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There is a dog out there for everyone. If you have land or are outside all the time, you might like to have a high-drive dog that has a lot of energy to keep up with all your activities.
However, not everyone has the time, stamina, or energy to keep up with dogs that need a lot of exercise like huskies and other high-energy dogs. If you live in an apartment, are away from home a lot, or simply enjoy being a couch potato, there are plenty of dogs that would fit your lifestyle. There are even large breed dogs that do not need a lot of exercise.
So what large dogs do not need a lot of exercise?
There are plenty of large dog breeds that do not need a lot of exercise. Low-energy big dogs include Mastiffs, Saint Bernards, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Greyhounds, Great Danes, Newfoundlands, Chow Chows, and Irish Wolfhounds. But just because these are low-energy dog breeds it doesn’t mean they don’t need exercise or daily walks.
With such a wide range of coat types, body types, and personalities, you have your pick of large dogs that do not require a lot of exercise. These 8 dogs were developed for different purposes like protection, hunting, and rescue, which means you can easily find a dog that will seamlessly integrate into your family.
7 Large Low Energy Dogs
Contrary to what many people think, you can certainly have a large dog in an apartment. Many large breed dogs might be better suited to a lower-activity apartment life because of their energy level.
These dogs are simply so big that they do not like to expend a lot of energy on their heavy frames. Giant dogs like Great Danes can still be trained and like to do things with their owners, but they need far less exercise than high-energy dogs that love to run like the German Shepherd.
Big dogs that do not need a lot of exercise make also great dogs for people with more space or a yard. While they might be low-energy, they are not lazy. Many of the dogs on this list were watchdogs or rescue dogs and would love the opportunity to protect your house, yard, and family.
The English Mastiff is a massive, big-boned short haired dog who, despite its intimidating looks, is known for being sweet and docile. Related to a lot of other mastiff-type breeds like the Cane Corso, the English Mastiff and its relatives are loyal dogs that are generally friendly but make fierce watchdogs when they or their family is threatened.
Dating back to Roman times, the Mastiff was used for hunting dangerous game like lion and boar, but their aggression seems to have been bred out during the 1900s when they became easy-going protectors of English country estates and farms.
Mastiffs are considered brachycephalic, which means their short faces make their nose look flat. Unfortunately, brachycephalic breeds can have a lot of breathing issues.
This condition, along with a large amount of weight (some Mastiffs can weigh over 200lbs!), means they do not need very much exercise. They might not only have trouble breathing, but too much exercise can be hard on their joints.
2. Saint Bernard
Another gentle giant, the Saint Bernard was bred to live in the Swiss Alps as a general working dog. Their thick brown and white coat was made for the heavy winter snow and freezing temperatures and they were great watchdogs that also occasionally rescued the stray mountaineer.
The AKC describes Saint Bernards as “imposing” and “extraordinarily muscular.” These dogs have to be strong to dig their way through fresh snowfall on the top of the mountains where they were bred to work.
However, even though they are powerful dogs with a lot of muscle and can weigh up to 180 lbs, Saint Bernards would rather be home be home sleeping instead of outside skiing with you all day. Most Saint Bernards need only a little exercise like a short daily walk or play session in the yard or park.
3. Bernese Mountain Dog
Like the Saint Bernard, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a large Swiss breed that does not need a lot of exercise. While they are not as big as their mountain-faring cousin, Bernese Mountain Dogs are still imposing dogs and can weigh over 115 lbs.
On top of their large size, they are known for their distinct black-tri-colored coat with lots of long silky hair that can make them look even bigger.
Bernese Mountain Dogs are hardy dogs bred as versatile working dogs in cold weather. They love the snow and generally have a goofy, sweet, and loving disposition. From pulling carts, to herding, and even agility, these large dogs will try their heart out to please their owners.
While Bernese Mountain Dogs are happy to go on outdoor adventures with you, they do not need a lot of convincing to spend a day on the couch. They require little exercise but are eager to please and will try to keep up with you whenever you get a random burst of energy.
4. Great Dane
The German Great Dane’s foundation lines include two other large breeds on this list of dogs that do not require a lot of exercise: the English Mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound. These powerful dogs weigh can weigh over 180 lbs and comes in a wide range of colors.
While originally bred to be fierce hunters of large prey like wild boar and bear, the regal Great Dane became a favorite of the nobility and transitioned from active dogs to loyal protectors who would sleep in their royal handler’s bedrooms to protect from assassins. But despite their instinct to protect, they are not usually known for being aggressive and make great family dogs if properly trained and socialized.
As one of the largest breeds in the world, the Great Dane has a faster metabolism and burns through food and energy a lot quicker than smaller dogs. That means they do not need a lot of exercise. But just because they might be low energy does not mean they cannot do fun activities with you. Great Danes love training and can enjoy dog sports like agility.
This large Canadian water dog is a go-getter! With a massive amount of black, black, and white, or chestnut hair, the Newfoundland looks larger than life at around 120 pounds. Even more impressive is watching them be agile and courageous in the water as a popular breed for search and rescue.
The large water-loving Newfoundland is happy to go on outdoor adventures and boating trips with you. Since they were bred to work so closely with their fishermen handlers, they are excellent at training and make great obedience, rally, and tracking dogs. Some owners have even used their Newfoundlands to pull carts.
Although these dogs are happy to have a job and exercise, they are happy and healthy without a lot of exercise. Too much exercise can be hard on their large frame so you never want to push them too hard.
6. Chow Chow
One of the ancient breeds of China, Chow Chows usually weigh around 70 lbs and are known as serious and regal dogs. Their aloofness is common in many Asian Spitz breeds, including the Akita and Shiba Inu.
While the Chow Chow is active and alert on their property to keep an eye out for strangers, they do not need a lot of exercise. They do especially poorly in hot weather. They have a very thick coat and can overheat easily in hot humid climates. If they live somewhere with high temperatures, they will prefer to watch TV with you inside with the air conditioning blasting.
On this list of large dogs that do not need a lot of exercise, there is one thing about the 65-75lb Greyhound that stands out: They are the fastest breed of dog.
So how did this speed machine make this list of large dogs that do not need a lot of exercise? According to the AKC, the Greyhound is “happy to lounge around the house all day” but still needs to have time to all-out run once a day. As long as they are in the safety of a fenced-in area, they are happy with a few minutes of zoomies before heading back to the couch.
Despite their low-energy, gentle, and sweet personalities, Greyhounds are known for their high prey drive. Greyhounds and other sighthounds were bred to hunt independently and ruthlessly chase down small prey. This is why they are so talented at sports like Fast CAT but should also always be kept on a leash unless in a safe fenced-in area.
8. Irish Wolfhound
Like some of the other dogs mentioned on this list, the leggy Irish Wolfhound is one of the largest breeds in the world weighing up to 180 lbs. They have been used for hunting wolves, guardian purposes, and lure coursing. These shaggy Irish sighthounds come in grey, brindle, black, fawn, and white with a trademark wirey coat.
The quiet Irish Wolfhound loves being with their family and has been used as a watchdog on farms in Ireland for more than a century. They love their people so much, they can become anxious and destructive if left alone for too long.
Irish Wolfhounds are generally gentle and laid back, and their large frame can burn through energy pretty fast. That means they do not need a lot of exercise and would rather save their energy for a burst of speed if they are hunting or protecting.
Low-Energy Does Not Mean No Energy
Having a low-energy large dog that requires little exercise does not mean you are completely off the hook on walking your dog. All dogs need at least some mental and physical stimulation, or even the laziest dogs might find themselves getting into trouble.
While the large dogs on this list may not need as much exercise as high-energy breeds, they still need exercise to not only keep them from becoming bored but to help keep them healthy. Large dogs are prone to hip dysplasia and keeping them strong and lean is the best way to keep their joints healthy. They will stay mobile longer and be able to enjoy a lot more couch snuggles with you into old age.
Furthermore, all puppies, even large breeds that do not need a lot of exercise, usually have more energy than adult dogs. Many of these large dogs, like the Great Dane, take a longer time to grow and it is important to exercise them to help burn out their energy and help their joints grow properly.
Be aware, that while puppies of all breeds seem to have endless energy and love to misbehave, you need to resist the urge to exercise them too much. Large breed puppy’s growth plates are still developing till they are around 2 years old, and you can injure them by exercising your puppy too hard.
Playing in the yard, short walks with frequent breaks, and low-impact activities like swimming are much better for growing puppies’ joints than hard hikes and runs.
Some high-energy breeds, huskies, and German Shepherds, for example, would love for you to get out and run a marathon with them every day. But not everyone wants a dog that likes to go all day and all night, and frankly, not everyone needs a dog like that.
Responsible dog owners should do their research and know their limits when bringing home their new canine best friend. You can still be a great dog owner while working full-time, living in an apartment, or being a couch potato. You just have to find the right dog that fits your lifestyle.
And while there are plenty of small dogs out there that are happy with a short walk around the block, you do not need to sacrifice your preferred aesthetics to find the perfect dog. If you like the look of big dogs but want a dog that does not need a lot of exercise, there are plenty of breeds out there.
Dogs like Greyhounds, Mastiffs, and Saint Bernards are all happy to go for a short walk around the block, and traditional watchdogs like Chow Chows might even be happy to spend the day patrolling the yard.
For the weekend warriors out there, the Bernese Mountain Dog and Newfoundland might be a perfect choice. However, if it is too rainy to go outside they will happily sleep the weekend away.
Whatever large breed you are drawn to, remember that even though they do not need a lot of exercise does not mean that they require no exercise. A short walk every day will keep your big dog’s joints strong and their weight down, and them by your side ready for snuggling for years to come.