Dogs for Active Families.

Choosing the right dog for your family isn’t always easy.  Energy levels do vary from dog to dog, but some breeds are much more active than others and knowing the difference will help would be owners to choose the right breed for their family and their lifestyle.

Holidays4Dogs looks at some breeds that are suitable for active, outdoor families who love activities such as walking, running, hiking, cycling and camping.  Active breeds also tend to require a good deal of company and don’t generally fare well being left alone for long periods.  If you are a family where someone is at home most of the time, such as home workers, part time workers or active retired, here are a few suggestions for breeds that may suit.

Border Collies are very high energy dogs with a love of adventure and the great outdoors.  They are generally good with people and other dogs and amenable to learning new things and they excel in activities such as agility and flyball.  As well as physical exercise they need a great deal of mental stimulation to keep them happy too.  They may not be the best breed for the first time dog owner because, while they are incredibly clever at learning new things, they can be apt to learn undesirable habits too, such as chasing and nipping.  They can display obsessive behaviour at times and they need to learn how to settle calmly when required. Puppies from pure working stock may test the patience of the most seasoned dog owner, so for a family pet it is recommended you choose a puppy from dual purpose lines (show and working stock) and avoid farm bred pups unless you have researched the history, or are interested in using your dog to work with sheep.  Another alternative is to acquire a dog that has failed as a working sheepdog, as these often make very good family pets and house dogs, but still have the energy level to keep up with an active family.

ExerciseBorder Collies do need consistent handling and plenty of socialisation from an early age.  However, in active homes, where someone is around for a good part of the day, they make lovely family pets – they will however, always have one eye open and be ready in a trice for the next adventure!

Jack Russell Terriers, despite their stature are generally very high energy dogs and they can be on the move for hours!  Their size makes them ideal for small homes, but make no mistake, these little dogs, bred to kill rats and vermin can be formidable characters!  Many Jack Russell’s enjoy agility, although some would say they are not as easy to train as other breeds and tend to have a stubborn streak.  These are lively dogs, always on their toes and alert which means they can be reactive and vocal.  However, they should never be aggressive, so again it is wise to do your homework and research breeders carefully.  They can be a nuisance with cats and other small furries, but given the right lifestyle, they too can make engaging family pets for active families.

DSCI0093German Shepherd Dogs are another active breed suitable for families on the go.  They are highly intelligent dogs which is why they are frequently used in the police and armed forces.  They are notoriously loyal, soulful dogs with a natural guarding instinct and in the right environment can make extremely dependable family pets.  For families with an interest in formal obedience, working trials or agility, a German Shepherd would make a great choice.  However, they do need careful handling when young and plenty of early socialization and although everyone has to start somewhere, they might not suit the first time dog owner.  Some lines can be very nervous and over reactive which would make them totally unsuitable for family life, so it is really crucial that would be purchasers of a GSD puppy research breeders thoroughly including visits to shows and different breeders to see the dogs in the flesh.  Overall, this breed will need an active and varied lifestyle and as long as you provide enough for him to do, he will be just as happy to relax around the house with you and much less demanding as Border Collies or Jack Russells.

Springer Spaniels are a medium sized active breed with a happy-go-lucky nature that means no family will be allowed to be down in the dumps with this fellow around!  Springers are high energy dogs and require a great deal of exercise and stimulation to ensure they don’t turn into unmanageable hooligans.  Springers are usually polite with strangers and other dogs, but some dogs can have dominance issues, so as with other breeds, it is wise to research thoroughly. Springers just love company and activity, so without it they can become noisy and destructive when left for long periods.  However, they very much dote on their owners, although they can sometimes focus on just one member of the family.  They are lovable characters with an endearing wiggle when they wag their tails (which is often most of the time!).  They generally have a love of water – and will always find a muddy puddle on the hottest of days!  For families with a love of the countryside and rural pursuits, the Springer spaniel would make an ideal family companion who could turn his hand to almost anything, from hiking to agility or from picking up on the local shoot to taking part in dock diving events.

jasper runningLabrador Retrievers are also active, fun loving dogs, full of vitality with adaptable and biddable natures.  These must one of the top dogs of choice when it comes to choosing a family pet, but they particularly suit people who enjoy field sports or competitions such as obedience or field tests and although they can happily live in an urban environment, they really come into their own in the rural landscape.  Labradors are rather more adaptable than other breeds we mention here in terms of energy levels, which is a great plus point for families with children or other pets.  While Labradors are strong and lively, they are also happy to settle calmly when activities are over for the day; however, with not enough exercise they can become boisterous and bouncy, which might be an issue if there are toddlers in the house.  Broadly speaking they are also slow to mature, so families need to be aware that patience and consistent training is required. Sociable with people and other dogs, Labradors make superb family companions and they like nothing more to be included in daily activities with their families.

With the exception of a few, almost all dogs enjoy exercise and being active, but the handful of breeds Holidays4Dogs mentions in this article are suitable for living with serious outdoor enthusiasts and will be more than capable of going the distance with their active owners.