Are you a dog lover who runs? In this article, we list 9 of the best dogs to go running with. Woof!
For runners who want a companion but without the conversation, the perfect running buddy may have four legs, not two. If you’re adopting a dog as an experienced runner, you need to choose the right dog to adapt to your routine.
If you’re adopting a dog to help kick-start a new running habit, you need to choose a dog that will grow with you as you progress toward your running goals.
Of course, all dogs are different. Many greyhounds are couch potatoes, and there are some noteworthy chihuahua, pug, and pitbull athletes. You need to factor in a dog’s individual temperament, age, health, and the environment it was raised in, not just its breed.
You also need to consider factors other than running. After all, you’re adopting a best friend for life, not buying a new pair of running shoes.
That said, the breed can play a role in helping you find a dog with the physical and mental qualities you want in a running partner. Here are the nine best dog breeds for runners, to keep up and motivate you.
1. Top Dog Overall: Vizsla
The Vizsla is an extraordinary running dog that shines in nearly every category. They have strength, agility, endurance, and speed. They can run a marathon, and top out at a remarkable forty miles per hour. The Visla has a light coat, which reduces overheating and rarely snags burrs.
Originally hunting dogs, the Vizsla can be trained to run off-leash. Dogs of this breed are so reliable when it comes to sticking with their owner they earned the nickname Velcro Vizsla.
Vizslas balance protective tendencies with a gentle temperament, so they have what it takes to run with equal ease through bad neighborhoods and parks crowded with children.
2. Top Dog for Running in the Country: Dalmatian
Dalmatians' speed and endurance were bred into them so they could run alongside 17th century English carriages, for protection against highwaymen. This history of horse-friendliness makes them a good running partner for country roads where they may pass livestock or get passed by an Amish horse and buggy.
Dalmatians are great runners all-around. They max out at 37 miles per hour, but they are also game for a dozen-mile run. They do better on dirt roads than concrete because they tend to land hard.
3. Top Dog for Running in the Suburbs: Labrador Retriever
Labs are great runners generally, energetic with a great attitude. It is important to limit the lengths of their runs on hard surfaces to avoid problems with their hips and other joints as they age.
One Lab quality that is an asset or a liability, depending on your point of view, is their friendliness. Labrador Retrievers are the perfect dog breed if your favorite route takes you by schools and parks and you aren’t in too much of a hurry. A running Lab is not likely to frighten anyone, and if you slow to a walk you might make a few new friends.
4. Top Dog for Running in the City: Standard Poodle
Some runners need a canine companion who is bombproof, and the Standard Poodle fits the bill. Are honking horns the soundtrack to your run?
Do you run on a roadside with no sidewalk and frequent traffic? Do you pass a pond with ducks, and lots of other walkers? Standard Poodles are excellent running companions for environments where you want your dog to be focused and attentive to your commands.
Poodles’ aloof intelligence and natural trainability make them the perfect dog for high-distraction running routes. They aren’t the best sprinters but have lots of energy for long moderate speed runs. They are relatively easy to train not to pull or drag on the leash.
5. Top Dog for Motivation: Australian Cattle Dog
Let’s be honest, some of us need a running buddy more for the motivation than for the company. If you hate running and need a dog to keep you going, the Australian Cattle Dog will herd you. They are fast, hardworking dogs who love to go the distance and get the job done.
Teach them your route, and they won’t let you take shortcuts. They are used to working farm life, running sunup to sundown, so they won’t tolerate any excuses.
Australian Cattle Dogs, like all working dogs, need strenuous daily exercise and mental stimulation. Their tendency to destroy your property if cooped up for too long will be all the motivation you need to keep your resolution to run every day.
To avoid dogs with hip and leg problems, look for an Australian Cattle Dog mixed breed, rather than buying a purebred from a breeder.
6. Top Dog for Marathon Training: German Shorthaired Pointer
The German Shorthaired Pointer breed has a great balance of energy and endurance, making it a great running dog in any environment. Owners joke that it’s “impossible to run out a GSP.” The breed has a medium build and light coat that contributes to its endurance by reducing overheating.
The GSP’s hunting dog background means they love trail running. This background also makes them easy and fun to train (for example to retrieve objects thrown in the water). However, they need lots of daily exercise and without good training, their prey drive could be an issue in areas with cats, squirrels, or other distractions.
7. Top Dog for Cold Weather: Siberian Husky
It’s no surprise that a Siberian Husky, bred for cold weather work, makes a great running companion if you live in a cold and snowy climate. Their coats are two layers thick, keeping them well insulated during long-distance runs in any weather. Of course, that means you need to be careful about overheating in the summer and in warmer climates.
They are loyal pack animals and very friendly with strangers you may pass on your run.
Huskies were bred for speed and endurance, ideal for pulling light freight across the tundra. A well-trained husky should be able to keep up with your running routine. However, they tend to run off, so they're a bad choice for an off-leash companion.
8. Top Dog for Running Off-Leash: Border Collie
Border Collies never seem to run out of energy, so running them will help reduce their tendency to destroy furniture. They are agile and sure-footed on any terrain, making them a joy to watch darting around on trails. Best of all, a Border Collie is one of the most reliable off-leash dogs, if well-trained. All in all, this is a perfect dog for wilderness runs.
9. Top Dog for Small Runners: Jack Russell Terrier
If you like to run hard, but a large dog is too much to handle, a Jack Russell Terrier is perfect. It is a real challenge to find the limit of a Jack Russel’s energy. They may have short legs, but they can keep up as long as you want to go, with appropriate water and rest breaks.
Jack Russells thrive on strenuous daily exercise. Their size means they aren’t the fastest dogs, but they can go for miles. However, they do have a strong prey drive, so they require firm and patient training.
The Final Word on the Best Dogs to Go Running With
With so many great breeds, it’s clear that regardless of whether you want a dog companion to run fast or slow, long or short, urban or rural, on- or off-leash, there is a dog out there that is perfectly suited to your running habit. If multiple breeds appeal to you that’s great, just look for mixed breeds including those types.
Don’t forget that dog temperament is a product of both nature and nurture and is individual. In a recent viral tweet a runner shamed a screener who turned her down for a puppy by explaining that the puppy was “not at all suitable for active [life such as] running and hiking.”
Nobody knows better than the adopter what lifestyle will suit a particular dog. If a dog’s previous caretakers say a dog is a couch potato, pick another dog even if it’s in a suitable breed.
While all dogs will benefit from training and slowing ramping up to a high-mileage lifestyle, it’s best to start with a dog that is a good energetic fit. There are countless good boys and good girls out there, mutts and purebreds, who would love to run with you.