10 high-energy dog breeds that will keep you on your toes

February 10, 2024 - 4 min read
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s care, treatment, or medical conditions.
High energy dog breeds

Can't sit still? Meet your match in the canine world!

High-energy dog breeds are wired for action, craving both a physical workout and a mental challenge. It's no surprise that many of them also star in our roundup of top hiking companions; after all, conquering trails is in their nature.

Dogs that seem to have endless batteries were often designed for the hustle and bustle of work—think herding sheep, tracking scents, or sprinting through fields.

Whether you came here to figure out what dog breeds NOT to bring home, or you're looking for a high-octane buddy to help out on the ranch, read on.

Belgian Malinois

  • Energy Level: Sky-high

  • Originally bred for: Herding and protection work

  • Size: Medium to large

  • Maintenance: Moderate (occasional grooming needed)

  • Ideal for: Experienced handlers into active sports or professional dog training roles

Originally bred for herding and protection, Belgian Malinois are high-energy, intelligent dogs perfect for active families or individuals engaged in advanced dog sports like agility and obedience competitions. Their intelligence and stamina also make them excellent for roles in search and rescue, as well as police and military work. (We highly recommend checking out our recent post about Barry, a working K-9). However, their intense energy and need for mental stimulation mean they're not suitable for sedentary lifestyles or first-time dog owners.

German Shorthaired Pointer

German shorthaired pointer with brown and white coat, focusing upwards, with only head and shoulders visible against a beige background

  • Energy Level: High

  • Originally bred for: Hunting game

  • Size: Large

  • Maintenance: Low (easy grooming, just occasional brushing)

  • Ideal for: Active families or hunters who enjoy a variety of outdoor pursuits

German Shorthaired Pointers, bred for hunting, are versatile and energetic. They thrive in activities that tap into their hunting instincts, such as tracking and retrieving. They're also great companions for running and swimming. Their strong prey drive and need for exercise make them best suited for active owners who can provide them with plenty of outdoor adventures. (Read: they're NOT lap dogs.)

Australian Cattle Dog

  • Energy Level: Very High

  • Originally bred for: Herding cattle over vast distances

  • Size: Medium

  • Maintenance: Low (minimal grooming requirements)

  • Ideal for: Active, outdoor-loving individuals or those in need of a working farm dog

Australian Cattle Dogs are incredibly resilient and require lots of physical activity to stay happy—they were bred to herd cattle, after all. That said, you don't have to own a ranch to keep them happy and engaged. They excel in dog sports like agility and obedience, too. They're ideal for owners who can match their energy and provide a structured environment to keep their brains busy.

Border Collie

Alert Border Collie with a black and white coat lying down, gazing intently forward, isolated against a light background, with its front paws stretched out.

  • Energy Level: Very High

  • Originally bred for: Herding livestock

  • Size: Medium

  • Maintenance: Moderate (requires regular grooming for their dense coat)

  • Ideal for: Owners committed to engaging in hiking, running, advanced dog sports, or farm work

Border Collies, another breed built to herd livestock, excel in dog sports such as agility, flyball, and herding competitions. Their quick learning ability and desire to work make them ideal for active engagement beyond simple exercise, including advanced training and competitive sports. They're well suited for experienced owners who can provide ample mental and physical challenges.

Siberian Husky

  • Energy Level: High

  • Originally bred for: Pulling sleds across the vast, cold stretches of Siberia

  • Size: Medium to large

  • Maintenance: High (frequent brushing, especially during shedding seasons)

  • Ideal for: Fans of winter sports or outdoor activities in cooler climates

Siberian Huskies were bred to pull sleds over long distances, making them ideal for endurance-based activities like dog sledding and skijoring. They possess a friendly and adventurous spirit but require an owner who understands their need for regular, vigorous exercise and mental stimulation. Their independent nature and grooming needs make them a commitment, so be prep-hair-ed.

Weimaraner

Happy Weimaraner in mid-stride with ears playfully flopping, wearing a collar with tags, against a light beige background.

  • Energy Level: High

  • Originally bred for: Hunting large game

  • Size: Large

  • Maintenance: Low (easy grooming; occasional brushing is sufficient)

  • Ideal for: Active individuals or families who can provide constant companionship and engage in running or agility sports

Weimaraners were originally bred as hunting companions for nobility. They're high-energy dogs that thrive in activities that utilize their stamina and intelligence, like tracking, hunting, and agility sports. They're also great jogging or hiking partners, needing regular, vigorous exercise. Their strong attachment to their owners makes them prone to separation anxiety, so they'll need a committed owner who can provide near-constant companionship and engagement.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback with a glossy chestnut coat looking forward with a soft, attentive gaze, set against a neutral background.

  • Energy Level: High

  • Originally bred for: Hunting lions

  • Size: Large

  • Maintenance: Low (easy to groom with occasional brushing)

  • Ideal for: Outdoor adventurers or runners seeking a resilient and independent companion for long-distance activities

Rhodesian Ridgebacks, originally bred to hunt lions (!!), are known for their strength, speed, and endurance. They make excellent running partners and excel in activities that allow them to stretch their legs and explore. Their independent and protective nature requires a confident owner who can provide firm, consistent training and plenty of space for exercise.

Dalmatian

Dalmatian with a classic black and white spotted coat, sitting and looking to the side with an open, joyful expression, on a light background.

  • Energy Level: High

  • Originally bred for: Coaching and guarding

  • Size: Large

  • Maintenance: Low (requires regular brushing to manage shedding)

  • Ideal for: Families or runners looking for an energetic and social companion for outdoor activities

Dalmatians have a history of running alongside carriages, which explains their high energy and endurance. Naturally, they excel in endurance running and agility sports, making them great companions for long-distance runners or bikers. Their sociable nature makes them wonderful family pets, but they need regular exercise to prevent boredom and maintain their physical and mental health.

Springer Spaniel

Cheerful Springer Spaniel with a glossy brown and white coat, lying down with a happy, open-mouthed smile, looking upward against a white background.

  • Energy Level: High

  • Originally bred for: Flushing and retrieving game

  • Size: Medium

  • Maintenance: Moderate (regular grooming needed to keep their coat in good condition)

  • Ideal for: Active owners interested in water sports, fetching games, or agility training

Springer Spaniels were originally bred for flushing and retrieving wild game. They are all-around athletes that excel at swimming, fetching, agility, and obedience competitions. Their friendly and eager-to-please nature also makes them excellent companions for active families, but again, they need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to match their high spirits and be their best selves.

Honoring the Heinz 57: Adopt a high-energy mixed breed

A tender moment as a girl with long brown hair embraces her black and brown mixed-breed dog, who is adorned with a bow around its neck, in the warm glow of a setting sun.

We've reserved a special spot on the list for mixed breeds.

Often, these pups inherit the vigor and resilience of their diverse ancestors, making them exceptional companions for those willing to take a chance on a unique blend of traits.

That, and if you adopt a shelter dog, you'll have the added benefit of knowing you've made a floofer's life 1000% better.

The takeaway

Choosing a high-energy dog means em-barking on an adventure filled with plenty of activity and companionship. Just make sure your furry friend's needs are a good match for your lifestyle. All of these breeds thrive on engagement and purpose, so be ready to dive into a world of activities that go beyond the daily walk.

Training, understanding their needs, and preparing for the unexpected are all part of the journey. Remember, adventures are unpredictable, and having a dog by your side means being ready for anything—from treating injuries to protecting them from pests. These things can get pricey, especially for active dogs, so it's a great idea to buy a dog insurance policy that will help reimburse you for unexpected accidents and illnesses.*

*pre-existing conditions excluded. See your policy for details.


Leanna Zeibak
Content Manager

Leanna Zeibak is a Content Manager at ManyPets. In her spare time, she paints pet portraits and bakes far too many chocolate chip cookies.