Cute border collie dog playing with ball at sunset

ChewyBehavior / Breed Lists

9 Active Dog Breeds Who Excel at Playing Fetch

Fetch. It’s probably the most common pastime enjoyed by dogs and their people. And it’s a great way for families to bond with their pets. Many top dog breeds have an instinct for the behavior.

In general, dog breeds with “retriever” in their heritage, as well as herding dogs, are likely to enjoy dog fetch toys. They’ve been bred to retrieve game or to chase after and return livestock.

Some of these retrieving- or herding-obsessed dogs become pests when they don’t have an appropriate outlet for their high energy. To combat this, I often recommend fetching games.

For those who are eager to get a dog who naturally loves chasing and retrieving, meet nine top dog breeds who excel at playing fetch.

1. Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd dog plays fetch

Via iStock.com/Ksuksa

The Australian Shepherd was developed for herding cattle and sheep. She is an active, medium-size, tailless dog who’s highly intelligent and happiest with a job to do.

The Aussie tends to be high-strung, needing an outlet for her energy. When there are no sheep (or kids around) for her to herd, she’ll be more than happy to round up and retrieve dog toys.

2. Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois dog fetch

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The Malinois is one of several varieties of Belgian shepherd and often is used as a military canine or other service dog. She is a confident, intelligent dog who is reserved with strangers, but affectionate and protective with her own people.

The easy-to-train Malinois does best when given a job to do. Cars, joggers and bikers may become targets for this dog who loves to chase; given enough time, she might attempt to fetch them, as well!

3. Belgian Sheepdog

Belgian Sheepdog fetch

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Also known as the Groenendael, the Belgian Sheepdog is a longhaired version of the Malinois, but with a solid black coat. She has been used as a herder, a police dog, a messenger dog during war, a guard dog and a companion.

She is an elegant, intelligent dog who easily is trained to do a wide variety of tasks and devoted to—and even possessive of—her people. She also likes to chase and often “fetches” the family’s kids by nipping at their feet.

4. Belgian Tervuren

Belgian Tervuren dog fetch

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The gorgeous, heavily coated Belgian Tervuren was developed as a guardian and herder of stock. The Terv’s intelligence and devotion make her a wonderful companion. Today she continues to excel as a herder, an obedience dog and even a sled dog.

Distract this breed with Frisbee-type disks, like the KONG classic flyer dog toy, to keep her from chasing cars or others.

5. Border Collie

Border Collie dog fetching

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Arguably the smartest breed of all, the Border Collie is a magician with sheep—able to control them with a simple stare. She is a medium dog, midway between the Collie and the Shetland Sheepdog. Border Collies tend to be affectionate with family, but can be reserved or even shy of strangers.

Her extreme intelligence can make her a challenge to train, but she often is a standout in obedience, herding and agility trials. Like most herders, she loves to chase cars, bikes and other moving objects (like kids). Instead, offer her a ball to fetch—or two with the Chuckit! two pack ultra-rubber ball dog toy—and she’ll play until she drops.

6. Flat-Coated Retriever

Flat-Coated Retriever dog fetch

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The Flat-Coated Retriever is similar in temperament to the Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever dog breeds: energetic, intelligent and eager-to-please. She excels in hunting trials and is a wonderful hunter and family dog. She lives to retrieve and will play fetch with dog toys or any object she happens to find.

7. German Shepherd

German Shepherd dog fetch

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This German dog initially was a herder and protector of sheep. She is known for her loyalty, courage and intelligence, and currently serves in many capacities, including as a police dog, a guide dog, a guard dog and in search and rescue.

The German Shepherd is extremely intelligent and not always easy to train, because she always knows a better way to do things. This elegant and powerful canine is incredibly devoted to her family—kids, too!—and, when properly socialized, is an outstanding family pet.

She typically is aloof with strangers, and she might chase cars, bikes and strangers. Give this dog productive work to do, and she’ll be your devoted friend for life. Offer her a ball to fetch, and she’ll drive you crazy begging for more.

8. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever dog fetch

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Arguably one of the most popular of the top dog breeds, the Golden Retriever is both an outstanding hunting dog and family companion due to her winning personality, desire to please and high intelligence. She’s an in-your-face dog who wants constant attention; training will help with this pushy attitude.

The Golden especially loves kids—all ages, come one, come all—and makes friend easily with strangers. The Golden needs lots of exercise, and she adores fetching games, so plan on stocking up on plenty of dog toys.

9. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever fetch

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Today, the Labrador Retriever’s high intelligence and willingness to please puts her in the field as a hunter, in the home as a companion animal, as a service dog who guides the blind or as a search and rescue dog for victims of disaster.

The Lab is a sociable dog who loves the whole world—kids, adults, strangers, burglars (they aren’t great watchdogs)—and is highly trainable. She can be pushy with her affection. The Lab need plenty of exercise and can obsess over balls and other fetch objects.

The retrieving and herding instinct creates lots of fun for dogs playing fetch, as well as the pet parents who love tossing dog toys for their best pup pals. Other dog breeds may also enjoy playing fetch, of course—especially high-energy breeds. After all, your tiny Chihuahua never read the breed description, and she might love the fun of making you grin!

Want to know more about active dog breeds? Check out:


amy shojai

Amy Shojai, CABC, (www.SHOJAI.com) is a certified animal behavior consultant for cats and dogs, and the author of more than 30 award-winning pet care books. She lives in North Texas with a smart-aleck Karma-Kat, and fun-loving Bullmastiff, Bravo.

Featured Image: Via iStock.com/Capuski

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