Whenever I go to a dog park or a dog-friendly beach, I love watching the dogs run round playing fetch with their owners. I often wonder if there are certain dog breeds that love chasing a ball more than others, and it turns out there are!
Dogs that were bred to hunt, retrieve, and herd enjoy playing fetch the most. Their instincts are to chase moving objects, catch them in mid-air or on the ground, then bring them back to their owner for another round of fetch.
Did you know that dogs of all sizes can enjoy a game of fetch? Because of their energetic nature, most of these breeds need a lot of daily exercise, a lot of attention, and space to run in order to be happy and healthy.
I’ve put together a list of 21 dog breeds that love the fun of chasing a toy and playing fetch:
1. Australian Shepherd
Size: Medium – Large
Weight: 40-65 pounds
Bred to herd sheep and cattle, the energetic Australian Shepherd needs a lot of daily exercise, and playing fetch is one of their favorite games!
Running after and catching a ball or stick kicks in their natural herding instincts, and they’ll always want more of it…
Some Australian Shepherds are more energetic than others, but all of them need enough exercise and stimulation or they can become quite destructive.
1. Belgian Malinois
Weight: 40-80 pounds
This short-haired version of the Belgian Shepherd is playful, agile, and needs a lot of exercise.
In fact, the Belgian Malinois is happy to spend 3 to 6 hours a day playing fetch and running around!
This breed must work and get out a lot of energy, and this type of dog is often not suitable for busy families and those with small children.
3. Belgian Sheepdog
Weight: 45-75 pounds
Belgian Sheepdogs are also known as ‘Groenendael’.
This is a longhaired variation of the Belgian Malinois, and has a beautiful shiny black coat.
These passionate, loyal dogs give everything they’ve got when playing a game, especially a fun game of fetch. They may need less exercise than other Belgian Shepherds, but they might not be able to stop themselves from chasing things other than a ball or stick (like passing bicycles, other dogs, and joggers).
4. Border Collie
Size: Medium – Large
Weight: 30-55 pounds
This energetic dog is happiest sneaking up on sheep in a field and getting them in line. But when he can’t herd sheep, a border collie loves catching balls, toys, frisbees, water, bubbles, sticks, and whatever else is flying through the air.
This athletic breed needs many hours of exercise and a large space to run around to release all that energy before stopping for a cuddle.
5. Boykin Spaniel
Weight: 25-40 pounds
These spaniels are always happy and eager to learn. They’re also furry bundles of energy – take them out hiking, running, and playing ball for a wonderful time together.
Boykin Spaniels thrive with a lot of exercise and a lot of love.
They also enjoy swimming and getting their feet muddy and wet, so don’t be scared to go somewhere wet to play that game of fetch!
6. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Weight: 55-80 pounds
Affectionately called the Chessie, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is famous for its waterproof coat and love of fetching things.
Bred to retrieve ducks in icy water during the hunting season, Chessies are soft souls that today work as therapy dogs, bomb detection dogs, and in search and rescue.
Chessies have the strongest personalities of all retrievers, and love playing long games of fetch to keep themselves busy and get out some of that energy.
7. Curly Coated Retriever
Weight: 60-95 pounds
These energetic dogs, with their curly hair and wedge-shaped head, will always join in a game of fetch with you.
Who can last the longest? You throwing or your curly coated retriever fetching?
These dogs love being outside to play and run, but they also enjoy the comforts of being at home with the family.
8. English Springer Spaniel
Weight: 40-50 pounds
The English Springer Spaniel needs to stretch their legs every day, and a game of fetch outside in a big yard or in the park will do the trick.
Skip the game and your dog could become quite a busy handful at home.
These spaniels enjoy hiking and long runs with their owners – the perfect opportunity to take a ball with and let your Spaniel practice its natural instinct to hunt and catch things.
9. Flat-coated Retriever
Size: 60-70 pounds
The flat-coated retriever loves exercise and will choose a game of fetch over sitting on the couch any day.
Light-hearted and playful, he craves human attention and games into his old age. Take your flat-coated retriever out for a game of fetch to bond with him and bring out his retriever instincts.
10. German Shepherd
Weight: 50-90 pounds
German Shepherds are highly intelligent dogs that were bred to herd and protect sheep in Germany. This breed needs lots of exercise, mental stimulation, and love throughout their lifetime.
As puppies, German Shepherds should have exercise in a controlled environment, to avoid long-term damage to the legs and ligaments. This could mean a few quick rounds of fetch, short walks, or play with other puppies for socialization.
Once adults, exercise and play can be adapted to your dog’s level of energy. Play a game of fetch with a ball, a stick, or roll a tire – your German Shepherd will love the chase!
11. German Shorthaired Pointer
Weight: 45-70 pounds
These hunting dogs love hunting balls and need to live a lifestyle full of walks, games, runs, swims, and more. They need a good exercise session twice a day to get all that energy out.
Just beware when taking your Pointer to a park or open space – if someone or something else runs past him, he might just start chasing them.
12. Golden Retriever
Weight: 55-75 pounds
Golden Retrievers love to fetch and carry things in their mouth. They’ll happily play many games of fetch with their owners, running to catch a frisbee, ball, or anything else you throw for them.
When they aren’t playing fetch, long walks and lots of play are needed.
At home, keep a box full of toys for your Golden Retriever so he/she always has something to carry around, otherwise he/she might find things to chew on that you don’t want them to destroy.
13. Irish Water Spaniel
Weight: 45-68 pounds
The Irish Water Spaniel is the tallest spaniel, with a busy nature that wants to play, play, play.
You can tell this spaniel from other spaniels by its very curly coat and tail, which tapers off at the end.
Some of this spaniel’s favorite games include swimming and playing fetch. You can even combine the two to play fetch in a pool or dam.
14. Jack Russell
Weight: 9-15 pounds
Russell Terriers are high-energy dogs with amazing hunting skills and a keen eagerness for a game of fetch.
Running, jumping, and barking at things are all great fun for these terriers!
To look and feel his best, a Russell Terrier needs vigorous daily exercise and lots of time chasing balls.
15. Labrador Retriever
Weight: 55-80 pounds
White, black, brown, or yellow… what do Labradors love most? People, attention, and playing fetch!
Chasing a ball or a frisbee is a great way for Labradors to use up all that happy energy inside them, and they’ll be even happier when their owner gives them a pat and a ‘Well done!’ for their hard work.
It’s important to find ways for labs to exercise daily. Most of them enjoy being in the water, so mix things up a bit with a game of fetch in the pool.
16. Miniature Schnauzer
Weight: 11-20 pounds
These little dogs love feeling the wind in their bear as they run after a ball. They may be little but they need regular exercise for their physical and mental wellbeing.
Sprinkle some walks and lots of family time to see your little Schnauzer thrive as a family pet.
17. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Weight: 35-50 pounds
You might not have heard about the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever before, but he sure is a champion when it comes to playing fetch.
Also affectionately called a ‘Toller’, you’ll be playing fetch until the sun sets or one of you falls over – and it won’t be the Toller!
This sporty breed has boundless energy and must exercise daily to be happy. They love it when their humans join them in a game of flyball, fetch, or agility training.
Weight: 35-65 pounds
Also known as Sammies, Samoyeds were bred for herding and protecting reindeer in cold climates, where they used to work in temperatures that could fall down to as low as -60 degrees.
This is one of the cleverest of the sled dog breeds, and its smiling, upturned mouth prevented drooling so icicles couldn’t form along his lips.
Nowadays, Sammies enjoy spending time with their human family and hunting in a game of fetch, though they might not like giving back the ball once they’ve hunted it.
If you take your Samoyed out for a game or for a run, be sure to keep him on a leash as this breed loves roaming and will run off for many miles without thinking twice.
19. Standard Poodle
Weight: 40-70 pounds
Poodles have a lot going for them – their versatile haircuts, agility, intelligence, and the fact that they’re the most hypoallergenic dog with a coat out there.
Poodles need a lot of mental stimulation and physical exercise every day, which may include playing hide and seek, agility classes, swimming, jogging, or playing fetch with toys by name.
Do these things to tire out your poodle, and you’ll have a loving, sleepy dog come nightfall.
Weight: 55-90 pounds
Highly energetic with extremely high exercise needs, the Weimaraner was bred to spend his days hunting and running.
This true athlete will play fetch and bring back whatever you can throw, no matter how far you can throw it, but he also needs to stretch his legs in open fields daily.
The Weimaraner ain’t no couch potato. If you have the time, energy and space for such a dog, you’ll find an obedient and loyal friend in a busy body Weimaraner.
Weight: 25-40 pounds
A Whippet is in the sighthound family of dogs – dogs that hunt by seeing movement and chasing down the prey.
Whippets love curling up in a warm bed to sleep for hours, then zooming around the house and yard in short bursts to use up energy.
Chasing a ball, stick, or toy in a game of fetch is the perfect way to give your whippet a little exercise fun.
*Dog weight ranges courtesy of American Kennel Club