How much exercise does a dog need?

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Mike Tanaka


Do you know how much exercise your dog actually needs? If you don’t, you’re not alone! Many pet parents are unsure how active their furry friend should be for optimal health, and it’s understandable — exercise needs vary depending on your dog’s breed, size and age.

Read on to learn more about getting your dog the perfect amount of exercise and how to choose activities that’ll make them happy, healthy and fit.

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The most important factor that plays a role in how much exercise they need is their breed. For sporting breeds such as the Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, it’s good to aim for 1 hr to 2 hrs of exercise per day, while laid back breeds like the French Bulldogs only require a quick walk or play session per day.

The key is to understand the type of your dog’s breed, learn about their activity level and adjust how much exercise they should get.

AKC is an excellent resource for checking your dog’s breed information and how much exercise is optimal.


When it comes to exercise, size matters. Typically, small and toy breeds will require less exercise than medium and larger breeds though there are exceptions to the rule. Certain small dogs such as beagles are energetic and need at least an hour of exercise per day. On the other hand, Akitas are large dogs but require relatively little exercise for their size.

Extra small and small dogs

  • Xsmall : up to 20 lbs
  • Small : 20 – 30 lbs

Breeds such as French Bulldogs, Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas

30 minutes a day

Extra small and small breeds typically require just 30 minutes of exercise per day. A nice quick walk around a block or light play sessions are often enough.

Medium dogs, large dogs and extra large dogs

  • Medium : 30 – 50 lbs
  • Large : 50 – 90 lbs
  • Extra large 90 lbs and up

Breeds such as Australian Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and Alaskan Malamute

30 minutes to 2 hours a day

Medium to extra large breeds may require up to 2 hours of exercise each day. Depending on their individual energy levels and breed type, activities such as swimming, running, or long walks are great options. If you’re looking for a physical and mental challenge for your dog, fetch, tracking and hide and seek are excellent choices.


Your dog’s age also matters when it comes to exercise needs.



Under 1-2 years depending on breed

Puppies should be kept to short and steady play sessions of no more than 20 minutes each, with plenty of rest in between. Play sessions can often include short walks around the block and low-intensity activities, as long as they don’t involve anything too strenuous.


senior dog

6 years and up depending on breed

Senior dogs should stick with low-impact activities such as walking, swimming or gentle play sessions. Higher intensity activities should be limited for senior dogs to avoid putting stress on their joints.


Exercise needs vary greatly depending on your dog’s size, age, and breed. That’s why it’s important to tailor an individualized plan that meets their needs. 

At the end of the day, embrace your dog’s uniqueness and find activities that will keep them fit and healthy. You’ll both be much happier for it!

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