Adopting 101: Size, Breed, and Energy Levels
So you’re looking to adopt a dog! We here at Save Our Shelter solute you!
Whether it’s a new addition to an already established pack or your first foray into owning a dog (or a dog owning you, as you soon might learn), it’s important to consider what kind of pup is best for you and your family before beginning any new adoption. Things like size, energy level and prominent personality traits are some of the bigger benchmarks to look out for.
As Rocky states in Save Our Shelter’s very first episode, “The size of a dog is important when considering a new pet, but size doesn’t determine the energy level and temperament of your dog. So, make sure you research the specific breed. That way, you ensure the best pet parent match.” Sure, you want a dog with an awesome personality to match your own, who you think is adorable and you feel a connection with. But having a general idea of breeds you might want to look into will greatly help your search.
When considering dog breeds, it’s also important to remember that breed traits – while helpful – aren’t always 100% accurate either. This can happen because adoptable pups are so often mixed breeds but this phenomenon can also even be seen in purebred dogs. While German Shepherds are known for their smarts and high energy, you could easily end up with a GSD who is lazy and a little, uh, of an airhead. So you still will want to spend time with a dog before adoption to make sure they add up to what you’re looking for. Think of it like your human dating life. We all have a type based on our own personalities and lifestyle. We get preconceived notions based on past experiences and even looks. But we’re also all often surprised by who we match well with and get along with in the long run. All of that being said, doing breed research and knowing the traits that are important to you is still a hugely important part of the adoption process and one you won’t regret having done going into dog shopping.
HIGH ENERGY: If your weekdays are go-go-go and your weekends include hiking and other physical activities that you’re hoping to bring your dog to, you might be looking for a high energy dog. Maybe you’re interested in the long walks or runs, or playing fetch in the yard until you both pass out on the couch. These aren’t everyone’s cup of tea activity-wise, but there are plenty of dogs out there looking for homes where they will receive not only everlasting love but a pal to tag along with on lifes great adventures. Higher energy dogs love families with kids they can play with as well. The more people around to give them stimulation, the better!
Australian Cattle Dogs are a great pick for energy seekers, as they’re known for their impressive endurance. Another high energy Australian dog is the Australian Shepherd. These dogs are both super beautiful and brilliant and do best in homes where they will be highly stimulated. When not given enough to do, they often end up herding their families the way they were breed to do with livestock. Another great herder is the Border Collie, who are also deeply intelligent and sensitive. Staffordshire Terriers have a little less hair than the others mentioned, and their athletic build make them great fits for agility, tracking and conformation. People-oriented, they do great when made to feel like part of the family and given a job to do. If you’re looking for a dog that is strong, quick and agile, we recommend the Brittanys, known for their ability to hunt all day. You can also seek out Belgian Malinois, who aren’t seen regularly as police and military dogs on accident. These alert, high-energy pups just might be smarter than the rest of us.
Other high energy breed suggestions: Dalmatian, Doberman, Pointer, Coonhound, Vizsla, Airedale, Jack Russell Terrier, English Springer Spaniel, Husky, Min Pin, Weimaraner, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Rottweiler, Boxer, Malamute, German Shepherd, Blue Heeler, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Catahoula
MEDIUM ENERGY: So you love a random trip to the dog beach, visits to the dog park and a good game of tug-o-war. But not, like, every single damn day. We get it. Medium energy dogs will be content to lay on the couch with you… after you’ve given them a long enough walk to stimulate their energy for the day. Have you ever been to a friends house and their pup was totally pumped for the first 30 minutes to an hour of your visit before finding a corner to snooze in? You likely had a medium energy level dog on your hands. And while it’s easy to assume that this just means the best of both worlds, like any other “middle” there will be big variations between energy dog-to-dog. Some will fall on the medium-high while others might live closer to medium-low. Consider your lifestyle and what time you can commit to giving your pup the attention and exercise they need. Overall, these pups will work best for people who want a dog who will swim and run and play… but also know when to calm the heck down.
Boston Terriers… dang cute, right? While they aren’t a “working” dog breed, they’re known for their agility and higher energy levels. They’re also highly obedient, and will likely work to fall in line with your lifestyle and routine. A larger breed choice could be the Greyhound, who with their slim physique are known for their high speed of running. Don’t let the racetrack fool you, though. This well-behaved and gentle dog breed is reserved and well-mannered at home.
Other medium energy breed suggestions: Basenji, Cairn Terrier, Shar Pei, Corgi, Shiba Inu, Newfoundland, Akita, Beagle, Bichon Frise, Saint Bernard, Chow Chow, Sheepdog, Irish Setters, Poodle, Saluki, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Cocker Spaniel, Whippet
LOW ENERGY: Maybe you’re older and retired. Maybe you have a super busy lifestyle and want a low maintenance dog. Whatever your reasons for seeking a low energy dog, you don’t need to feel guilty for seeking out a pup with a little less pep in their step. In fact, it’s smart that you know your own needs and want to rescue a pup who will benefit from your specific lifestyle. One of the big things outside of breed to consider when looking at low energy dogs is age. No matter the breed, most senior dogs are going to be pretty low maintenance, and so looking for a dog that is 7+ years can help you locate a low energy pal who won’t require a ton of exercise or stimulation. It’s also good to remember that size isn’t everything here. Great Danes are one of the largest dog breeds you can find, but they’re also one of the most low key. Besides all that drool.
If you’re looking for a younger dog with low energy, it’s especially important to keep breed in mind. Pugs are a great choice, as are Basset Hounds. These gentle house dogs are both known for being patient and great with kids, and neither is much into running in circles to burn off energy. This is also seen with Bulldogs, who can’t get too overheated or overstimulated because of their short snouts. While their butt might wiggle off every time you come in the door, they won’t be looking to run many 5ks with you. If you’d like an even larger low energy breed, Bullmastiffs are chunky but equally low energy (if a bit more stubborn in nature). A Pekingese is great if you don’t want to go on multiple walks a day, as their low key nature would far rather have them sitting on top of a pile of pillows. Same for the equally adorable and fluffy Toy Spaniels, Shih Tzus and Japanese Chins. Less fluffy but equally lap-dog approved? The ever-popular French Bulldog.
Other low energy breed suggestions: Brussels Griffon, Maltese, Fox Terrier, Pomeranian, Chihuahua, Havanese, Papillon, Yorkshire Terrier, Dachshund, Bernese Mountain Dog, Chinese Crested, Chinook, Great Pyrenees, Wolfhound,
Now that you know the basics of energy levels in pups and what to look out for, you’re ready to start your research into breeds that might be great fits for you, your lifestyle and your family. Remember that breed itself can’t totally guarantee the energy level of any specific dog, and that it’s always a good idea to spend quality time with any possible new addition before bringing them home. Speak to the shelter or rescue as well about trial periods or fostering if you need more time to see if it’s a good fit. Most will be willing to work with you to ensure a happy ending for both you and your possible new forever friend. Happy adopting!
Learn more about adoption by tuning in to Save Our Shelter on The CW, part of One Magnificent Morning‘s programming!