You want a dog. Friendly, furry, happily running around, but also slobbering, shedding, chewing, barking, and running around…. so much running around. You want a dog, but are concerned it might be hectic. Or maybe you are hesitantly agreeing to a family member’s enthusiastic desires and are almost terrified of endless walks in a vain attempt to slow it down.
Why can’t there be a dog out there who is relaxed? You know kind of a low-energy dog. A dog that isn’t so concerned or interested in doing stuff? A low-energy family dog. A dog with the motivation and energy of a teenage boy but, ideally, a better housetrained.
To be clear, even low-energy dogs need daily exercise. If you’re looking for almost zero effort, try a Chia Pet. However, these low-energy dog breeds are content and healthy with a lot less activity. Think a walk around the short block instead of around the neighborhood.
An important distinction: low energy may not mean low maintenance. Some dogs on our list here can have dietary, grooming, or other issues that require regular attention. You’re looking for a dog that is more akin to the old Japanese car your roommate had in college. You remember: the one that just kept going no matter what? Check out this article about low-maintenance dog breeds.
There are small dog breeds with low energy and big dogs with low energy. Each has other characteristics that combined with being a low-energy breed could make them your dog of choice. Here is an introduction to eleven low-energy dog breeds.
Lifespan: 9–14 years
Temperament: Playful, Affectionate, Fearless, Patient, Adaptable, Sociable
Mass: Female: 5.9–8.2 kg (Adult), Male: 5.9–8.2 kg (Adult)
Colors: Black & Tan, Tri-color, Blenheim, Ruby
Height: Female: 30–33 cm (Adult), Male: 30–33 cm (Adult)—12 to 20 pounds
First of all, these dogs have an awesome name: the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel! They sound like they are ready to lead you on a crusade! A crusade of quiet, sweet, affection! They love a good cuddle and are easy to cuddle with. Despite their small size they are known to be fearless, but as a small dog with low energy, they don’t get in a lot of conflicts. They are perfect for small apartments but do not like to be left alone in them. The Cavalier King doesn’t drool but does shed moderately. It’s a very healthy dog except for a propensity to gain weight. But you can burn that off because these dogs love to play!
Lifespan: 8–10 years
Height: Female: 71–81 cm, Male: 76–86 cm
Weight: Female: 45–59 kg, Male: 54–90 kg
Temperament: Devoted, Confident, Reserved, Gentle, Friendly, Loving
Colors: Brindle, Fawn, Black, Blue, Mantle, Harlequin
This Deutsche dog is a large and tall low-energy dog breed. They were bred to hunt savage boar and have transitioned to devoted, intelligent and reserved dogs that require minimal exercise and a nice soft spot to sleep. Look out! These Danes are sensitive. Mournful looks and sulking will accompany rebuke and likely most orders. They don’t shed or drool much, which is nice and despite sometimes being skittish they are very friendly with kids and strangers.
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Height: Male: 71–76 cm, Female: 68–71 cm
Weight: Male: 27–40 kg, Female: 26–34 kg
Temperament: Affectionate, Intelligent, Quiet, Athletic, Gentle, Even Tempered
A.k.a. “the world’s fastest couch potato,” these low-energy breeds can reach speeds of 70 km/hr (43 mph). However, they do not need to do that very frequently. They prefer relaxing and have a calm temperament. Greyhounds do not have undercoats, the upside being you find less hair on your clothes and your hypochondriac aunt will have fewer dog-related allergy attacks. On the downside, no undercoat and a general lack of body fat cause Greyhounds to be susceptible to both extreme hot and cold conditions. Get them a stylish dog dickey to keep them comfortable! Also, keep them comfortable by not admonishing them to greatly; a sensitive breed they don’t take well to stern discipline.
Lifespan: 9–15 years
Temperament: Quiet, Aloof, Loyal, Independent
Weight: Male: 25–32 kg, Female: 20–27 kg
Height: Male: 48–56 cm, Female: 46–51 cm
Colors: Black, Fawn, Blue, Cream, Red
A sturdy dog of Northern Chinese origins, whose name in Chinese means “puffy-lion dog” A name earned for its shaggy mane that can come in a more common rough variant or a smooth coat. Either way, you’ll be brushing that hair at least three times a week. Remember we said low energy dogs—not low-maintenance dogs! At least it will be easier with the right dog brush and shampoo.
ChowChows or just Chows are known for being aloof, some with say cat-like in their personality and sometimes just bond with one member of the family. They may not be the friendliest little lions, the upside being the do well on their own, and are loyal and not aggressive unless provoked
Life span: 10–12 years
Coat: Smooth, short and close
Temperament: Tenacious, Affectionate, Devoted, Sweet-Tempered, Gentle, Friendly
Weight: Female: 20–27 kg, Male: 23–29 kg
The Basset Hound is like the goofy laid-back family friend that loves kids. They are low-energy and low-maintenance dogs that get along with everybody! Easy to train, friendly and a low-maintenance grooming schedule make the Basset Hound the perfect breed for a novice or lazy or busy dog owner. They do, however, like to eat (who doesn’t?) and can pack on the pounds. Contrary to that, they are fearless and can wander and chase scents to their little chubby heart’s content. Be careful that doesn’t lead them to a body of water, these chest-heavy hounds aren’t great swimmers.
Lifespan: 10–16 years
Temperament: Playful, Affectionate, Lively, Intelligent, Outgoing,
Mass: Female: 4–7.2 kg (Adult), Male: 4 – 7.2 kg (Adult)
Height: Female: 20–28 cm (Adult, At the withers), Male: 20–28 cm (Adult, At the withers)
These mite-size, low-energy cuddlers are friendly. They are friendly with family, with kids, with strangers, with other dogs… even with the door-to-door vacuum salesman. They are the poster lap dog. The right size and that oh so soft hypoallergenic coat. Welcome to cuddle town! These little cuddlers don’t do well in hot weather but aren’t overly bothered by the cold. They are easy to groom and barely drool. Then can get a bit chubby and like to chew and bite things. They also look great in a costume and are patient enough to deal with it and they make natural Ewoks!
Lifespan: 11–14 years
Colors: Rich Tan, Tan, Chestnut, Red Golden
Temperament: Playful, Affectionate, Intelligent, Trainable, Sociable, Active
Weight: Female: 18–27 kg, Male: 18–27 kg
These elegant low-energy dogs are the national pup of Malta. They are sight hounds which unfortunately translates to a high-energy desire to pursue prey if they see it, the best way to counteract this is only let them on the leash in contained areas. Other than this persistence they are quite satisfied with smaller amounts of exercise. Pharaoh dogs are talkers; they will bark when chasing prey, or when playing with other dogs, or when the doorbell rings or when anything happens for any reason. They are a generally healthy breed, playful and affectionate.
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Mass: 5.9–10 kg
Temperament: Reserved, Trainable, Quiet, Calm, Cheerful, Nonaggressive
Height: Male: 29 cm (At the withers), Female: 27 cm (At the withers)
What you get when you cross a Scottish Terrier with a Welsh Terrier? A Czech terrier. No, that is not a joke; it is the heritage and origin of the Cesky Terrier that was bred to hunt vermin. Funny how hunting vermin, which I thought was something only Elmer Fudd did, could also make a lovable lap dog with moderate exercise requirements. These dogs are great for smaller dwellings and can handle being on their own. They aren’t great with other dogs but are reasonable with strangers and kids. But, if your part of the family, they will just love you forever! Cesky Terriers are easy to train and robust in handling the mistakes and bad habits of novice owners.
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Mass: 3.2–6.4 kg (Adult)
Height: 15–23 cm (Adult, At the withers)
Temperament: Stubborn, Affectionate, Intelligent, Aggressive, Opinionated, Good-natured
Colors: Black, Fawn, Black & Tan, Cream, Fawn Brindle, Grey
Rivaling the Shih Tzu for lapdog superiority we have another Asian entry the Pekingese. This breed comes with imperial lapdog heritage having been the loyal companions of Chinese emperors. They do very well in living in small space being a low-energy breed. They prefer that space to be cool, as they don’t do well in the heat. Pekingese don’t do well with children or other dogs or strangers and will bark to make that understood. They don’t shed very much and the hair is very easy to groom. Aside from being graceful, Pekingese are very intelligent.
Lifespan: 8–10 years
Temperament: Willful, Docile, Friendly, Gregarious
Weight: Female: 18–23 kg, Male: 23–25 kg
Height: Female: 31–40 cm, Male: 31–40 cm
Colors: White, Fawn, Piebald, Brindle & White, Fawn & White, Red, Red Brindle, Red & White
The ultimate low-energy dog has to be on this list! Bulldogs are comical for their stupor, apathy, and occasional flatulence. They can handle being alone and are really easy going. I mean have you ever seen a nervous bulldog? They also love kids or are just really easy going around kids and very relaxed with strangers as well.
Drool. This is not just a stereotype, Bulldogs are droolers, but other than that occasional stickiness they are easy to groom. A healthy, sturdy breed but as a low-energy breed they can get fat easily, but don’t worry they aren’t sensitive about it! Or maybe that’s part of the problem?
Lifespan: 6–10 years
Temperament: Patient, Sweet-Tempered, Loyal, Thoughtful, Dignified, And Generous
Height: 2 feet, 8 inches to 2 feet, 11 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: 115 to 180 pounds
Colors: Black, White, Brindle, Fawn, Red, Grey
That’s an intimidating name to match an intimidating presence. Irish Wolfhounds were big dogs used to hunt big game by sight and to attack men in war. Despite all of this intensity, these low-energy breeds are the friendliest dogs. Like super duper friendly with family, kids, dogs, strangers, extraterrestrials… everybody! They may be a low-energy breed, but they don’t do well in small spaces. These big canines need to stretch and a little square footage to roam. A large fenced-in yard is ideal. These large hounds have some health issues commonly found in big breeds such as hip and joint issues, which can be exacerbated by a lot of stairs.
There are more low-energy breeds out there, as this list is a good sampling but certainly not definitive. Ideally, you have learned a few things about low-energy dogs and had a little chuckle—or at least cracked a smile—along the way. If you are seriously considering purchasing a dog, take the time to research breeds (articles like this are a great start) and contemplate how it would fit in with you and your family’s lifestyle. Even low-energy dog ownership is a large responsibility as well as a rewarding and loving experience.
Looking for other low maintenance dogs?
If your looking for low maintenance dogs you should check out the article “Low Maintenance Dog Breeds”. You might see some of the same breeds here but this article will also give you some more great ideas for low maintenance dogs! If you enjoy relaxing with your dog then these breeds may suite you better.