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There are a lot of different things to consider when deciding which dog breed is best suited for you. One of the most important pieces of advice you’ll hear is to choose a dog that fits your lifestyle. While this might be easy for the average person, an athlete looking for a companion to tackle endurance sports like running, backpacking, and cycling is going to need a dog breed that can keep up physically and mentally.

Fortunately, there are many great breeds to choose from. It should be noted that all dogs should be conditioned to their training, just like humans are. A runner doesn’t go out and run a marathon without any training (at least not without getting injured), so it’s important to remember that our dogs need to work up their physical strength and endurance, as well. That’s another topic for another time, however. Here, we’re just going to help you choose a dog breed that enjoys exercise.

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd chasing a ball in the grass.
©Christian Müller -

The Australian Shepherd, despite its name, was developed as a herding dog in the United States, where you still find it working today. This is a very active, intelligent breed that needs a job to do. They excel in herding and in performance sports such as agility and obedience, but if you’re not a dog trainer and just want a reliable athletic companion, this breed might still be the one for you. This medium-size breed is very social and enjoys getting out, any time, any place.

German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointer head portrait outdoors.
©Studio Porto Sabbia -

The German Shorthaired Pointer is a very active, intelligent dog that was bred for working long hours outdoors. They are all-purpose hunting dogs, used to take quarry on land or in water. Because of their heritage, they’re well-equipped to become the perfect active companion for the athletic owner. The breed thrives on running and other endurance activities. They are friendly and willing to please, making them very promising training partners.

Border Collie

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The Border Collie is one of the most versatile working dogs, still very heavily used as a herding and all-purpose farm dog. They also excel at various dog sports, such as agility and obedience. Border Collies are a popular breed for performance trainers due to their intelligence and energy, but they make great active companions for someone looking for a dog that can keep up during any endurance training. This breed is very affectionate with its owner, but needs a job to do.

Parson Russell Terrier

Parson Russell Terrier head portrait outdoors.

The Parson Russell Terrier may be small, but they’re certainly mighty. This breed is very active, intelligent, and clever. They’re an excellent companion for someone who is looking for a smaller hiking or running companion, as the breed can keep up both physically and mentally to the challenge of endurance training. They’re confident and alert dogs, always ready for any adventure.


Weimaraner dog running in a lake to retrieve a treat bag
©Christian Müller -

The Weimaraner is a German hunting breed, and its background provides the stamina for adventures of any distance. They’re active, intelligent, and fearless dogs, seeing no mountain too small or river too wide. The breed is very social and enjoys spending time with their owner, as well as meeting new friends. They’re energetic, but graceful, and make great exercise companions.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback laying down in the yard.
©Tatiana Katsai -

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a strong, agile dog with deep loyalty to his owner. They’re reserved with strangers, but very affectionate toward their families. The breed is very active, known for their endurance as well as their speed. They make great outdoor companions, regardless of activity, and are a popular choice for runners and backpackers.

Siberian Husky

©sir_j -

The Siberian Husky is known for its sledding heritage—a job it still performs today. They’re very active dogs that need adequate mental and physical stimulation, so they require a lot of exercise. They’re very friendly dogs that enjoy meeting new people and make excellent running and biking partners due to their need to run. Be sure to take care when exercising this breed in warm weather because of their thick coats, but Siberians still enjoy their early morning outings and walks after the sun sets.


Vizsla puppy standing in a field.
Ryan McVay/Getty Images Plus

The Vizsla, a Hungarian hunting dog, is highly affectionate and energetic, wanting nothing more than to spend time exercising with his family. This breed was built for long days outdoors working and make excellent running, backpacking, and biking partners. Endurance is a strong point in this breed, so they need adequate exercise, thus making them a perfect dog for athletes.

Related article: AKC FIT DOG 101: How to Get Started
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Selecting a Puppy

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