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What are the best pets for active families?

Approx. 3 minutes read

If your family is built for the outdoors and you spend a lot of time running, hiking, biking, farming or getting your sports on, the best type of pet is one who can keep up with you. Back in the day, many dogs were specifically bred for hunting, herding, guarding travellers, or transport, so the endurance genes are still present in those breeds today. While we rely less on dogs for their working ability, these high-energy breeds still need the exercise and would thrive with active family members who take them on sporting adventures.

The infamous Siberian husky

Beautiful yet independent, the husky is an endurance star. Unfortunately many people are bewitched by the husky’s appearance and are not prepared for his exercise needs, which include an average of 10km of running PER DAY. If your family is into long-distance marathons, the husky will make a great running buddy and will match you kilometre for kilometre – in cooler weather, you’ll be panting long before he will. Just keep him on a leash because his independent nature may take him on a different route to the one you hand in mind.

Bright spark border collie

There’s something so cute and inquisitive about the border collie puppy’s eyes that it hard to say no to that gorgeous face. But a farming family will provide the best home for this working wonder. Even if the border collie is not harnessed for herding sheep, she still thrives in large open spaces, especially if she’s given a job to do. Active urban families who do competitive sports or dog agility can’t go wrong with this champion breed. Her super smarts will need constant stimulation and her intensity will go hand-in-paw with a competitive family’s drive for sporting success.

Similar in activity needs is the Australian shepherd. Both the Aussie and the collie are only recommended for families with older children and teenagers, as they will want to herd small children, which will mean nipping at ankles.

Retrieving rovers

The Labrador retriever and the golden retriever are two excellent candidates for active families. They are wonderful family pets in general, but are very well suited to outdoor shenanigans like jogging, hiking and beach sports – especially if they can romp in the water. Both retrievers’ favourite sport is fetch, so families who love frisbee, softball or other ball-based sports can put their retrievers’ talents to work and enjoy their furry family time.

Jack Russell joie de vivre

Intense and engaging, the lively Jack Russell is a South African favourite for active families. He loves being with his people, especially if a ball, frisbee or any kind of retrieval device is involved. He goes wild for the chase and despite his size, will keep up with the fastest in the family. The Jack Russell is eager to please and thrives in the dog agility environment because of his small, muscled, agile body.

Jogging German shepherd

Obedient, hard-working, eager to please and very intelligent, the German shepherd is the ideal activity partner for sporting families. She’s a great family all-rounder and will be a sporting buddy, protector, best furry friend and training partner if you let her. Incredibly trainable, the GSD will join your family on hiking trails, biking trails, on the beach and on the road for a healthy run.

Disciplined, dotty Dalmatian

The Dalmatian was originally bred as a companion and guard dog for carriages; his stamina and power easily matching that of the horses pulling the carriages. Today, he’s an endurance dog who loves long forest or off-road walks, especially off his leash. However, if you’re a hiking or biking family, take note of the dog-leashing rules in the area you exercise. A Dalmatian is also a brainiac breed and needs to have his mental prowess challenged or he could get bored. Fancy some agility training? He does!

There are many great dogs for active families – too many to include in this list of hero pets. When you’re researching for dog breeds to adopt into your active family, also consider the following:

  • Beagle
  • standard or miniature poodle
  • Vizsla
  • Rhodesian ridgeback
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Airedale terrier
  • pointers
  • setters
  • Portuguese water dog
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