Welcome to our complete guide to lazy dog breeds.
Helping you understand what makes a low energy dog so chilled out. And giving you the best advice for finding a calm new puppy to join your family.
Are you keen on getting a dog for companionship, but not so sure about walking them in all weathers?
Do you prefer movie nights over going to the gym, and want a canine friend to share the sofa with?
Do you ever think “gee, if only they made dogs for lazy people”? (Not that I’m suggesting you’re lazy, but you get my drift!)
In this article we find out if there truly are any lazy dog breeds, and what the top lazy dogs are.
Lazy dog breeds
It’s easy to see the appeal of a lazy dog.
They have a kind of charm. We’d tease them about their lack of vigor and pretend to complain about it, but really we’d love it and indulge them.
After all, we juggle our jobs, our families, our homes, and countless other demands on us.
And whilst dogs enrich our lives so much, but they can also be time-consuming.
Carving out extra hours for walking, especially in the cold dark winter, the driving rain, or if our neighborhood isn’t that pretty to look at over and over again, can put us off owning a dog.
But a lazy dog sounds easy to accommodate, and luckily if we search online, countless websites seem to have the answer.
List upon list of big lazy dog breeds, small lazy dog breeds, most lazy dog breeds…
However, before we get carried away, are these lazy dog breeds for real?
Or are they just too good to be true?
Looking for a lazy puppy?
First of all, let’s see what the top lazy dog breed recommendations tend to be.
First, the most frequently recommended small lazy dogs:
- Boston Terrier
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- French Bulldog
- Italian Greyhound
- Japanese Chin
- Shih Tzu
The most frequently recommended medium sized lazy dogs:
And finally the most frequently recommended big lazy dogs:
- Bull Mastiff
- Great Dane
- Irish Wolfhound
Dogs for lazy owners
Well, those lists look like they include something for everyone, right?
In fact, some, due to their size or reputation, might have taken you by surprise.
How can the fastest dogs also be among the laziest?
And what about those big breeds, are they really happy to stretch out and sleep all day?
Let’s look closer at what unites some of the dogs on those lists.
Lazy breeds of dogs – flat-faced dogs
Many of the so-called lazy dog breeds are brachycephalic.
That is to say, they’ve been bred for short muzzles, which give their faces the appearance of being squashed in.
The Bulldog, French Bulldog and Pug are the most exaggerated examples on our lists.
But the Boston Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Japanese Chin, Pekingese, Shih Tzu, Bulldog, Bull Mastiff and Great Dane are also brachycephalic breeds.
So that would be nearly all of them except the sight hounds then.
And there’s a big problem here.
Are flat-faced dogs truly lazy?
Unfortunately, there’s a very sad reason why many brachycephalic dogs have low energy reserves.
Dog with flat faces often have severe structural problems in their airways as a result of their exaggerated appearance.
Quite simply, life is one long struggle to breathe.
Dogs also rely on the movement of air over the inside surfaces of their mouths to cool down.
In flat-faced dogs, the interior of their mouth has been shrunk in proportion to the rest of their body. This means that their best mechanism for keeping cool is no longer up to the job.
So, all those brachycephalic breeds on our lazy dog breeds list aren’t idle by choice.
In many cases, the shape they have been bred for simply cannot sustain prolonged exercise, and it is just too physically uncomfortable for them.
Which means they miss out on all the other physical and psychological benefits of being able to exercise too.
Of course not every individual from each breed has been bred with such extreme facial features. But you can expect those with a more natural shape to have correspondingly more energy for exercise too.
Lazy breeds of dogs – toy dogs
Did you notice that the list of lazy small dogs was twice as long as the lazy medium sized dogs large lazy dog breeds?
Unsurprisingly, just about every toy breed is included on a lazy dog list somewhere.
The ones I’ve included here are just the ones which crop up most often.
It makes sense that the exercise needs of smaller dogs will be less than the exercise needs of larger dogs: a one mile walk is proportionately longer for them.
However, low exercise is not the always the same as low-energy.
And definitely not the same as low maintenance.
Toy dogs may not have the stamina for long walks, but they still need lots of one-on-one attention and play time at home in order to prevent them becoming destructive.
Many of the small breeds listed above are also noted for being highly strung, and often wary of strangers and unfamiliar dogs.
They require a lot of time and effort on our part to become chilled out, confident little pals.
A lazy owner simply will not cut it.
There’s more: even the most lazy dogs still need exercise!
Don’t lose hope yet if you came here hoping to find your perfect lazy dog match (I’m getting there), but first let’s be clear: there is no such thing as a dog with no exercise requirement.
Dogs need exercise for so many reasons.
It keeps their bodies healthy and agile, and prevents unhealthy weight gain.
Exercise aids their digestion, and helps them sleep at night.
Burning off energy through exercise also reduces unwanted behaviors such as scratching, barking and hyperactivity, which are often fueled by boredom and mis-directed energy.
Exercise is good for our dogs’ mental health too – it’s a chance to hang out with their favorite people (us!) and build confidence around strangers and other dogs.
But it’s true that different dogs have different exercise requirements, and some can be worn out for the day quicker than others.
Let’s meet them now.
The best dogs for lazy people
OK, one more caveat: dogs are a big commitment, and exercise is just part of looking after a dog.
You must also be prepared to feed them, groom them, take them to the vet, teach them good behavior all through their lives, and the list goes on.
But for now let’s focus on dogs with a lower exercise requirement, but not at the expense of their health.
Low energy dogs – the sight hounds
I hope you hadn’t forgotten the sight hounds on our lists above.
Whippets, Greyhounds and Irish Wolfhounds are sprinters. Bred to work in short, very intense bursts.
They still need to fulfill that urge every day, but once it’s done, they are famously idle housemates.
In fact, they are often affectionately described as the world’s fastest couch potato!
If their size puts you off, consider Italian Greyhounds – the toy variety of the Whippet and Greyhound.
Low energy dogs – older dogs
In 2009, researchers at Eötvös University in Hungary surveyed 14,000 dog owners, and found that the least calm dogs were under 2.5 years old, and the calmest were over 6.9 years old.
Dogs go through life stages just like we do. As puppies and adolescents, their energy and attitude is endless, and as they get older, they start to slow down.
It might not be quite what you had in mind, but a relaxing home and a gentle pace of life is a wonderful gift to give a mature dog.
The other advantage of adopting an older dog is you’ll know much more about their individual personality before you bring them home.
When you bring home a puppy, you take a gamble on them having the same temperament and energy reserves as the rest of their breed. But individuals vary, and by adopting an older dog you’ll already know how they’re going to turn out.
Low energy dogs – Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers
Hear me out on this one.
Labradors and Golden Retrievers are energetic and athletic dogs, yes.
But once they are provided with a couple of half hour bursts of activity, many retrievers have wonderfully docile, chilled out temperaments at home.
And the great thing is, they are hardwired to love fetching games, often preferring them over a long walk.
So you at least can stand relatively still while they do their thing!
Last words on lazy dogs
A lazy dog sounds like a neat way to fit a canine family member into our lives if we also prefer the great indoors to the great outdoors.
However, many of the most lazy dogs have ended up that way at the expense of their health and quality of life.
A healthy dog has been built by nature for work and exercise, and as dog owners it’s our responsibility to make sure they get the opportunity for that every day.
Luckily though, just like healthy humans like to exercise in different ways, different dog breeds like to get their exercise in different ways too.
So as long as you can promise them some time for exercise every day, there is a dog out there for you who will spend the rest of the time at home, lounging like a king.
And I can’t end this article without mentioning a study from University of Southern Mississippi, which found that people attributed traits associated with dog breeds to their owners.
So only look for a lazy dog if you want people to think you are lazy too!
Do you have a lazy dog?
What are your favorite ways to chill out together? Are they from a “lazy” breed, or have they surprised you with their leisurely ways?
We love to hear about your dogs, so share your stories in the comments section below!
Choosing The Perfect Puppy
Still need help Choosing The Perfect Puppy to join your family?
Then check out this excellent guide by Pippa Mattinson. Including top tips and detailed reviews of the most popular dog breeds.
- Kubinyi, E et al. 2009. Dog and owner demographic characteristics and dog personality trait associations. Behavioural Processes.
- Mae, L et al. 2015. Spontaneous trait transference from dogs to owners. Athrozoos.