12 Low-Energy Dog Breeds That Don't Demand Much Walking

Low-Energy Dogs

Story at-a-glance -

  • Low-energy dogs require only minimal exercise, such as a brisk play session in the backyard or a moderate walk on a leash
  • Low-energy dogs are ideal for the elderly, people in apartments, or those without the time to devote to more intense exercise requirements
  • Low-energy dog breeds include Bulldogs, Basset Hounds, Pugs, Chow Chows, Great Danes, Bull Mastiffs, and more

By Dr. Becker

When choosing a dog to add to your family, many believe the dog chooses you, and not the other way around. Still, it's a good idea to have a sense for what type of dog will best fit with your lifestyle, including your activity level.

If you go for daily jogs and want a running companion, a Rhodesian Ridgeback or another athletic breed may be the dog for you. But if you have no inclination to wear your dog out with intense bouts of daily romps in the woods, a lower energy dog would be best.

To be clear, even "low-energy" dogs require daily exercise and play – but their needs will be dramatically less than a high-energy dog. Also remember each dog has a unique personality that could be quite different than the norm for the breed. If you're elderly, live in an apartment or simply don't want the demands of a high-energy dog, consider adopting one of these 12 low-energy dog breeds (or a mix of them!).

And keep in mind that adopting or rescuing an adult dog allows you to see his developed personality. With a puppy, you can only assume he'll develop the common characteristics of his breed.

12 Low-Energy Dog Breeds

1. Basset Hound — Basset Hounds are known for being relaxed, good-natured, and slow moving. They're great with children and require only mild daily exercise, such as taking a walk or playing in a fenced backyard.

2. Bulldog — Bulldogs tend to be docile and affectionate, and though they love daily walks, they don't do well with long distances or jogs.

3. Bull Mastiff — Bull Mastiffs can grow up to 130 pounds, but despite their large size they do well living in apartments. They don't require much exercise, but will be a gentle, loyal, protective member of your family.

4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel — Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are quiet, sweet, and affectionate dogs. They tend to be very friendly, make excellent therapy dogs and need only light exercise, such as a daily walk on a leash or playtime in a secure location.

5. Chow Chow — Chow Chows are a devoted and protective breed toward their family, but can be suspicious of other dogs or strangers. They need daily exercise outdoors but love to spend most of their time indoors with their family.

6. French Bulldog — French Bulldogs are known as "lap dogs" that aim to please. They are a fun-loving breed that adores playtime but needs only a short daily walk for exercise.

7. Great Dane — Great Danes are friendly and loyal, and though their large size demands ample space to move around, they do not require intense exercise (only a soft spot to lie in when sleeping).

8. Greyhound — Greyhounds are known for their sleek build and speed, but they're also known as "the world's fastest couch potato." Greyhounds are calm, gentle, and love cuddling on the couch after a play session.

9. Old English Sheepdog — Old English Sheepdogs are companionable, protective and entertaining. They have a low exercise requirement and love playtime, but they thrive as indoor dogs.

10. Pekingese — This toy dog breed is playful and cuddly. The Pekingese enjoys leisurely walks outdoors as well as indoor playtime, making them perfect for those living in apartments.

11. Pug — Pugs have a charismatic personality and charm. They are playful and friendly, and their exercise requirements can be met with an energetic play session or a walk on a leash. This breed is sensitive to heat and humidity, so should be kept indoors in extreme temperatures.

12. Shih Tzu — Shih Tzus need daily exercise, but a moderate daily walk or run through your backyard is generally enough. Shih Tzus are lively and playful but also enjoy relaxing with the family.

Your Dog Needs a Reason to Get Moving…

Even low-energy dogs need daily physical activity and mental stimulation. If your dog is spending most of his hours napping or lounging in his favorite "spot" outside, you may be confusing low-energy for boredom or simply a lack of motivation to move…

For instance, if you have a fenced-in backyard you may notice that your dog is initially active but then quickly comes back to the door to be let inside. Assuming the weather is pleasant, this is likely because nothing new has peaked his interest. The solution? Get involved in your dog's day. Throw a ball, run a few lengths of the yard together or play a game of tug of war or use an interactive game.

Of course, walks outside of your backyard are also excellent for physical and mental enjoyment (for you and your dog!). Another option? Consider getting your dog a suitable playmate. Studies show that "only" dogs rest about 80 percent of the time, while dogs who live with other dogs rest only about 60 percent of the time.

At minimum, your dog should bet getting 20 minutes of "intense" (meaning it gets his heart pumping) exercise three times a week. And even low-energy dogs will need daily play sessions to keep them mentally stimulated as well.

Are You Looking for Another Type of Dog?

Below I've compiled some of the top dogs depending on different lifestyles and needs. Even within a breed, each dog will have its own unique personality, of course, but the following guide will give you an idea of which breeds may be more suited for you. Remember also that some of the most-loved dogs are mixed-breed dogs, or mutts, that have a wonderful combination of traits all rolled into one.

Top Dogs for Families with Kids



Bull Terrier




Irish Setter


Labrador Retriever

Golden Retriever

Top Dogs for First-Time Owners

Golden Retriever


Labrador Retriever

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Bichon Frise

Boston Terrier



Shetland Sheepdog


Top Dogs for Active Owners

Rhodesian Ridgeback



Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Bernese Mountain Dog

Alaskan Malamute

Top Dogs for People with Allergies

Bedlington Terrier

Bichon Frise

Chinese Crested

Kerry Blue Terrier



Portuguese Water Dog


Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier


Top Dogs for Seniors

French Bulldog




Pembroke Welsh Corgi


Top Dogs for People Living in Apartments

Yorkshire Terrier


Boston Terrier

French Bulldog

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

English Bulldog

Basset Hound

American Staffordshire Terrier


Great Dane

+ Sources and References