Written by Ella White
Running is great exercise for both humans and dogs, so if you’re regularly out hitting the road, trail, or track, you might have considered getting a four-legged companion who can join in with you. Running is a great way for dogs and owners to bond and spend quality time together – plus it ticks off two tasks in one: your daily exercise, and theirs.
Like owning a dog and dog walking, running is known to promote mental health, as well as reaping many physical health benefits too. And while there are some breeds that are too small, slow, or simply disinterested to join in with a running owner, there are others that will leap at the chance – literally.
Here we will look at the 11 best dogs for runners, the kinds of running each breed is best suited to, and things to consider before running with your pet.
The most important thing to understand before you start running with your dog is their own capabilities. Are they suited to running on your favored terrain? Can they tolerate the climate or the current weather? What is their fitness level like?
It’s advised that dogs are eased into your running routine at a slow pace, gradually upping the speed and distance over weeks and months. It’s also important that your dog is thoroughly obedience trained and socialized before running with you, as instant recall and reduced risk of distractions will make it easier to keep your dog safe while running.
Puppies should never go on a run with their humans as their joints are not fully developed and are prone to damage which can affect their growth and delay their development. Larger breeds shouldn’t run on concrete until they’re at least 18 years old, as hard surfaces can cause injury especially to young bones and joints.
Similarly, senior dogs with weakening muscles and bones should not go on long or strenuous runs, even if they still want to. Overexertion can put unnecessary pressure on aging joints.
Though any individual dog could make a brilliant running partner – while others much prefer to lounge on the sofa – these 11 breeds all love to be active outdoors, which can make them excellent companions for keen runners.
The energetic Aussie is a super smart breed which means mental stimulation is key to their physical health, too. Taking an Australian Shepherd on a run with you is a great way to blow off some of that excessive energy they have, and since they’re athletic and agile they’ll do well on most terrains.
Their thick, double coat means Aussies are happy to run long distances in colder conditions, but avoid too much snow as it can get matted in their long fur and between their pads.
Boxers have been used as delivery dogs sending messages across battlefields, and as hunting dogs that are fast and agile enough to hunt down game as big as bison. So running with you will feel like nice, gentle exercise by comparison!
You’ve probably noticed that your Boxer can be prone to zoomies, where they release masses of pent up energy in quick, explosive bursts around the house or garden. A better use for this energy? Out on the trail. But since Boxers are a brachycephalic breed with a flat face, running in hot conditions should be avoided to prevent overheating and trouble breathing.
Dalmatians love to run. Strong, athletic, and great and long distances, they make brilliant companions that can even keep pace with a horse. So a long, steady run with their human will be no challenge at all.
Bear in mind that because Dalmatians are large, they can be quite heavy footed. This means they’re better suited to softer terrains like fields and trails where they won’t do so much damage to their joints or feet.
The energetic Fox Terrier loves to run after just about anything, from balls to smaller animals. So taking them out on your daily run is a great way to fulfill their exercise needs, and sate their appetite for the chase.
Because the Fox Terrier has a short coat, they’re able to run in warmer temperatures than other dogs that have thicker, more insulating fur. Just make sure they’re trained to return to you in an instant, or you could easily lose your Fox Terrier in pursuit of its quarry.
Hunting dogs make great runners because they can maintain steady speeds at a much faster pace than humans. So while it might feel like they’re leading you at some points, the German Shorthaired Pointer is one of the best dogs to take out on a run.
Fast, energetic, and with great stamina, they love spending time outdoors. So owners of Pointers can easily meet their dog’s high exercise needs by taking them running. They have the agility to run on both trails and roads, the speed to keep up with bikes, and the stamina to run further than 10 miles at a time.
Whilst the Greyhound is notorious for their speed, it’s in response to their prey drive. Easily reaching speeds of 45mph, this dog is best suited to short bursts of speed rather than long distance running. Unlike most breeds on this list, the Greyhound doesn’t actually need loads of exercise so a half an hour run will probably do them for the day.
The Greyhound is a real people dog though and most will develop a very strong bond with their favorite humans. Unfortunately, this bond doesn’t override their prey drive so keep them on a lead when out for a run (unless you can match their 45mph on foot!) until you know their recall is beyond reproach.
Both Labradors and Labrador Retrievers love running with their owners. Both breeds are high energy, and have the ability to run up to 10K at a steady pace. For faster runs, they can manage shorter distances. So if you like to mix up your routine with both quick 5Ks and slower distance runs, Retrievers are the perfect companions.
Because they love to please their owners, and have their origins in hunting, Retrievers are easy to train and can usually be trusted to obey their owners while out running on roads or trails.
Originally bred to pull sleds for long distances across the snow, the Husky is the snowmobile of the dog world. Easily running 25 miles or more in one run, this breed will be more than happy to accompany you on your 10k. Although they can be prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, it’s not quite to the extent of their larger sled dog cousins, the Malamutes.
Like many other dogs on this list, the Husky has a very high prey drive so running on a leash is advisable. Luckily, it’s in their nature to run whilst attached to their companions so they’ll soon understand and you’ll be unlikely to be tripped up.
Originally an African lion hunter, the impressive Rhodesian Ridgeback is made for long, steady runs and can even endure higher temperatures than other breeds. Strong and athletic, they have a large yet natural stride that helps them to cover long distances efficiently, and a short coat that prevents overheating.
So if you love a long, summer run the Rhodesian Ridgeback will happily do it by your side. As a breed that needs plenty of exercise, running with your dog is one of the easier ways to keep Rhodesian Ridgebacks active both mentally and physically.
When it comes to athletic dogs, the Vizsla is the best all-rounder. They can run long and steady, short and fast, on trails, on roads, in the heat, in the cold… Whatever you’re out to achieve, the versatile Vizsla can do it with you.
Their strong, athletic body, long-legged gait, and sleek coat makes it easy for Vizslas to run in almost any conditions. And since they need at least an hour of exercise every day, taking them out on your daily run is a no-brainer.
Almost everything about the Wiemeraner’s personality makes them great running partners: they love to be with their owners, they need huge amounts of physical and mental stimulation, they’re great athletes that can run long and steady or quick and fast, and they love to work and play to keep active.
Muscular, smart, energetic, and agile, the Weimaraner is known to be able to traverse tricky terrains. They’re confident and easily trained. And their short coat means they can deal with both cold and warmer climates. If you’re a runner looking for a four-legged companion, you could do much worse than a Weimaraner.