An energy mismatch is a great way to turn a loving dog-human relationship sour.
Matching your energy and activity level with your pet will help both of you live happy and fulfilled lives together.
If you’re not one for long hikes on the weekends, evening agility classes, and daily walks or runs, you might want to steer clear of certain dog breeds.
Some dogs are pure energy manifested in a four-legged fur ball, while other dogs are better-suited to a sedentary lifestyle thanks to years of breeding as companion animals.
Want a Lazy Dog? Avoid Puppies and Go for Adult Dogs
You can find just about any size or shape of dog to fit your lifestyle.
If you want a gigantic couch potato to watch Netflix with, there’s a dog for that! If you’re more into small and fluffy pooches, there are low energy dog options for you as well.
Keep in mind that one of your best bets for finding a low energy dog is to look at adult shelter dogs. Almost all dogs will go through a high-energy phase where they’re hyperactive and destructive around 9 to 18 months of age.
Shelters are full of dogs that are over the age of three or four, meaning it’s not difficult to find an adult dog that still has many years ahead. Elderly dogs are another great option for low-energy dogs who make wonderful golden year companions.
With an older shelter dog, you can skip the potential headache of a teenage dog and you can get to know that dog’s energy level.
Breed Info Can Be Helpful, But All Dogs Are Individuals
Get to know the individual dog. When I was researching this article, I kept finding Dogue de Bordeaux listed as a low energy dog breed.
In my personal experience, I would never list that breed as a low energy dog breed. The Dogue de Bordeaux that I met while working at the shelter liked to jump, play tug, run, and roughhouse.
Maybe some Dogue de Bordeaux are lazy bone dogs, but this exemplifies how important it is to not blindly trust a breed’s reputation – dogs are individuals, just like humans.
Get to know your individual dog, or your puppy’s parents before making a decision. We talk all about how to pick out a dog in our dog adoption guide, be sure to check it out!
Pocket-Sized Low Energy Dog Breeds
Many small breeds are pretty easy to tire out, even if they’re not on this list. However, small doesn’t always mean relaxed.
Steer clear of high-energy terriers like Jack Russell or Parson’s Terriers. Otherwise, most dogs that are under 20 pounds will be content with a few short walks and work quite well as indoor dogs.
In general, many dogs with short faces (brachycephalic dogs) will have lower activity levels. This is largely due to their impaired breathing from their face shape.
A few of our top picks include:
1. French Bulldogs
French bulldogs, or “Frenchies,” are exploding in popularity these days. These little dogs are solid tanks of cuteness, with baby-like faces, perfect wrinkles, and adorable bat ears. They also are notoriously easy to tire out. These spunky, happy-go-lucky pooches are generally easy going, but will still want at least one or two short walks.
- Shape: Round
- Coat Type: Short
- Favorite Activities: Short walks, meeting new people
Pugs are another small, adorable option for a low energy dog. They’re notorious for being goofy and cuddly. While many Pugs enjoy a good romp through the grass or a walk around the park, they’re unlikely to drive you nuts with constant exercise needs.
- Shape: Round
- Coat Type: Short
- Favorite Activities: Short romps around the yard with friends
Medium Low Energy Dog Breeds
Many medium-sized dog breeds are pretty energetic.
Dogs like Shetland Sheepdogs, American Eskimo Dogs, Corgis, and most breeds of Spaniel will run circles around even moderately active owners.
3. Basset Hounds
Basset Hounds certainly have a mighty bark, but most Bassets are doggone lazy. Their legs are simply too short for much activity! Bassets were originally bred for sniffing and digging, so they’ll enjoy a bit of sniffing on their leisurely walks.
Most hounds are relatively laid-back, so they’re a great breed group to look at if you’re ok with their baying! That said, steer clear of hounds from kennels that still breed working dogs. Any hound that’s still bred for hunting and tracking will need a lot of activity, like any working dog.
- Shape: Long and low
- Coat Type: Short
- Favorite Activities: Sniffing – try nosework games with them!
4. English Bulldogs
English Bulldogs are the original lazy lap dog. With barrel chests, short noses, and short legs, English Bulldogs simply aren’t built for activity.
In fact, a lot of vigorous activity can be dangerous for them, as they can easily overheat. Bulldogs are much happier laying on a cool floor or plushy pillow than hitting the trails. Some English Bulldogs still have a playful streak akin to their bigger cousins, but they tire easily after a bout of tug-o-war or chewing on a squeaky toy.
- Shape: Short and stocky
- Coat Type: Short
- Favorite Activities: Short bouts of tug-o-war
Large Low Energy Dog Breeds
Paradoxically, it’s often easier to find a low-energy large dog than medium dog.
As dogs get bigger, their energy levels often decrease. That said, there’s quite a bit of variety within large dogs. Keeping up with a Belgian Malinois or Vizsla is practically a full-time job, but other large dogs are easy-going.
As always, steer clear of any large dogs that are from a “working line.” One of the laziest dogs I’ve ever worked with was a pet-line Golden Retriever, but I’ve met many working line Goldens that were driving their active Colorado families up the wall with boundless energy.
5. Chow Chow
Chow Chows are fluffy, aloof, and content to lie around and be brushed. While they’re not the most affectionate breed out there, Chows make up for it with their majestic looks and low exercise needs.
They require careful socialization to ensure they’re friendly with strangers and confident in new situations, but they’re a great breed for people who enjoy brushing dogs rather than hiking with them!
- Shape: Medium in all directions
- Coat Type: Thick and fluffy
- Favorite Activities: Watching the world go by
Greyhounds need far less exercise than you’d expect. There are many rescue groups specifically for retired racing Greyhounds. Many Greyhounds are content to go on a short walk or two.
Most sighthounds (including Whippets, Italian Greyhounds, and Afghan Hounds) are similarly low-energy as long as you avoid the competitive agility breed lines. The vast majority of Greyhounds are pretty cuddly, making them ideal couch-sharing buddies!
- Shape: Long, lean, and skinny
- Coat Type: Very short
- Favorite Activities: Short sprints followed by lots of cuddling and sleeping
Giant Low Energy Dog Breeds
The bigger the dog, the more energy it takes for the dog to move. This means that giant dog breeds are actually the most consistently low-energy dogs out there.
Even adolescent giant breeds generally tire quickly. Their owners joke that they only need about five minutes of exercise, then they’ll need a twenty minute nap to keep growing!
Keep in mind that most giant dog breeds will do well with at least a little exercise – this is true for all dogs, really.
Newfoundlands were originally bred for helping fisherman in Canada. That said, they’re one of the most consistently low energy dog breeds I’ve ever met. Most love water and enjoy a good, short romp through the woods – but then they’ll sleep for hours.
If you can deal with the drool and a bit of grooming, Newfies are gentle giants that require little exercise. They’re generally considered one of the calmest dog breeds around!
- Shape: Giant and muscular
- Coat Type: Thick and waterproof
- Favorite Activities: Swimming and sleeping
8. Great Danes
Great Danes consistently top the lists of best apartment dogs due to their low energy levels and cuddly nature.
Most Great Danes enjoy getting out for some training or walking, but they tire easily. Great Dane puppies and adolescents are adorably uncoordinated, and many never grow into their legs.
Their goofy nature and low energy levels make them great family pets, although Great Danes can be expensive dogs to own due to medical issues and joint problems that come as a result of their enormous size.
- Shape: Tall and leggy
- Coat Type: Short
- Favorite Activities: Galloping around for short uncoordinated spurts, then sleeping
No matter what size, shape, or coat type of dog you want, there’s a low energy dog breed out there for you. Remember that all dogs need a bit of attention in the form of a walk, playtime, petting, or training every day.
You can always check shelters and rescues for adult dogs, letting you skip adolescence and ensure that you actually know your dog’s adult energy levels.
What’s your favorite low energy dog breed? We want to hear about your couch potato pups!