You’ve seen them at the dog park, on walks, and racing through the aisles at the pet store: dogs who want to be on the go all the time. Watching them is exhausting, and it probably makes you wonder if there are any dogs out there with a little less energy.
While all dogs need exercise and enrichment to thrive, some low energy dog breeds are content with a short walk around the block, followed by a puzzle feeder (plus lots of quality snuggle time).
It’s important to consider energy levels when adopting a dog, according to Amanda Farah, National Training and Behavior Coordinator at Best Friends Animal Society.
“While energy levels vary throughout an individual dog’s life, or even among members of the same breed types, it’s a good idea to try to pick a dog who has the best chance of fitting into their new family’s lifestyle,” she explains.
10 Dog Breeds With Low Energy
Looking to adopt a dog that’s more of a couch potato than a dock-diving, ball-catching, endurance racer? Here are 10 of the best lower energy dog breeds.
With their short legs and stout bodies, it’s no surprise that Basset Hounds aren’t natural athletes. This low energy dog breed will happily amble along on a short walk or sniff around the backyard, but their preferred activities include napping in soft beds, drooling, and howling. This breed also makes a great companion for children.
Named for the region of Bologna in Italy where the breed was developed, “Bolos” are equally gorgeous and gregarious. This dog is the epitome of a low energy breed that wants nothing more than a few short trips outside to take care of business, then a lot of time to lounge.
Their low-shedding coats also make Bolognese popular, though the coat does take regular upkeep, including professional grooming appointments, to help these fluffy white pooches maintain their good looks.
“Massive” is the best word to describe a Mastiff. Weighing in at 150 pounds, it’s one of the biggest low energy large dog breeds. Mastiffs were prized guard dogs during the Roman Empire and continue to retain their role as prized protectors with big barks.
“While Mastiffs’ exercise requirements aren’t great, their sheer space needs are,” says Farah. “No, you don’t need a huge house and yard, but your home will need wide open spaces for them to move around. Consistent socialization and training from the very start is critically important when your dog might overweigh you before their first birthday.”
When a Mastiff shakes their head, the thick folds of skin around their head and neck flap and drool flies, but it’s a small price to pay for their sweet, slobbery affection.
Looking for a lower energy dog breed with European heritage? Say “bonjour” to the French Bulldog.
Frenchies are adaptable, affectionate, and even-tempered. Their thick body and short legs mean that they prefer short walks and aren’t usually great swimmers, but their social nature makes them well-suited to tagging along for brunch on a patio or a picnic in the park.
Although Great Pyrenees love having room to roam and have been invaluable as herding dogs and livestock guardians since 1800 B.C., they make a calm companion.
But don’t mistake this large breed’s laid-back nature for laziness. While Great Pyrenees need exercise and lots of mental stimulation, they will happily settle in for a night of British crime dramas after a good walk or romp in the park.
Once the pampered lap dogs of Chinese nobles, Pekingese have retained their regal bearing and place as spoiled companions, but these 14-pound pooches are more than just cuddle companions.
“Pekinese are both highly intelligent and not very trainable — not as unusual a combination as you may think, and sometimes very frustrating,” says Farah. “Using exclusively positive reinforcement training methods can help overcome that independent streak and convince a Peke that we have lessons worth learning.”
Pekingese are smart and confident, and despite their small size, they make good watch dogs. These dogs won’t patrol the perimeter, though; they are much happier watching for strangers while seated comfortably on the couch.
When it comes to low energy large dog breeds, Great Danes are head and shoulders above other breeds. The gentle giants are known for being calm, affectionate, playful, and protective in equal measure.
Invite Great Danes on outdoor adventures and watch them charm their admirers, show off a few tricks, and then go home and chill out with a food puzzle.
It’s not just their diminutive size and long, silken coat that makes Havanese popular. Native to Cuba, they are also known for being outgoing and adaptable companions that are happiest when they are the center of attention. They also happen to be one of the low energy small dog breeds out there.
Don’t be afraid to grab the leash and take your Havanese out on the town, but remember: they might need to be carried if the route is too long. And be prepared to regularly groom their long coats so they look their best when out and about.
Their rotund bodies, round heads, wrinkled skin, and bulging eyes make Pugs among the most recognizable dog breeds. These cute, curious dogs are also among the best low energy dog breeds.
“Pugs are charming and generally very social dogs with stable temperaments,” Farah says. “They’ve remained very popular despite a myriad of health issues, and that might be because meeting a Pug is often like having an instant friend.”
It’s essential to provide Pugs with regular exercise — even short bursts of activity — to keep them from becoming overweight and suffering from health issues. Just remember that Pugs are also prone to overheating, so try to avoid hotter temperatures, if possible.
Hailed as affectionate, outgoing and adaptable, the Shih Tzu was developed in Tibet and was once a fixture in palaces throughout Asia and England. Now, these low energy dogs are equally beloved in cities and rural areas where their adorable appearances always turn heads.
Since they were bred to provide companionship to kings and queens, Shih Tzus expect the royal treatment at home. After a short walk, invite them onto your lap and brush their silken coats while telling them how pretty they are.
Low Energy Doesn’t Mean No Exercise
According to Farah, it’s a misconception that low energy dog breeds don’t require any exercise.
“Generally when we talk about ‘low energy breeds,’ we mean dogs who, relative to other dog breeds, require less daily physical exercise,” she says. “There is no dog breed that, when young and healthy, requires no exercise at all, [and] all dogs should be provided with the opportunity to explore the environment, take sniff walks at their own pace, and engage in mentally stimulating games and activities every day.”
Some low energy dog breeds are content with a walk around the block every morning, while others prefer interactive games like fetch or low-impact activities like swimming. Then there are those that like lots of mental stimulation from puzzle toys to challenge their minds. Whatever category they fall into, let your dog take the lead when it comes to the best exercise options, and be sure to watch for signs that they’ve had enough.