It is a little known fact that the dog was the first species to be domesticated. Around 40,000 years ago, dogs were separated from wolves by domesticating, while the wolves remained to wander in the wilderness.
Although dogs don’t live in the wild environments anymore, most of the dog species still have their “wild” abilities that helped them survive, among which is fast running speed.
However, not all of the dogs can run at the same speed and that the actual style of running differs among breeds. Some dogs can run pretty fast, but only for a short time.
On the other hand, some dogs can’t run incredibly fast but can run for an extended amount of time, making them great endurance runners.
In the end, some species don’t run fast and can’t even run for long distances. This is mostly the case with small dog breeds.
So let’s see how fast can a dog run below.
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How Fast Do Dogs Run?
The speed that dogs can achieve while running depends mostly on the breed and body composition. However, most dog breeds have some characteristics that make them good runners.
First, they have feet that can grip well on the ground, and nails for good traction. This is the main reason why they have a great turn ability because they can literally feel the ground.
Also, fast-running dogs have a double-suspension gallop which increases their maximum speed, therefore, increasing the distance they can run.
The best running dog breeds have lots of power, thanks to their flexible spine and strong abdominal muscles. However, the average speed of all dog breeds is around 18 miles per hour.
What Are the Fastest Dogs?
Furthermore, other dog breeds can also run fast and include deerhounds and German shepherds; they both have a few things in common — long legs, deep chest, and a very lean body.
Even breeds such as boxers and Jack Russell terriers can run pretty fast too. Boxers were even used as couriers during war due to their running speed. All of these fastest dog breeds have great cardio power and lung capacity.
However, the speed of the fastest running dogs is usually measured at a sprint. In reality, most of these breeds will tire quickly when running longer distances.
The fact is, they have a great cardio power to do short, powerful bursts of running, but can’t maintain that speed for a long time.
But there are dog breeds that have an average running speed but can maintain that speed through long periods, making them great endurance runners.
Best Long Distance Running Dogs
Dog breeds that are known to be good for endurance running usually run at speeds around 13-15 miles per hour.
Although it might not seem impressive compared to a racing hound, distance running dogs can maintain that speed over long periods. They are also good partners for people who like long-distance jogging.
The most popular long-distance running dog breeds are Labrador Retriever, Siberian Husky, English Setter, Standard Poodle, and a Dalmatian.
For example, there are multi-day events (ex. The Iditarod) in which Huskies run while the sleds are attached to them.
This requires excellent aerobic condition and cardio power, and these dogs usually show a very impressive athleticism in those events. Endurance running dogs like these reach speeds of around 10-15 miles per hour, but maintain them for a long time, without tiring.
What Affects How Fast a Dog Can Run?
Various factors affect a dog’s running ability. The most important are age and health.
Not surprisingly, younger dogs can run at a much higher pace while older dogs are more often impacted by joint conditions, such as arthritis, and are more susceptible to injury while running. Even the smallest injury will negatively impact a dog’s running ability.
Also, no matter if your dog is a sprinter or an endurance runner, all dogs need exercise to develop great running power.
There are many natural ways to exercise your dog. If you hike, jog, or drive a bike, you can always bring your dog with you to provide a natural way to increase their aerobic condition.
Slow Running Dogs
Some dogs just run slowly. Besides being slow, the poorest running dog breeds can also last a short amount of time.
In terms of being a running companion, they are just about completely “useless;” however, it doesn’t make them a bad pet. Breeds like a French Bulldog, Shih Tzu, Pug, and a Basset Hound all fall in this category. For example, Shih Tzu can run only around 6 miles per hour, on average.
Most of these dog breeds are actually slow due to their small size. They have short legs, which limit their ability to move fast enough.
On the other hand, short-nosed dogs, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, can’t maintain a needed breathing rate for fast or long-distance running, and usually, get exhausted pretty soon. However, extra-large dog breeds, such as the St. Bernard, can be slow due to their mass.
In the end, we can conclude that dogs don’t differ only by the speed they can reach, but also by how long can they maintain the same speed. It is very similar to human athletes, such as sprint runners and marathon runners.
Sprint runners are extraordinarily explosive and have nice, toned muscles, but usually can’t maintain the sprinting speed for more than a couple of hundreds of meters.
Marathon runners won’t win any short-track races but can run for a long time, and their muscles look much different. With dogs, it’s absolutely the same thing.
Just remember, every dog needs to undergo exercise frequently to maintain a happy and healthy life.
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A big-dog lover, successful marketing executive, and website developer, Brian founded Canine Weekly in 2016. Brian lives just outside of Seattle with his wife and child. Brian grew up with labs and the family is eager to get another Labrador once their newborn is a little older. Brian is the former owner of Canine Weekly.