How Much Exercise Does An Entlebucher Really Need?

Entles love snow

Entles love snow

Its Linda here behind the keyboard – back with part two of our mini Entle series based around questions on the breed from one of our blog readers. Last week I wrote about the difference between Entles and Labs – this time around we’ll be looking at exercise levels and how much time you need to spend exercising that little Entlebucher Monster Dog of yours.

Exercise Levels

Q2: Both of my labs are happy with a quick walk around the property at night (about 30-45 min) would this be sufficient for an Entle or would a longer walk be needed? This week we have had sub zero weather every day (very unusual to have it this cold for so long) so the labs have not been out much except a quick run out into their pen to take care of business. I realize that where you are located there is seldom a cold day but how well do you think Entles would handle a week without getting out to exercise (should I get a doggy tread mill for those days that the Entle cannot get out)?

The short answer is that our Alfie would go completely bananas if he wasn’t walked for a week. He would bark, nip my feet and pace around the house and turn into a really stressed and bad mannered dog who’d be very unpleasant to be around. Not exercising an Entle (or any other intelligent working breed dog) is a bit like feeding Gremlins after midnight – it brings out the worst in them.

Roman, Jax and Alfie posing on Crissy Field

Roman, Jax and Alfie posing on Crissy Field

Exercise and Mental Stimulation – Equally Important

I should probably mention here that our Alfie is what would be considered a high energy Entle with a very strong work drive. When we go for an off leash hike he is never seen ‘walking’ like many other dogs do, he ‘trots’ or ‘gallops’ for the duration of the entire walk. I would estimate that he covers about five times the distance that I do during the same walk. Leash walking alone would never be enough.

After a walk he would happily continue playing for another hour or so if we didn’t tell him to chill. The truth is – I would not be able to actually walk him until he got physically tired – which is why we also play games and build in training during our walks and afterwards.


Give them a Job

Entlebuchers need to exercise their brains as well as their legs to stay happy – which is pretty typical for many working breeds. Unless you can give them an actual job to do, like herding sheep, or guarding a farm then you need to invent things for them to do. If you don’t – then chances are they get bored and invent a ‘job’ for themselves which you won’t like. I take Alfie to agility classes, play puzzle games and teach him fun tricks. He also loves using his nose so we play a nosework game we call ‘find it’ all the time – both outdoors as well as indoors.

The first two years of owning an Entle was a continuous struggle to burn off all that crazy Entle energy, and making him accept that we couldn’t play 24/7. As soon as we would come home from a long walk or training class Alfie would sleep for a couple of hours and then wake up completely refreshed wanting to play some more – completely tireless.

Now he’s three years old he has calmed down significantly but he is still one of the highest energy dogs I have ever met. We always have to plan our days and activities around Alfie getting exercised and that can be difficult for visiting friends and family to understand sometimes – but luckily Alfie has trained them all well in the art of ball throwing so it usually works out quite well.

Alfie Playing ‘Find it’

I have heard of Entle’s that are happy with 20-30 minutes exercise a day – but if you like us have just one dog, and he is a high energy pooch like Alfie then you need to set aside at least an hour a day for off-leash running or play. I walk Alfie every day come rain or shine. His current routine is a five minute ‘potty walk’ around the block every morning and evening, plus a longer one hour walk off leash in the middle of the day.

Cold temperatures is not necessarily a problem for a mountain dog, unless we’re talking Polar Vortex type weather – as long as you keep moving he’ll keep warm enough. A doggie treadmill might be a good idea, but I don’t have any experience using them. My gut feeling is that it could burn off some crazy energy when the weather is really bad, but in the long run an Entle would find it boring to use.

Here’s what our Facebook buddies had to say about their Entles Exercise & what would happen if they were not walked for a week

“Cleo currently has (and needs) about 2 hours a day- with most of that off lead running with her dog crew….if she didn’t get this level of exercise (like when she was in season) she regresses to the foot bitey monster & forgets everything she’s ever learnt including walking on the lead making life difficult…..and turning her owner in a raging lady trying to keep an air of calm with a high dependency on alcohol!”

“Bruno would attack shadows, chase his tail, bark in my face and then start it all over again. Luckily we’re in California and don’t have much of a bad weather problem. He usually gets at least a 3 mile walk several times a week. But he’s notorious for coming home after a longer, say 7 mile hike and still be filled with zoomies and the desire to play fetch in the back yard. Heck, he’ll come home after spending hours at doggy daycare and be at full speed until he crashes hours later. When he was about 8 months old, we got him a puppy. She’s a lab mix, they are really well bonded and will play for hours, but she always winds down MUCH sooner.”

“Anchor demands a two mile walk and every other day a light jog. In addition he gets fussy if he doesn’t get his 30-60 minutes of total frisbee play in the yard! On days I can’t accomplish this he goes to day care for 9 hours (the most effective daily exercise of all)… If we don’t do these at minimum… He gets very frustrated, angry, and yells (barks) at us!”

“With a female who comes into season I have periods that Bella cannot enjoy her usual off lead run for 3 weeks or so. She accepts it without complaint however I have a tornado dog on the other side of the 3 weeks. I remember a French owner saying ‘his dog runs like a bulldozer’ which I understand. Bad weather wouldn’t stop me and Bella walking, but she has definitely calmed now (coming up to 2 years old) and will accept lead walks or block walks but the happy face that an entle gives you while walking in the rain, makes all the bad weather disappear anyway.”

“For me there is only one reason not to go for a walk: my dog or I are sick or injured. Before I trained with Jack every day, with the result that he always wanted more training and needed. In the morning and at noon I went every 20 minutes walk and in the evening 1-2 hours of training. Since he is Retired, he was quiet and that’s good for him. The young dog now I’m trying not to educate a work junkie … trying;-) When Jack had his cruciate ligament surgeries, I have subdued him with herbal blend something that was necessary.”

“Inga would go crazy … this already happens in small doses if there is a day when she does not get her normal off leash, 2-4 mile, hour plus walk up one of our local logging roads or trails. The walk plus play (tug, training games, ball/fetch) is a normal day. Lately she has had some off and on limping in one rear leg, which we’ve been trying to figure out the cause for. During this now almost 4 week time period, we have limited her to on leash walks only, no ball/fetch, no zoomies around house or yard, etc. Even though we’ve done puzzles and training games that don’t involve a lot of action, I feel like each day we keep her activity level lower than normal she is building up an abundance of extra energy, just waiting to burst out! I don’t think that is a lab problem. Another reason I love Entles – no smell to their fur, really even when wet!”

“Anarchy!!! Chaos!!! Ok just kidding, if Emmett had puzzles and mental games we could eek out a week but beyond that Evil Emmett would emerge. That’s the Emmett that shows up when he is frustrated. Emmett is way more forgiving about exercise then my other four were, don’t get me wrong he would prefer 4-10 km a day with at least one day a week at Poochies dog day care but if that doesn’t happen he sucks it up and deals because that is what he was taught( there is grumbling). The other four harangued me all day everyday. Puppy Cadbury is learning from Emmett, oh and he also plays with her so she demands less from me in the way if physical exercise she practices all the new things she is learning.”

I would love to hear from more Entle owners – How much time do you spend exercising your Entle? What happens when you don’t have enough time? Leave a comment below.

PS. If you liked this post then why not join Alfie’s pawsome pack and get every blogpost sent straight to your inbox?



  1. Alexandria says

    When Poppy, our cross-Entle, was in rehoming kennels she went actually crazy just from lack of mental stimulation and walking. The staff are very hard-pushed in any kennel environment and in ours the best we could do would be 2 twenty minute walks or times out of the kennel a day and then she’d be left from 5.30pm til the next morning on her own with maybe a kong, puzzle or raw bone to keep her busy. Within a month Poppy couldn’t cope and I’d imagine that’s due in part to her breed. Touch wood, we’ve never had a lab lose it quite so quickly or badly in kennels. Our manager went up at night time just to take Poppy out and to teach her ‘search’ to try to help her cope. Now she’s home with us she gets at least 3 walks a day (ranging from 15 minutes to an hour depending on circumstance), a big play of ‘hide and seek’ every other day around the house (where we tell her to wait and then my partner and I go and hide and she comes to find us) and time teaching her tricks at least twice a week. If she was to go a week without a walk all the progress we’ve made with her would just go out the window and she would go mad. She’s not even that high energy normally and hates the rain but we’ve had one day where she only got 2 walks instead of 3 and she was not a happy lady (she got out in the garden a few times too!) so I can’t imagine what she’d be like with even just 1 walk a day for a week never mind not many walks at all.

    • says

      OMG I can’t even begin to imagine how crazy our Alfie would go in kennels! I used to volunteer as a dog socialiser at Battersea dog home so I know how little time there is for each dog :-(
      I bet little Poppy is loving every minute of living with you guys now :-)

  2. says

    There is so much great information here for people who live with any breed (or mix). Yes, physical and mental exercise are so important. And yes, it’s not about the breed but about your individual dog.

    Honey is a low energy golden retriever. That means she’s happy to go for a sniffy walk, followed by a three mile run, followed by some games or training. But on days we can’t do all that she’s fine too.

    But I always have to build lots of mental stimulation into her day no matter what.

    This is so good I’ve gotta go share it. Thanks for such a good reminder of the nuances of exercising our dogs.

    • says

      Every dog is different – we had a Golden Retriever when I grew up and he was happy just hanging out with the family and the occasional walk. Our Entlebucher is a completely different cattle of fish :-) But whether you have a low or high energy dog – mental stimulation & exercise is always a good thing :-)

  3. says

    Nailah used to be like Alfie. I’d take her to the park for 2 hours where she’d play her heart out and then we’d get home, she’d take a nap, then be back to running around like a crazy She’s much calmer now but is still a high energy dog. I sometimes struggle to find the time to do it all with her!

  4. says

    The “Alfies” we knew in Germany were high energy and high play dogs. Both got a lot of exercise, but they were still always busy when not sleeping.

  5. says

    Valuable insight – love that you gathered experiences from your FB fans – great idea. We have two seniors, so I can get by skimping on some days – I’ve forgotten the energy levels of younger dogs…thanks for the reminder! Thanks for joining the Hope – a great addition Alfie!

  6. says

    I thought this was very interesting, both because I’m curious about the Entle and also because I’m always curious how much time other people spend exercising their dogs. My Lab mix Ace can go four or five days without a walk and he’s still a pile. I’m very lucky there. Of course, we rarely miss a walk and most days we walk for at least a half-hour. This is nothing compared to any higher-energy dog and I do appreciate my lazy guy.

  7. says

    I am avery very active dog. I’m a senior and still active. Finding different FUN activities is very important. My mom is very creative finding stuff to stimulate my mom mind. LOVE the video. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  8. says

    Your dogs are gorgeous. I agree, my dogs go nuts in the evening, barking and pestering me, if they haven’t had enough exercise. They need it, even if I’m tired!
    p.s. Based on that video, Alfie is going to be a superstar on first the K9Kamp challenge! Check for it next Friday!

  9. Jamie says

    My Entle Camden has energy to spare. She can go to daycare and then go on a 3 mile run and still want to play when we get home. I love my Camden. Entle’s have such an amazing bond with their owners. I try to take her to the park to play ball and go hiking a few times a week. I have had many other dogs before but never have I had a bond like with Cam. In good news the vet said maybe at 5 she will calm down a bit. Ha ha ha. I am thinking not likely!

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