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The Best 11 Breeds for Active Dog Owners

Last Updated: April 1, 2024 by Lisa Melillo

There are an estimated 340 dog breeds in existence today, and each has their own unique temperament. Some dog breeds are definitely more active than others, which could affect whether a certain breed is a good fit for your lifestyle or not.

active dog hiking

If you’re someone who lives a very active lifestyle, you probably want a dog that you can bring with you. Plenty of dog breeds thrive when you take them out hiking, jogging, or swimming with you. This isn’t true of all breeds, however, so if you want an active companion animal, it’s important to choose a dog breed that loves the great outdoors.

Keep in mind that active, energetic dog breeds need room to roam. They do best when you have a relatively sizable yard for them to play in, so they may be difficult to keep in a small urban studio apartment.

With that said, here are eleven of the most active, high-energy dog breeds for pet owners who live an active outdoor lifestyle.


1. Golden Retriever

golden retriever dog breed

There’s something very wholesome and all-American about Golden Retrievers. If a dog breed embodied the spirit of a Norman Rockwell painting, it would be this one. They’re friendly, energetic, and very active, making them a great breed for both active pet owners and families with children.

Golden Retrievers were originally bred as hunting dogs, and their job was to retrieve shot ducks and other game birds. As a result, they love to play fetch. They have a strong love of water, and they actually have webbing between their toes that helps them swim. If you love swimming and boating, a Golden Retriever could be the dog for you.

Along with their love of water, one of the defining traits of this breed is their friendly, outgoing personality. They’re great with children, and they tend to have a lot of patience with them. Part of the reason they’re such patient dogs is that they’ve been selectively bred to tolerate sitting quietly for long periods of time in a hunting blind.


2. Labrador Retriever

chocolate lab in water

Like the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retrievers were originally bred to retrieve game for hunters. They’re a very popular breed, and they’re quite active and outgoing. They’re kind, gentle, outgoing dogs with a lot of personality. They’re widely used as work dogs, including for drug detection and as guide dogs. As their name suggests, they love to play fetch. They’re a great choice if you spend a lot of time outdoors, especially if you enjoy hunting ducks and other game birds.

Read our advice on feeding your Labrador.

3. Dalmatian


Immediately recognizable by their distinctive spotted coat, Dalmatians were originally bred to accompany horse-drawn carriages that served as fire engines, as well as to serve as guard dogs. They make excellent watchdogs, and they’re great endurance runners. If you like to jog, a Dalmatian could be a fantastic fit for your lifestyle.

Although Dalmatians tend to have few health problems compared to many other dog breeds, they are genetically predisposed to hearing loss. 28.7% of Dalmatians are deaf in either one or both ears. To help minimize this risk, Dalmatians with hearing loss usually aren’t bred. However, a deaf Dalmatian can still make an excellent companion dog.

Explore our recommended nourishment guidelines for Dalmatians.

4. Jack Russell Terrier

jack russell

Jack Russells are little balls of pure energy. Bred as a working dog for driving foxes, badgers, and other ground-dwelling animals out of their dens, they’re highly agile and love playing fetch. Because they can sometimes be a bit stubborn or aggressive, obedience training classes are recommended if you choose to adopt a Jack Russell Terrier puppy. It’s essential that they’re trained and socialized properly. In addition to their energetic nature, Jack Russells need the right balance of nutrients to maintain their energy level and overall health.

You’re also going to need a yard if you’re going to have a Jack Russell. They need quite a bit of exercise and stimulation, and they’re not well suited to living in condos or apartments. They may be small, but don’t underestimate the sheer energy that these terriers have.


5. Siberian Husky


The Siberian Husky originates in eastern Russia, and has a rather interesting history as a working dog breed. They were originally bred by the Chukchi people, who are indigenous to eastern Siberia. Some groups of Chukchi people live settled lives in coastal villages, where they hunt sea mammals. Others are nomadic reindeer herders.

Siberian Huskies can serve as sled dogs, like Samoyeds and Alaskan Malamutes. They have historically been very important for subarctic and arctic peoples in northern Asia and Alaska.

Siberian huskies including the Miniature Husky variant are high-energy, and they’re not necessarily the easiest or most low-maintenance dog breed that you could choose. They’re notorious escape artists, chewing their way through things and digging under fences. They need a lot of exercise, and can be destructive indoors if not cared for properly. However, they’re very good with children.

Huskies do have a large prey drive, which is unusual among large dog breeds. Historically, the Chukchi people have allowed their Huskies to roam free during the summer, and they hunted small game in packs. However, despite their hunting instinct, they can be trusted around smaller pets with proper training and socialization.

Keep in mind that Huskies are compelled to live in a pack, and they require the companionship of other dogs to thrive. You’ll also need a fence that’s at least six feet tall to keep them from running off.


6. Irish Setter

irish setter

Irish Setters are active, energetic, and downright enthusiastic dogs. They need to be walked every day, and they love running around in open outdoor spaces. They love human companionship, and they don’t really like to be left alone for extended periods of time. Without enough activity and stimulation, they can become destructive and hyperactive because they’re bored.


7. Welsh Corgi


Welsh Corgis were bred as small herding dogs for cattle, which could nip at the animals’ ankles to get them moving. They have short legs, but their body is otherwise robust. They’re spirited, athletic dogs that love being active.

Along with exercise, Corgis also need mental stimulation. If they’re bored, or if you leave them alone too often, they can sometimes become destructive. They’re also quite strong-willed, so they need an owner who’s firm, confident, and can take charge.

Explore our suggested guidelines for nourishing your Welsh Corgis.

8. Australian Shepherd

jumping australian shepard

Despite what their name implies, Australian Shepherds were actually bred on ranches in the western United States. They’re closely related to Border Collies, and their energy and agility makes this breed excel at dog sports like frisbee and dog agility obstacle courses.

They’re very, very energetic, and need a lot of attention and exercise to thrive. They’re smart and they learn quickly, and they love to be taught tricks. Without something active to do, an Aussie will find something. For example, they may start running laps around your house. They can also become destructive if they don’t have something to amuse them and provide mental and physical stimulation.

The Australian Shepherd Club of America recommends that Aussies get at least two to three hours a day of exercise, play, and attention from their owners.


9. Weimaraner

weimaraner dog

The Weimaraner was bred in what is now Germany. Originally bred for hunting large game like boar, deer, and even bear, they’re known for their impressive stamina and physical endurance. They need frequent exercise, and they love to play.

Weimaraners do have a hunting drive, and they’re likely to kill small animals that enter your yard. They have difficulty tolerating cats for this reason, so they’re definitely not ideal for everyone. However, they’re excellent companions for hunting and other outdoor activities. To cater to their hunting drive, providing specialized food for hunting dogs can contribute to their overall well-being.


10. Border Collie

border collie running

Bred as highly intelligent herding dogs, Border Collies are very, very energetic. They tend to be quite athletic, even acrobatic, and do very well at dog sports. They’re widely regarded as the most intelligent of all domestic dog breeds.

Border Collies need a lot of daily exercise, as well as mental stimulation, to avoid boredom. They’re quite playful, and do well with children. If you’re going to adopt a Border Collie, it’s essential that you can provide the amount of physical exercise that they need. Without enough stimulation, they can become bored, depressed, and destructive. They’re capable of running for many miles every day, making them a great choice for runners and joggers.

Check out our advice on feeding your Border Collie.


11. Poodle


Poodles may be thought of as prissy, pampered lapdogs and house dogs, but they’re actually incredibly energetic and highly intelligent. This is especially true of Standard Poodles. Like other active and intelligent dogs, they’re easy to train, but require sufficient exercise and mental stimulation.

Standard Poodles do very well with young children, although Miniature Poodles and Toy Poodles may not always have the patience for rambunctious toddlers and preschoolers.


Finding The Perfect Breed for Your Lifestyle

These eleven dog breeds are just a handful of the many active, energetic dog breeds that make great companions for pet owners who live active lifestyles. Their temperaments can differ, and some do better with young children than others. But if you’re active and your home has a yard for your dog to play in, these breeds could be a great choice for you.

For dog owners that are stuck at home more than they’d like to be, we suggest you take a look at our list of the best automatic dog ball throwers which we all personally reviewed to give you the best insight!

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