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Different breeds of dogs have different physical attributes that need to be considered when planning what type of exercise is best suited for the dog. In addition some breeds will absolutely require more exercise in order to stay both physically and mentally healthy and without proper, regular and sufficient exercise they will turn to destructive behaviors. Usually when this happens the poor dog is labeled as bad, mean or untrainable and ends up getting sent to a rescue, the pound or even given away to another family, often without a good explanation as to the problem. This is not to say that all dog behavior that is problematic is a directly result of lack of exercise or the wrong kind of exercise, but it certainly can be a contributing factor.
Understanding what is appropriate or inappropriate exercise for the breed or type of dog that you have is very important. Even if you don't have a purebred, a mixed breed dog that is the same body or skeletal shape as a purebred is likely to risk having the same types of issues as they relate to exercise. Mixed breeds are often reported to be healthier, stronger and less prone to diseases that purebreds, however this is not always the case all of the time.
Long Bodied DogsDogs that have longer bodies, especially longer bodies with shorter legs are very prone to spine problems. These breeds include the Bassett Hound, Dachshund, Corgi breeds and even Cesky Terriers. The spinal problems that are often seen in these breeds can include permanent and temporary paralysis due to spinal injuries and neurological conditions, sway back, loss of control of the hind quarters and problems with mobility as the dog ages. This is because a longer spine causes increased downward pressure along the length of the spine due to lack of support from underneath. In shorter bodied dogs the legs through the shoulders, hips and pelvic area form a structural support, but on long bodied dogs the middle of the spine is farther from both upward supports. This increased pressure is made worse by obesity and lack of regular exercise that keeps the longitudinal muscles along the spine strong and flexible.
The worst types of exercise or activities for long bodied dogs include any type of jumping activities. This includes jumping up and down off of furniture or beds, plus also jumping up on people. Games that include having these dogs jump to catch balls, Frisbees or other objects should not be part of your exercise program. In additions rough games that may include wrestling or pushing on the dog's body while he or she is in motion should also be avoided as they can cause twisting of the spine.
Fast Growing Large or Giant BreedsPuppies of the very large or giant breeds that grow really quickly in the first few months of life can be prone to both temporary and permanent problems with bone plate development and other skeletal problems. To avoid any long term concerns it is very important to feed the best types and qualities of food in the right amounts, plus to actually limit the amount of intensive exercise or activities these breeds engage in during their first year to year and a half of life.
Breeds that are considered to be giant breeds include the Newfoundland, Irish Wolfhound, Great Pyrenees, Great Dane, St. Bernard and the Neopolitan Mastiff. In addition there are other large breeds that also grow rapidly as puppies and need to have intense exercise or rough play limited to prevent joint and muscle problems as the dog ages and matures.
Interestingly enough once very large and giant breeds mature they often need less actual physical exercise than many of the small breeds to stay in good physical shape. They are sometimes more prone to obesity and weight gain so it is important to carefully monitor both their feed as well as their exercise level on an ongoing basis.
Water DogsThere are a great number of dogs that simply love to swim and be in the water. While these breeds are typically hunting dogs, not all are used as hunting breeds anymore. These dogs can include the Standard Poodle, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Springer Spaniels, Chesapeake Bay Retriever and the Irish Water Spaniel to name just a few.
Swimming is certainly good exercise, however it is important to keep in mind that these breeds will swim whenever they find open water, which can lead to problems with arthritis if the dog is constantly wet in cold climates and conditions. Keeping a dog that loves water out of the wet environment can be a challenge but it will certainly help prevent some of the joint and muscle problems that can develop when the dog gets older. Swimming in warm temperatures or being able to get inside immediately and warmed and dried off will also help.
Double Coated DogsWhenever you are exercising a double coated dog in very hot weather it is important to watch for any early indications of heat stroke or heat sensitivity. Double coated dogs do run the risk of overheating much more quickly than single coat breeds, however if they are not exercising in the heat or in direct sunlight they can naturally stay cool.
Obese DogsAny breed of dog can become obese if not fed the correct types of food and given regular, appropriate exercise for the breed. Some breeds are more prone to obesity than others and these are often the very laid back and calm dogs that are content to sit on the porch and watch the world go by.
If you dog has gained weight and you want to start working on getting them back into shape be sure to go slowly and process with the exercise level and intensity only when the dog has rebuilt muscle and respiratory capacity. Overworking an obese and out of shape dog will put additional stress on the circulatory and respiratory system not to mention the muscles and joints.
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