Best Dog Breeds for Runners

Which Dog Can Keep the Pace?

Are you looking for the perfect canine running partner? You might be surprised to learn that not all dogs are built to endure the physical or mental requirements for running. In fact, some dogs — especially short-nosed or flat-faced breeds like pugs, boxers, bulldogs, Shih Tzu and Chihuahuas — can suffer from life-threatening heat stroke due to running.

It’s also wise to keep in mind that dogs reach their peak of ability by 12 months of age. Running with puppies should be closely monitored and kept to a minimum.

So which dog breeds have the capability to keep up with runners? Professional dog trainer and marathoner JT Clough and veterinarian Eliabeth Devitt co-wrote “5K Training Guide Running with Dogs,” which notes top running breeds categorized by types of running.

Long Distance Runners

For those running distances at a steady pace that exceed 10 miles, dogs with a medium build are best suited as your running partner:

  • German shorthaired pointers
  • Jack Russell terriers
  • Vizslas
  • Weimaraners

Slow Distance Runners

If you like to run long distance, but do so at a slow pace, then a large breed dog may be ideal for you. The key is taking it slow as larger breed dogs can get tired faster:

  • Catahoulas
  • Dalmatians
  • Labrador retrievers
  • Standard poodles

Short Distance Runners

Beagle running

Prefer a brisk, short run? Then take one of these lean, muscular dog breeds with you; each has the ability to sprint:

  • Beagles
  • English setters
  • Golden retrievers
  • Greyhounds
  • Labrador retrievers
  • Pit bulls

Speedy Runners

If you can run a mile in seven minutes or less, then each of these dog breeds has the mental and physical means to keep up with you:

  • German shorthaired pointers
  • Greyhounds
  • Vizslas
  • Weimaraners
  • Whippets

Trail Runners

Weimaraner and Vizsla

Dog breeds with the sure-footed tenacity to keep up with you on trails with obstacles include:

  • Belgian sheepdogs
  • Border collies
  • German shorthaired pointers
  • Vizslas
  • Weimaraners

Remember, there’s no “perfect” dog breed built for running; keep your dog hydrated while running and watch for any indication that he is tired or may be suffering from an injury.

Be especially cautious during high temperature days — heat stroke and dehydration can be fatal for dogs. During colder climates, trails, pavement or asphalt can become slippery or iced over and your dog can suffer from serious injuries to the pads of his paws.