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Prefer a canine pal who will be satisfied to watch the big game with you on the sofa instead of running interference on your neighborhood touch football team? All dogs need some daily exercise, but we showcase a dozen couch-loving canines whose exercise needs can be satisfied with a short stroll or brief indoor playtime.
Julie Poole, Animal Photography
Gentle and playful, the Bichon Frise unleashes occasional short bursts of activity of racing through your home or around the yard in a frenzy. Just as suddenly, he stops and goes back to being a lap-lounging dog. These play bursts and a short daily walk are all he needs to maintain his sunny disposition. The Bichon is a small dog who weighs 10 to 18 pounds, just right for snuggling in your lap or nestling by your side.
Barbara O'Brien, Animal Photography
The Bulldog looks cantankerous, but he is a gentle family friend whose exercise needs are manageable for even the most dedicated couch potato. The most important thing to know about Bulldogs is that they are sensitive to heat and should live in air-conditioned comfort — perfect for lounging — and you should always avoid activity in the heat of the day. This is a medium-size dog who weighs between 40 to 50 pounds.
Leesia Teh, Animal Photography
If you were to look up lapdog in the dictionary, you’d probably see an illustration of a Cavalier. This cheerful and loving dog wants nothing more than to be with you and will adapt his activity level to your own. Sit on the sofa all day and eat bonbons? He’s there. Be a rowdy playmate for the kids? He can do that after school. The Cavalier is a small breed that typically weighs 13 to 18 pounds, although many are larger and may be better suited to families with children.
Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography
This dignified and stately breed from China is a one-person dog who prefers to stay quietly by his person. Picture the Shar Pei at your side on the sofa or lying in front of the fireplace, keeping a watchful eye on things. A short daily walk will satisfy his exercise needs; then he’s ready to get back home where he belongs. This is a medium-size to large breed, standing 18 to 20 inches tall and weighing 45 to 60 pounds.
With his thick mane and powerful body, the Chow resembles a lion on a smaller scale, and he is about as active as that lazy feline. Guarding your home is his business, and he can do it perfectly well without a high-activity level, thank you very much. Give him a short daily walk and he’ll be happy. The Chow is a medium-size dog who stands 17 to 20 inches tall and weighs 45 to 60 pounds.
Robin Burkett, Animal Photography
The squat, bow-legged but utterly charming French Bulldog is an ideal choice for anyone who lives in an apartment or condo or who might have trouble giving a more active breed ample exercise. A short daily walk of 15 to 20 minutes will help to keep a Frenchie svelte, but on rainy or time-crunched days, he’s satisfied to play indoors or loll in your lap. Schedule walks and outdoor playtime for cool mornings and evenings as Frenchies are sensitive to heat and can quickly succumb to heatstroke. They are moderately sized at 28 pounds or less.
True to his heritage as a barge dog, this medium-size Nordic breed from the Netherlands has moderate exercise needs. He will be satisfied with a short walk on leash or playtime in a yard and easily adapts to his owner’s activity level. The Keeshond is well suited to life in a small space such as an apartment or condominium as long as he’s taught not to bark too much. He is 17 to 18 inches tall and weighs 35 to 45 pounds.
Calm and watchful, the Lhasa is content to spend his days as he has for millennia: watching for trouble and alerting his people to it. Once a temple watchdog in Tibet, he is now a popular family dog who will be satisfied with one or two brief walks a day or playtime indoors. He can ratchet his activity level up or down depending on that of his family. The Lhasa is small but sturdy, standing 10 to 11 inches tall and weighing 12 to 18 pounds.
The Pekingese will stroll regally through the park and play with toys indoors, but he’s essentially a low-activity dog who prefers jumping on and off the sofa to more strenuous activities. Exercise is good for him, though, so resist the impulse to carry him everywhere and make sure he gets some activity daily. This is a small breed that typically weighs no more than 14 pounds.
Shih Tzu do not guard, hunt or tunnel into the earth, although they may retrieve balls if you throw them. They are an in-your-lap kind of dog. A Shih Tzu should get a short walk daily, but if that’s not an option, he will happily race through your house and bound on and off the furniture to meet his need for activity. This is a small dog, standing 8 to 11 inches tall and weighing 9 to 16 pounds.
A true terrier, the Skye is indeed a digger and cat chaser, but he’s also a willing couch companion who will match his activity level to your own. If you build up to longer walks or hikes gradually, he's likely to have stamina, strength and agility in abundance, but on lazy days he’ll be satisfied with a couple of brief walks or playtimes. The Skye is a medium-size dog who stands 9 to 10 inches tall and weighs 35 to 45 pounds.
Alice van Kempen, Animal Photography
Like his cousin the Lhasa, the Tibetan Spaniel originated as a watchdog in monastic temples, or lamaseries. Guarding your sofa from intruders is right up his alley. He is sturdy and will enjoy a walk around the block, but he will be equally satisfied with indoor play, such as chasing a toy. The Tibbie, as he’s nicknamed, is 10 inches tall and weighs 9 to 15 pounds.
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