Dogs that can handle plenty of physical activity will often be a popular choice for active owners. Because these dogs will come with high energy levels, agility, and stamina, they can be excellent companions for various outdoor activities like long hikes, swimming, and running. Here, we share the 13 most agile dog breeds that you should consider as your next pet if you’re looking for a high-energy dog that can keep up with all kinds of physical stimulation.
What are the Most Athletic Breeds?
Energetic dogs are a good choice for people who live an athletic lifestyle. Whether you like hiking, agility training, swimming, or going on long runs, you’ll find the perfect dog for these physical activities. The Golden Retriever is among the most popular breeds in the United States — they come with a lot of energy, which means they’ll need at least 2 hours of physical exercise every day.
The Belgian Malinois is known for its reputation as an active breed used for military and police work; they’re incredibly quick and possess a good work ethic. While they may not look like very active dogs, the Standard Poodle is actually a highly agile dog. As such, they’re an excellent choice for obedience training and will often be used to enter dog shows.
If you prefer little dogs that can handle a variety of activities, you’ll be happy to know that there are also great options to choose from. Despite their small size, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi has plenty of energy, loves to play, and can be highly athletic when needed. The Rat Terrier is another high-energy dog that comes in a small package; they require plenty of exercise, daily walks, and companionship.
The Most Agile Dog Breeds
Below is our list of the most athletic dog breeds that can be great for dog owners who love spending time outdoors and doing physical activities.
1. Border Collie
The Border Collie is among the most intelligent dogs in the world and is widely used as a herding dog for sheep and other livestock along Scotland’s borders. Because of their intelligence and great work ethic, they are often used for work and are easy to train. They can learn a wide range of commands quickly and can also be excellent watchdogs.
These smart and agile dogs love to play activities and ball games that can help to stimulate them physically and mentally. Today, Border Collies aren’t just used for herding; their high intellect and athleticism are also used for detecting bombs and narcotics, search and rescue missions, as well as guiding.
2. Siberian Husky
These gorgeous, wolf-like dogs are famous for their attractive eyes and coats but are also well-known for their athleticism. When it comes to sledding, they are the most popular dog breed because they are energetic and strong, with exceptional endurance and resistance to cold weather. Siberian Huskies will often bolt once they’re off the leash and will quickly forget the commands they’ve learned.
To help them burn off excess energy, you can add packs and weights — doing this will ensure they use up all of their abundant energy.
3. German Shepherd
Originally serving as hunting dogs, German Shepherds are great at completing specific tasks which is why they’re able to thrive as guide dogs today. They also do well during search and rescue and will excel as police and guide dogs. Thanks to their great agility, high intellect, good athleticism, and easy trainability, they are some of the most adaptable and versatile dogs around.
As such, these dogs will thrive from physical and mental stimulation, and won’t be a good match for people who want a lazy lap dog. Because of their intelligence, strength, and natural inclination to please, they are a popular choice for agility competitions.
The Greyhound stands at the top of the fastest dog breeds in the world, reaching a running speed of over 40 mph. Even so, they enjoy downtime and lounging around as much as they enjoy running — these long, streamlined, and slender dogs have been designed specifically to run fast. Greyhounds were originally used for sport as racing dogs, though this practice is now banned in most places.
They’re also among the oldest dog breeds throughout the world, where their likeness has appeared in Egyptian tombs that date back to 5,000 BCE.
5. Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular and well-known dog breeds and for good reason. This great dog has a gentle and calm temperament along with a high level of tolerance around small children, making them great family pets. Apart from this, the combination of their intelligence, agility, and eagerness to please makes them the perfect companion for athletes.
They can excel at various dog sports such as obedience and tracking; they love swimming with their webbed feet and are also commonly used for search-and-rescue or as guide dogs.
6. Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russells might have short legs but their bodies are made for speed; first bred to hunt foxes in England, they are high-energy and lively dogs that run with inexhaustible vitality. Moreover, you shouldn’t be filled by their small stature because they can be as athletic as dogs much bigger than them. They have a strong prey drive and can be fearless at times, so be sure to give them leash training early on.
These small dogs can be great running companions and you’ll find that they won’t struggle to keep up with your pace as much as you do with theirs.
While Boxers may not be the first dogs to pop into your mind when you think about athletic dogs, they can actually run up to speeds of 45 mph, so they’re in the same league as Greyhounds when it comes to speed. Their origins started in hunting large game, so they come with plenty of endurance and stamina. However, they are also very friendly and affectionate dogs that make them a great addition to any family.
Just remember that Boxers have developed a reputation for being stubborn dogs, so it can be a challenge to train them.
The Dalmatian began its journey as a humble carriage dog in 17th century England, which has made it adept at running long distances. Their endurance and stamina make them excellent cycling and running partners, and they also love regular exercise. Because they’re such great athletes, this breed was a common pick as firehouse dogs, and are still highly associated with this line of work today.
Despite their image as a pampered pooch for dog shows, Poodles are very active and were traditionally used as hunting dogs. Their webbed feet and high intelligence allowed them to gain recognition as retrievers for duck hunting and water sport, along with their water-resistant coats. Poodles have agile and long legs that help them achieve top speeds of 20 mph, so keep in mind that their reputation as fluffy show dogs is just one side of this breed of dog.
10. German Shorthaired Pointer
Developed as hunting dogs during the late 19th century, German Shorthaired Pointers seem to have boundless energy. These dogs are highly versatile — they’re not just used for hunting but are also known for their retrieving abilities. Their name comes from the distinct pose they strike whenever their eye gets a hold of their prey.
German Shorthaired Pointers are also affectionate and friendly dogs that will give you love during long days of work.
11. Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle Dog was traditionally bred to drive cattle across vast distances of the rugged Australian outback, giving them plenty of endurance and stamina. While it may seem friendly, this dog is sturdy, strong, and tough, and is the perfect breed for handling the roughest terrain along with high trainability and intelligence. This loyal companion is the ideal pet for active individuals and can also become a great family pet as long as it gets the required exercise and space to spend its energy.
12. Alaskan Malamute
Much like Huskies, the Alaskan Malamute looks much like a wolf — they were bred to have the endurance, strength, and ability to carry out their jobs as sled dogs. Because these extremely clever dogs need plenty of physical challenges, they will do best with an athletic owner who will give them plenty of exercise regularly. They will also create strong bonds with their owners, so be sure to give them lots of companionship.
13. Australian Shepherd
Affectionately known as the “Aussie,” the Australian Shepherd was actually developed in the United States to herd cattle around ranches. These dogs are extremely smart and agile; these quick learners are hard-working and will want nothing more than to please their owners. They are well-known for their herding abilities but also thrive as sporting dogs in an agility course.
If you’re able to provide them with all the exercise they need, the Aussie can also become a fantastic family pet.
Other Dogs to Consider
If you can’t choose between the Border Collie or the Siberian Husky, you may want to look into other dog breeds that deserve just as much recognition for their strength, endurance, and agility. Other dogs worth mentioning that aren’t covered in this article include the following:
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Doberman Pinscher
- Portuguese Water Dogs
- English Springer Spaniel
- Hungarian Vizsla
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
These dogs have also been bred through the generations to improve their physical abilities, no matter the job they were meant to do. However, being an athletic dog isn’t limited to their strength and speed — it also requires them to be easy to discipline and to form strong ties with their owner.
These agile dog breeds carry such high levels of strength, agility, and energy that they’re leagues ahead of their sedentary counterparts. But with great power comes great responsibility, so be sure to give them lots of attention and regular exercise to ensure that they are happy and healthy. Owning such an agile dog can be a highly rewarding experience for people willing to put in the work to maintain an active lifestyle.