Small Dog Breeds for Active Lifestyles

Small Dog Breeds for Active Lifestyles

By Linda Cole

People who love to run and enjoy the companionship of a dog by their side have a tendency to pick larger dogs as a running partner. Small dog breeds aren't usually thought of as being able to keep up the pace over the long haul. However, the cool thing about all dog breeds, large and small, is their unique and varied energy levels.

Small dogs can have as much energy packed into their little bodies as a Border Collie or Labrador, and are ready to show you what they've got. If you have an active lifestyle, you don't have to look far to find a small dog breed that will relish a stimulating hike or run. After all, many small breeds were bred as working dogs, and have the tenacity, energy and loyalty to fit into most lifestyles.

High Energy Small Working Dogs

A small dog is usually considered to be less than 22 pounds. Not surprisingly, terrier breeds dominate in the group of small dogs with the highest activity level. Dogs who run on high octane were bred to hunt small prey like rabbits, foxes and rats. These little dogs had to be brave, fearless and tenacious to follow whatever they were chasing underground to root them out. Many times, their prey turned out to be bigger than they were. Today's terriers haven't lost their desire to chase prey. A rabbit bursting out from under a bush can quickly find a terrier hot on his heels.

With boundless energy, these dogs are always ready for a good run, whether it's jogging with his owner or chasing a neighborhood cat. Some examples of small dogs with lots of energy include the Parson Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Bull Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Norfolk Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, Wire Fox Terrier, Border Terrier, Australian Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Basenji and Petit Basset Griffon. These breeds can learn to live with cats in the home, and they are great with children and other dogs in the home.

Moderate Energy Small Dogs

Bred mainly to be companion dogs, some in this group were developed as smaller versions of a larger breed. Canines in this group still have a need to work off excess energy, but they are in between the high energy working dogs and the “stay at home on the couch” lapdogs. Because all dogs are individuals, some may require more exercise than others.

Small dogs with moderate energy will benefit from daily walks that stimulate their mind and keep them fit. A jog or long hike is probably not in the picture for moderate energy dogs, but they can be happy with a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. Dog breeds in this group include the Scottish Terrier, Silky Terrier, Bichon Frise, Miniature Poodle, Miniature Dachshund and the Miniature Pinscher. These little guys are good with children and other dogs, but not necessarily good with cats.

If you enjoy being outside, some of these breeds can excel at agility training. It's a great way to help run off pent up energy and stimulate their mind. The fun thing about teaching your dog agility is you don't have to do it for competition unless you enjoy competing in dog sports. Any size dog can be taught to run a course, and you can easily buy equipment to set up your own backyard course. Flyball is another good activity small dogs can do well in. Earthdog trials showcase the tenacity and hunting ability of terriers and Dachshunds who were bred to track their prey above and below ground.

Even if you aren't into running or hiking, you can satisfy most dogs’ activity level with a game of fetch, and extended walks that allow the more active canines a chance to work off their energy. A bored terrier can be as destructive as a bored Great Dane.

Dog training is another great way to burn off energy. Once your dog has learned basic commands, you can move on to more advanced training and tricks. Grab some CANIDAE dog treats for incentive, and teach your small dog how to sit up, spin around or any other fun and safe trick.

If you're looking for an active small dog that can keep up with you, most terrier breeds will fit right in. They are people friendly, low maintenance, very loyal, smart, happy dogs with expressive personalities. You might be surprised to discover just how much energy a small dog has.

West Highland White Terrier: Mihnea Stanciu
Miniature Pinscher: Leonardo DaSilva

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