We all know that having a dog is a joy in itself, but did you know that having a canine companion can also help keep you fit and active? Naturally, some dogs are better suited to an active lifestyle than others – here we choose our top three favourite active breeds.
If the idea of a gym workout makes you break out in a cold sweat, you’ll be more inclined to get moving with a buddy – preferably one who is in great shape, has lots of energy, is always in a good mood and doesn’t care if you wear Lycra. The best buddy? A dog of course. If you’re considering a new dog and want one who can match your active lifestyle (or, indeed, you want one who can motivate you to get off the couch) then here’s where to start.
ost dogs can exercise with you, but you need to train them properly, building up their muscles and stamina - particularly if you’re planning on covering long distances. Some breeds need to be exercised more often than others and more intensely, while breeds with squashed-in noses (think Boston Terriers, Pugs and French Bulldogs) should avoid strenuous exercise due to breathing difficulties and overheating. Whether you’re considering a long-distance partner, a fast-paced sprinter or a companion for the trail, we’ve collected our top three breed options for active owners:
As their name gives away, the German Shepherd was originally bred to herd sheep, and so these hearty dogs were born to run – a sure-fire way to get you fit fast. Not only do they have strong legs and a muscular build, but they can also keep up quite a pace with endurance to match. Naturally active, German Shepherds are always ready for exercise, though their thick coats mean they are more suited for cold-weather runs. Their long stride means they can easily cover a lot of ground, making them great companions for runs 10 miles or longer.
ALSO CONSIDER: Doberman Pinschers
Elegant, powerful and muscular, these guard dogs have a body built for distance and make loyal (if not altogether cuddly) companions.
EXERCISE TO TRY: Repeat Lunge
Start by getting Dog to sit, then face him with your feet no wider than shoulder width apart. Take a step back with one foot, and keep the other leg bent at a 90-degree angle, keeping your knee directly above your ankle. At the bottom of each lunge, ask Dog for his paw and give it a gentle shake (or a high-five if Dog is really clever). Let Dog’s paw go and return to your starting standing position. Do this with the other leg, and ask Dog for his other paw. Repeat this move 20 times.
German shepherds not only have strong legs and a muscular build, but they can also keep up quite a pace with endurance to match.
Their long stride means they can easily cover a lot of ground, making them great companions for runs 10 miles or longer.
They’re the UK’s 31st most popular dog breed and are essentially farm dogs by heritage, so Bernese Mountain Dogs need exercise to keep themselves mentally and physically fit.
Bernese Mountain Dog
With a calm demeanour and an imposing physique, the Bernese Mountain Dog is strong, solid and well-tempered. They’re the UK’s 31st most popular dog breed and are essentially farm dogs by heritage, so Bernese Mountain Dogs need exercise to keep themselves mentally and physically fit. If you’re looking for an active dog, these dogs are as sturdy as they get, keen to keep moving and make very loyal friends.
ALSO CONSIDER: Anatolian Shepherd
Rugged, grand and strong, Anatolians are a working dog known to be excellent herders. The breed originates from Turkey, and they are full of energy and endurance.
EXERCISE TO TRY: Sit and Stay Shuttles
Put Dog on a lead, and hold it so that she moves with you as you shuffle from one side of the room (or workout area) to the other. Stay facing the same direction, and shuffle back. Repeat 20 times. It’s that easy!
If you’re looking for an active dog, these dogs are as sturdy as they get, keen to keep moving and make very loyal friends.
These medium-sized dogs have a lot of energy under all that fur, and are very active, enjoying frequent, regular exercise.
A bit mischievous, these working dogs are the perfect combination of active, cheeky and lovable. The UK’s 13th most popular dog breed, Huskies are loyal, outgoing, friendly, and alert. These medium-sized dogs have a lot of energy under all that fur, and are very active, enjoying frequent, regular exercise. Originally bred as sled dogs, it’s in their nature to run – and they’ll keep you fit with them. They’ve got wonderful power, speed, and endurance, and as they have thick coats, they thrive best in moderate to cold weather.
ALSO CONSIDER: Labradors
They’re sweet, smart, good with cats and children, and bursting with energy. They’re not working dogs and struggle with half-marathon distances, but for short, intense sessions and more moderately active walks, they are great all-rounders.
EXERCISE TO TRY:
With your back against a wall, sit so your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. If Dog is small, hold him. If Dog is big, ask him to put her paws on your lap so you can use her weight as resistance. Rest against the wall and sit for up to one minute to strengthen your legs and hamstrings.