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A good running partner is crucial to your success, so it's no wonder many athletes choose to run with their dog. Running with your dog can be a fun and exciting experience, improving your bond while benefiting your health and theirs. Dogs are companion animals who make great running partners and can help you stay motivated, whether working out to improve your health or training for a marathon. However, some dog breeds are better running partners than others.
The best running dogs are easily trainable and know how to behave in public. Other factors that can determine if a dog is your ideal running partner are their age and overall health. For example, seniors and puppies shouldn't go on long runs. In addition, when looking for the best dogs to run with, you must consider certain traits like obedience, build, intelligence, and athleticism. Luckily, we're here to help. If you're a running enthusiast looking for the best running partner, keep reading to learn about the best running breeds.
What Makes A Good Running Dog?
Any dog can become a good running partner if you're willing to take the time to train them. However, some dogs are more easily trained than others and behave better on walks. Good running dogs have a few characteristics in common, including the following:
- Obedience and intelligence: If you want your dog to become a good running partner, you must invest in quality training, including obedience training. Otherwise, your dog could see a squirrel or another dog and try to pull you while on a leash, which can be dangerous for both of you. Therefore, before you start looking for a dog to adopt, consider how easy they are to train. Of course, we believe all dogs are trainable, but some are naturally more intelligent and easy-going than others. For example, Border Collies are highly intelligent and trainable, while miniature pinschers are known to be more stubborn.
- Endurance: As an avid runner, you probably like to run many miles daily. While most healthy adult dogs should be able to keep up with you, some won't be able to. Not all dogs have endurance right away, so you might have to train them slowly over time the same way you trained your own body. There are many working dog breeds that are bred specifically for their endurance, which helps them stay active for many hours per day.
- Age and health: A dog's age and overall health can help you determine whether they'll be a good running partner. For example, puppy' joints are still developing and can be vulnerable to injury.1 Meanwhile, senior dogs can still enjoy running but might tire quickly. Additionally, older dogs are more prone to arthritis and other conditions, making vigorous exercise painful.
- Capabilities: While most dogs love spending time outside, not all want to be active. Some breeds can't tolerate hot or cold weather, while others should not exercise vigorously. For example, dogs with short coats likely won't want to spend too much time outside in cold weather. Meanwhile, some breeds can't engage in too much activity because it can affect their breathing ability. For example, brachycephalic short-faced dogs, like pugs or bulldogs may have trouble breathing during intense exercise, so they won't make great running partners.
5 Best Dog Breeds For Runners
If having a running partner is important for you when adopting a dog, you should consider which breeds match your active lifestyle. While there are plenty of laid back and lazy dogs, some require intense physical and mental exercise to reduce excess energy and prevent destructive behavior. Some of the best running dogs include the following breeds:
Vizslas are a Hungarian sporting breed originally bred as hunting dogs to retrieve game before becoming field dogs. They are ideal hunting dogs because they're highly energetic and intelligent, easily trainable, and enjoy exercise.2 They also form tight bonds with their human companions and excel at sports and outdoor activities, like agility training and running.
In addition to running on-leash, Vizslas can benefit from running off-leash as fast as possible to expel excess energy. That said, this breed may be prone to hip dysplasia, which can be worsened by running, so you should monitor their well-being while on runs to ensure they're not experiencing any pain.
Additionally, you should feed them a high-quality diet appropriate for their life stage.2 If your dog engages in long running sessions, you may have to feed them more calories throughout the day. If you're unsure how much to feed your active Vizsla, consult your vet for feeding guidelines and nutrition advice.
Many pet parents often compare the Vizsla vs. Weimaraner because they look similar. While they're both friendly and obedient, there are a few key differences. For example, Weimaraners are slightly larger and have a shorter lifespan. However, like the Vizsla, Weimaraners are a sporting breed that are affectionate with family, highly adaptable, and easy to train.3
This breed is high energy, so they require tons of mental and physical exercise, which they can get by running, jumping, and playing. Since they're an active breed, they can easily get injured on runs, and many experience scrapes and sprains.3 Therefore, you should always monitor your dog while running with them. If you notice any limping, stop running immediately to take them home so they can rest.
Since Weimaraners have high exercise requirements, they need consistent physical activity every day, but they love going for runs. Of course, ensure they're trained before you take them on a run because they prefer to run as fast and hard as possible, which might mean pulling you along.
Greyhounds are racing dogs, so it's no wonder they make good running dogs. This breed is highly independent and active, but they're not often open to strangers and can be difficult to train.4 Greyhounds are sighthounds that were developed to chase game by sight instead of scent, so they're independent and prefer to make their own decisions regarding training.4 Since Greyhounds aren't as friendly as other dogs on this list, they should be socialized as soon as possible to prevent reactivity towards people and other dogs.
While Greyhounds are generally healthy, they're prone to bloat because they have deep chests. Since eating before vigorous exercise can contribute to bloat, consider providing your dog ample time between eating and going for a run to prevent the stomach from enlarging or twisting.
Many of the best running dogs are large breeds originally bred for hunting, sports, and fieldwork. However, if you're looking for a small breed that's a little easier to control outside, you might consider the Russell Terrier. These dogs are affectionate with family, playful, and highly energetic, so running is one of the best ways to reduce boredom and prevent destructive behavior.5
Unfortunately, these small dogs for runners aren't as eager to please as others on this list. Many first-time pet parents have difficulty training their Russell Terrier because they appear stubborn. However, providing ample exercise can reduce unwanted behavior and help them focus more while training. This breed is ideal for active families who love running or long daily walks because they have a limitless amount of energy.
Unfortunately, as hunting dogs, Russel Terriers have a strong prey drive, making them prone to chasing animals outside during a run. Therefore, you must invest sufficient time in training to prevent them from trying to run off or pulling on their leashes.
The Border Collie can make a great addition to your home if you're looking for a medium-sized running dog. Border Collies are affectionate with family, but they should be socialized early to prevent issues with children and other dogs.6 Since they're a working breed, they have lots of energy and are playful, so they'll enjoy going for a long daily run.
Border Collies are typically easy to train and willing to learn new things, so as long as you're committed to training your running partner, they'll help you stay motivated. Since these dogs were bred to herd, they're highly athletic and require more exercise than a walk around the block. Instead, they prefer to have a job and need vigorous exercise every day.6 Because of this, they're not ideal for first-time pet parents and instead require an active family that enjoys spending time outside.
Border Collies are generally healthy but may be prone to hip dysplasia, which can result in lameness in the hind legs or difficulty walking.6 Since hip dysplasia is genetic, you should ensure the breeder or shelter has done all of the necessary screening before you bring a pet home.
Can any dog become a running dog?
Every dog has the potential to become a good running partner with the proper training. However, you should consider your dog's temperament and breed since vigorous activity may not be healthy for them. In addition to breed, your dog's age will also play a role in whether you should take them running. Before you start running with your dog, have them examined by a vet to ensure they aren't experiencing any health conditions that can worsen with physical activity.
How do I train my dog to run with me?
Before you can train your dog to run with you, you must ensure they know how to walk on a leash. Remember, the leash shouldn't be pulled tight; instead, there should be slack in the leash with your dog walking next to you before they start running beside you.7 If your dog has a habit of pulling or trying to chase animals, they're not ready to start running, and you should go back to the basics to help them learn how to walk on a leash.
Keep them on one side when running with your dog to prevent them from weaving and tripping you. In addition, you should start with a slow running pace or jog and reward them for good behavior. If your dog hasn't engaged in vigorous exercise before, consider building their endurance over time to prevent strained muscles or potential injury.
What dog breeds are not the best for running?
While most dogs can be trained to be great running partners, not all breeds are good runners. Some breeds should not engage in vigorous exercise. For example, brachycephalic dogs may be better sprinters, but since they can have breathing difficulties in warm and cold weather, they shouldn't engage in long-distance running.7 Meanwhile, other breeds have a strong prey drive and won't be easily trained to run, making them more likely to chase rabbits or squirrels, which can lead to pulling and injury.
Meanwhile, other breeds may be more prone to anxiety and fear-based reactivity. If your dog barks and lunges at people and other dogs while on a walk or run, long-distance running might not be for them because it can cause worsened anxiety and lead to aggression, unless you can find a quiet place where you can avoid their triggers, like a less populated path to reduce opportunities for reactivity.
Of course, every dog is different, so while breed may affect whether your dog can run with you, there are several other factors to consider, such as age, temperament, and overall health, to find the best dog to run with. Therefore, before you start running with your dog, it's always a good idea to have them examined by a vet and get advice on caring for active dogs while on runs.
We believe there's a dog for every type of pet parent. Whether you’re more of a home- or apartment-body or prefer to stay active, you can find a dog to fit your lifestyle. Runners and active pet parents can benefit from working breeds with high energy levels and intelligence, making them easy to train and athletic. However, every dog is different. Whether your dog can run depends on various factors, such as age, health, temperament, and training level.Talk to a Dutch vet today to determine if running is healthy for your dog. Our online vet service puts you in contact with a licensed vet who can review your dog's health history and determine if they'd make a good running partner.
Anastasio, Alexandra. "Best Running Dogs: Breeds That Could Keep up with You." American Kennel Club, 6 June 2018, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/best-running-dogs/.
Kriss, Randa. "Vizsla Dog Breed Information." American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/vizsla/.
Kriss, Randa. “Weimaraner Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/weimaraner/.
Paulenoff, Simon. "Greyhound Dog Breed Information." American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/greyhound/.
Greenberg, Aurora. "Russell Terrier Dog Breed Information." American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/russell-terrier/.
Kriss, Randa. “Border Collie Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/border-collie/.
Stephanie Gibeault, MSc. "How to Train Your Dog to Run with You: Running with Dogs Tips & Tricks." American Kennel Club, 12 Apr. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/how-to-train-your-dog-to-run-with-you/.