Not everyone who wants to adopt a dog knows exactly what breed they’re looking for. More often than not, you have a vague idea of what type of dog you don’t want, rather than what type you do. For instance, many people want a dog, but not one with too much energy. This may be because they don’t have enough time in the day to continually take a dog on walks. Or maybe they don’t have a fenced-in yard to let the dog run around in. This may also be because they have a disability or are elderly and don’t have a lot of mobility themselves. Still other times, people just want a canine companion that will spend more time cuddling by their side than running around the house.
Whatever your reason for considering a low-energy dog, know that there are many dog breeds that are perfect for your situation. To help you make an informed decision, here are 10 of the best lazy dog breeds—both large and small. We also include information on the basic level of care they typically require.
The English Bulldog, also known as a British Bulldog or simply a Bulldog, is the fifth most-popular dog breed, according to the AKC. Females grow to 40 pounds, and males to 50 pounds—you need to know this because they tend to be lap cuddlers, and this may be too much weight for you. They love human warmth and are great with children, serving as attentive but not aggressive supervisors.
This easygoing breed needs approximately 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, so figure on a walk once a day. Bulldogs don’t breathe well in heat and humidity because of their short snout. Keep this in mind if you don’t have air-conditioning and live in a warm climate. Obesity can be a problem for Bulldogs. Therefore, in addition to moderate exercise, be sure to keep your dog on a strict food regimen with only healthy treats. Sadly, because of the way that English Bulldogs have been bred over the years (smushed-in faces, oversize heads, etc.), their average lifespan is only eight years.
You’re likely familiar with the stereotypical image of a St. Bernard as a “rescue dog” for skiers and the like, and that’s exactly what they were bred for. Monks in the Alps in the 1600s used the breed to help rescue lost travelers in the snow. Because of this, and their size, many people think the St. Bernard is a high-energy dog. But it’s really not. In fact, experts advise just one 25- to 60-minute walk (or two shorter walks) a day to maintain their weight and health.
St. Bernards are definitely large dogs—the breed typically grows to 30 inches in height and 120-180 pounds in weight. But they’re true gentle giants: playful, but slow-moving, calm, and patient. They’re great with kids and love challenging games. While they don’t do well in heat (look at their thick, double coat) and you should keep them inside when it gets too warm, they love the cold and snow. The life expectancy of this breed is 8-10 years.
Basset Hounds are one of the most “chill” breeds. They’re low-key and laidback, and don’t take up a lot of room. Basset Hounds are some of the biggest couch potatoes around, so if you’re looking for a low-energy dog, you should definitely consider Bassets. They do tend to get overweight if you don’t exercise them, and that can affect the back of this low-slung breed. Still, their exercise requirements aren’t huge—an hour a day, walking at their pace, is enough.
Know that this breed is affectionate, but stubborn (obedience isn’t their strong suit). It’s also extremely food-oriented and can be sneaky with your food if you’re not looking. Basset Hounds have a very calm temperament. This means kids, cats, and other dogs are usually okay and even welcomed, since Bassets are very pack-oriented. They do have one of the best scenting noses, second only to Bloodhounds, so know that your daily walk may be even more “rambly” than usual if they pick up a scent. Basset Hounds have a life expectancy of 10-12 years.
Pekingese dogs thrive on your undivided attention, and love being lap dogs. Pekingese are a good match for those who have limited living space and prefer small dogs. They’re classified as a “toy” breed, as they only weigh 6-12 pounds and stand 7-8 inches tall. This breed is easy to care for and needs minimal amounts of exercise—we’re talking less than 20 minutes a day! That means a short walk or a romp in an enclosed yard is all they require.
Know that the breed tends to be loyal to its family. You should socialize the dog when it’s young, so it learns not to bark at other people. Like the Bulldog, the Pekingese doesn’t breathe well in hot and humid weather because of its short snout. It also tends to snore a lot. This breed originated from ancient China. First, they were the darlings of the Chinese royalty in the 1800s. Then England’s Queen Victoria and her court doted on them later in that same century. Some breeders say that Pekingese have never forgotten this royal treatment, and this accounts for their aloofness and regal bearing. Pekingese dogs tend to live 13-15 years.
These big-eyed dogs have been bred for their sunny disposition, and they love spending time with their family. Kids, cats, and other dogs are usually no problem for Pugs, which, like the Pekingese, were originally used as companions for Chinese royalty. In terms of exercise, Pugs need just two 20-minute walks a day and access to an enclosed yard. This breed doesn’t do well in hot temperatures—once it hits 80 degrees, keep your Pug inside with air conditioning and plenty of water. They also don’t particularly like the cold or rain, so experts recommend buying the dog a warm, waterproof coat. Pugs may be low-energy, but they need to exercise.
Pugs love the couch, and love to be next to you on it. Work with your dog from an early age to prevent separation anxiety, which they’re prone too. As with other flat-faced breeds, Pugs tend to snore—if you don’t consider this endearing, you may want to look at another low-energy dog breed. Pugs average 14 to 18 pounds in weight (maintain that with the those two walks a day), and they’re on the larger side of the “toy” breed designation. This breed’s average lifespan is 12-14 years.
The Havanese breed comes to us by way of Cuba, bred again for members of the aristocracy. It is an ideal breed for city dwellers since it adapts to apartment living well. It is also a member of the “toy” breed group, with a typical weight of 7-13 pounds and an average height of 8-11 inches. Havanese are sometimes known as “Velcro” dogs because of their desire to stick so closely to the side of their owner. These cuddle bugs are ideal if you’re looking for a close companion. They’re affectionate to friend and stranger alike, and also like other dogs and, typically, cats too. Havanese are smart and easy to train, but they don’t like being alone at all.
In terms of exercise requirements, about 30 minutes a day will do it. Havanese are playful, but don’t need extensive or intense exercise. You should also consider playing games indoors with your Havanese, to exercise his mind as well as his body. Because this breed is so social, it’s best not to get one if you’re not home that often. As far as lifespan, Havanese typically live 14-16 years.
People looking for low-energy dogs will likely not even think to consider the Great Dane, one of the largest dogs there is. But it is exactly because of their size that this breed is low-energy. If you have the space for one, it could be the perfect dog for you. Great Danes are highly sociable and tend to love everybody, no matter what shape or species. They’re handsome and friendly and extremely easygoing.
Great Danes do need daily exercise, so if you don’t have a fenced-in yard for them to run around in, they’ll need 30-60 minutes of walking each day. Experts recommend not exercising the breed around mealtimes. This is because they’re prone to bloat—a fatal condition where the dog’s stomach fills with air and/or twists, cutting off blood to their heart. The breed loves to cuddle, which can be a problem considering that they typically top out at 28-32 inches high and around 140-170 pounds in weight! YouTube is full of videos of Danes trying to lie with their owners on the couch or in an easy chair, no doubt not realizing their own size. These large dogs live 7-10 years.
Shih Tzu dogs were originally bred for royal companionship in Tibet and also to be indoor dogs. While they do have energy that needs to burned off, that’s easily accomplished. Because of their small size—Shih Tzus average 10 inches high and 10-15 pounds in weight—it doesn’t take a lot of exercise to get rid of that energy. Two 20-minute walks a day are recommended for the breed, done at a fairly brisk pace. You can also play in the yard or inside with a ball instead of, or addition to, a walk. Breeders recommend games of hide and seek with your dog’s favorite toy and even having him chase an ice cube across the kitchen floor. Take care walking your Shih Tzu outside in either very cold or very warm temperatures, as the breed does better in moderate weather. As with other flat-faced breeds on this list, it’s susceptible to heat stroke.
Shih Tzus (their name means “lion”) make great lap dogs, and they especially adore children. The breed tends to be happy and attentive and it thrives on attention from its owners. Because of this, they are easier to train and teach tricks to than other breeds. Shih Tzus live a relatively long 11-14 years.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a playful and trainable breed, with a moderate energy level. These house dogs love to follow their owners around and would do it all day if allowed. Experts say that this breed will match their exercise level to your own, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise them at all. As with any dog, exercise and an appropriate diet are necessary to keep them at their required healthy weight range. Otherwise, too much food and/or too little exercise will lead to obesity and other health-related conditions, and possible death. A daily walk is necessary and/or a fenced-in yard—even a small one.
These sweet, doe-eyed dogs are good with children and other dogs. You can teach yours to get along with cats and other animals if introduced to them as a puppy. The AKC designates Cavaliers as a “toy” breed and they average 12-13 inches in height and 13-18 pounds in weight. Interestingly, the Cavalier is a relatively recent addition to the AKC, as the organization only recognized the dog in 1995. It has a long and storied history dating back to Great Britain’s Charles I and II, but the original breed fell out of favor for centuries. In the 1920s, an American named Roswell Eldridge offered money to British breeders to bring back the original “Old World type” spaniels, and they did. These dogs are gentle and affectionate and live, on average, 12-15 years.
Although known for running around a track, Greyhounds are low-energy dogs. In fact, the Greyhound Trust says that this breed only needs two 20-minutes walks each day. The organization advises that greyhounds “are built for speed, not stamina, and use up their energy in short bursts.” For the rest of the day, they’re happy curled up in their bed or at your side. (In fact, they sleep about 3/4 of the day.) They especially love soft places like couches and beds.
These shy dogs are extremely laid back and gentle. Average heights range from 27-30 inches and weights range from 57-88 pounds. They typically get along with other dogs, but cats and smaller pets can be a problem because of their prey drive. Before you adopt a greyhound, get to know its temperament, especially if you have other pets at home. Greyhounds are not always great with small kids, either. Although this breed may fit your needs as far as energy level, you should reconsider if you have children younger than their teens. Most greyhounds are quiet and well-behaved. The breed’s typical lifespan is 10-14 years.
Hopefully, you’ve found your ideal canine companion on this list of the 10 best low-energy dog breeds. We wish you lots of love and laughs with your new dog! Don’t forget to purchase pet insurance after you welcome him to his new home. Pet insurance will help you keep him happy and healthy for many years to come. To get a quote, simply enter your dog’s name and zip code here, and PetInsuranceQuotes.com will do the rest.