Ideally, before you get a dog, you should read up about the breed. You need to know exactly what you are getting yourself into. One of the most important aspects of dog ownership is exercising your pet. Every dog needs some exercise based on its size, age and general health. A healthy adolescent dog, irrespective of its breed, needs to be exercised twice a day to expend energy. Failure to do that can lead to unwanted behaviors like chewing, growling etc. Below are three categories of exercise requirements as per dog breeds. Knowing these will help you answer the question of how much exercise your dog needs every day.
Dog exercise needs by breed
High exercise category
Certain dog breeds have a lot of energy. These include the terrier breeds and working dogs. Many dogs also fall into the ‘hyper category’. They are dogs that need a minimum of two hours of exercise each day. It is essential that, as a dog owner, you need to understand this is not a bad trait. In fact; it is the dog’s evolutionary requirement and working dog instincts that require him to have all this energy. Dogs in this category can also be further divided into the following sub categories:
Sporting dogs were bred to be hunters and they accompanied their humans on long hunts. They played roles like guarding prey, pointing humans to their game and even retrieving the game. Some of them are also able to swim in water to retrieve water fowl. Dogs in this category need plenty of fresh air and exercise. If you have brought a sporting breed dog, then you need to give him a job and also exercise him for a minimum of 1-2 hours a day. Here are some examples of sporting dogs:
- Chesapeake Bay Retriever
- Clumber Spaniel
- Cocker Spaniel
- Curly coated retriever
- English Springer spaniel
- Gordon Setter
- English Setter
- Irish Setter
- Labrador retriever
- Nova Scotia Duck tolling retriever
- Wirehaired pointing griffon
- German shorthaired pointer
Working dogs have been bred for thousands of years and they have helped humans by performing various roles like guarding property, rescuing people and animals and even pulling sleds or carts. Working dog breeds are extremely intelligent and make fantastic companions. They need a lot of exercise. In fact; a lot of working dog breeds are not at all suited to indoor life, especially the ones that have strong protective instincts and high activity needs. Half an hour walk per day will not suffice here; they need to run and work and do something on a daily basis. Boredom and frustration can even drive these dogs to find new activities or create new jobs; jobs that will not bode well with your home or furnishings. Some bored dogs can also get depressed or anxious if they are not given a job to do.
The hound group includes many dogs that have a great sense of smell. This helps them follow a trail. Some of these dogs make an unusual sound called baying. Common dog breeds in this category include the Basset hounds, Beagles, Dachshund and Bloodhound. Beagles need a lot of exercise and if they aren’t kept active, they can get very bored. If you aren’t up to giving your hound dog a minimum of two hours of exercise per day, you might want to consider getting a hybrid dog like the Puggle. A puggle is a cross between Pug and Beagle. They have the intelligence of beagles but are not as active. Where hound dogs like Beagles are happy running off in the countryside, a puggle will not mind a home in the city.
Terrier category of dog is all personality and exuberance; they were bred to hunt rats and track down vermin. So your terrier will never sit still. They are fun pets but you will need to spend a lot of time exercising and playing with them. Terriers also do not have tolerance for other pets and you will often find them hunting down smaller animals.
Moderate exercise category
This category can include the medium energy dog breeds either from companion breed or working dog categories. These include dogs that were only bred to be household companions or perform few tasks like guarding, watch dog etc. Dogs in this category also include certain mastiff breeds.
Low exercise category
This is the category of dogs that are suitable for lazy owners. These dogs either belong to the toy breed category or have health issues that prohibit them from exercising too much or over tiring themselves. Some dogs are prone to bloating-a condition that causes serious problem in the dog’s intestines that can even lead to death. Some of these dogs are also brachycephalic which means they have squashed noses and faces that lead to respiratory issues. Many of these dogs are sensitive to heat and cold and, as a result, must not be exercised or stressed out in extreme weather conditions.
How much exercise does my dog need – calculator
Above categorization are just a general recommendation and the actual exercise needs of your dog will depend on his age, health and energy levels. You can use the ‘how much exercise does my dog need calculator’ given here to ensure that your pet gets just the right amount of exercise every day.
Special considerations to make when choosing an exercise regime for your dog
Before you decide how much exercise your dog needs every day, you must know the following:
- Puppies should not be exercised too much as their joints are not fully developed. Over-straining their joints can cause permanent damage.
- Never exercise your puppy outdoors in dog parks etc unless he has received all his vaccinations.
- Do not stop exercising your senior dog. Many people make that mistake. Older dogs (age 7 and above) still need exercise. You can speak to a vet to assess how much exercise your dog actually needs in his senior years. Moderate exercise will help keep your pet mentally stimulated and happy. Stopping exercise completely could make him dull, anxious and even a bit depressed.
- Over weight dogs also need exercise – just not too much of it. Over-exercising an obese dog could put a strain on its joints and could cause issues like arthritis. Instead, focus on reducing his food intake and talk to your vet to come up with a healthy diet plan for weight reduction.
Check out my guide on What to Feed an Obese Dog.
- Always be mindful of health issues in your pet. If your pet has hip dysplasia, heartworms, diabetes, thyroid or arthritis, speak to a specialist about the right amount of exercise he could handle.
Symptoms of over exercise/exertion in dogs
Finally, be mindful of over exercising your dog. This can result in injury or even heat exhaustion. Always carry fresh water for your dog when going on hikes especially on hot days. If your pet sleeps excessively, lies down from time to time or appears in pain or distress, stop immediately and keep an eye on him. If symptoms like confusion, dehydration, limping etc continue for a few hours, take him to the vet right away.