The 20 Best Active Dog Breeds
If you're looking for a dog who can keep up with you, start here
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There’s no shortage of dogs who will gladly join you in every adventure, but these 20 prove especially up to the task. If you're looking for a dog who can keep pace, you should start with this list.
20. Lagotto Romagnolo
Hailing from the Romagna subregion of Italy, the Lagotto Romagnolo was named as a lake dog and traditionally used as a gun dog. With a natural instinct for retrieving, these dogs make for the ideal hunting companions. Their most interesting occupation, though, is truffle hunting.
19. Tibetan Terrier
Don't let their size fool you. Tibetan Terriers, originally bred and raised in monasteries 2,000 years ago, make for excellent outdoor companions. Kept as good-luck charms and watchdogs, and originally used for herding sheep as well as retrieving items that fell below mountainsides, Tibetan Terriers are agile, excel in the snow, and love to climb.
18. Bernese Mountain Dog
Originally bred as a drafting and droving dog, the huge Bernese Mountain Dog will gladly take on mountain walks by your side—it will even carry a pack for you. A great dog for hikers, especially if you live in a colder climate and don’t want to bother with a leash, since the Bernese is very easily trained.
17. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Welsh for “dwarf dog,” the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is small but no lap dog. Bred for herding, these creatures love to stay active and do well in the outdoors. Despite their short legs, corgis are surprisingly quick and athletic.
16. Portuguese Water Dog
Bred to herd fish, retrieve broken nets, and swim as couriers, Portuguese water dogs excel in the surf. Given their working history, they also stay close to their owners—inside and outside. With a strong retrieving instinct and love for the water, these dogs make for the ultimate water companions.
15. German Shorthaired Pointers
What sets the German Shorthaired Pointer apart is its intelligence and versatility. According to the American Kennel Club, this breed excels at trailing, retrieving and pointing. It’s also comfortable hunting animals like pheasant, quail, grouse, waterfowl, raccoons, possum, and deer. No matter what your hunting style is, this dog can do it all.
14. Shetland Sheepdog
One of the most intelligent breeds, Shetland Sheepdogs are intelligent, playful, and trainable. And with a strong herding instinct, they enjoy chasing and herding animals. They also love to run in wide-open spaces, but keep them clear of roads—their herding instinct can lead them astray.
If you live in the city or want to skip the leash, vizslas make the perfect companion. Their exceptional trainability helps them keep focused in busier areas, and experienced runners will appreciate the vizsla’s athleticism. According to Runner’s World, this breed excels at speed, endurance, navigating obstacles, and even jumping.
Dalmatians can keep pace with horses—they can keep pace with you. These large and lean dogs were classically employed to run ahead of firefighting carriages and clear the way, but they’re just as happy running through the park. Great if you’re looking for a more protective breed to accompany your long-distance jogs.
11. Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman pinscher might have an intimidating reputation, but it's really an affectionate friend and guardian. Of course, it's also an excellent fit for active types—fearless but obedient, up for jogs and hikes, and as low-maintenance as they come.
10. Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian cattle dog is a true herding dog: whip-smart, energetic, strong, and protective, not to mention it has some dingo in its blood. With that kind of heritage, you can expect this breed to keep going all day. It loves wide-open spaces but will also form a tight bond with its owners, making it a great choice for active families.
9. Jack Russell Terrier
Small but mighty, Jack Russell Terriers have boundless energy and can run for surprisingly extended periods of time. If you're looking for a more compact long-distance running mate, this adventurous breed should be just right.
8. Rat Terrier
An American dog breed with a hunting and farm-dog history, Rat Terriers are cherished as family pets and for their pest control skills. Often mistaken for Jack Russell terriers, these dogs are equally at home on the sofa as on the hiking trail. Highly nimble and obedient, they excel in agility and obedience training.
7. Rhodesian Ridgeback
Rhodesian Ridgebacks were originally bred to hunt lions in Africa, so they are extremely athletic, yet surprisingly good with people. They have an efficient stride and a short, low-maintenance coat that helps when running in the heat.
6. Australian Shepherd
The Australian Shepherd is another busybody herding breed that sets itself apart with its people skills and protective nature. This breed would make a wonderful addition to an active family, and a good companion for anyone who likes to explore different kinds of terrain.
The Weimaraner is an ideal jogging companion, able to expertly navigate tricky terrain. It's also a good pointing dog for hunters. Plus, its “ghostly” grey coat takes well to hot climates and needs minimal brushing. This breed is known to be rambunctious and extremely active, so you’d be well advised to provide an open running area in addition to exercise.
4. Siberian Husky
The Husky is a beautiful and independent breed that requires an active lifestyle. After all, this is a breed capable of pulling a sled Iditarod distances. An ideal dog if you live in cold weather and want a capable companion on ultra long hikes, trail runs and camping trips—the tough Siberian Husky will keep you safe too.
3. Labrador Retriever
Eager and energetic Labs are “weatherproof, waterproof, and tenacious—the epitome of a hunter,” says Outdoor Life. Regularly named as the most popular dog in the U.S., great with families, and an excellent athlete, it seems the Labrador retriever can do no wrong.
2. Border Collie
Herding dogs are agile runners, and the Border Collie is considered one of the most intelligent of the breeds. This dog loves having a job to do, says the American Kennel Club, so keep it busy as a faithful and sure-footed running mate.
1. The Mutt
Let's hear it for the non-purebreds, the dogs who boast a quirky mix of breeds and whose lineage is charmingly unique. Find one at your local animal shelter and you’ll be rewarded with a loyal friend who will eagerly join you on every adventure and whose qualities you won’t find anywhere else. There's no better outdoor companion than that.