Great Britain’s oldest terriers, these dogs have developed a reputation as adaptable pets that do well in various living arrangements. 

Plan to give your border terrier daily exercise regardless of where you live. These wire-coated pups have longer legs than many others in the terrier family and enjoy using them during playtime and walks. Border terriers are not only up for a game of fetch with humans but with younger children, too. Their up-for-anything personalities make them good first best friends.

Though borders need physical activity, they’re not as high-energy as some other terriers, like Jack Russells. Instead, getting these pups to calm down after a trip to the park doesn’t take much effort. Just pat the spot next to you on the couch, and they’ll know what to do.

3. Boston terrier

A medium energy dog breed, the Boston terrier.
Average Height 15 to 17 inches
Average Weight 12 to 25 pounds
Description These fun-loving pups have compact bodies that make them easy to snuggle with and totable on all your adventures.

Boston terriers are compact, friendly, and adaptable, so they travel well. They’re happy to lay calmly by your feet at a dog-friendly outdoor restaurant, but their amiable personalities have earned them reputations as “mayors” of many local dog parks. 

These dogs are also athletic, making them all-stars in performance events like agility and flyball. For this reason, keep a Boston terrier physically active, even if they’re city-dwellers living in small apartments.

4. Shar-Pei

A medium energy dog breed, the shar-pei.
Average Height 18 to 20 inches
Average Weight 45 to 60 pounds
Description These loyal dogs are right down the middle in size and energy.

Shar-Peis are intelligent and loving towards their families. They are also guardians. Though they are generally calm, they are wary around strangers and other dogs. A Shar-Pei won’t hesitate to bark. Early socialization and consistent training can help these pups adapt to different situations.

If your pet struggles around strangers, try to arrange play and cuddle time in a more secure area or one with plenty of space to spread out. For example, a Shar-Pei may love an off-hour trip to a large park, a walk off-the-beaten-path, or a snuggle session on the floor with a family member.

5. Cocker spaniel

A medium energy dog breed, the cocker spaniel.
Average Height 13 to 16 inches
Average Weight 20 to 30 pounds
Description The American Kennel Club lists these pups as the smallest sporting spaniel. Their temperaments are equal parts laidback and playful.

As members of the American Kennel Club’s sporting group, cocker spaniels are known for their athleticism, playfulness, and eagerness to please. They’re one of the easier dog breeds to train and often do well in performance events like agility

They’re happy as companion animals, too. Long walks and games of fetch will keep a cocker spaniel happy. Their playful nature and easygoing temperaments make them ideal first pets for young kids. 

Though cocker spaniels require a lot of playtime and daily exercise, they are not high energy. It’s not uncommon for a content cocker spaniel to lay by its owner’s side at night.

6. Dachshund

A medium energy dog breed, the dachshund.
Average Height 8 to 9 inches (standard), 5 to 6 inches (miniature)
Average Weight 16 to 32 pounds (standard), 11 pounds or less (miniature)
Description These pups have little legs and a reputation as lap dogs, but they also have plenty of energy for play.

Don’t let those tiny legs fool you — these pups participate in dachshund races all over the globe. Ultimately, dachshunds are moderately active. They’re not distance runners or big on swimming like Labrador retrievers. However, this medium-energy dog breed enjoys long or short daily walks in the morning and evening and may even jump in the lake for a quick supervised swim. 

Another thing that gets them going: Strangers. Because dachshunds are highly protective of their families, expect high levels of barking and energy if an unfamiliar face comes to the door and interrupts your cuddle time on the couch.

7. Havanese

A medium energy dog breed, the Havanese.
Average Height 8 to 12 inches
Average Weight 7 to 13 pounds
Description These medium-energy small dogs have huge hearts and are friendly with family members, including kids and other dogs.

The Havanese are on the small side, but they’re up for almost anything with their families. This highly affectionate, medium-energy dog breed loves socializing, including with kids and other dogs. 

As much as a Havanese enjoys being out and about, they won’t hold it against you if all you want to do is stay home and watch TV — a Havanese will likely cuddle up right next to you. Its small size makes the Havanese a good fit for small spaces, like apartments, but they are known to bark.

8. Keeshond

A medium energy dog breed, the keeshond.
Average Height 17 to 18 inches
Average Weight 35 to 45 pounds
Description Keeshonds are gentle, smart, and natural companions.

The keeshond is one of the only dogs historically bred as a companion animal, not as a hunting or working dog. Therefore, you could say being by your side for any activity is in its DNA. These animals, which likely originated in Holland, love home life. The more, the merrier could be this breed’s mantra. Keeshonds especially enjoy being around children and other dogs.

Keeshonds can be homebodies, but they’re also playful and adaptable. They need a fair amount of physical activity, whether chasing a ball down the hall or playing Frisbee in the park.

9. Leonberger

A medium energy dog, the Leonberger.
Average Height 2 to 32 inches
Average Weight 90 to 170 pounds
Description These big dogs are adaptable and open to strangers, making them a great fit for many activities.

Leonbergers may be large animals, but it’s worth traveling with them because they’re easy to train, open to strangers, and are a hit in public. They’re moderately playful and may enjoy long daily walks in a park. Take the kids when you go —this medium-energy dog breed does well with younger children.

After a vigorous play session, Leonbergers love to relax as long as they are close to their favorite people. This dog breed is considered highly affectionate.

10. Miniature schnauzer

A medium energy dog, the Miniature schnauzer.
Average Height 12 to 14 inches
Average Weight 11 to 20 pounds
Description These friendly pups are obedient and adaptable, so they’ll be happy to relax at home or hit the road for an activity.

Miniature schnauzers are active dogs that love a rousing play session. Take them for walks, run around the yard, and have them fetch their favorite toy. These dogs are bright, easy to train, and flexible about routines. That said, they do have guard dog tendencies and can be wary of strangers. Barking is common.

These dogs love their families, though. They tend to do well with young children and are highly affectionate. Expect this dog to ask for plenty of cuddles.

11. Old English sheepdog

A medium-energy dog breed, the Old english sheepdog.
Average Height 21 inches and up
Average Weight 60 to 100 pounds
Description Don’t be fooled by these dogs’ peek-a-boo hairdo — Old English sheepdogs are social animals.

These gentle giants may look goofy with their shaggy hair and bear-like stature, but they’re athletic wannabe lap dogs. They’re also intelligent and eager to please, so they need plenty of mental and physical stimulation. Puzzle toys, walks, and rousing play sessions are some of the best ways to keep these dogs entertained.

The Old English sheepdog is also adaptable and affectionate. These pets are keen to cuddle and easygoing enough to handle small kids — be sure to monitor each interaction, however. Even the gentlest pups can get spooked by a wobbly toddler still learning to approach animals carefully. 

12. Shiba inu

A medium energy dog breed, the shiba inu.
Average Height 13 to 17 inches
Average Weight 18 to 22 pounds
Description These adventure-loving, loyal pups are just as happy to cuddle up next to their favorite people.

The shiba inu is a highly-intelligent medium-energy dog. They take well to training, so consider giving them extra mental stimulation by teaching them new tricks. This dog breed is also down for hiking and fun day trips and vacations.

Shiba inus are loyal to their owners and can be wary of strangers. They enjoy simply relaxing next to their owners, but may not want to do the same around unfamiliar people or animals.

Medium-energy dog breed training

Medium-energy dog breeds thrive with consistent and positive training. Though they may not be go-go-go like a high-energy dog breed, these pups still require plenty of physical and mental stimulation. Training is a way to meet both of those needs. It can take work but is rewarding for people and their new pets.

Each breed and dog is a bit different, regardless of energy levels, so plan to be patient. Some may need more help with socialization, while others may need help learning to wait to show an unfamiliar person or pet love. That said, medium-energy dog breeds do best with positive reinforcement over punishment. Give your pet treats, toys, or praise when they follow a command correctly. Be sure to match your dog’s energy level. Using an even and firm but kindly tone is perfect for a medium-energy dog. Five minutes will do, and be sure to end on a high note. 

Get your dog used to following your lead in various places. Take them to a park or friend’s house to reinforce the idea that they should follow commands anywhere. 

Playtime for your medium-energy dog

Obstacle courses, hide and seek, and scavenger hunts are other ways to keep medium-energy dogs physically and mentally engaged. Just be sure to consider the weather and your specific dog before choosing an activity. Dogs always need plenty of water, but this is particularly true in the summer months. Some may do best with a winter coat and booties to protect their paws from the cold and salt during cooler months.

The best pet toys will depend on size, chew level, and personal preferences. Generally, medium-energy dogs do well with durable chew toys designed for animals their size. Puzzle toys are a way to keep them mentally engaged when you are not around.

Feeding medium-energy dog breeds

Even with plenty of exercise, medium-energy dogs shouldn’t eat more than their share of treats. Feed adult dogs two healthy meals a day that conform to standards developed by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO ). Puppies under four months old may need more frequent feedings. Your vet can advise on how much to feed your dog. 

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Frequently asked questions

What is the dog with the most energy?

Many dogs have high energy levels. There’s no conclusive evidence about which dog breeds have the most energy, but breeds like Labrador retrievers, Jack Russell terriers, and Chihuahuas are known for their high energy levels.

What are low- to medium-energy dogs?

Low- to medium-energy dogs include Old English sheepdogs, Havanese, and dachshunds. A reputable breeder can give you more information on a breed’s energy level.

What are some medium-sized, medium-energy dogs?

Shar-Peis, keeshonds, and shiba inus are medium-sized dog breeds that are moderately active. Just keep in mind that every dog is different. Energy levels can vary regardless of breed. Scheduling a meet-and-greet with puppies or dogs from a reputable breeder or shelter will help you learn more about a particular pet.

How much exercise does my medium-energy dog need?

Most dogs need at least one to two walks per day, though the duration will vary. Younger dogs typically need a fair amount of exercise to maintain muscle mass and a healthy weight. The amount of exercise older dogs need will depend on any underlying health problems. Your vet can give you more information about how much physical activity your dog needs.