How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need?

Just like with humans, exercise is a key element in wellness for our dogs.

Exercise has many health benefits, including countering obesity, which is becoming more of an issue with dogs.

But how much exercise is needed for your dog?

Every dog, just like every person, is unique, but what breed (or breeds, in the case of mixed breeds), age, size and overall health can tell you a lot. Also, a general rule-of-thumb is that your dog should spend between 30 minutes and two hours being active every day.

A general guide for exercise per breed size is:

  • Small breeds: This group includes dogs from the Chihuahua to the Bichon or Shih Tzu. They have moderate exercise needs with a daily walk of 20 to 30 minutes. The exception would be the toy and miniature poodle which are more active and also intelligent. They need a little more physical activity and plenty of mental stimulation.
  • Sight hounds: These include the Greyhound, Whippet and the Wolfhound. Even though the Greyhound is a racing dog, they’re bred for sprinting and only need moderate exercise. A moderate pace walk of around 30-to-45 minutes a day and maybe some short sprints is enough to keep them healthy.
  • Giant Breeds: The Giant breeds include the Leonberger, Newfoundland, Great Dane, and Saint Bernard. They have moderate exercise needs because they have to move such a large frame. However, it is important to still be moderately active to keep their joints and bones strong and for weight management. A 30-to-45 minute walk is sufficient. Also, many of the giant breed dogs are keen swimmers, so swimming is a great exercise for them because it’s low weight-bearing.

The dogs who need the most exercise – 60-to-120 minutes daily – are:

  • Sporting breeds like Retrievers and Springer Spaniels, Standard Poodles.
  • Working breeds such as Dobermans, Huskies and Rottweilers.
  • Herding breeds like Sheepdogs, Collies, Shepherds, Cattle Dogs, Heelers and Corgis.

Others need 60-to-90 minutes per day:

  • Terrier and Vermin Breeds which include Bull Terriers, Airedale Terriers and smaller terriers such as Jack Russels, Yorkshire Terriers and Westies.
  • Scent Hounds like Beagles and Basset Hounds.

Dogs that need little exercise are brachycephalic dogs – those with a squashed face like Bulldogs and Pugs. Because they have pushed-in faces, they are prone to overheating. They just need a 20-to-30 minute daily walk.

The Bottom Line

All dogs need daily exercise to stay happy and healthy. If you’re just starting a walking routine with your dog, start slowly. Observe their responses, and add longer walks as they get stronger. Your dog should be happily tired and not exhausted. And remember that increased activity doesn’t mean they need more food!