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Best Running Dogs: Our List of the Best Breeds for Running

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A dog truly is a man’s (or woman’s) best friend and this includes when you are looking for a potential running buddy. If you are considering adopting a pet to run with you there are many things to take into consideration. First and foremost you should realize that some breeds of dogs are more adept at running than others. In this article, we will cover the best running dogs that are typically known for making excellent running partners.

Best Running Dogs

If looking for a pooch to be a running buddy, you should analyze what kind of running you tend to engage in. Are you looking for a long or short run friend?

Long Runs

Christina Schloegel on best running dogs
Christina Schloegel and Omni, Menominee, MI

As one would expect, some breeds of dogs score high on the running buddy list. Topping the list of most running experts is the Weimaraner. These dogs are medium sized with beautiful muscle definition and they seem tireless if trained to run alongside their person.  A breed that requires a lot of exercise and mental stimulation, a Weimaraner is a natural running companion.

Holly Ann and Jasper
Holly Ann and Jasper

A German Shorthair Pointer is another excellent choice if looking for a running buddy. Another medium size dog, this hunter is in it for the long haul. Quick, durable and highly intelligent, this pup is likely to love to run and hold up to a lot of different weather.

Jessica Rupp and Asta
Jessica Rupp and Asta (Hungarian Vizsla)

Rupp & Asta of Wamego, Kansas have run several half marathons and are currently training for a full marathon together. Rupp refers to Asia as her “coach.” 

Vizsla’s are well known runners. Since they are known for both long, slow running and speed work, this guy can accompany you on anything from a short fartlek run to a long run.  Fairly small with short, sleek fur, they also are good to go in heat (of course, you should always listen to the cues of your dog’s body). Experts say that vizsla’s need at least an hour of intense exercise each day.

Surprising some people, Russel Terriers are high on the list of good runners. These little guys are small and tend to be very rambunctious. Since their lineage and history go back to training as hunters, you need to be sure you train your terrier to focus on running so as not to get distracted by sniffs and distractions. Of course, that is true of all dogs. The better you train them the better running buddies they will make.

Short Runs

Since they are bred for racetracks, greyhounds are great for short runs. If you adopt a retired greyhound anticipating a running buddy, bear in mind that they are best for short spurts. A greyhound might make a great companion for someone who loves to do run/walk intervals!

Elysa Springer & Trinket
Elysa Springer & Trinket

Elysa Springer volunteers with the Harrisburg Humane Society. Before covid, she volunteered and would make a habit out of picking a shelter dog to train with. These dogs inevitably ended up being adopted. This is Springer post race with Trinket (a pit bull) who went from shelter dog to happy house pet. Springer is quick to add, “Bully breeds get a bad rap.”

A very misunderstood and unfairly judged dog, the pit bull is a great running friend. You should not expect a pit to run long, but since they are playful and full of energy they will make an excellent company on short runs.

Family Dogs and Runners

When looking for a dog that not only makes an excellent family dog but also is likely to enjoy exercise and running, a retriever could be your answer. Mellow, smart, eager to please, breeds that also love to cuddle and play, both Labrador and Golden Retrievers are excellent house pets and companions.

Retrievers are considered easy to train and loyal to a fault, these guys can be either short or long run buddies. If looking for a Labrador retriever long running buddy, the American (or field) breed tends to be taller or lanker and may be more adept at the long haul. On the other hand, the English Lab tends to have a stockier build and blockier head, and may be more equipped for shorter runs.

Golden retrievers are sweet, gentle and will enjoy trotting alongside you just to be by your side. To be truthful, some like to run long and some prefer a shorter trot. Start your golden young (but not too young!) and keep him or her in running shape, pay attention to hot weather and you are likely to have a running buddy for a long time.

Sarah DiDomizio & Eva
Sarah DiDomizio & Eva

Sarah DiDomizio (Albany, NY)and her 8 month old German Shepherd Eva are currently in the phase where they are training to run together. Due to the pup’s age, DiDomizio runs her dog in short spurts. Running a young dog too far, too fast, too early can have devastating consequences. Mindful of this, DiDomizio is taking it slow and careful as she trains her best friend. 

German Shepherds are known as excellent family and working dogs. They love to run but their owners need to be extra careful in warm temps. These dogs have more guts than good sense when it comes to their desire to run!

Alex Dever
Photo Credit: Alex Dever

Alex Dever and her husband are from Pennsylvania. When I inquired how she ended up with four running buddies she commented that her husband is in the United States Army and that their long standing joke is every time he ends up deployed, she rescues a new four legged friend. (Stay safe Captain Dever)

The Furry Kids (Left to Right): Winnie: (Black lab/Irish Setter Mix) is 4 and enjoys both long runs and sprints. She has run many miles with her mama while marathon training. Remi (Australian Shepherd Mix) is a 100 pound big baby who only lasts about a mile of an easy, slow run. Daisy: a petite collie mix is 4 and loves to stop and sniff, but is good for about a 5K if you don’t mind her distracted self. Sig (Husky) prefers long distances at a steady pace. 

Mix Breed Dogs

Phoebe (border collie mix)
Phoebe (border collie mix)

Sherry Heinel & Phoebe: Phoebe is a rescue, border collie mix who tips the scales at a slight 27 pounds. She runs logs double digit runs with her person and comes back for more. 

What Dog Can Run the Longest?

Honestly, the one thing you should know is that not all dogs of the same breed are created equally. This means that while some breeds are known for being great runners, you can’t generalize. Sure, the Vizsla, German Shorthair and Weimaraner are well known as avid long distance runners.

Another breed that loves to run, the Siberian Husky, should never be run in hot weather. For that reason, these dogs need to be reacclimatized to running again each fall. They run hard and long all winter then have to be tapered off again each spring when the long, hot days of summer come upon us.

What Dog Can Be Trusted Off Leash?

Some runners like to be hands free when out on the trail with their running buddy. Before we at Runnerclick go on record discussing running with your dog off leash, please note we want you to obey any laws, mandates and rules in your area. Many places have leash laws and we always encourage you to follow directives given by your local municipality.

In addition, as dog lovers, we want your pooch to always be safe. While it may be tempting to think your dog could be off leash, unless it’s a fairly quiet, desolate area and your dog is well trained, a leash is the safest option for your four legged friend.

There are many hands free leashes out there to keep you and your pup safe and together.

Having said all of that, any breed that is known for obedience is likely to do well off leash. Labs and Goldens, for example, are big people pleasers and velcro dogs who are unlikely to stray too far from your side. German Shepards are intelligent working dogs who can be trained to stay close to your side.

At What Age Should You Stop Running Your Dog?

There is no magical number here. Just be observant of the cues your dog is giving you. Some dogs stop running and are better off with a brisk walk at ten or eleven years old while others run into their teenage years. Just know that your dog wants to be by your side making you happy. For this reason, you need to be the smart one.

Signs your dog is aging and needs to slow down?

  • They are lagging behind you at what used to be a normal pace.
  • Your dog stops running and has to be prodded along.
  • He or she falls asleep quickly when you get home.
  • Your pup seems like he has muscle soreness or worn pads. Signs of this could include not jumping up onto the bed or couch, or excessive licking of paws.

Just like in humans, your doggy friend will slow down with age. As the human, we need to be aware and monitoring that to keep our best friends safe.

Best Dogs for Running?

When looking for the best dogs for running, it becomes very clear that there are many, many excellent choices. One option is to visit your local shelter as a running or walking volunteer. Logging some easy miles with a shelter dog may help you make your decision!

Something to keep in mind if you are planning to purchase or adopt a puppy to act as your running buddy is that most dogs should not be run until they are at least a year old. If you have time and patience a puppy may be a good choice for you. If you want a buddy now, visit your local shelter or rescue! Inquire about a high energy dog with tendencies to adore running.

Your best friend might be waiting anxiously just for you to show up!

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