What is a High Drive Dog?

What is a High Drive Dog?

Life As A Pet Parent

If you are thinking about getting a canine companion whether a puppy or an adult dog and would like to make sure you choose a breed that fits in with your lifestyle, then you need to be prepared to do a little homework. There are certain breeds which are a lot more demanding than others so if you lead a more sedentary life, an extremely active dog would not be a good choice at all. First time dog owners and people who lead quieter lives would do well to avoid looking at high drive dogs because the partnership could be disastrous.

Dog breeds known to be high drive are in fact driven by the genes they inherit from their parentage and ancestors. Some breeds are definite hunters, others are great at guarding which makes them a great choice as watchdogs. Other breeds are brilliant at herding and there are breeds that are superb swimmers which all goes to show that whichever genes a dog inherits plays a crucial part of their make up.

First Time Owners and High Drive Dogs

High drive dogs make superb working dogs but in general are not the best choice for either first time owners or people who lead more sedentary lives. The reason being this type of dog generally needs a lot more in the way of physical and mental exercise to remain happy and healthy. If they do not get all the mental stimulation they need, they typically develop all sorts of behavioural problems which can be put down to boredom and frustration.

However, for people who have the right sort of experience and who love spending all their free time in the great outdoors, a high drive breed of dog could be the perfect choice of companion. A good example being the Border Collie, a breed that likes nothing better than to be kept busy, but there are other breeds which are considered to be high drive"" but for other reasons. Good examples include the Staffordshire Terrier, a breed that could be said to be driven by the need to love people, the Rottweiler, a breed that's instinctively driven to guard and the Beagle, a breed that's driven to follow a scent.

Another breed that's considered high drive and which has been in the news lately due to the fact that more of them are ending up in animal shelters than ever before, is the Husky. This is a breed that boasts a very high genetic predisposition to hunt and roam and if they are allowed to develop and then express these genetically inherited traits, they become very adept at escaping so they can hunt down their prey. In the wrong hands, these lovely dogs can become quite dangerous to other dogs and smaller animals.

Things High Drive Dogs Need

High drive dogs are higher maintenance canines simply because their needs are that much greater than dogs that are quieter by nature. Their needs typically include the following:

  • A tremendous amount of mental stimulation – this includes playing lots of interactive games, taking part in agility classes, the best basic training, as much interaction with their owner as possible
  • Exercise needs to be tailored to suit specific needs
  • Not being left to their own devices for great periods of time on a constant basis
  • A routine that keeps them occupied and which tires them out in a healthy way

Many high energy breeds like the Border Collie also have a predisposition to nervousness and again, in the wrong hands this is a trait that can become a serious issue which affects not only the happiness of the dog but their owners too. There is nothing more frustrating for a first-time dog owner than to cope with a nervous canine companion. Their training is made that much harder too. The same Border Collie in the right hands would have a far greater chance of overcoming their nervousness and end up being a happy and content companion.

Being Able to Tell the Difference Between High Drive & Enthusiasm

It's also important to know when a dog is being enthusiastic about something rather their behaviour being inherited. More often than not, when a dog gets a command right, they become extremely excited which in effect is just enthusiasm or what could be termed as a ""hormonal high"". The reaction may have started out as a genetic response but owners often reinforce the behaviour through reward and praise without realising they are doing so. The reaction then becomes a learnt behaviour rather than a genetically driven one.


High drive dogs make wonderful companions as long as their owners fully understand their pet's needs and know how to handle them. New or inexperienced dog owners would find it that much harder to cope with a breed of dog that boasts being high drive and may well run into a lot of trouble with their four-legged friends. With such a wonderful choice of dog breeds out there, finding a companion to suit your lifestyle means doing as much research as possible and staying away from puppies that boast working dog parentage if you lead a quieter and more sedentary life.




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