Credit @teamtaura

Anyone who tells you conditioning is easy, is either lying or doesn’t know. Sure it’s simple but it’s certainly not easy. And here’s the thing:

”Although the principles of canine conditioning always remain the same, they apply differently based on the breed”

In a recent blog we outlined  the‘Top Four FITDOG Breeds’. If you missed it you can read it here:

>>The Top Four Fitdog Breeds

Today kicks off a series of blog articles based on breed specific considerations starting with the Retriever.  Before we dive in lets remember the main reason for conditioning is to improve a dogs fitness. The definition of canine fitness is; the ability of a dog to perform a specific function or skill. We believe that apart from being much loved companions, that all dogs thrive when they have a specific function [yes we are also fans of functional working dogs] 🙂

[The powerful physique of a working retriever]

So, lets start with the retriever. This has to be one of the most diverse breeds in the world, not only because they have proven competency in multiple sports and jobs but also because there’s just so many varieties [six and counting] 

Essentially the retirever is part of the gun dog family and was originally bred to support hunters find birds and bring them back undamaged. For this sort of job, they not only needed the strength and agility to work over rugged landscape or tough water but they also needed the stamina to maintain the work load for up to four hours+ at a time. 

Gundog training class: overweight gundogs - The Field
[Birds can weigh 2-4%+ of a retirevers body, great power is required on return]

The result has produced a dog that is naturally high in energy and requires at least 2 hours of moderate intensity exercise a day. The retrievers greatest asset is their aerobic endurance. They can work at a low to moderate intensity for what seems like all day. Fetch is a great example. They just keep on coming back for more.

However, their biggest area for improvement is power.  Power is defined as a dogs ability to produce the maximum force  in the quickest time possible.  During a shoot, retrievers are required to perform powerful sprints when being sent for a bird and to return with the bird quickly depsite it weighing up to 2-4% of the dogs body weight.

Labrador Retriever Breeds
Mainstream example of a retriever.

Unfortunately we are seeing fewer examples of retreviers who retain both their natural stamina and power,  this is possibly because working styles of retriever are currently in a decline. Instead the mainstream examples are generally overfed, underworked and naturally have poor stamina.

Top Tips for Retrievers:

Make sure you exercise them at a moderate intensity for at least 1-2 hours a day 4-5x a week. Moderate intensity activities involve:

Incorporate power based activities at least 2x a week. Power based conditioning includes:


For more specific individual conditioning contact us at support@fitdognation.com

Stay tuned for our next blog article which will review specific conditioning considerations for the American Bully

Comment below and let us know of any other breed(s) you want to add to this list!


Keep Them FIT,



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