20 Dog Breeds that Don’t Need Much Exercise

by Irene Hislop

04 November 2019



Not every dog lover is able to commit to long, brisk walks. Some are restricted by mobility issues, others by time constraints. Do you have to be fit and commit to hours of walking every week to be a responsible dog owner? It depends on the dog you own. With more than 300 different breeds of dog out there, from the tiniest teacup terriers to the giants of the canine world such as the Great Dane and the Irish Wolfhound, there is a dog for every lifestyle. If you long for canine company but worry about your ability to provide enough walking, the first thing to do is to learn what breed of dog needs the least exercise.

Keep in mind that all dogs need some exercise, even the most notorious couch potatoes! But exercise is not limited to walking or jogging. Some small dogs can get all the exercise they need by chasing a ball around the apartment and having one short walk every day. Two dogs like this can give each other a great workout by playing together. Some big dogs do better with short, slow walks because they have a low energy level and are prone to issues with their joints and hearts. When you are considering what breed of dog needs the least exercise, the real key is understanding how the breed developed. Herding breeds such as Border Collies and German Shepherds generally have an enormous amount of energy, as do terriers, while dogs have been companions for centuries such as the Shih Tzu are more content to lounge by your side.

Dog Breeds that Need the Least Exercise

Without further ado, here is our list of the dog breeds that need the least exercise. Of course, every dog is an individual and their age is a big part of how much energy they have and how much exercise they need.

french bulldog that Don’t Need Much physical activity
  1. Basset Hound – Those short, strong legs give this hound endurance but not speed. His long back means he needs to keep his weight down. He’s ideal for someone who likes walking but needs to take it slow.
  2. Bergamasco Sheepdog – Her distinctive dreadlocked coat protects her from the snow of the Italian Alps, but she doesn’t need mountain treks. One good walk a day will do.
  3. Bolognese – This charmer looks like a little cloud. At less than a foot tall, he loves to play and can get most of the exercise he needs that way. His main need is a person who is home with him.
  4. Brussels Griffon – This fluffball is so tiny that chasing a ball you throw around the garden for half an hour qualifies as exercise, although he does enjoy a little walk too. He can be clingy, but he is small enough to carry around.
  5. Bulldog – The iconic English Bulldog often appears as a symbol of Britain. Her short, pushed in nose causes breathing problems, so she shouldn’t overdo it and needs to be kept cool in summer.
  6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – Love the silkiness of the spaniel but fear the intensity? This little spaniel thrives with short daily walks, some play time and lots of cuddles. Regal and relaxed, they’re great with kids.
  7. Chihuahua – The Chihuahua does have a lot of energy per kilo, but weighs less than three kilos. These delicate dogs are suited to quiet adult households, but they have no idea they are small or delicate so expect a big attitude.
  8. Chinese Crested –With his distinctive, surreal good looks, his half-hour daily walk might be like an outing with a celebrity. His ancestors guarded the treasures of the Han Dynasty, so he knows he is royalty.
  9. Chow Chow – Muscular and serene, with their trademark wrinkly face, the chow chow makes a surprisingly good city dog. A few short walks a day help him get the socialisation he needs to prevent aggression.
  10. Estrela Mountain Dog – A giant guardian breed hailing from Portugal, she is extremely loyal and protective. She needs a lot of space and training, but she is a calm spirit.
  11. French Bulldog – Quiet and calm, this little bulldog can live happily in an apartment and thrive with a short daily walk and a bit of indoor play.
  12. Greyhound – Yes, they are the fastest sprinters, but they are surprisingly fond of couches. A short daily walk and an occasional run around a securely fenced field is all the exercise they need.
  13. Maltese – Once a status symbol for the ladies of the Roman Empire, the clever little Maltese is energetic but so small a short daily walk and a romp in the garden is plenty of exercise.
  14. Pekingese – Their roots are as lapdogs for the aristocracy of ancient China, and they are indeed lap-sized. Serene and sedate, they suit a calm, quiet household.
  15. Pomeranian – Small enough to need your protection from birds of prey, foxes, etc., the Pom is a bundle of energy in a body so tiny that a short daily walk and plenty of indoor play time keep her fit.
  16. Pug – With their love of food and tendency to get pudgy, pugs do need daily exercise. But their needs are modest compared to the average dog. A short daily walk and the ability to resist those eyes begging for treats make for a happy, healthy pug.
  17. Saluki – Like their greyhound cousins, salukis are true sofa hounds. They are the fastest dogs over distance, but they feel no need to prove it. Regal and elegant, they will remind you when it is time for their walk, but it need not be a long one.
  18. Shih Tzu – This friendly and playful little dog was bred for a refined life inside a palace, so she is a great apartment dog. You might spend as much time brushing her beautiful fur as you do walking her.
  19. Tibetan Spaniel – Former guardians of Tibetan monasteries, this is no more a spaniel than the Tibetan Terrier is a terrier. While he is able to keep up if you go for a jog, he is quite happy with a daily walk and lots of time chilling with you.
  20. Yorkshire Terrier – This tiny terrier is one of the most popular breeds in the world for many reasons. Full of personality, hypoallergenic and clever, he needs a couple of short walks a day.

In Praise of Mature Dogs

If you are looking for a dog that is less demanding of your time and energy, one solution is to bypass the adorable little puppies and go for a mature dog. Sadly, rescues everywhere are full of older dogs. While they come with no guarantees, you can find dogs who are house trained and walk nicely on the lead in shelters. Tragic things happen. Pets can outlive their owners, and sometimes people are forced to make heart-breaking choices that mean rehoming their dog. The old adage about old dogs and new tricks is completely untrue. Senior dogs can learn new tricks, and they are generally quite grateful for the opportunity. Instead of asking about what breed of dog needs the least exercise while looking for a pup, consider an older dog who needs a good home for her golden years.

Retired racing greyhounds deserve a special mention. Calm and unflappable, they are used to changing circumstances and adapt to new settings quickly. They make terrible watchdogs because they rarely bark, but when they aren’t in training, they are quite happy with a relaxed 20 minute walk a day and a spot next to you on the couch. Their sleek, short coat needs little care. If you are looking for a low-maintenance dog, a mature greyhound could easily run away with your heart.

Irene Hislop

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