15 Energetic Dog Breeds That Will Keep Active Families on Their Feet

Energetic dog breeds thrive in active families. If members of your household are eager to get outdoors, go for jogs, play in the yard and generally be engaged with the family pet, these dog breeds are meant for you. Fair warning: The dogs on this list need lots of exercise. Many require mental stimulation, too, because they’re smarty pants who love a challenge. Agility and course training can be excellent pastimes for energetic dogs.

Things to Consider When Choosing an Active Dog Breed

Before adopting any dog, you’ve got to take your family’s lifestyle into account. This also means asking:

  • How much free time do we have to devote to this dog?
  • How much money do we have saved for emergency and routine costs?
  • What kind of grooming will this dog need?
  • How much training will I do? Will I use a professional trainer if need be?
  • Do I have a fenced-in yard where my dog can run around by himself if need be?

With energetic dog breeds, these questions become even more important. Why? Because they need more exercise, plain and simple. More exercise means multiple walks per day plus at least one higher intensity exercise session every day. Every day! These dogs cannot be cooped up or they can become depressed, destructive, aggressive and unhealthy. Be super honest about how much time and money you have to devote to this.

It’s wise to invest in several interactive dog toys with energetic breeds. Tools like plush puzzles or bobbing treat toys will keep these dogs engaged if you need a few minutes to yourself.

How Much Exercise Do Energetic Breeds Need?

Energetic dog breeds need a lot of exercise. Like, a lot. Of course, exactly how much exercise varies depending on the dog’s personality, age and overall health. For example, puppies will naturally have more energy, but many larger breeds shouldn’t be overexerted for the first two years of life or their joints will suffer. 

Pumpkin Pet Insurance broke down exercise time by breed group, which may help you estimate how much time you’ll be outdoors tossing a ball for Jax. (Note: Many of the dogs on this list are included in the sporting and herding groups.) Pumpkin Pet Insurance says herding breeds require the most exercise, at one to two hours every day plus “at least 60 to 90 minutes of high-intensity activity.” That’s a lot! These dogs are smart, playful and lively. As soon as their batteries are recharged, they’re ready to go.

Terriers and scent hounds should get an hour to an hour and a half of moderate exercise daily, with little bursts of high-intensity movement. Working breeds need an hour or two of exercise every day.

The key here is listening to your dog. Some Australian Cattle Dogs will need a few more laps around the yard than others. While Dobermans are known for loving to run and play, yours might tire out after 30 minutes. Exercise is a type of bonding with your dog, so if Jax’s behavior changes, take note and adjust the exercise regimen to fit his needs.

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energetic dog breeds: australian cattle dog in a field.

1. Australian Cattle Dog

  • Height: 17-20 inches
  • Weight: 35-50 pounds
  • Personality: Alert, Loyal
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Activity Level: High
  • Life Expectancy: 12-16 years

Australian Cattle Dogs (also called Blue Heelers) were bred centuries ago in Australia using DNA from the wild Dingoes of the outback. So, yes. They are high energy. They can withstand heat very well, too. The American Kennel Club says, “It is recommended that ACD owners participate with these versatile dogs in some work, sport or regular exercise to keep them mentally and physically fit.” Basically, get ready to party (run around and solve puzzles) when you have an Australian Cattle Dog.

energeticddog breeds: australian shepherd on green grass

2. Australian Shepherd

  • Height: 18-23 inches
  • Weight: 40-65 pounds
  • Personality: Smart, Athletic
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Seasonal
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Like Cattle Dogs, Australian Shepherds are herders and can easily run nonstop for an entire play session. Unlike Cattle Dogs, Aussies were actually bred in California. Smart and athletic, they learn quickly, train well and love their families. Group activities like hiking are a good idea, though Aussies have been known to herd small children, so be on the lookout. Australian Shepherds ideally live in homes with yards they can roam.

energetic dog breeds: belgian Malinois laying down in grass

3. Belgian Malinois

  • Height: 22-26 inches
  • Weight: 40-80 pounds
  • Personality: Smart, devoted, confident
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 14-16 years

This is a working breed who thrives on human companionship. Don’t even think about leaving your Belgian Malinois home when the crew heads out! It’s highly recommended to engage these dogs in obedience training - meaning, teaching your pup tricks and learning right along with him. Skills like tracking can also be exciting for Belgian Malinois to learn and perform. At the very least, you’ve got to be game for hikes, bike rides and long walks with one of these sweethearts.

energetic dog breeds: border collie in snow covered long grass

4. Border Collie

  • Height: 18-22 inches
  • Weight: 30-55 pounds
  • Personality: Energetic, Smart
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Seasonal
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Long considered a quintessential family pup, Border Collies live up to the hype. Not only are they incredibly sweet family pets, but they also love kiddos and are a nice size for many different living situations. A walk once every day simply will not do for Border Collies. Always bring a frisbee or a ball to toss when you do walk, because inevitably these rascals will want to play and run. Like Australian Shepherds, they are herders and it’s in their bones to wrangle and run. They’re also one of the healthiest dog breeds out there.

energetic dog breeds: brittany

5. Brittany

  • Height: 17 - 21 inches
  • Weight: 30 - 40 pounds
  • Personality: Loyal, lively
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

The Brittany is a French dog breed. They not only make excellent hunting dogs, they make incredibly loyal pets. Brittanys are pretty much up for anything, as long as it involves you, their favorite person. Whether that means hunting ducks on the weekend or jogging after work, they are game for it. They’re also keen on water sports, so if you live near a lake, find the dog beach and let your Brittany go wild. 

energetic dog breeds: chesapeake Bay Retriever sitting in a flower field

6. Chesapeake Bay Retriever

  • Height: 21-26 inches
  • Weight: 55-80 pounds
  • Personality: Loyal, sensitive
  • Activity Level: Moderate to High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 10-13 years

People with Chesapeake Bay Retrievers call them “Chessies” and gush about how once you have one, you’ll never own another dog. These sensitive, strong pups are members of the sporting group. They know when it’s time to calm down after a busy day, but only if they’ve gotten in enough exercise throughout the day. Unlike herding breeds, Chessies may need some extra hand-holding early on when training commands. Be firm and consistent. Protective and loyal, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers were bred in the U.S. 

energetic dog breeds: dalmatians

7. Dalmatian

  • Height: 19-24 inches
  • Weight: 45-70 pounds
  • Personality: Reserved, athletic
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate to High
  • Life Expectancy: 11-13 years

While Dalmatians may be reserved with strangers, they are deeply loyal to loving family members. Their coats are obviously the most memorable thing about them but get to know a Dalmatian and you’ll quickly learn there’s lots more to love. Known as coach dogs in the 1800s, these pups ran alongside horse-drawn coaches (and eventually horse-drawn fire brigades). They are still as athletic as ever and enjoy hikes, runs and playtime to the max.  

energetic dog breeds: doberman Pinscher laying down in leaves

8. Doberman Pinscher

  • Height: 24-28 inches
  • Weight: 60-100 pounds
  • Personality: Intelligent, Alert           
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: High
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

A working dog breed like no other, the regal Doberman Pinscher is a loyal companion who has simply got to spend lots of time running around a yard or park. They make great watchdogs and train well because they’re incredibly smart. As a working breed, giving your Doberman a job to do is essential. This can be as simple as structured games in the backyard or obedience training for competition.

energetic dog breeds: english springer spaniel

9. English Springer Spaniel

  • Height: 19 - 20 inches
  • Weight: 40 - 50 pounds
  • Personality: Dedicated, Friendly
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Shedding Factor:
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Another sporting breed, English Springer Spaniels are known for their flushing skills, which means they’ve got high prey drives and thrive on games that utilize foraging. These friendly, social dogs make excellent family pets because they embrace learning commands and enjoy building strong relationships with their family members. We have to warn you, English Springer Spaniels made Protect My Paws’ 2021 list of naughtiest dog breeds! We think this is because they are curious and simply want to be involved in everything.

energetic dog breeds: close-up profile picture of a black flat coated retriever
Cavan Images/Getty Images

10. Flat-Coated Retriever

  • Height: 22-25 inches
  • Weight: 60-70 pounds
  • Personality: Cheerful, playful
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 8-10 years

The AKC calls Flat-Coated Retrievers “The Peter Pan of the Sporting Group,” which tells you how much puppy energy they bring to everything they do. Happy-go-lucky and ready to please, these dogs excel at agility and obedience training. They just love to spend time with you - and you’ll have to keep up with their youthful spirit. Be sure to train early and often and use positive reinforcement tactics. Flat-Coated Retrievers are sensitive and don’t respond well to harsh punishment.

energetic dog breeds: irish setters

11. Irish Setter

  • Height: 25-27 inches
  • Weight: 60-70 pounds
  • Personality: Affectionate, social
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Seasonal
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Like Dalmatians, Irish Setters are known for their beautiful coats. Long and red, they are elegant creatures. In personality, they are super outgoing and playful. A sporting breed, Irish Setters know how to work hard, play hard and cuddle when the day’s work is done, which makes them ideal family pets. They are great with kids, but beware of their strong prey drive out on walks. If an Irish Setter smells something irresistible, they’ll go after it (which is why command training is essential!).

energetic dog breeds: rat terrier in green grass

12. Rat Terrier

  • Height: 10-18 inches
  • Weight: 10-25 pounds
  • Personality: Friendly, curious
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 12-18 years

These tiny dogs pack a punch. Rat Terriers earned their name by hunting rats, so they have intense prey drives and will chase anything that moves (might not be a great fit for households with other small pets, like hamsters or cats). To satisfy this prey drive, games that encourage chasing balls or other toys are ideal. Unlike some toy breeds who refuse to learn commands, Rat Terriers can learn well and quickly, so don’t skimp on obedience lessons.

energetic dog breeds: siberian husky lounging on a couch

13. Siberian Husky

  • Height: 20-24 inches
  • Weight: 35-60 pounds
  • Personality: Loyal, energetic
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: High
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Energetic with a dash of mischievous playfulness, Siberian Huskies will keep you on your toes. Pack members through and through, they must be included in all family activities. This makes them loyal, but persistent if you try going out without them. Funnily enough, though they are loyal, Siberian Huskies don’t make great watch dogs because they think everyone is a friend. This is, however, a great argument for getting a second Husky for them to play with.

energetic dog breeds: Vizsla standing tall in a field

14. Vizsla

  • Height: 21 - 24 inches
  • Weight: 44 - 60 pounds
  • Personality: Devoted, intelligent
  • Activity Level: Moderate to High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Vizslas are sighthounds, which means once they see something of interest, they’ll run full speed until they catch it. Keep Vizslas and other sighthounds, like Greyhounds, on-leash at all times. Unless of course, you have a fenced-in yard where they can run to their heart’s content. These dogs train well (thanks to their crazy high intelligence) and are devoted companions. Get ready for compliments galore when out running or biking with your Vizsla - their shiny, sleek red coats are show-stoppers.

energetic dog breeds: weimaraner looking behind it in a grass covered in fallen leaves

15. Weimaraner

  • Height: 23-27 inches
  • Weight: 55-90 pounds
  • Personality: Friendly, obedient
  • Activity Level: High
  • Shedding Factor: Moderate
  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 13 years

Weimaraners are known for being high-energy but able to relax at home after burning the energy off. Like Vizslas, they only come in one color. Unlike Vizslas, that color is an other-worldly blue-gray. Life with a Weimaraner means lots of outdoor excursions to run, play and interact with your dog. Keep in mind that being lax on training or commands means a Weimaraner will rule your household, so get started early.

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Freelance Writer

Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...