Running can be great cardiovascular exercise for humans, but it can also be an excellent way for dogs that are in good health to have some fun while spending quality time with their owner. Running can help maintain weight, improve muscle tone, and build endurance, and it can also be beneficial for mental health while offering an outlet for your dog’s energy.
Certain dog breeds can tolerate different weather, surface conditions, and distances better than others, so it’s important to take into consideration your individual dog’s capabilities. Always be sure to talk with your veterinarian and have a physical checkup to ensure that running is a safe activity for your dog.
Your dog’s age is a critical consideration when thinking about running as an activity to share. Puppies should never be taken for a run, as their bones and joints are still developing. Because their bodies aren’t fully developed yet, taking puppies out for a run could cause real orthopedic damage. Medium-to-large breed dogs (and mixed-breeds) shouldn’t be allowed to run on hard surfaces like concrete or black top until they are at least 18 months old. Given that some dogs mature slower than others, check with your veterinarian to make sure your individual dog is ready to start running with you.
For senior dogs, it’s key to assess their individual fitness level, and consult your veterinarian for advice. As dogs age, even if they still enjoy running, they may need you to make sure that distances, surfaces, environments, and temperatures are appropriate and modified for them. “Dogs age quickly, and just because your dog ran fine last year doesn’t mean he is up for the task this year,” says Russell Hartstein, a certified behaviorist and dog trainer in Los Angeles. Listen to your older dog if they are showing you that they’d rather go for a brisk walk instead of an arduous hike. At the same time, your senior dog may show you that they really, really want to go for that trail run with you, but it’s still up to you as a responsible dog owner to help them balance having fun with a favorite activity and making modifications in distance or duration to support their older bodies and avoid unintentionally causing them harm.
Based on certain qualities, such as endurance, obedience, build, strength, athleticism, and intelligence, we’ve picked a list of dog breeds that can make good running partners. But please remember, you need to look at your individual dog (in collaboration with your veterinarian) to decide if running is a good fit for them. If you’re deciding on a dog breed that might make a great future running companion, use this list as a starting point for your research.
Highly energetic, this medium, well-muscled breed is great for long, steady runs. Weimaraners are active and intelligent, with a strong desire to work and play for long stretches of time — preferably with their owner.
Strong, active, and athletic, this breed has great stamina. Dalmatians love exercise and could keep up with a fast runner. (They ran beside horse-drawn carriages in their original purpose as a coach dog, so their stamina and endurance is legendary.) These dogs tend to pound the pavement, so it’s best to stick to soft trails for long distances.
With its sleek, red coat, this breed has no trouble running in warmer climates. Eager and graceful, their impressive stamina of a Vizsla makes them ideal jogging companions. Chock-full of energy, these robust, medium-sized hunting dogs enjoy vigorous daily exercise.
German Shorthaired Pointer
This energetic breed possesses speed, but also has the build needed to go on a higher-mileage run. German Shorthaired Pointers thrive with plenty of healthy exercise, and love spending time outdoors with their human companions.
Fast and powerful athletes, this breed loves to run. The Rhodesian Ridgeback‘s natural gait and internal engine make them the perfect companion for longer distances.
English Springer Spaniel
Bred to work closely with humans and eager to join in on family activities, English Springer Spaniels crave exercise and mental stimulation on a regular basis.
Muscular, fast, and powerful, these dogs love vigorous, daily exercise along with stimulating mental challenges. Bred to be working dogs, Doberman Pinschers have the energy needed to keep up with runners.
These energetic dogs not only enjoy exercise, but the American Foxhound‘s short, easy-care coats make them adaptable to both warm- and cold-weather outdoor activities.
Don’t let their elegant appearance fool you. The Saluki is one of the fastest dog breeds in the world. These dogs are highly adaptable and can live in any climate. Daily exercise is essential to keep them physically and mentally fit.
This loyal, hard-working breed is strong, well-muscled, and has the ability to run long distances in different weather conditions and on various types of terrain. Belgian Malinois are also happiest when they’re with their owners. They aren’t a dog breed that’s well-suited for a first-time dog owner, as they need not only plenty of physical exercise, but plenty of mental stimulation to be happy and healthy.
Before you bring your dog out for a run, always consider their health. And make sure to bring plenty of water to keep them (and you!) hydrated, no matter how short the distance.