How Much Exercise Do Small to Medium Sized Dogs and Large Dog Breeds Need?


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When it comes to dog exercise, size matters! According to Dr. Pedro Aponte, DVM Ph.D., “the most common, complete, and desirable exercise for dogs is walking, although daily routine may include other activities like playing games.” Owners usually wonder, “how much exercise is enough for their dogs?”

medium sized dogs

Whether they are the smallest dog in the world, toy dog breeds, medium sized dogs or large dog breeds, there is a rule of thumb about the suitable duration of exercise sessions for dogs!

medium sized dogs medium sized dogs medium sized dogs medium sized dogs medium sized dogs medium sized dogs

Toy Dog Breeds

Toy Dog Breeds / Smallest Dog in The World

Dr. Aponte noted small-sized breeds should have a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day, especially those in the toy group.

Examples of popular small-sized breeds needing this exercise plan are:

  • Chihuahuas
  • English Toy Terriers
  • King Charles Spaniels
  • Maltese
  • Miniature Pinschers
  • Pekingese
  • Pomeranians
  • Yorkshire Terriers

Medium Sized Dogs

Corgi Medium Sized Dog

Medium sized dogs require one hour of daily exercise. Some well-known medium-sized dog breeds are:

  • Basset Hounds
  • Dachshunds
  • Collies
  • Airedale Terriers
  • Bull Terriers
  • Bulldogs
  • Standard Poodles
  • Schnauzers

Large Dog Breeds

Large Dog Breeds

Dogs belonging to large breeds should exercise for two or more hours daily.

Large dog breeds that can benefit from this exercise length are

  • Setters
  • Retrievers (i.e., Labrador, Golden)
  • Weimaraners
  • German Shepherd
  • Old English Sheepdogs
  • Akitas
  • Boxers
  • Bullmastiffs
  • Dobermanns
  • Great Danes
  • Giant Schnauzers
  • Rottweilers

Other Things to Consider:

Rules may come with some exceptions. Some of these exceptions Dr. Aponte noted are:

Small Dogs or Toy Dog Breeds:

For several small-sized breeds, usually working dogs like Cocker Spaniels, Basenjis, Beagles, and most Terriers, 30 minutes is not enough, so they require one hour of daily exercise.

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Also, exceptionally, very active toy dog breeds like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Pug require one hour per day of action.


Medium Sized Dogs:

Some very energetic medium sized dog breeds like Pointers, Spaniels, Salukis, Border Collies, Belgian Shepherd dogs, Samoyeds, Dalmatians, and Siberian Huskies require more than 2 hours of daily exercise.

LARGE DOG BREEDSmedium dog breeds ; medium sized dog breeds ; small to medium sized dogs ; big dogs

Large Dog Breeds:

A few large dog breeds like Chow Chow, Mastiff, and Saint Bernard dogs require less workout time (1 hour daily) than other big dogs.

A large dog breed like the Great Dane might get enough exercise in one daily hour of walking, but for large working breeds like German Shepherds and male Belgian Malinois require 2 hours or more.

Examples of large dog breeds that need 2-3 daily hours of complete exercise are Bulldogs, Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, Labrador Retrievers, Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff), English Setters, Irish Setters, Rottweilers, Scottish Terriers, Siberian Huskies, Standard Schnauzers.

The amount of exercise may also depend on your small to medium sized dogs or large dog breeds’ age.

small, medium or large dog breeds

Small dog breeds 5 months and older requires an average of 30 minutes of daily exercise; while pups under 5 months old require 20 minutes or less per day.

Medium sized dog breeds like Pointers and Labradors need an hour of running or walking daily, but large working dogs require more than 2 hours per day.

Most large breed dogs over 1 year will need 2 hours of exercise. While large breed puppies over 5 months need at least 30 minutes to one hour divided in several sessions a day.

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Some general guidelines for getting your dog enough exercise:

  • large dog breeds need 2+ hours of exercise, medium sized dogs are fine with one hour, small dog breeds get 30 min – 1 hour daily
  • large breed puppies under 5 months only need 20 to 30 minutes of running or walking per day
  • large breed 5 months and older need at least 30 minutes to one hour of daily walks or runs
  • average large breed doggies need more than 1 hour, Labradors can survive on one hour but large working breeds like German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois require over two hours per day.
  • It’s not safe to go out in extremely hot or cold weather. During such periods, stay inside and teach tricks to engage your dog’s mind, throw toys, or run up and down the stairs together.
  • To encourage your pup to exercise more, consider playing games that require speed, skill, and tenacity like frisbee catching and agility training.
  • Always give your pooch water breaks to keep them hydrated.

What happens if dogs do not get enough exercise?

small, medium or large dog breeds

Much like humans, it is a known fact that dogs can become overweight if they are inactive.

In addition, large, medium, and small-sized dogs can suffer from serious joint problems if they don’t get enough walking or running every day.

Keeping your dog fit is one of the best ways to help control behavior problems like chewing furniture or excessive barking. Injuries may also occur when your pup tries to get rid of excess energy by jump off beds, couches, etc.

Other than walking and running, here are other exercises you and your dog may enjoy:

Hiking With Small, Medium or Large Dog Breeds small to medium sized dogs
  1. Hiking. Take your dog along on your next adventure or explore some new parks and trails.
  2. Swimming. Just like people, dogs can be great swimmers. In fact, large dog breeds (like St. Bernards) were originally bred for this purpose!
  3. Dog sports like agility trials and obedience training are fun ways to exercise smartly with your canine companion. And, it’s an excellent way to bond with your pet.
  4. Frisbee-catching is another rewarding game you can play with your pet if he or she loves chasing discs through the air.
  5. Fetching. Level up your pup’s favorite fetch game by making him run uphill to retrieve a ball or stick, or by tossing a ball into the water.
  6. Climbing. Find large rocks or logs to climb with your pet, and see if he’ll appreciate some wall-climbing action at the dog park.
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There are plenty of ways large, medium, and small breed dogs can be active. Exercise is not only a way to keep your dog fit but it also serve as an excellent way to strengthen your bond with your pooch.

Train large dog breeds, walk medium sized dogs, and play with small breed dogs to get them enough exercise daily. If large or medium breeds don’t get enough exercise they can become obese and the large dog have the highest risk of joint problems while puppies under 5 months old can suffer from serious injury while playing around.

Contributor | Dr. Pedro Aponte, DVM, Ph.D

Dr. Aponte is a veterinary college professor and blogger writes about pets with emphasis on explaining the solutions to dog and cats’ problems.


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