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I’ve been researching online for a while now and recently started reading Petfinder’s Adopted Dog Bible but am having trouble figuring out which breed/group of dog is best for us based on how much exercise we can provide. Most of the sources I’ve come across give vague exercise guidelines like “the sporting-group of dogs need a lot of exercise” or “a dog from the herding-group needs to be regularly stimulated mentally and physically”.

These statements make it hard to quantify exactly how much exercise is needed – “a lot” is an ambiguous quantity. During the week, my girlfriend and I are able to walk a dog twice a day and give it some decent indoor/outdoor playtime after work. We have more time to take it outside to play on the weekends - we have a small fenced yard and a couple of parks within walking distance. Would this be enough exercise for an average dog from the sporting group? Terrier group? Herding group? Hound group (scent)?

I would love if someone could rank these 4 groups in order of most to least exercise required (average) for comparison.
 

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How about go to a shelter and see what dog there will best fit you? I have labs(sporting group) and they get a 5 mile walk and 3 hours of off-leash activity plus 30 minutes of obedience training every day(depending on the heat). They are happy with that. My older one only gets a 3 mile walk though and 1 hour off-leash due to medical reasons. I cant really help with the other groups,lol. Also it depends on the individual dog. Like a GSP(sporting group) would need a lot more exercise than what my labs get.

Edit- if you do get a retriever as a puppy keep in mind they are very mouthy and I personally dont recommend a retriever puppy for people who have never owned dogs before.
 

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I agree with going to a shelter or rescue and letting them know what you can offer, and see if they can suggest dogs who fit the bill!
 

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Or contact a rescue and tell them how much exercise you could provide and they can offer you dogs that fit that. I'm not a runner, but an hour of walking split up in to several walks is something I enjoy. I got a dog from a border collie rescue that is perfectly happy with an hour to an hour and a half of walks (plus training and play time).

Whatever you do, be honest. Don't fall in love with a cute picture and say, "Four hours of running per day? Sure, I the Amazing Couch Potato could totally do that!" That's how dogs end up homeless in the first place. Lots of people do it.
 

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Our trainer says the "average" dog requires 1-2 hours of walking, 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (i.e. fetch/agility) and 30 minutes of training PER DAY. If you're considering a herding breed it will be significantly more. Like, twice as much. The only reason my FI and I can make it work is that we work opposite schedules and the dogs are only home along for about 3-4 hours per day.

I think a retriever would be a great match for you guys. They're smart, relatively easy to train and only require moderate exercise (as mentioned above).

I think the biggest thing I've learned getting a herding breed is that "mental" workouts are just as, if not more, important than physical exercise. They NEED a job or I promise you they will make one up. And you probably won't like it! I won't get into it here...PM me for more info on herding dogs if you want!
 

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Agree with melundie, herders require lots of mental stimulation, as well as tons of exercise. Some.breeds within.groups require less than others. I own probably one of the most active breeds, malinois. They are non stop. Dogs bred to do high energy jobs, need lots of work.
Keep in mind the type of dog and what its purpose originally was. Example beagles like to sniff, terriers chase, guardians guard, huskies run, etc.
Many people get a breed or type then can't understand why the dogs do what they do. Picture exactly the type of lifestyle you have, then begin doing breed research. Find what fits in, and what you don't want. Most times, the perfect dog or mix can be found at a local shelter.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the help guys. We have visited a shelter and looked at the dogs, but we mostly went to ask questions and learn about the adoption process since we've never done it before. I understand that it's important to interact with some dogs at the shelter to get a better idea of their personalities, but I want to have an idea of what breed/group to look for. There is no sense in getting to know a herding dog if we cannot meet its exercise requirements. I would guess that the amount of exercise a dog needs is not always apparent when you first meet it since there are other factors at play - it's pent up in a cage most of the day, it behaves differently around new ppl or other dogs, etc. Can you really judge how much exercise a dog needs on a day-to-day basis from a meeting at the shelter?

Those numbers are very helpful melundie. I wish more websites gave average numbers like that by breed instead of ambiguous quantities like "a lot".

Sounds like a receiver mix would be a good for our lifestyle. Hopefully mixed with something smaller...
 

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It depends on the shelter/rescue you go to but a lot of the nicer ones do get a decent idea of the dogs personality and general exercise needs. No YOU won't really be able to tell from just meet the dog at the shelter but the volunteers/staff should be able to help guide you to a dog that'd be a good fit.
 

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I would suggest signing up to foster, and maybe fail and keep the foster! Most rescues need some foster homes that are dog free, so you'd be helping them a lot. You'd be able to see if the dog is owkring for your household or not, if not, then hang in there till a home is found.
 

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I disagree about the herding breeds. :p

People hype up herders very much and the breeds vary a lot. Individuals vary a lot. I have known some very calm dogs of very high energy breeds, it all depends on the individual more than anything. A lot also depends on you and your expectations for your dog and giving the dog structure. If you are getting an adult, I would judge that dog based on its individual merit rather than what it is 'supposed to be like'. Also a lot depends on the person in question's personality. I find herding breeds very easy to focus and direct but other 'high energy' dogs like sporting breeds and especially terriers and spitz drive me insane. My personality just doesn't mesh well with those kinds of dogs for whatever reason. Herding breeds to me are a piece of cake comparatively. My foster terrier in the short amount of time we had her drove me up the wall. She wasn't more ENERGETIC than my other dogs, but she was definitely just not the right kind of dog for me at all.

Shelties and Collies in particular are ime pretty medium energy kinds of dogs and are very adaptable to exercise schedules.

None of our herding breed dogs (shelties, BCx, GSDx) were as much work as my youngest papillon by far. Exercise requirements for her are about the same as our other dogs now that she's older, but she requires much more in the way of management and training. Her little mind goes full tilt 24/7 and she doesn't stop going. She's chewed a lot more than the other 12 dogs we've had combined. She's three years old and still can't be unsupervised at all. Paps are supposed to be an easy breed but she's not the easiest dog to keep entertained.

My sister's papillon is the most mellow, calm, quiet dog I've ever met. Just goes to show you that individuals are individuals.

ETA: Juliemule, mals get their own category as far as I'm concerned. lol Most herding breeds aren't nearly as intense or come with as many challenges as a malinois.
 

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The big plus about talking to a good shelter is that they should ask you to fill out a very detailed application, and ask questions about your responses. Then they will be able to figure out which breeds are best for you, and steer you away from dogs that may be too much (or too little!) work for your lifestyle!

This usually happens BEFORE you meet the dogs, so they would be able to tell you if there was a dog there that wouldn't be appropriate, so you didn't end up "getting to know" a dog that you wouldn't eventually work with.

And you are correct in terms of not getting the full scope of the personality and requirements from the shelter - most dogs in shelters are a little shell-shocked, if they have just arrived especially, but also because there are often a lot of different volunteers, people coming in and out to meet them, other dogs, etc etc. I find that a good general rule is to expect their "personality" at the shelter to be about the same when you get them home, but upped in energy by about 10! So that cute, bouncy puppy? Is probably going to be insanely high energy! That dog that is fixating on the cats on the other side of the glass? Probably not going to do well with cats at your house. And that one that looks kind of boring and tired - will end up being an energetic puppy, but a more mellow dog! (with the obvious exception of dogs showing fear or anxiety in the shelter). Go back at least twice - meet the dog at a couple different time of day, and see how it behaves. You may meet a dog that seems super mellow one day, and then go back the next to a ball of energy because the first day it had just come in from a big walk!
 

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I DO think it is very good to meet a lot of individuals of breeds you are interested in and get a feel for their quirks. But if you're not set on one breed, I'd go with an individual and evaluating an individual primarily. But the more dogs you get to spend time around the better feel you'll have for what personality types you enjoy. I would think more specifically on what traits you like in a dog other than exercise. Do you want a dog that is biddable? grooming? Size? Good with other pets? Etc. Exercise is one aspect, yes, but it's only one thing to consider.
 

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I disagree about the herding breeds. :p

People hype up herders very much and the breeds vary a lot. Individuals vary a lot.

ETA: Juliemule, mals get their own category as far as I'm concerned. lol Most herding breeds aren't nearly as intense or come with as many challenges as a malinois.
So true. Some dogs in any group don't fit the breed type. However, in general, I agree with op, as I wouldn't look for a bassett hound, because this type is just not.going to suit me.
However, if the shelter said they had a laid back gsd, or whatever, don't dismiss it. If there is anyway to do a trial period, that would ne ideal.
More than energy requirements, is what do you expect day to day to be like. Some.dogs are highly trainable, where others take an act of God to learn to sit lol. Do you want one that is beside you constantly, or one that can happily trot away and not look back?

Puppies are a Crap shoot to some extent. You have a general idea from breed, meeting parents and studying pedigrees. Yet, they can still be different.
Adult dogs give a fairly good idea of who they are. Most shelter.dogs calm.down tremendously once out and getting exercise. I visit the shelters every few months for super high drive dogs, and once I take them out to work a few days, many are dragging their butts lol. I think a general lab mix, pit mix, or even gsd mix would probably suit you. Look at the individual.
 

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In terms of ranking, I'd say that herding breeds need the most exercise (but much of it should be mental), than sporting breeds, then terriers (though this groups has a lot of variation within it), and then hound group.

Some dogs will show their true personalities in a shelter environment, and others won't. It really depends on the dog and their level of comfort (or fear) in a shelter environment. I would not suggest a fearful dog for relatively inexperienced owners.

I visited my dog at a shelter and she gave me a great idea of who she was within the first couple of minutes. She was extremely bouncy and had no manners (jumped on everyone). She LOVED balls, other toys, and treats. She pulled on the leash something awful. She was extremely focused on people, but could get along with other dogs, too. She craved affection. Three and a half years later, I'd still describe her this way. She has a lot more focus, control, and training now, but she is still the same dog.

My rule of thumb with a herding breed is to ask potential owners if they'd be interested in taking up a new hobby: agility, disc, flyball, nosework, dock diving, tracking, herding, or any number of other dog sports. If your answer is yes, then maybe you should consider a herding breed. If not, look elsewhere, because most dogs within this category need this kind of "work" on a regular basis.
 

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I have three dogs, all of them are in different groups...working, sport, and herding. All of them get the same amount of exercise physically and mentally. All three of mine require more mental then physical exercise. The german shepherd is always ready to go, but that doesn't mean she does. She is really a calm dog at home, but once we get walking, she can keep going and going and going. The golden will go anywhere I go and do whatever, very laid back and happy go lucky. The Samoyed mix is older and she gets tired quicker..she would prefer to lay in the grass in the shade for hours--this dog used to be quite active(I couldn't open the door and she would try to go) but with age she is more mellow. As far as a shelter goes, it depends on what kind of shelter you go to. If you go to a rescue they will match a dog to you, a humane society does not have the time. Humane Societies have very basic application, they make sure that you get along with the dog, but the choice is completely yours. My first one came from a humane society, I had no intentions of getting a dog, but when I seen her...it clicked. You will know!!
 

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I have 2 poodles, one a miniature, and one a toy......I do have a very large fenced in yard, so I can go out with them to play 'fetch'. I also have 2 miniature schnazuers...one weighs 24 lbs., the other weighs 14 lbs.....The 24 lbs schnauzer requires very little exercise ( I adopted her from a shelter at 1 yrs old, and today she is 4). She is just a lovable couch potato....the other schnauzer is very active, and loves to be outside and play 'fetch'....more so than any of the others. They can go for long walks, or not, love to be played with, and very people oriented.
I absolutlely love them.

The only downside is that they need to be groomed every 6 weeks. For me, that isnot a problem as I do my own grooming.....they are wonderful dogs....
 

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I second the vote for an adult Lab or Lab mix... they come in many colors and sizes... A rescue can give you ideas about the personality, but a shelter might not have as compete a picture. And, a second the vote 'against' Lab pups for people who haven't experienced them. I like them, but I don't mind little furry, vampire, piranha-goats :)
 

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I second the vote for an adult Lab or Lab mix... they come in many colors and sizes... A rescue can give you ideas about the personality, but a shelter might not have as compete a picture. And, a second the vote 'against' Lab pups for people who haven't experienced them. I like them, but I don't mind little furry, vampire, piranha-goats :)
Sooooo true but you forgot pack rat,(don't leave laundry on the floor) Labs are like having a 4 year old around. IMHO Labs are truly a lifestyle choice, where as say Lassa Apso's ( my other dog )are more to wards a cats personality and you would change your life very little for one. To the OP I love my Lab and they are wonderful, but know what you are getting into before choosing a pet for 10+ years, around hear some reputable breeders will rescue/adopt out dogs, as well most just love to talk about their dogs and their breed of dog N/C all day long.... lol (Most breeders I have met really don't mind people who ask questions about their breed of dog.) As for my experience if you are told a dog is high energy believe it, Remember when people say their high energy dog doesn't need exercise that they may have a large family lots of kids,neighbors,neighbors kids, grand parents,other dogs, coming and going 12 hours a day with a ten acre fenced yard. So remember to try and keep some context about your lifestyle in relation to how much exercise a dog will need.
Good Luck!
 

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I had a young (6 month old) German Shepherd and a Shih Tzu puppy (10 wks) at the same time. The Shih Tzu had WAYYYYY more energy than I've ever seen from a pup. I've never seen a tiny puppy that could play for 5 hours without a nap! The German Shepherd was amazing ... mellow, laid back, brilliant (grin), content to do whatever I wanted ... at that age had already completed two obedience classes and was invited to the advanced class. I've had several GSDs over the years and I've found that GSDs suit my personality the most of any breed. I love them. (Obviously I love my shih tzu as well and still have him--he's 12 years old now. The only reason I'm not sure about getting another is the grooming involved. Personality wise, I love love love him).
 

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Mals are technically from the working group aren't they?

I agree about herding breeds, collies (lassie) as adults many are very calm some are calm but they are also up for fun. That's the way buddy is, he is a couch potato when we are sedentary but when we are on thr move (like at work) he is ready & enjoys the action. Of course he is about 6 yrs old so he's not a spring chicken anymore :) so that might have something to do with it.

I wouldn't do much as judge hem by their breed as much as their personalities, I wouldn't have had two of my best dogs if I had judged them by breed (a dobie & a GSD both breeds that I never thought I would own) they were also rescues too :).
 
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