Best Dog Breeds for Running Companions

Jack Russell terrier running in a grassy field
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A good canine running companion has plenty of energy and can partake in prolonged, strenuous exercise without losing its breath or overheating. Hunting and herding breeds run easier than brachycephalic (short-muzzled) dogs, like pugs and bulldogs, which are more susceptible to heatstroke and breathing problems.

Pace, distance, and climate also come into play when choosing a running partner. The American Kennel Club says dogs should be trained and conditioned before running long distances. They should be warmed up prior to working out and given water often.

Ready to find a workout buddy? Here are the eight types of dog breeds best for running.

Millions of pets (including many purebreds) are available to be adopted from shelters. We always recommend adoption as a first choice. If you've decided to buy a pet from a breeder, be sure to choose a responsible breeder, and always avoid puppy mills.

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Herders and Heelers

Border collie running on the beach
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Border collies, Australian shepherds, German shepherds, Belgian malinois, cattle dogs, and Australian kelpies are some of the breeds commonly used for livestock herding and heeling (nipping at the heels of cattle to get them to move), historically over mountainous terrain. They've been bred to put in long, active days on the farm, which means they usually have plenty of energy for a strenuous run.

Leisurely jogs aren't quite enough for these high-drive dogs. They're best for long runs or high-intensity speed training. Herders and heelers have the ability to run all day long, in different weather conditions, and on various types of terrain. They are also highly intelligent and can be easily trained to stick to the trail when encountering other people and animals.

Their smarts and obedience make them great family dogs, too, but prospective owners should consider their high energy levels before bringing one home.

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Pointers

Weimaraner running with a ball in its mouth
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Weimaraners often top the list of best running dogs because of their high energy levels and well-muscled builds. Pointers, in general — which, in addition to weimaraners, also include German shorthaired pointers and vizslas — are able to run 15-plus miles in a single stretch. Of course, they should be eased into such long distances with proper conditioning.

Pointers originated in the fields of England, where they were used in conjunction with greyhounds to hunt down hares and game birds. Their hunt-all-day endurance is a good fit for extremely active dog owners. But beware: They bond closely with their families, and can therefore be prone to separation anxiety. Their tendency to stick close to their owners makes them easy to keep track of on the trail, though.

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Retrievers

Golden retriever walking through grassy field
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Retrievers — such as Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and labradoodles — are excellent companions on and off the trail. Apart from being wonderful family pets, these gun dogs pull from the energy they historically used for hunting to run relatively short distances. They can go fast for about five to seven miles before getting fatigued. They can also overheat quite easily due to their thick coats, so they should only run during cool parts of the day. If you're a casual runner who enjoys a short jog at the beginning or end of your day, a retriever may be ideal for you.

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Sled Dogs

Three Siberian huskies pulling a man on a sled
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Smart, exuberant, agile, and famous for their endurance, mushing breeds like Siberian huskies, samoyeds, and malamutes make excellent running buddies. This is especially true in cold areas with snowy winters, as these working dogs are built to handle frigid temperatures.

However, they're also bred to be independent thinkers and can be quite stubborn. It will require patience and daily training sessions to turn one of these breeds into a sled dog or a running companion. While these bulky canines are better fit for activity in cold temperatures, they can also run on chilly days during spring and fall.

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Terriers

Jack Russell terrier standing in the grass
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Running dogs come in all shapes and sizes, as proven by the small Jack Russell terrier. Although longer legs are generally ideal for the sport, this breed was originally bred for fox hunting, which makes it a natural-born endurance runner. Despite their stubby legs, Jack Russell terriers (also called Parson Russell terriers) seem to have bottomless reserves of energy and the necessary musculature to run for miles without a problem. For short (five- to 10-mile) runs, they're excellent companions.

Other terriers that like to run are Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers, both categorized as pit bulls. Despite their stockiness, these breeds have the energy, agility, and muscle to run short distances. Boston terriers, on the other hand, should not be taken for runs as they are brachycephalic and known to have breathing problems.

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Hounds

Rhodesian Ridgeback standing in water before rock formation
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Hounds — such as wolfhounds, greyhounds, and Rhodesian ridgebacks — are known for chasing after game, be it a rabbit or, in the Rhodesian ridgeback's case, a lion. This breed originated in Southern Africa, where it hunted big cats during the 1600s. It has retained its high endurance level for centuries and can today handle an entire marathon (or more), even in hot temperatures.

Likewise, greyhounds, known for their lean and muscular bodies, can run at speeds of up to 45 mph and sustain that pace for about seven miles. Keep in mind that greyhounds are sprinters, while Rhodesian ridgebacks are distance runners, and the former can get overheated.

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Spaniels

Cocker spaniel standing in sand
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Springer and cocker spaniels aren't the first breeds that come to mind when one thinks of a canine running companion; however, these gun dogs are fast and agile, and they love to be outside. They require ample daily exercise and mental stimulation, and a casual run serves both. They are, however, quite impulsive, so spaniels that aren't well-trained to walk on a lead may bolt off after squirrels.

Brittanies are classified as spaniels, too, though they tend to be leggier and have characteristics similar to a pointer or setter. These dogs love a romp outside and require more than just a walk around the block to get their energy out.

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Mutts

Mutt standing in the forest
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Most medium-sized dogs that exhibit agility, endurance, strength, obedience, and strong athletic ability make good running partners. Any mix of collie, retriever, hound, or pointer is likely to take well to the trail with a bit of training; however, you shouldn't go running with your pet before it's fully developed. This can cause joint and bone problems, including arthritis.