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Variation in activity levels amongst dogs of different breeds: results of a large online survey of dog owners from the UK

Authors:

Abstract

Regular physical activity is an important means of promoting health, both in people and their pets. Walking is the most common method used for dogs, but there is a lack of clarity on how much daily activity different breeds of dog require. Data from an online survey of UK dog owners were collected between June and August in 2014. The University of Liverpool Ethics Committee approved the project, and owners consented to data use. The initial dataset (17 028 dogs) was first cleaned to remove erroneous data, and then edited to remove mixed breed dogs, leaving a total of 12 314 dogs from known pedigree breeds. Other information collected included sex, age, neuter status, breed, and amount and frequency of exercise. Exercise frequency and duration were estimated across different breeds, and compared with Kennel Club recommendations, using χ² tests and binary logistic regression. The online survey data indicated differences amongst breeds in the amount of walking reported ( P < 0·001). Afghan hounds were the least exercised breed, whilst breeds reportedly exercised most included: English setter, foxhound, Irish setter and Old English sheepdog. Gundogs were most likely to be walked once per d or more ( P < 0·001), whilst smaller dogs were more likely to meet their UK Kennel Club guidelines for dog walking ( P < 0·001). The frequency of dog walking varies both within and amongst breeds, and many do not currently receive the recommended amount of exercise. This may constitute a canine welfare problem and also have an impact on the physical activity levels of their owners.
RESEARCH ARTICLE
Variation in activity levels amongst dogs of different breeds: results of a
large online survey of dog owners from the UK
Emily Pickup
1
, Alexander J. German
1,2
*, Emily Blackwell
3
, Mark Evans
4
and Carri Westgarth
1,5
1
Institute of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool, Neston, UK
2
Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, University of Liverpool, Neston, UK
3
School of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford, UK
4
Independent Veterinary Consultant, Guildford, UK
5
Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
(Received 12 November 2016 Final revision received 29 January 2017 Accepted 8 February 2017)
Journal of Nutritional Science (2017), vol. 6, e10, page 1 of 7 doi:10.1017/jns.2017.7
Abstract
Regular physical activity is an important means of promoting health, both in people and their pets. Walking is the most common method used for dogs, but
there is a lack of clarity on how much daily activity different breeds of dog require. Data from an online survey of UK dog owners were collected between
June and August in 2014. The University of Liverpool Ethics Committee approved the project, and owners consented to data use. The initial dataset (17
028 dogs) was rst cleaned to remove erroneous data, and then edited to remove mixed breed dogs, leaving a total of 12 314 dogs from known pedigree
breeds. Other information collected included sex, age, neuter status, breed, and amount and frequency of exercise. Exercise frequency and duration were
estimated across different breeds, and compared with Kennel Club recommendations, using χ
2
tests and binary logistic regression. The online survey data
indicated differences amongst breeds in the amount of walking reported (P<0·001). Afghan hounds were the least exercised breed, whilst breeds report-
edly exercised most included: English setter, foxhound, Irish setter and Old English sheepdog. Gundogs were most likely to be walked once per d or more
(P<0·001), whilst smaller dogs were more likely to meet their UK Kennel Club guidelines for dog walking (P<0·001). The frequency of dog walking
varies both within and amongst breeds, and many do not currently receive the recommended amount of exercise. This may constitute a canine welfare
problem and also have an impact on the physical activity levels of their owners.
Key words: Obese dogs: Canine nutrition: Physical activity: Dog walking
Regular physical activity is an important means of promoting
health in people
(1)
. A similar recommendation is made in
dogs, but there is a lack of clarity on how much different
breeds of dog require, and no current evidence-based guide-
lines are available
(2)
. The US Department of Agriculture
recommends that dogs should have at least 30 min of exercise
per d; however, this recommendation mainly came from anec-
dotal evidence and expert opinion guidelines
(3)
. In the UK, the
Kennel Club (KC) has published recommendations regarding
activity requirements for different breeds
(4)
. However, once
again, these recommendations are not taken from scientic
evidence but based on opinions from the breed clubs. There
is generally a positive association between size of the dog
and exercise recommendations, i.e. the bigger the dog, the
more exercise it is perceived to require.
Before recommendations can be made regarding the opti-
mal amount of activity different breeds require, it is rst neces-
sary to determine current activity levels and what determines
them. In a recent review of the correlates of dog walking,
there was some evidence of smaller dogs being walked less
Abbreviation: KC, Kennel Club.
*Corresponding author: A. J. German, fax +44 151 795 6101, email ajgerman@liverpool.ac.uk
© The Author(s) 2017. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creative-
commons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is
properly cited.
JNS
JOURNAL OF NUTRITIONAL SCIENCE
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than bigger dogs, although the association was not clear
(5)
.
There was also no evidence available regarding the inuence
of specic breed beyond broad type groupings; this was prob-
ably due to the size of the dataset available, which limited the
ability to perform individual breed analyses. The aims of this
study were to investigate differences in the amount and fre-
quency of exercise amongst dogs of different breed, and to
determine the proportion of dogs within each breed that
meet current recommendations.
Methods and materials
Study design
An online survey of UK dog owners was conducted between
June and August in 2014, in association with the broadcast of a
three-part Channel 4 television documentary series, Dogs:
Their Secret Lives. Information was gathered from owners
about the signalment of their dog (age, sex, neuter status
and breed), body weight, whether or not the dog was over-
weight, lifestyle, activity and behaviour. The main questions
considered in the current study are those regarding activity,
breed and other signalment details. The data on exercise
have also been used in a separate study examining the associa-
tions between exercise and overweight status
(6)
, whilst the
questions relating to behaviour are reported elsewhere
(7)
.
For owner responses, most questions involved either check-
ing boxes or using drop-down menus. The main questions
used in the current study were on breed and activity. Breed
of dog was indicated using a drop-down list of UK breeds.
For exercise frequency, the question asked was How often
do you exercise your dog outside of your home or garden?
and respondents could select: more than once a day,once
a day,46 times per week,13 times per weekor never.
For exercise duration, the question asked was Each time
you exercise your dog how long is it for?and respondents
could select: over an hour,30 minutes to an hour,1130
minutesand 010 minutes. Respondents were also asked if
the dog is let off the lead (yes/no).
The University of Liverpool Ethics Committee approved
the study, and all owner participation was voluntary, whereby
owners who wished to complete the survey logged onto the
Channel 4 website. Further, owners gave permission for
their data to be used, in a fully anonymised form (i.e. any
client-identifying data removed), and for the results to be pub-
licised both on the television shows and online. They were not
required to answer questions that they did not wish to answer.
To be eligible for inclusion in the data analysis part of the
study, dogs had to be from a pedigree breed (based upon
the breeds ofcially recognised by the UK KC)
(4)
and ques-
tionnaire information needed to be complete, i.e. all questions
used in the current study needed to be answered.
Data handling and statistical analysis
All data were rst entered into a computer spreadsheet (Excel
version 14; Microsoft), to enable data manipulation prior to
statistical analysis. Given that the study involved a direct
comparison of exercise amongst pedigree breeds, the data
from all mixed breed dogs were removed. Breed data were
then further categorised into breed-specic groups (e.g. pas-
toral, gundogs, hounds, terriers, toy, utility or working) and
by size (e.g. small, medium or large), according to The UK
KC classication
(4)
. Unlike for the related papers
(6,7)
, data
from dogs under 2 years of age were eligible for inclusion in
the analysis for this study. Outcome variables of interest
included: frequency of exercise outside of the home/garden
(see categories above); walked once per d or more (yes/no);
duration of usual exercise (see categories above); and met
UK KC guidelines of exercise for that breed (yes/no). The lat-
ter outcome was created by comparing each dogs reported
exercise with the activity requirements recommended by the
UK KC for different breeds
(4)
. Data analysis was conducted
in Minitab 17 and IBM SPSS Statistics 22. We used χ
2
tests
to compare proportions of dogs amongst exercise categories.
Given that multiple comparisons were performed, a modied
Bonferroni correction was applied
(8)
. This correction effect-
ively meant that statistical signicance was only considered
when P<0·0042. Caution should be taken when interpreting
ndings as even in such a large dataset, numbers in each
breed were often small, hence deeper statistical analysis was
not conducted.
Results
Final dataset
Data were available from questionnaires of 17 028 dogs, of
which 9480 were male (56 %) and 7548 (44 %) were female.
Of the dogs, 2849 (17 %) were <1 year of age, 4470 (26 %)
were 13 years old, 8206 (48 %) were 310 years old, and
1486 (9 %) were >10 years old. A total of 12 314 were pedi-
gree dogs, comprising seventy-one separate breeds, and the
remaining 4714 were mixed-breed dogs (which were not
included in the data analysis).
Exercise frequency
There was a difference amongst dogs of different breeds for
the likelihood of being exercised at least once per d (P<
0·001; Table 1). The breeds which were most likely to be exer-
cised once per d or more were English setter (20/20, 100 %),
foxhound (20/20, 100 %), Irish setter (24/24, 100 %), Old
English sheepdog (19/19, 100 %) and Hungarian Vizla (87/
89, 98 %). The breeds least likely to be exercised once per d
or more were Afghan hound (5/10, 50 %), papillon (11/19,
59 %), Pyrenean mountain (3/5, 60 %), bloodhound (3/5,
60 %) and Chihuahua (101/162, 62 %). The frequency of
exercise also varied amongst dogs of different breed groups
(P<0·001; Table 2). Dogs in the gundog (3869/4325, 90
%), pastoral (1380/1585, 88 %) and hound (789/924, 85 %)
groups were most likely to be exercised once per d or more;
in contrast, dogs of the terrier (2257/2793, 81 %) and toy
groups (603/814, 74 %) were least likely to be exercised
once per d or more. There was a difference between the
size of the dog and whether it received exercise once per d
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Table 1. Exercise frequency, exercise length, daily exercise, off-the-lead exercise and whether Kennel Club (KC) guidelines were met in each breed of dog
(Numbers and percentages)
Exercise frequency Exercise length
Total Never
13/
week 46/week 1/d >1/d 010 min 1130 min 3060 min >1 h
Off lead in
public
Met KC
guideline*
Breed n%n%n%n%n%n%n%n%n%n%n%n%
Afghan hound 10 0·1 2 20 1 10 2 20 1 10 4 40 2 20 2 20 3 30 3 30 6 60 2 20
Airedale terrier 23 0·1 0 0 2 9 2 9 6 26 13 56 0 0 6 26 10 44 7 30 21 91 18 78
Akita 55 0·3 1 2 6 11 3 6 12 22 33 60 0 0 6 11 39 71 10 18 23 42 4 7
Alaskan Malamute 52 0·3 0 0 5 10 4 8 15 29 28 54 0 0 10 19 22 42 20 38 21 40 11 21
Basset hound 70 0·4 1 11217 3 4 2333 3144 5 7 2739 2231 16 23 4767 4463
Beagle 225 1·3 1 0 11 5 19 8 77 34 117 52 2 1 42 19 133 59 48 21 152 68 21 9
Bearded collie 58 0·3 0 0 2 3 0 0 19 33 37 64 1 2 12 21 30 52 15 23 48 83 54 93
Bedlington terrier 23 0·1 0 0 3 13 1 4 5 22 14 61 1 4 6 26 10 44 6 26 18 78 18 78
Bernese mountain dog 25 0·1 0 0 0 0 2 8 936 1456 0 0 1040 1352 2 8 1872 2080
Bichon frise 147 0·9 2 1 17 12 13 9 50 34 65 44 10 7 77 52 47 32 13 9 75 51 115 78
Bloodhound 5 0·0 0 0 0 0 2 40 1 20 2 40 1 20 2 40 1 20 1 20 3 60 0 0
Border collie 840 4·9 12 1 39 5 42 5 228 27 519 62 10 1 159 19 471 56 200 24 699 83 118 14
Border terrier 318 1·9 5 2 19 6 17 5 105 33. 172 54 5 2 79 25 171 54 63 20 228 72 255 80
Boston terrier 23 0·1 1 4 1 4 0 0 835 1357 1 4 1044 1044 2 9 1983 1774
Boxer 218 1·300941787137 1215621 5726 119554018 16274188
Bull terrier 80 0·5 0 0 9 11 10 13 30 38 31 39 0 0 26 32 39 49 15 19 44 55 52 65
Bulldog 91 0·5 4 4 9 10 8 9 43 47 27 28 6 7 37 41 40 44 8 9 64 70 49 54
Bullmastiff 56 0·3 1 2 8 14 7 12 15 27 25 45 0 0 18 32 32 57 6 11 32 57 2 4
Cairn terrier 87 0·5 0 0 8 9 6 7 17 20 56 64 1 1 33 38 47 54 6 7 59 68 67 77
Cavalier King Charles spaniel 334 2·0 6 2 36 11 31 9 107 32 154 46 14 4. 137 41 155 46 28 8 249 75 213 64
Chihuahua 162 1·0 6 4 36 22 19 12 57 35 44 27 12 7 74 46 60 37 16 10 86 53 101 62
Chinese crested 17 0·1 0 0 0 0 2 12 6 35 9 53 1 6 5 29 10 59 1 60 12 71 15 82
Chow chow 11 0·10019 19 327 65400 764 436 0 0 327 764
Cocker spaniel 833 4·9 2 0 42 5 42 5 244 29 503 60 6 1 193 23 494 59 140 17 683 82 704 84
Collie (rough/smooth) 82 0·5 2 2 4 5 4 5 24 29 48 58 1 1 19 23 46 56 16 20 68 83 67 82
Dachshund 137 0·8 3 22015 1410 5641 4432 9 7 5742 6346 8 6 906610073
Dalmatian 99 0·6 0 0 6 6 5 5 38 38 50 50 1 1 10 10 53 54 35 35 77 78 13 13
Dobermann 79 0·5 0 0 9 11 2 2 30 38 38 48 0 0 12 15 46 58 21 27 57 72 8 10
Dogue de Bordeaux 28 0·2 0 0 3 11 1 4 10 36 14 50 0 0 10 36 15 54 3 11 18 64 20 71
English setter 20 0·1 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 40 12 60 0 0 3 15 9 45 8 40 16 80 2 10
English springer spaniel 702 4·1 5 1 43 6 38 5 168 24 448 64 11 2 136 19 414 59 141 20 605 86 75 11
Flat coated retriever 68 0·4 0 0 0 0 3 4 28 41 37 54 1 2 9 13 43 6 15 22 59 87 8 12
Fox terrier 46 0·3 1 2 3 6 0 0 19 41 23 50 1 2 19 41 17 37 9 20 33 72 34 74
Foxhound 3 0·00000 00 133 26700 00 267 133 267 00
French bulldog 79 0·5005610133443 303800 3747 3848 4 5 59755266
German pointer 107 0·6 0 0 7 7 1 1 23 22 76 71 0 0 6 5 59 55 42 39 94 88 28 26
German shepherd dog 511 3·0 5 1 54 11 30 6 155 30 267 52 7 1 115 22 273 53 116 23 364 71 56 11
Giant Schnauzer 7 0·000114 00 229 45700 00 571 227 686 00
Golden retriever 400 2·3 1 0 21 5 18 4 128 32 232 58 3 1 80 20 238 60 79 19·8 342 86 46 12
Great Dane 35 0·2 1 3 411 720 1029 1337 3 9 1029 1954 3 9 2777 1 3
Greyhound 228 1·3 1 0 11 5 5 2 54 24 157 69 4 2 106 46 98 43 20 9 129 57 187 82
Hungarian Vizsla 89 0·5 0 0 1 1 1 1 17 19 70 79 0 0 5 6 58 65 26 29 78 88 15 17
Irish setter 52 0·3 0 0 0 0 0 0 20 39 32 62 0 0 8 15 33 64 11 21 38 73 4 8
Continued
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Table 1. Continued
Exercise frequency Exercise length
Total Never 13/
week
46/week 1/d >1/d 010 min 1130 min 3060 min >1 h Off lead in
public
Met KC
guideline*
Breed n%n%n%n%n%n%n%n%n%n%n%n%
Irish terrier 24 0·1 0 0 0 0 1 4 8 33 15 62 0 0 7 29 12 50 5 21 20 83 21 88
Jack Russell terrier 929 5·5 17 2 91 10 72 8 276 30 473 51 30 3 324 35 465 50 110 12 628 68 656 71
Labrador retriever 1975 11·6 13 1 93 5 114 6 552 28 1203 61 29 2 470 24 1158 57 318 16 1722 87 154 8
Lhasa apso 127 0·7 0 0 15 12 10 8 37 29 65 51 7 6 58 46 57 45 5 4 71 56 102 80
Mastiff 38 0·2 0 0 2 5 5 13 14 37 17 45 1 3 13 34 18 47 6 16 28 74 28 74
Miniature Schnauzer 199 1·2 1 0 7 4 9 4 52 26 130 65 2 1 77 39 99 50 21 11 151 76 163 82
Newfoundland 37 0·2 2 5 1 3 3 8 15 40 16 43 2 5 14 38 21 57 0 0 22 60 24 65
Old English sheepdog 19 0·1 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 26 14 74 0 0 2 10 11 58 6 32 18 95 5 26
Papillon 19 0·1 0 0 7 37 1 5 4 21 7 37 0 0 9 47 9 48 1 5 12 63 11 58
Pekingese 3 0·0 0 0 1 33 0 0 2 67 0 0 (0 0 2 67 1 33 0 0 2 67 2 67
Pomeranian 33 0·2 1 3 7 21 1 3 15 46 9 27 5 15 12 36 14 42 2 6 16 48 24 73
Poodle 110 0·6 0 0 10 9 6 6 36 33 58 53 7 6 35 32 54 49 14 13 82 74 78 71
Pug 99 0·611141410102828 4646224950 3939 9 9 68697475
Pyrenean mountain dog 5 0·0 1 20 0 0 1 20 3 60 0 0 0 0 1 20 1 20 3 60 2 40 3 60
Rhodesian ridgeback 67 0·4 1 2 2 3 4 6 20 30 40 60 2 3 11 16 38 57 16 23·954811015
Rottweiler 169 1·0 2 1 17 10 15 9 57 34 78 46 2 1 49 29 86 51 32 19 117 69 12 7
Saluki 33 0·2 0 0 0 0 2 6 13 39 18 54 0 0 12 36 15 46 6 18 19 58 3 9
Samoyed 46 0·3 0 0 3 6 3 6 17 37 23 50 0 0 13 28. 23 50 10 22 32 70 3 6
Shar Pei 44 0·3 0 0 8 18 1 2 15 34 20 46 2 4 17 39 18 41 7 16 21 48 30 68
Shetland sheepdog 24 0·1 0 0 0 0 3 12 9 38 12 50 0 0 4 17 15 62 5 21 19 79 21 88
Shih Tzu 195 1·1 4 2 31 16 23 12 44 23 93 48 10 5 91 47 78 40 16 8 125 64 115 59
Siberian husky 110 0·6 1 1 11 0 9 8 39 36 50 46 0 0 19 17 59 54 32 29 43 39 13 12
St Bernard 9 0·1 0 0 2 22 0 0 3 33 4 44 0 0 1 11 7 78 1 11 4 44 7 78
Staffordshire bull terrier 743 4·4 9 1 88 12 62 8 236 32 348 47 17 2 238 32 387 52 101 14 502 68 513 69
Weimaraner 79 0·5 4 5 5 6 2 2 24 30 44 56 0 0 10 13 46 58 23 29 70 89 11 14
West Highland white terrier 318 1·9 2 1 24 8 27 8 106 33 159 50 5 2 116 36 166 52 31 10 223 70 237 74
Whippet 146 1 1 16414104934 765232 3121 86592618 1067311377
Yorkshire terrier 179 1 3 2 29 16 23 13 55 61 69 38 8 4 92 51 74 43 5 3 103 58 99 55
* Dogs meeting KC guidelines.
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or more (P<0·001), with large dogs (4380/5006, 88 %) being
more likely to receive exercise once per d or more compared
with medium (4105/4832, 85 %) and small dogs (1948/
2476, 79 %). There were also signicant differences in the fre-
quency of exercise amongst dogs of different ages (older dogs
< younger dogs; P<0·001) and neuter status (entire dogs <
neutered dogs, P<0·001)
Exercise length
There was a difference (P<0·001) amongst the breeds in the
duration of exercise: Alaskan Malamute (42/52, 81 %), beagle
(181/225, 80 %), Border collie (671/840, 80 %), cocker span-
iel (687/833, 82 %), Dalmatian (88/99, 89 %), German
pointer (101/107, 94 %), Hungarian Vizla (74/89, 83 %),
Old English sheepdog (17/19, 89 %), Shetland sheepdog
(20/24, 83 %) and Weimaraner (69/79, 87 %) were most likely
to be exercised for over 1 h; in contrast, bichon frise (50/147,
34 %), greyhound (118/228, 52 %), Lhasa apso (62/127, 49
%), Pomeranian (16/33, 48 %) and Yorkshire terrier (79/
179, 44 %) were some of the breeds least likely to be exercised
for more than 1 h. There was also a difference (P<0·001)
amongst breed groups for the duration of exercise received;
dogs in the gundog (3355/4325, 78 %), pastoral (1241/
1585, 78 %) and working (630/866, 73 %) groups were
more likely to receive exercise for half an hour or more than
dogs of toy (405/814, 50 %), utility (600/810, 59 %), terrier
(1768/2793, 63 %) and hound (606/924, 66 %) groups.
A positive association (P<0·001) was also found between
size of the dog and the duration of exercise they received.
Small dogs (1369, 55 %) were less likely to receive exercise
for longer than 30 min compared with medium dogs (3484,
72 %) and large dogs (3752, 75 %). Almost half (45 %) of
the dogs exercised for less than 30 min were small dogs.
Off-lead exercise
Some breeds were more commonly allowed off the lead in
public (P<0·001; Table 1), including: chow chow (8, 73 %
let off the lead); Siberian husky (67, 61 %); Pyrenean mountain
dog (3, 60 %); Alaskan Malamute (31, 60 %); and St Bernard
(5, 56 %). Differences were also noted in frequency with which
dogs in different breed groups were let off the lead in public
(P<0·001): working (555, 64 %) and toy (520, 64 %) were
least likely to be let off the lead; pastoral (1250, 79 %) and gun-
dogs (3707, 86 %) were most likely to be let off the lead; and
hound (608; 66 %), utility (676, 67 %) and terrier (1898; 68 %)
dogs were intermediate.
Exercising in relation to UK Kennel Club guidelines
There was a signicant difference (P<0·001) between size of
the dog and their KC exercise recommendations. Small dogs
were recommended up to 1 h per d (1732, 70·0%)or upto
30 min per d (744, 30·0 %); medium dogs were recommended
more than 2 h per d (1767, 36·6 %) or up to 1 h per d (3065,
63·4 %); large dogs were recommended more than 2 h per d
(4364, 87·2 %) or up to 1 h per d (642, 12·8 %). Thus there
appears to be a positive association between size of the dog
and exercise recommendations, i.e. the bigger the dog, the
more exercise it is perceived to require. Based upon the infor-
mation recorded, 9025 dogs in the survey (53 %) did not meet
the UK KC guidelines for exercise for the respective breed,
and differences amongst breeds were seen (Table 1;P<
0·0001). The breeds most likely to meet the KC guidelines
included: bearded collie (54/58, 93 %), Chinese crested dog
(15/17, 88 %); Irish terrier (21/24, 88 %); Shetland sheepdog
(21/24, 88 %); and cocker spaniel (704/833, 84 %). The
breeds least likely to meet the KC guidelines included: blood-
hound (0/5, 0 %); giant Schnauzer (0/7, 0 %); foxhound (0/3,
0 %); great Dane (1/35, 3 %); and bullmastiff (2/56, 4 %).
Even in popular breeds like the Labrador retriever only 8 %
were reported to meet the guidelines for activity.
When classed into KC breed groupings, terriers were most
likely to meet KC exercise recommendations (1987/2793, 71
%), whilst working (164/863, 19 %) and pastoral dogs were
least likely (327/1585, 21 %) (P<0·001) to meet exercise
requirements. Finally, there was a difference in the proportion
of dogs of different sizes that met UK KC requirements (P<
0·0001): small dogs (1762/2476, 71 %) were more likely to
receive their daily exercise requirement than either medium
(2493/4832, 52 %) or large dogs (919/5006, 18 %).
Discussion
This is the rst study to investigate differences in reported
exercise between dogs of different breeds. We found differ-
ences between (and within breeds) relating to factors including:
Table 2. Exercise frequency based on age, sex, neuter status, UK Kennel
Club (KC) grouping and size
(Numbers and percentages)
Exercise <1/d Exercise 1/d
Variable n%n%P*
Age (years) <0·0001
13 647 12 4594 88
310 1504 16 8086 84
>10 395 18 1784 82
Sex 0·565
Male 1408 15 8072 85
Female 1145 15 6403 85
Neuter status <0·0001
Entire 733 18 3288 82
Neutered 1820 14 11187 86
KC groupings
<0·0001
Gundog 456 10 3869 90
Pastoral 205 13 1380 87
Hound 138 15 786 85
Working 151 18 712 82
Utility 184 18 826 82
Terrier 536 19 2257 81
Toy 211 26 603 74
Size of dog
<0·0001
Small 528 21 1948 79
Medium 727 15 4105 85
Large 626 12 4380 88
* Comparisons made with the χ
2
test.
KC grouping: breed group based upon UK KC classification.
Size based upon UK KC classification.
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exercise frequency, exercise length, and whether or not the dog
met the UK KC guidelines
(4)
. Whilst these ndings indicate
current exercise patterns, further work is now required to
determine their signicance, for instance, whether different
exercise patterns can predispose to or protect from diseases
such as obesity. It is suggested that an inverse correlation exists
between physical activity of dogs and canine obesity
(9)
.By
encouraging dog owners to meet their own recommended
daily exercise, it is hoped that the health and wellbeing of
pet dogs will be improved
(5)
. Further studies should also be
considered not just to examine frequency and duration of exer-
cise but also the nature of the activity undertaken. In one
recent study, the majority of time during a dog walk was
spent snifng, suggesting minimal activity overall
(10)
.
Therefore, future studies should also measure intensity of
exercise and perhaps distance travelled, using objective meth-
ods such as accelerometry
(11)
and global positioning system
receivers
(12)
.
Differences were seen amongst different breeds in terms of
the frequency of exercise. Most notably, breeds in the gundog,
pastoral and hound groups were more frequently exercised
than other dogs, most notably the toy and terrier groups.
Similarly, duration of exercise varied amongst breed groups
and, once again, those in the gundog, pastoral and hound
groups were exercised for longest, whilst those in the terrier
and toy breed groups were exercised least frequently.
Similarly, when categorised by size, smaller dogs were exer-
cised for a shorter time overall and less frequently than
medium or larger breed dogs, although some notable excep-
tions occurred (e.g. both Afghan and foxhounds were amongst
the least and most frequently exercised) that require further
investigation. These ndings support those of a recent review
of the correlates of dog walking, which also found evidence
for smaller dogs being walked less than bigger dogs
(5)
. Such
differences in exercise pattern might reect differences in
capabilities for exercising amongst breeds, but might also
be related to owner factors and geographical location. For
example, many owners choose breeds based upon their life-
style, and owners might select smaller breeds if they are con-
cerned they will not have enough time to exercise a more
athletic breed. Geographical location might dictate choice of
breed, with more athletic breeds being more commonly
chosen when living in rural locations. Unfortunately, given
that data were fully anonymised, it was not possible to assess
owner or geographical effects, and further studies, likely
including in-depth qualitative investigation, are required.
Although no evidence-based guidelines exist regarding the
exercise that dogs in each breed require each day, general
recommendations are provided by many canine organisations,
such as the UK KC
(4)
. For example, the UK KC provides
guidance by breed regarding the recommended daily exercise,
with recommendations varying amongst breeds between >30
min/d to >2 h/d. In this respect, the recommended exercise
for many of the smaller breed dogs (e.g. Chihuahua, Lhasa
apso, papillon, Pomeranian and Yorkshire terrier) is >30
min/d, although >1 h/d is recommended for some small
breed dogs (e.g. Border terrier, Lhasa apso and pug). The typ-
ical recommendation for many of the medium breeds (e.g.
cavalier King Charles spaniel, cocker spaniel, miniature
Schnauzer, Staffordshire bull terrier) is >1 h/d, whilst the typ-
ical recommendation for larger breeds (e.g. bullmastiff,
Dobermann, English setter, great Dane, Labrador retriever,
Rottweiler, Saluki and Samoyed) is >2 h/d, although >1 h/d
is recommended for some larger breeds (e.g. greyhound),
whilst >2 h/d is recommended for some of the more active
medium-size breeds (e.g. Border collie and English springer
spaniel). Perhaps the most concerning observation of the pre-
sent study was the fact that only half of the dogs studied
received the recommended amount of exercise. In contrast
with the frequency and duration of exercise reported, it was
more often dogs in many of the larger breeds that did not
meet the recommendations. This suggests that it is particularly
challenging for owners to ensure that their dog receives >2 h/
d of exercise. In light of this, evidence-based recommenda-
tions are urgently needed to determine whether the 2-h recom-
mendation is necessary; if it is, better education of prospective
dog owners is required to ensure that they understand activity
requirements of different breeds, and the particular challenges
faced with the larger breeds.
A number of limitations, in addition to those discussed above,
should be considered when interpreting the results. First, whilst
the use of a voluntary online survey increased the number of
responses, it was a convenience sample and, therefore, there
are concerns regarding selection bias. In this respect, we cannot
be certain that the participants were truly representative of the
UK dog population as a whole; it might be that owners who exer-
cise their dog more were more willing to participate than those
who did not. The use of self-reports of exercise is subjective,
and can be unreliable
(10)
. Third, in responding, owners could
only select from a small number of categories, and owners
might have had trouble choosing between categories, not least
if they exercised their dogs irregularly in terms of frequency
and duration. The use of categories also meant that it was not
possible to investigate observations more fully. Therefore,
these observations should be considered to be preliminary and
further studies are recommended to explore the issue of activity
amongst breeds in more detail.
Conclusions
Exercise patterns of dogs in the UK vary. The nding that half
of dogs in the study were not receiving the recommended
activity level is concerning. Further work is required to achieve
a better understanding of what physical exercise is actually
required within breed, and how this relates to health and
owner perception.
Acknowledgements
The authors wish to thank all owners and their dogs for par-
ticipating in the study and Channel 4 for its assistance hosting
and promoting the survey.
The specic study was not funded by any research grant.
During this study the position of C. W. was funded by the
UK Medical Research Council (Population Health Scientist
Fellowship, grant number G1002402).
6
journals.cambridge.org/jns
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A. J. G., E. B. and M. E. proposed the research questions
and designed the questionnaire. E. P. and C. W. conceived
and performed the study and conducted all statistical
analyses. E. P., A. J. G., E. B. and C. W. interpreted the
results. E. P. produced the rst draft of the manuscript,
which was subsequently edited by A. J. G., before being
reviewed and edited by the other authors. All authors
approved the nal manuscript.
Royal Canin nancially supports the post of A. J. G. at the
University of Liverpool, whilst Dogs Trust nancially supports
the post of E. B. at the University of Bristol.
None of the other authors has any conicts of interest.
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... However, there are few sources of data on the needs of specific dog breeds for physical activity, especially walking. Pickup et al. (2017) disclosed that half of the dogs from the UK did not receive the recommended activity level according to the UK Kennel Club recommendation. Dog walking is influenced by three groups of factors: dog-related, owner-related (Westgarth et al., 2015(Westgarth et al., , 2016 and environment-related factors (McCormack et al., 2016;Zijlema et al., 2019). ...
... Among those who walked more with their dogs during the state of emergency were owners who did so for their own physical health, but also for the health of their pet. This reason has previously been well studied by Westgarth et al. (2014Westgarth et al. ( , 2017 and Powell et al. (2018). Dog owners can feel obligated to walk their pets, and walking together with dogs makes them happy (Westgarth et al., 2014(Westgarth et al., , 2017. ...
... This reason has previously been well studied by Westgarth et al. (2014Westgarth et al. ( , 2017 and Powell et al. (2018). Dog owners can feel obligated to walk their pets, and walking together with dogs makes them happy (Westgarth et al., 2014(Westgarth et al., , 2017. Moreover, this is supported by the results of Powell et al. (2018), who found that prospective owners expect dog ownership will increase walking, happiness and companionship and decrease stress and loneliness. ...
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... Whilst the level of exercise required by a dog varies according to a number of factors (e.g., breed; age; health status; size), it is recommended that even the smaller breeds (e.g., Chihuahuas and Papillons) receive at least 30 min of exercise a day, split over a number of sessions [23,30]. Pickup et al. [23] reported that whilst there are no evidence-based guidelines on individual breed exercise requirements, only 50% of dogs surveyed received the Kennel Club recommended daily activity for that breed. ...
... Whilst the level of exercise required by a dog varies according to a number of factors (e.g., breed; age; health status; size), it is recommended that even the smaller breeds (e.g., Chihuahuas and Papillons) receive at least 30 min of exercise a day, split over a number of sessions [23,30]. Pickup et al. [23] reported that whilst there are no evidence-based guidelines on individual breed exercise requirements, only 50% of dogs surveyed received the Kennel Club recommended daily activity for that breed. In the present study, only 39.2% of adult dogs from the breeds reviewed met the recommended daily activity, with fewer than 6% of Golden Retrievers and no Rottweilers achieving the recommendation. ...
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... Westgarth et al. (2015) found that most dogs were walked off the lead in certain areas (68%) or most of the time (18%), however, some dogs (15%) were reported to be kept on the lead all the time. Pickup et al. (2017), ascertained that certain breeds were more commonly allowed off the lead in public than others, including the Airedale terrier (91%), German pointer (88%), Hungarian vizsla (88%) and Labrador retriever (87%). Breeds such as Chow (73%); Siberian husky (61%); Pyrenean Mountain dog (60%); Alaskan Malamute (60%) and St Bernard (56%) were less commonly allowed off the lead in public. ...
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... Verificou-se, porém, que metade dos cães avaliados num estudo (Pickup, German, Blackwell, Evans & Westgarth, 2017) não estava a realizar este nível de atividade física recomendado. ...
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