A running partner can be the companionship you need for the miles of endless road or trail.
When your motivation to lace up your sneakers and head out for a run isn’t where you’d like it to be, a running partner can provide the boost you need to take on your workout with enthusiasm and commitment.
While some runners turn to their partner or spouse, a neighbor or coworker, or a buddy from their running club, other runners find that when it comes to the ideal running partner, dogs take the cake.
However, not all dogs are destined to be the best running dogs, and distance running can actually be unhealthy for dogs with certain health conditions or of certain builds.
If you’d like to turn your four-legged friend into your running buddy, it’s helpful to know which breeds make the best running dogs. To help you find your next eager running companion, keep reading for our recommendations for the best dogs to run with.
In this guide, we will cover:
- What Makes a Good Running Dog?
- Which Dog Breeds Make the Best Running Dogs?
Let’s dive in!
Running with your dog can be fun and rewarding, and it is a great way to give your dog the exercise he or she needs while checking off that box yourself.
Some runners also feel safer running with a dog, particularly if they’d otherwise be alone.
Let’s begin by checking out the specific traits that make up the best running dogs to see if your pooch is ready to tag along on your next run!
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What Makes a Good Running Dog?
When it comes to choosing dogs that make the best running companions, in many ways, it’s less about specific dog breeds and more about specific traits of the dog.
To be a good running dog, your canine companion needs the right blend of physical and mental characteristics that match your running style. For example, some dogs are better suited for short, fast runs, while other dog breeds are more inclined to longer distance runs.
Here are six traits to consider when trying to find good running dogs:
#1: Leg Length
Dogs with very short legs, such as Chihuahuas and Dachshunds, are never going to be good running dogs simply because you’ll exhaust their short legs within a matter of blocks. Greyhounds and Salukis, in contrast, have long legs to better match your stride.
#2: Body Size
This trait is a bit of a Goldilocks situation. Dogs that are too small won’t be up to keeping pace with you given their short legs. Large, heavy dogs may not be the best running dogs either, as their weight and size can put excessive stress on their joints should they be running weekly mileage with you.
Dogs over 80 pounds are prone to joint problems later in life, so distance running can cause premature wear and tear on their hips and knees, especially if they run on pavement.
#3: Bone Structure
Just as humans have various biomechanical abnormalities, such as leg length discrepancies, hip rotation, etc., dogs can have structural issues.
Speak with your vet about your dog’s joint health and structure, including hips, knees, ankles, and back to ensure your canine buddy doesn’t have biomechanical issues or injury risk factors.
Some dog breeds are prone to hip dysplasia, and dogs with long bodies, such as Dachshunds, frequently experience back issues. Running can exacerbate any structural issues with your pup.
#4: Snout Length
Dogs with a flat snout, such as Boxers, Pugs, and Bulldogs, do not make good running dogs because their flat snout inhibits breathing and panting, both of which are physiologically required when you take them running.
Panting is the way that dogs cool themselves off. Therefore, running can be dangerous for a dog with a flat snout because it cannot cool itself adequately.
#5: Coat Thickness and Texture
Dogs with long, thick coats will have difficulty cooling their body when running in the heat. If you want your dog to be a year-round running buddy, the coat should be short and not particularly warm.
#6: Energy and Interest
Your dog’s energy level and interest in running are also key traits to consider when determining which dogs make the best running dogs. Your dog’s desire to run and running potential should match your objectives and training needs.
Some dogs like to run off-leash but feel trapped and unmotivated once you tether them. Other dogs have the attention span to whirl around the neighborhood or trails for 2-3 miles at top speed but have no interest in hanging back with you at a plodding pace for 10 miles.
Either way, you don’t want to be pulling your furry friend about making it a frustrating experience for you both.
Which Dog Breeds Make the Best Running Dogs?
Although there are certainly exceptions to this list in both directions—dogs of other breeds that are fantastic running buddies and “running dog breeds” that can’t hang with you for a single mile—in general, the following dog breeds tend to be the best dogs to run with.
Weimaraners may have been popularized by William Wegman’s iconic photographic portraits of these beautiful, majestic-looking dogs doing everyday human activities, but this attractive breed also makes an excellent running dog.
Weimaraners have that ideal, Goldilocks body size, a strong, muscular build, short coat, and long legs, giving them the physical characteristics of a good distance running dog.
They are also very energetic and have a strong desire to be active for long stretches of time, especially when in the company of their owner. Sounds like Wegman’s next portrait may be your Weimaraner in a running singlet and running shoes.
Dalmations are great dogs for longer distances. With their long legs, athletic bodies, and short coat, they have impressive stamina for longer runs. However, they are larger dogs, so asphalt and concrete can be hard on their joints, so opt for softer surfaces, like the trails, if possible.
So perhaps there isn’t a compendium of artful photographs of these dogs sitting at tea parties or working in offices, and they haven’t starred alongside 100 of their peers in a Disney film, but what Vizslas may lack in clout or name recognition, they more than make up for in their running prowess.
Vizslas make good running dogs given their muscular yet slender build and medium frame. They are very energetic and have naturally impressive stamina. Another perk is that this dog breed has a wonderfully sleek coat, perfect for getting in mileage in warmer climates.
As hunting dogs, Vizslas also love to run fast, so if you’re a competitive runner looking to push the pace, this might be a good running dog breed for you.
Known for racing, greyhounds can also be wonderful family dogs and off-track running companions. They have a perfect build and are energetic and keen to have “work” to do. They are also the fastest dogs in the world, reaching speeds of up to 45 miles per hour. It will be quite a task just to keep up!
Related to the Greyhound, these slender, graceful dogs are built to run. Salukis thrive on daily exercise and can handle warmer climates with ease. They are known as the second-fastest dog in the world, so if you’re looking for companionship during those speed workouts, this is the dog for you.
#6: Rhodesian Ridgeback
One of the best dog breeds for longer runs due to their powerful legs, graceful running gait, and strong cardiovascular system are Rhodesian Ridgebacks. They love to run even if it’s your Sunday long run on a dreary November morning. They just want to be out there!
#7: German Shorthaired Pointer
Another good running dog for faster runners who still want a dog with the endurance and stamina to keep at it for longer runs is the German Shorthaired Pointer.
This active breed loves running, has boundless energy, and typically loves spending time exercising with its companion.
#8: English Springer Spaniel
This smaller breed loves to exercise, particularly with owners, and can keep up for longer or shorter runs. Their energetic personality and history of being a working pup make them excellent running companions.
This being said, you will find dogs of these particular “running dog breeds” that prefer to be curled up next to you for most of the day and simply take a leisurely walk every now and again.
In contrast, there are many exceptions of dogs that may not have the expected running traits, but that bound up and down the hills with ease and happiness looking back at us with impatience for us to catch up. The most important thing is that they are happy, healthy, and safe while doing so.
If you are interested in testing out how your furry friend will measure up on the road or trails, check our very own How To Run With Your Dog: On And Offleash Run Training Guide.