As you kick those workouts up a notch to prepare for your best bod ever, bringing your dog along for the exercise can be a wonderful way for you to enhance your bond while helping you both stay healthy. We’ve asked American Kennel Club spokesperson Lisa Peterson to share a list breeds that can help keep you fit, along with some tips for beginning an exercise routine with your dog.
While any of these breeds may be perfect for your active lifestyle with proper training, it’s also important to learn as much as you can about a potential pet’s behaviors, temperaments and certain medical conditions before making a commitment to one.
German Shorthaired Pointer
Historically used to spend days hunting in the field, German Shorthaired Pointers are friendly, smart and eager to please. Like other pointing breeds, German Shorthaired Pointers love being involved in outdoor activities with their families, like running, swimming or dog spots, Peterson says.
With a history working as a “coach dog” that ran along horse-drawn carriages for many miles and later protected the coach when it was stopped, the Dalmatian is an active, high-energy breed that still uses these skills today.
“Today, many Dalmatians take part in an activity called a ‘road trial’ that mimics this historic usage and requires them to run alongside a horse in a staged situation, a perfect environment for this high-energy breed,” Peterson says.
The breed’s great endurance also makes it a great running companion, she says.
American Staffordshire Terrier
A people-oriented breed that thrives when given a job to do and made a part of the family, the American Staffordshire Terrier’s experience participating in dog sports would make it a suitable workout partner, Peterson says. Courageous, strong and athletic, American Staffordshire Terriers excel in obedience, agility, tracking and conformation activities.
Originally used to chase deer, stag, fox and hare in its native England, the Greyhound is renowned for its speed and vision. Although the breed primarily serves as a sweet, personable companion today, the Greyhound’s athleticism makes it a great running partner, Peterson says.
Before beginning an exercise routine with your dog, Peterson recommends checking with your veterinarian and reviewing your dog’s age, health and current activity level.
“If your dog is overweight, you may want to ‘weigh in’ at the vet to determine how much weight he needs to lose [then] keep a journal to write down and track your fitness goals for you and your dog,” she says.
Bred to hunt and swim across a variety of terrain while maintaining its speed and agility, the Redbone Coonhound developed great endurance tracking game ranging from raccoons to cougars. This breed has a lot of energy to spend exercising with its owner, Peterson says. Once you’ve assessed your dog’s fitness level, plan to start slowly to build your dog’s endurance level over time.
“A workout that’s too vigorous can cause injury to you and your canine friend,” she says. “A good start is to take your dog for a walk or jog, play at the dog park or engage in a game of fetch.”
An alert, high-energy breed used regularly as both a police and military working dog, the Belgian Malinois often needs to be in-shape and active as a part of their profession. Because of their hardworking, active nature, the Belgian Malinois is happiest with something stimulating to do and would gladly accompany its owner for regular runs or a romp in the yard, Peterson says.
This high-drive, hardworking breed’s energetic nature requires much more than just a walk around the block or a game in the yard. The Border Collie will help keep any owner fit, Peterson says, and if there aren’t cows or sheep available for herding practice, she says running is an excellent activity to help tire them out.
Happy, affectionate and very trainable, the Vizsla thrives as a part of an active family that provides it with daily exercise, Peterson says. While they can be happy in the home, they’re also able to spend their days outdoors hunting with their people.
A varied workout routine can help keep things interesting and exciting for both you and your dog and, fortunately, there are many options to choose from when it comes to working out with your dog.
“Activities such as rollerblading, biking, dancing, hiking, swimming and playing Frisbee with your dog are fun workouts,” Peterson says. “Another option is agility training with your dog [which] requires conditioning, concentration, teamwork and training. For a more advanced workout, you can also try skijoring—a fun winter sport where you cross country ski while being pulled in a harness by your dog.”
Bred to spend their days hunting in the fields, the Brittany is quick, strong and agile. As a part of the pointer family, the breed thrives on activities like running, hiking and swimming and possesses a willing attitude to participate in any activity with its family, Peterson says.
Staying hydrated is an essential part of working out with your dog, Peterson says, so you’ll want to bring plenty of clean water and a portable dog bowl along for your dog during your workout. If your dog starts panting too rapidly, stop exercising immediately, and be sure to get the nutrition both you and your dog need to fuel your workouts before and after you exercise.
A muscular breed that possesses both endurance and speed, Doberman Pinschers enjoy exercising and spending time with their owners. Energetic, obedient and loyal, the breed has proved itself as a friend and guardian and has been used as a police and war dog because of its intelligence and ability to absorb and retain training, Peterson says.