Best Dog Breeds for Runners
If you are both a dog lover and a runner, then you probably fancy the idea of having a canine running partner. Sometimes, running with dogs is more fun than running alone. It's also a great way to provide exercise to an athletic dog while keeping yourself in shape.
Always be careful when taking your dog on a run, regardless of breed. Bring fresh water for both you and your dog and take breaks as necessary. Stop running and head home if your dog seems reluctant to run, has trouble breathing, acts painful, begins limping, seems overheated, or appears otherwise distressed. Always consult your veterinarian before beginning to go on runs with your dog.
Many of the best canine runners are part of the sporting, herding, or terrier dog groups. Most of those breeds have been developed over generations for their athleticism and endurance. Some mixed-breed dogs are great runners as well, especially if they are mixed with one or more of the following breeds. Take a look at the 10 dog breeds that tend to enjoy frequent runs.
As members of the sporting group, Weimaraners are athletes by design. Their speed and endurance make them ideal running partners for both short and long distances. They can tolerate heat fairly well and enjoy lots of exercise. Weimaraners that do not get enough exercise and training may even develop anxiety or behavior issues.
Height: 24 to 26 inches
Weight: 70 to 85 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Strong-bodied, streamlined with a short, smooth mouse gray or silver-gray coat; strong head with dropped ears
The vizsla is a hard-working hunting dog that thrives on exercise. This sporting group dog possesses excellent endurance and speed. The vizsla can tolerate heat well and tends to stay very close to its owner. Some have nicknamed this dog "the Velcro vizsla." This breed can be your loyal companion and running buddy.
Height: 22 to 23 inches
Weight: 45 to 50 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Muscular and well proportioned with a russet-colored short, smooth, dense coat
When you look at this spotted dog, running may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Although they are in the non-sporting group, Dalmatians are natural athletes that need lots of exercise to thrive. The history of this breed is not well-known, but Dalmatians need to stay active and keep busy. They were once used as carriage dogs or coach dogs that would run alongside horse-drawn carriages. They are also well-known as firehouse dogs. In the days before loud sirens, the dogs would run ahead of horse-drawn fire carriages, barking loudly to clear the path of bystanders.
Height: 19 to 23 inches
Weight: 45 to 60 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized dog with a sleek, muscular body; tail is fairly long with a slight, upward curve; the coat is short and dense with brown or black spots on white
The border collie is one of the smartest dog breeds around. As a member of the herding group, this breed loves to move. Border collies are extremely agile dogs that can run fast for a long time. These dogs need to be kept occupied or they can become frustrated. Consider running with your border collie through somewhat dense, winding trails to add a bit of challenge. This breed can tolerate heat but does especially well in cooler temperatures.
Height: 18 to 22 inches
Weight: 28 to 48 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized; rough or smooth medium-length double coat; body is slightly longer than it is tall; long head that comes to a point at the nose with ears standing erect and tips curling over
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Another intelligent member of the herding group, the agile, athletic Aussie enjoys long, challenging runs. This is another dog that craves mental and physical stimulation. Avoid long runs on especially hot days; their longer coats make them able to better tolerate cooler temperatures. Aussies are smart, loyal, and full of energy, making them great companions and running partners.
Height: 18 to 23 inches
Weight: 40 to 65 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized sturdy body; medium to long coat in blue merle, red merle, black, or red with feathering on the back of the legs and a generous mane around the neck
The Rhodesian ridgeback is a member of the hound group but often seems more like a sporting dog. This large, muscular dog was originally bred in Africa to hunt lions. Today, the breed has retained its athleticism and endurance. Most Rhodesian ridgebacks can handle somewhat long runs and warmer temperatures. Avoid running with this large dog breed until fully grown, usually around two years of age.
Height: 25 to 26 inches
Weight: 65 to 90 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Strong, muscular, athletic-bodied dog, colored light wheaten to red wheaten with a characteristic ridge of hair formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction of the rest of the coat
The Siberian husky is a member of the working group and was developed to haul sleds over long distances in the snow. With seemingly boundless energy, this breed loves to run. If you live in a cool climate, this dog can be your daily running partner. However, huskies are not suited for long runs in warmer weather.
Height: 21 to 23 inches
Weight: 35 to 50 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized dog, slightly longer than tall with dense, plush double coat ranging from black to white and other colors; erect ears; brown or blue eyes or maybe even one of each color; well-furred tail
Several small, energetic terriers enjoy long runs. If you want a smaller dog as your running partner, consider Jack Russell terriers, Parson Russell terriers, Russell terriers, rat terriers, or wire fox terriers. If you prefer to run with a larger terrier, consider an Airedale terrier.
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Several pointers love to exercise and have the strength, speed, and endurance to make excellent running partners. These breeds include the pointer, German shorthaired pointer, and German wirehaired pointer. These dogs tend to do well in warm and cool temperatures and enjoy long-distance runs.
If shorter, fast-paced runs are your thing, then a sighthound—namely, the greyhound, whippet, borzoi, saluki, Scottish deerhound, and sloughi—may be the perfect running companion for you. Their streamlined bodies are perfectly designed for sprinting and they love it. However, most sighthounds are ultimately more like couch-potatoes than athletes. In general, sighthounds also have very little fat and therefore do not tolerate cold temperatures well.
Breeds to Avoid
Not all dogs are built for regular, routine running (or long runs). Many high-energy dogs such as boxers or pit bulls can make excellent running partners, but do not tolerate frequent runs well. For example, pit-bull type terriers such as American Staffordshire terriers, bull terriers, and Staffordshire bull terriers have a lot of energy but not much endurance or heat tolerance; they are suitable only for short runs in cooler weather.
Avoid running long distances with brachycephalic dogs (dogs with short snouts) such as bulldogs or pugs or other breeds that are sensitive to heat. They can suffer from exhaustion, overheating, and breathing issues. Although there are exceptions, giant dogs or other dogs prone to orthopedic issues can experience joint pain and injuries if they frequently run long distances. Also, small, short-legged dogs such as dachshunds or corgis may have trouble keeping up and can easily tire on long runs.