What are my dog's exercise needs?

When you share your life with a dog, meeting their basic needs is essential, and exercise is an integral part of that. However, not all dogs require the same level of physical activity. Exercise needs vary greatly depending on the breed of your canine companion. Understanding these differences is crucial to ensuring your dog's well-being. In this article, we'll explore how to assess your dog's exercise needs while taking their breed into consideration.

  1. Understanding general needs by breed group

Dog breeds are often grouped into different categories based on their physical and behavioral characteristics. For example, working dogs, hunting dogs, companion dogs, etc. Each group has specific exercise needs.

- Working Dogs (Shepherd and Cattle Dog) : Sheepdogs are bred to guard and guide livestock but also to assist humans in various tasks, including police work and rescue. They are generally intelligent, obedient and have high energy. Examples: German Shepherd, Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, Doberman, Rottweiler
Exercise Needs: These dogs require mentally stimulating and physically engaging activities. Obedience exercises, mind games, and regular training sessions are recommended.

- Hunting and retrieval dogs: Hunting dogs are bred to track, retrieve and sometimes kill game. They are often energetic, intelligent and have an excellent sense of smell. Examples: Labrador Retriever, Springer Spaniel, Beagle.
Exercise Needs: These dogs need activities that mimic their natural searching instinct. Games of toss and fetch, swimming, and walks in areas rich in odors can keep them happy.

- Companion Dogs: Companion dogs are bred to be human companions. They can vary greatly in size, personality and activity level. Examples: Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles, Pekingese.
Exercise Needs: Exercise needs may vary, but even pet dogs require light walks, indoor play sessions, and activities to mentally stimulate.

- Small companion dogs: Some breeds are specifically bred to be small companions, suitable for indoor living. Examples: Chihuahua, Bichon Frize, Shih Tzu.
Exercise Needs: Although small, these dogs often have surprising energy. Indoor games, gentle walks, and interactive toys can keep them happy.

- Molosser dogs: Molosser dogs are large breeds, often used as guard or protection dogs. Examples: Great Dane, Mastiff, Saint Bernard.
Exercise Needs: Although large in size, these dogs may have moderate exercise needs. Regular walks and calmer play may be enough.
  1. Consider age and individual physical condition 

In addition to breed, your dog's age and individual physical condition are crucial factors in assessing their exercise needs. Puppies often have boundless energy and need frequent play to develop muscle strength and coordination. On the other hand, older dogs may require gentler but regular exercise to maintain their agility. Here is a table suggesting physical exercises suitable for dogs depending on their age:

Age of dog Physical exercise recommended
Puppy (0-6 months)

Short gentle walks

Socialization games with other puppies

Basic dressage exercises (sitting, lying down, etc.)

Young dog (6 months - 2 years)

Regular walks and active games (running, throwing a ball, etc.)

Training recall and other essential commands

Basic agility games

Adult (2 years - 7 years)

Daily walks of moderate to brisk length

Retrieval games (playing catch, swimming, etc.)

Hiking or running with the dog

Advanced Agility and Dressage Activities

Senior (7 years and over)

Gentle, regular walks to maintain mobility

Low impact exercises (swimming, slow walking, etc.)

Search games to mentally stimulate the dog

Exercises to maintain balance and coordination

  1. Observe signs of satisfaction or boredom

Your dog will often communicate his needs to you through his behavior. A bored dog may show signs of anxiety, destructiveness, or hyperactivity. On the other hand, a contented dog will be more calm and balanced. Observe your dog's behavior after an exercise session and adjust accordingly.


In conclusion, assessing your dog's exercise needs based on their breed is a crucial step in ensuring their well-being. By understanding the specific characteristics of his breed, his age and his individual physical condition, you can create a suitable exercise program that will contribute not only to his physical health but also to his overall happiness. Also think about the collar or harness adapted to his exercises. A well-exercised dog makes a happy, healthy companion.

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