The Five Best Powerfully Active Breeds for Athletic Dog Owners

Updated on July 23, 2020
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

A JRT race!
A JRT race! | Source

If you are reading this article on your Smart phone and trying to decide if you need to stop at the Starbuck's to get a little caffeine pick-me-up, this is the right list: the couch potato dogs do not suit you. Are you ready to get a dog? These dogs will be able to keep up with your jogging routine and will have no trouble handling your schedule, but if you forget about them and let them languish in the apartment they will most likely make you pay for it. Are you still sure? Here is a list of five great active dog breeds.

1. Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell terrier is a small dog (a little over 10 inches) who is still as tough and active as his fox-hunting ancestors. They were bred to work, and if they cannot hunt fox or badgers they will need to be provided with some other sort of activity. They are great at flyball, agility, and of course will be great companion dogs at the park when playing Frisbee.

Most Jack Russell terriers are healthy and have long lives.

Jack Russell terriers are not recommended for apartments since they need to get out and exercise a lot. They can be destructive if not taken out and allowed to run. If you are searching for a little dog that stays active, though, the Jack Russell terrier is a great small dog.

Jack Russell terrier.
Jack Russell terrier. | Source

2. Australian Cattle Dog

The Australian cattle dog was developed using cattle drovers and dingoes, and is a breed that needs a lot of activity. He is only medium sized, 17-20 inches at the withers, but since he is longer than he is tall often weighs 40-60 pounds. If he does not have a job herding the family´s cattle he needs to be involved in agility trials, flyball, schutzhund, skijoring, obedience competition, rally obedience competition, or any other event you can come up with (like hiking, disc dog trials, therapy work, etc). The Australian Cattle Dog is ranked high among the dog breeds in intelligence and is also trained as a drug detection dog, a police dog, and even as a tracker.

Unlike some of the other active breeds, this dog is more likely to relax and rest when the activity is done. As long as he gets out for exercise he is okay living in an apartment. He will bark to alert, though, and unless socialized early will be nervous around strangers and more likely to act like a guard dog. The breed may be aggressive around young kids, and probably will not do well in a household with several dogs.

If you live alone, and want an active dog that will serve you as a guard for many years, the Australian Cattle Dog is a great choice.

Australian cattle dog.
Australian cattle dog. | Source
Australian Cattle Dogs at play.
Australian Cattle Dogs at play. | Source

3. Border Collie

The Border Collie is a medium sized dog (19-22 inches at withers) that is still used to work in many areas, although it is an excellent competitor when brought to the city or suburbs and used in dog sports like agility, flyball, and disc trials. They are also good at tracking trials, and of course are excellent at sheepdog trials. The breed is so active that, unless they have plenty of exercise every day, they will often become neurotic and destructive.

Border Collies will probably chase bicycles and cars when they are bored. They will be with you about twelve years, and maybe a lot longer if cancer does not strike, or if you do not become frustrated and end up taking your dog to the local animal shelter.

If you do not have any small children around your house, and are in search of a medium sized active dog that will keep you on your toes, the Border Collie is a great dog.

A Border Collie.
A Border Collie. | Source
A Border Collie at work.
A Border Collie at work. | Source

4. Vizsla

This great breed of dog was originally bred in Hungary. It is a medium sized dog(22-25 inches at the withers, and about 50 pounds), a hunter that is usually kept as a family dog by those who can put up with their activity level. They are active! When out hunting they will act as pointers and retrievers, when back at home they will act as a guard dog and a family companion, and if ignored they will act hurt, whining and crying.

Vizslas are generally good dogs around kids. They have the energy to frolic with any age group and they seldom get tired. Unfortunately they do not live long enough, only averaging about nine years, and some lines may end up with genetic diseases. (One breeder left a comment that Viualzslas usually live 13-15, and are still active at 10.)

If you are looking for an ancient breed active enough to keep you busy all day, this is a great hunter, an excellent companion for a busy lifestyle, and a good looking dog.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
AVizlsa trying to decide where to stand.A Vizsla enjoying the water.A Vizlsa at rest.A Vizsla pretending to be a guard.
AVizlsa trying to decide where to stand.
AVizlsa trying to decide where to stand. | Source
A Vizsla enjoying the water.
A Vizsla enjoying the water. | Source
A Vizlsa at rest.
A Vizlsa at rest. | Source
A Vizsla pretending to be a guard.
A Vizsla pretending to be a guard. | Source
Another Vizsla acting calm--this dog is almost sleeping.
Another Vizsla acting calm--this dog is almost sleeping.

5. Weimaraner

The last of the five active dog breeds is the tallest on the list, with males being 25-27 inches at the withers. He is another hunting dog, like the Vizsla, famous for his endurance, stamina, and energy. The breed is fine for a person with a lot of time and energy on his hands, but they are not so good for little kids because they might knock them down, and certainly would not be good for a writer who sits in front of his computer all day, nor for a “couch potato” who spends most of the time watching TV.

If you are interested in competing in agility, the Weimaraner is a good choice. As long as you have lots of energy they respond well to obedience commands and, of course, to hunting commands. If you are away from home all day and expect your house to be perfect when you come home, you should be aware that many dogs of this breed are victims of separation anxiety. A Weimaraner will probably want to stay next to you whenever you are home, sometimes more than you might want, and may end up whining for hours or injuring himself in an effort to get close to you.

Are you looking for a big, handsome, active dog that will stay with you all of the time? The Weimaraner is a good choice.

Are you ready for one of these active dog breeds?

Weimaraner puppy.
Weimaraner puppy. | Source
Weimaraner. | Source

Which of the active dog breeds is the best?

See results
A Weimaraner competing in agility competition.
A Weimaraner competing in agility competition. | Source

Questions & Answers

  • Is the Australian Cattle Dog and the Australian Shepherd the same?

    No, they are not the same thing. The Australian Shepherd was actually developed in California. Here is an article that has descriptions of the two breeds and videos.

© 2012 Dr Mark


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    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      3 weeks ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      David, thanks for that comment. I am going to include that in the text for those interested in this great breed.

    • profile image

      David Sickles 

      3 weeks ago

      Nice list and accurate. I raise Vizslas and average lifespan is 13-15 years withe minimal hip issues and tend to stay active until about 12. Normally retire from hunting at 10.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      i would really like a dog but one that is active i want to be able to teach him tricks ect but mum wants a chihuahua and im like noooo they are cute but sooo yappie but now i have ready this i think she might fall for a jack russel x

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      7 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Great list of dogs, isn´t it? I don't know if I could handle them, though, as I like to lie around too much!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice list. I love the hyperactive (and semi-crazy) kinds of dogs; they're just more fun.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      7 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Thanks for the visit. I think the GSP is actually bred from the Vizlsa, so I think you are correct and they would definitely rank in a top ten list.

      I have a less than active lifestyle too, but don't those Vizslas look like a lot of fun?

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      7 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Very informative hub, but I think German Short haired Pointer and German Wire haired Pointer could be included in the list (of top 10). I would include them in my list.

      Because I am biased towards Hungarian breeds (I have a Hungarian Kuvasz) , I would opt for Vizsla from your list, but then because of my less active lifestyle, I do not need super active dogs. I do need dogs that can accompany me to long distance hikes though.

      I liked your hub and the pictures. Enjoyed every word of it :-)

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      7 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      She is like my pit bull cross, Vizsla in spirt!

    • wetnosedogs profile image


      7 years ago from Alabama

      aw, no. jenny is part lab and shepherd. but she gets active on her backyard hunts. there are times she will sit for the longest time staring up at a tree. It is so neat to see the dogs in action.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      7 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Thanks for the comments. Highland Terrier, I am curious at to which of your dogs is "toughest", the JRT or the Westie? They both look kind of mellow there in the snow.

      wetnosedogs, if Jennie is a Vizsla cross you are lucky. I would get one in a minute if they were available where I live. Of course I might be a "fail" as a father, but what a great dog to fail with!

    • Highland Terrier profile image

      Highland Terrier 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      If you look at my photo you will see one of my dogs is a jack russell terrier.

      Very good hub, videos and photos excellent.

    • wetnosedogs profile image


      7 years ago from Alabama

      i think between the border collie and vizsla, jennie would fit it. Except she is a barker, so maybe she wouldn't do well with sheep. She likes to be busy though, think it's the lab in her. but now i want one of each of these! i think i belong on a farm with my dogs.


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