Best Dog Exercises By Breed

Author: Taylor Ritz

The individual exercise needs of a dog are extremely variable and dependent on multiple factors. That being said, the breed of your dog can provide some indication of how much and what kind of exercise will best suit your canine companion. Here are a few considerations for exercise based on breed.

Types of Exercise By Breed

While not a perfect rule, your dog’s breed (or their mix of breeds) may indicate what types of exercise are best for them. Here are a few guidelines for what exercises may be best for your dog.

What job was your dog breed for?

Is your dog a herding breed like a border collie? Or a ratter like many terriers? There are numerous activities and sports that can imitate the job your dog’s breed what created to do. Here are just a few.

Herding Breeds

Herding breeds such as Australian Cattle Dogs, Australian Shepherds, and Border Collies want, and even need, a job to do. These dogs are quick and agile, bred to herd animals over long distances. As a result, they have quite a bit of energy to burn and the endurance to maintain high energy levels for long periods of time. In some areas, herding classes and competitions are held where your dog can do exactly what they were bred for. Agility, where contestants navigate a series of obstacles at high speeds, is another great activity for herding breeds.


Most terrier breeds were bred to sniff out and dig problematic prey out of underground burrows. To imitate this job, a sport called “Earthdogging” was born. Earthdogging entails dogs navigating a maze of tunnels constructed underground in order to reach their “prey.” The prey is safe from contact with the dog but still simulates the hunt.

Working Breeds

Working breeds spans a myriad of types of dogs and the equally numerous jobs for which they were bred. The group includes sled dogs like the Alaskan Malamute and cart dogs like the Bernese Mountain Dog. To create a job for these powerhouse breeds, consider engaging in activities similar to what their breed was created to do. If you live in an area that enables sledding, have your dog pull a small sled. Similarly, a cart dog could easily pull a cart. If you have one of these breeds but do not have access to sleds and carts, consider simply taking your dog on hikes while wearing a backpack.


Members of the hound category are renowned for their keen senses. Scent hounds like the Beagle and Bloodhound can participate in scent work classes and competitions, where they put their impressive noses to the test. Sighthounds like the Greyhound and Afghan Hound can attend competitions and races with “lure coursing,” where dogs chase a mechanically-operated lure to simulate a hunt chase.


Retrievers, pointers, setters, spaniels, and some poodles were bred to find and retrieve small game. If you don’t plan to use your retrieving dog for actual hunting, consider a sport or competition that simulates these activities. Sports such as dock diving, where dogs jump long distances off a dock into the water after a toy, and disc dog, an ultimate frisbee endeavor, allow your dog to pursue their love of retrieval.

No matter what breed or mix your dog is, there are plenty of stimulating exercise opportunities available. In the end, a stimulated dog will be a tired dog, and a tired dog will be a better-behaved dog. So do some research into the purpose of your dog’s breed and find out what activities are available in your area. Your dog will thank you!

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