Terriers Bred to sniff down and dig out prey, the feisty and energetic members of the terrier group—the Norfolk and Airedale Terriers are two examples—are active dogs. Earthdogging, a sport in which dogs navigate a series of tunnels constructed through the earth in order to reach their “prey” (no animals harmed), is an ideal activity.
Toys Lap dogs like the Papillion, Pekingese, Maltese, and Chihuahua still need their exercise! Though small, many of these breeds can and do excel at agility. Many also love chasing and retrieving toys.
Working breeds Breeds in this group include sled dogs like the Samoyed and Alaskan Malamute, people-helpers like the St. Bernard (picture the classic image of a St. Bernard, flask around his neck, atop a snowy peak), and canine powerhouses like the Rottweiler. Great activities for the large, strong members of this group include skijoring, an activity in which a harnessed dog pulls a person on skis (especially great for Northern breeds!), cart pulling (If your dog’s ancestors were used for pulling, your dog may love cart pulling), or simply wearing a backpack on a hike.
Non-Sporting Dogs Non-sporting dogs are a diverse group, with members ranging from the Dalmatian to the Boston Terrier (not in fact a terrier) to the Lhasa Apso. Some members, like the Bulldog, will be happiest with more low-key activities, while others, like the Poodle, are natural athletes and excel at all manner of activities, from agility to Dock Docks.
Hounds With their keen noses, dogs in the Hound Group—think the Beagle, American Foxhound, and Treeing Walker Coonhound—were bred to track game. They’ll get way down with scent work of all type, which is essentially tracking. Click here for eight fun scent-based games to get you started. For sight hounds (The Greyhound, the Afghan hound) it doesn’t get more fun than lure coursing, a sport that involves chasing a mechanically operated lure.
Sporting Dogs This group includes retrievers, pointers, setters, and the larger spaniels. Bred to find and retrieve small game, these smart, athletic dogs thrive on plenty of exercise. Most love anything fetch-related and are natural Dock Dog (jumping after a tossed toy into the water) and Disc Dog (essentially Frisbee taken to the ultimate level) participants. Or keep it informal and grab a disc and head to the park. Most dogs in this group make excellent running and biking partners too.