Exercise Requirements and Restrictions of Puppies

The exercise requirements of a puppy is significantly less than that of an adult dog, as some large or giant breeds of dog don’t stop growing until they are 24 months old.

Over exercising puppies can have a catastrophic impact on their growth and wellbeing, with sometimes devastating consequences in extreme circumstances.

  • A toy breed of dog (eg multipool, miniature dachshund etc): will finish growing by 10-12 months
  • A small breed of dog (eg Jack Russell Terrier, Cavalier etc): will finish growing by 10-12 months
  • A medium breed of dog (eg Springer Spaniel, Beagle etc): will finish growing by 12-14 months
  • A large breed of dog (eg Labrador, Golden Retriever etc): will finish growing by 12-16 months
  • A giant breed of dog (eg Great Dane, Burnease Mountain dog etc): will finish growing by 18 months


These are hugely variable time frames for growth in dogs, and therefore their exercise requirements throughout their first 1-2 years of life will differ considerable. The general rule of thumb is ‘5 minutes of exercise per month of life’, for example a 4 month old puppy should be going for approximately a 20 minute walk per day.

It’s very important to consider the term ‘exercise’ as many people only associate this with walking. This needs to factor intensive play time such as chasing a ball and boisterous play etc, this doesn’t mean if they’ve had over 20 minutes of play they will be likely to end up causing long-term damage, it’s a consideration point for the rest of the ‘exercise allowance’.

Consider where you are walking your puppy, the terrain, length over duration (as sometimes a half a mile walk could take some small dogs 40 minutes as a little pup, but a larger dog less time), amount of other activity planned for that day (playing with friend’s dogs, children, family etc) and how old they are.

We know it’s very exciting having a young puppy, and the temptation to take them on long walks is overwhelming. However, this will come with time as they grow and their growth plates close. Strict exercise restrictions are paramount in Large and Giant breeds of dogs, with more and more increasing studies now around exercise and neutering depending on breed and age. Labradors, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Bernese Mountain Dogs and more, are all susceptible to long term damage from over exercise, which could results in a considerable shorter lifespan.

If you are concerned or wondering about how much exercise your puppy should be receiving then please contact us and discuss with one of our nurses, and we can help devise a suitable plan for you and your puppy.

© Rowly House Vet 2023