Not all dogs are good for running. Andrew Garf, editor and chief of Train Your GSD, says there are three main characteristics that don’t make a dog breed a good runner: if their legs are shorter than their height, they have smooshed faces, and are heavily muscled. Read on to learn about the 10 best running dog breeds.
Our furry friends not only can make the perfect running partner but can also be important for keeping you safe on a run. However, not all dog breeds are alike in their qualities and running abilities. Just like people—some are built for running than others.
Some dogs can go long distances, some short distances. Some can handle warmer climates and some colder climates. It is equally important to consider your dog’s age, overall health, personality, and breed, along with the training you both have had. (See just like people…:)).
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Don’t worry though. I’m here to answer some common questions about running with your furry friend. My team (the wonderful, talented, and fast-!- Amanda Martin) and I researched the top 10 best dog breeds for running and consulted the American Kennel Club for their breakdown of each breed’s individual traits.
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Before we get started on what kinds of dogs are the best at running, check out our expert tips on how to run with your dog.
You may think that since many dogs were bred for farm work and hunting running would come naturally to them.
But this is definitely not the norm, most dogs like to zig-zag, pull, chase squirrels or herd you as if you were a sheep. (I experience this every time I try to walk my two loves, Rooney and Riley. It seems they are always after different squirrels. And, I’m always thankful I have both arms in tact when we are done walking!).
These elements cannot only make it difficult on you but also be a risk for injury. Luckily, we have many resources on gear to run with your pup and injury prevention regardless of who or what you are running with.
So whether you’re running in the hot, cold, longer distances or shorter distances and you have a love for pups like we do, there is a best running dog breed for you!
- Border Collie
- Siberian Husky
- German Shorthaired Pointer
- Doberman Pinscher
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Jack Russell Terrier (we were surprised too!)
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10 Best Running Dog Breeds
Let’s start with number one on our list:
The Border Collie
What makes a border collie one of the top choices for a running companion is their endurance and athletic ability; they can go all day long.
Border collies are known for their intelligence and agility. These pups are highly energetic and are used to herd animals, so they have a natural instinct to run and direct.
Along with that they tend to be loyal and trained easily to follow commands so they can be taught to stay right with you throughout the run.
Border collies have a double-layer coat which makes them acclimate to many different temperatures so whether you are training in winter or summer this pup can tag-a-long.
Of course, you always want to be cautious about extreme temperatures no matter what breed we are discussing.
Weimaraners are sleek hunting dogs. They are medium-sized and have excellent endurance capacity, making them a solid choice for your easy to moderate-paced efforts.
This breed, like others, are highly intelligent and active so they can be trained and run for longer periods of time. They do not have a long coat, so they are suited for warmer temps but not cold winters.
The Weimaraner loves to be with their owner so that is an added bonus when running with this pup.
The Vizsla, like other hunting breeds, have stamina and endurance making them a great choice to be your new training partner.
This breed is fairly similar to the Weimaraner in its size and athletic capacity. The Vizsla is continually gaining popularity in recent years for their sweet demeanor and athletic ability.
This pup is well distinguished for its sleek golden short-haired coat that can withstand warmer climates.
They tend to have gentle and loyal personalities making them great with off-leash running once trained and great for families.
The Vizsla does best with plenty of exercise making it one of the best running dogs.
The next dog on the list for best running breeds is a fluffy, athletic, sled dog. The Siberian husky is well known for its endurance in packs, lean build, and ability to withstand extremely cold climates.
Once bred for long treks through the Alaskan wilderness, Siberian Huskies have excellent endurance and stamina. These dogs are best suited for cold weather climates with their thick, long coats.
The Siberian husky, while loyal to its owner, has a bad rap for being aggressive at times and not the best with small children, so this is important to keep in mind.
The Siberian Husky looks very similar to an Alaskan Malamute. The key difference between these similar breeds is the Siberian Husky is better suited for long distances while the Alaskan Malamute is ideal for shorter distances.
You can equate a Husky to marathon running and a Malamute to sprinting with their short bursts of speed.
So, the best choice comes down to what kind your goals are as a runner and the climate you live in.
Dalmations are another best running dog because they are an athletic breed with great stamina, endurance, and love to be exercised.
Dalmations were once bred to run alongside horse-drawn carriages to assist in fire management, hence their nickname “coach or carriage dogs,” so these pups have a long history of endurance and managing the heat fairly well.
The downside to Dalmations is they tend to do best with adults and are not typically good around children. They also are a working breed and need space to run and play.
The upside is Dalmations can run 5-10 miles a day, so they are truly perfect for an active owner who loves outdoor activities and is ready to find their perfect running partner.
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German Shorthaired Pointer
The German Shorthaired pointer is another athletic dog with a high energy level on the list.
This breed is a little better at speed than endurance and is better suited for shorter runs compared to other dog breeds on this list.
These hounds are another sport breed that were once used as hunting dogs for field work and can handle lots of exercise.
These dogs are also exceptional family dogs with their friendly and loyal personalities.
German shorthaired pointers have a short coat, hence their name, which helps them tolerate warmer climates well.
They are even good in the water so overall this breed is good for an athletic runner to triathlete or simply an active family who love outdoor activities.
Dobermans are often called “police dogs” and have speed, endurance, and obedience. This breed is full of energy and does best with frequent exercise.
These dogs often get a bad rap for their sharp look that appears aggressive at first glance.
However, Doberman Pinschers are remarkably good for families and children. They tend to be fearless and extremely loyal to their people along with trainable tendencies.
Once trained they are fabulous running buddies and can go for miles.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is another loyal hound on the list with incredible endurance. These dogs are an extremely active breed with boundless energy.
Ideally, this breed needs anywhere from 30-60 minutes of exercise a day. A great way to achieve this is for them to run long and short distances.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback, like the Dalmatian, was bred to run alongside horses so they have the capacity to run anywhere from 6-8 miles a day at a fairly steady to high pace.
This active breed is also heat tolerant with their short-haired coat which makes them great in warmer temperatures.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is very trainable and is not only affectionate but also even-tempered which makes for a great running companion.
Jack Russell Terrier
These little guys can run big distances and do exceptionally well on trails despite their short legs. They are small, quick, and have plenty of energy for fast and slow runs.
We had to have a smaller breed on the list against all the big dogs!
“Small dog in a big world,” they say, but Jack Russel terriers are full of energy and agility.
Jack Russell terriers can acclimate to many weather conditions so they are ready for summer, fall, winter, and spring (but maybe add a jacket if extra cold) and make excellent family dogs.
10. Labrador Retriever
Finally, the labrador retriever hits the list. They are great running partners and love spending time with their owners especially when it involves physical activity like running.
These pups are great for families and are a very friendly breed, but they too are hunting dogs that need lots of exercise.
The labrador needs both lots of play time but also to “retrieve” for mental stimulation.
While labs are fast they are not the fastest on the list and may require more walking or rest breaks than other breeds. This makes them not only a good running partner but great to bring along if you are managing a stroller as well.
Labrador retrievers are a good fit for most families thanks to their loyalty, love for their human companions, and active lifestyle.
Of course, there are plenty more breeds that are a good fit to be your next running buddy, but these are our top picks based on athletic build, stamina, endurance, and overall personality.
We found that the breeds above were some of the best running dogs for running from 5k to marathon in a range of climates and terrains.
Other excellent options not in detail include German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, English Springer Spaniels, Blue Heelers along with other terriers, hounds, spaniels, and shepherds that could have made the list.
Always keep in mind the individual personality and nature of your pup since even within a breed there are variations. Make sure children and people are introduced with safety in mind and when running make sure to check on your dogs needs frequently whether hot or cold.
How can you tell if running is right for your dog?
To determine if you can run with your dog, first check with your veterinarian.
Not all breeds are a good match for running. We discussed some of the best breeds for long-distance running but there are generally some breeds that should stick to walking.
According to Andrew Garf, editor and chief Train Your GSD, if a dog’s legs are shorter than his body height, they’re probably not a great fit for running.
Dogs that are not built to go the distance (longer than a mile) are:
- Boston terriers, pugs, big dogs such as a Doggie de Bordeaux and mastiffs;
- dogs with smooshed faces, small noses or pants a lot like bulldogs;
- and finally excessively muscled dogs like pit bulls.
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What dog can run the longest?
There is no one correct answer for this question. Many of the above breeds can run for many miles if given the proper training and fuel. Sounds like people right?
However, some might say the Dalmatian, Siberian Husky, or Rhodesian Ridgeback based on their breeding history with running alongside horses or carrying equipment via sleds across Alaska.
These three tend to be working breeds with lean builds and long legs which allows them to run for more than 5 miles a day.
Are dogs good at long-distance running?
Dogs of many breeds can be great at long distance running! Again, it comes with proper training, heat or cold acclimation, your dog’s age, and knowing what surfaces your dog can handle.
What is the best dog for hiking and running?
This may come as a surprise but from our list the Jack Russell Terrier is the best dog for hiking. The Rhodesian Ridgeback comes in second.
The Jack Russell Terrier is agile and can manage technical trails because of their small frame. They are also great with endurance running despite their short legs.
Any of the other sporting or hunting breeds will also handle hiking and trails well in addition to running. And, switching up the terrain will take the strain off your pup’s paws and joints.
6 Tips for Running with Your Dog
Finally, here are some top tips for running with your dog.
- Make sure you increase their mileage slowly and allow them to adapt to the increase in consistent exercise.
- Make sure your pup is fully grown or at least 16-24 months before trying to ramp up their mileage. Otherwise, they can be at risk for hip dysplasia or other joint-related issues.
- Proper command training is key, you want your dog to listen in case of traffic or unexpected events while out running. Using terms like “heel” “stop” “stay” and “leave it” will not only help your pup know you are in control but it will prevent them from pulling you up, down, and all around. The last thing you need is an injury from an unexpected zig-zag.
- Bring a fanny pack with a measuring cup and a bag of treats so you can give your dog water and a snack if needed while out on the run. There are plenty of products on Amazon to check out here!
- Start and end with a walk, use this time as a warm-up so your pup can get any excitement out early without wearing them down too quickly
- Finally, have fun! This is an excellent time for you and your pup to bond, release stress, and get a good workout in!
If you want guidance with your running goals, check out my run coaching services. Also, be sure to check out my free training plans:
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