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The Best Dog Breeds for Running

The Best Dog Breeds for Running

On the hunt for your next running buddy? While dogs of all breeds and sizes can train to become runners, the best dog breeds for running are natural athletes who love extended physical activity.

Depending on the distance, terrain, and preferred style of running, there is most certainly a perfect dog breed out there for you.

I do want to make it clear that the breeds listed here are not the only ones to consider if you plan to get a dog that will run with you, these are merely suggestions.

Do your research, talk to running friends with breeds you are considering, and base your decision off that.

What Makes a Dog Good for Running?

The dogs included in this list are largely made up of hunting and herding dogs. This means they are bred to handle long distances and are enthusiastic about spending many hours outside.

It also means that they traditionally have high prey drives. I personally have used balanced training and an e-collar to grant my dog off leash freedom during our trail runs.

If you are training for off leash recall or are running where your dog requires a leash, take a look at this list of my favorite hands-free dog leashes.

If you’re new to running with a dog, this guide will help you get started.

How to Decide Which Dog Breed is Right for You

When you’re deciding which breed is perfect for you, take the time to think about your own running preferences and select a dog that matches your lifestyle.

If you are a trail runner who enjoys going for double digit distances in the mountains, then look for a hearty breed like a herding dog, German Short-Haired Pointer, or Vizsla.

If you max out at 3-5 miles, then pick a dog who prefers shorter distances like snub-nosed mixes, some terriers, or larger dogs like Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Remember that it’s all about the individual dog and the training you provide, not just the breed alone.

Which Dogs Can Run the Furthest?

What matters more than shape and size is how well you train your dog. Like humans of all shapes and sizes can run various distances, with the right training, dogs can, too.

Of course, endurance comes more naturally to some breeds over others.

Herding dogs like, Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Cattle Dogs are bred to work all day on farms and in mountains where they cover long distances.

Northern breeds like the Husky or Malamutes are bred to pull sleds over long distances.

Other breed groups like the hunting breeds (Vizsla, Pointer, Weimaraner, etc.) can also cover considerable distances and make great running partners.

It’s important to note that no matter the dog breed, you have to gradually build your dog’s distance slowly over time, adding no more than 10% each week.

Which Dog Breeds Are Not Ideal for Running?

As mentioned above, just about any dog can become a runner, though the distance they run may vary.

Generally speaking, short-nosed breeds tend to have respiratory issues and are not ideal for running.

This includes Pugs, Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boxers, Chihuahua, Boston Terriers, Llhasa Apsos, Pekingese, Mastiffs, and Shih Tzus. However, as I mentioned above, I have a friend who runs with her pug.

The key is to monitor your dog as you run and see how far they can comfortably go before you notice signs they need to rest.

Our Picks for the Best Dog Breeds for Running

These are the best dog breeds for the marathon and ultra marathon runners. I ran up to 20 miles with Sora many times and I believe that she could have gone farther. I have friends who have logged 40+ mile trail runs with their dogs.

I’ll say it again. You have to train your dog to run. Don’t head out for a jaunt around Mt. Hood and expect your dog to join you if they’ve only run a handful of miles.

This will risk injury and can contribute to long term damage.


Vizslas have gained a lot of popularity in recent years. They’re beautiful dogs that are insanely athletic.

Part of the working class pointer breed, they tend to be of medium size and are well suited for long days on the trial.

Vizslas can be outstanding off-lead thanks to their “Velcro dog” tendency. Because of their smooth and short, and they will likely need some kind of winter jacket designed specifically for active dogs.

Ideal climate: mild or warm, though, they can handle colder climates with the right gear.
Terrain: any
Distance: 5k to Marathon +

Long Haul Trekkers - Jen and Sitka

Cattle Dog

Cattle Dogs are among the best all around outdoor dog breeds (obviously ;). Like a typical herder, Cattle Dogs are athletic, highly intelligent, and easily trainable.

Cattle Dogs need mental stimulation and structure to excel, a trait that makes them excellent running companions because it gives them a job.

Thanks to their medium thick double coat, they don’t shed often, which means they’re great in cold and warm climates alike.

Their physical and mental demands are high so in addition to regular running, Cattle Dogs also need a healthy dose of mental stimulation, such as like agility, herding, and daily training to keep them in balance.

Ideal climate: any
Terrain: any
Distance: 5k to marathon+

Australian Shepherd

Obviously, I am partial to Australian Shepherds! In fact, I think they’re among the best adventure dog breed.

Aussies are known for having considerable energy, double water resistant coats, and unwavering loyalty.

Sometimes Australian Shepherds can can be a little too loyal and will guard their owners or be cautious with strangers. This is something we experienced with Sora, but with the right training, it can be managed.

Given the nature of the Aussie herding instincts, the breed is built to be out on the farm or pasture all day long. They are highly intelligent and need constant stimulation.

Ideal climate: any
Terrain any
Distance: 5k to marathon+

Welcome to our pack: Introducing Riia.

Border Collie

Border Collies have endless energy, highly athletic, and smarter than the average 5-year-old. They are perfect companions for highly active owners.

Bred to be working or moving animals on the farm, Border Collies can go They have a high tolerance for adventurous activities like ultra running, marathon training, and other endurance efforts.

The intelligence and trainability of Border Collies makes them great off lead dogs as well.

Their smooth double coat keeps them insulated in both hot and cold temperatures, though keep in mind that those with black coats are more prone to overheating.

While they make the best athletes, these dogs are recommended only for those with ample time to exercise and stimulate them.

Ideal climate: any
Terrain: any
Distance: 5k to marathon +

Siberian Huskies & Malamutes

Huskies and Malamutes make outstanding running dogs. Bred to run hundreds miles in extreme cold weather, these working breeds are natural runners.

Snow-loving working dogs like the Husky can excel in skijoring/bikejoring and hiking. They love to be active and given a job, including running.

Given their thick coats, Huskies tend to prefer colder climates and don’t do as well in hot temperatures.

Ideal climate: cold weather, but can adapt to warmer climates
Terrain: any
Distance: 5k to marathon+


The high-energy hunting Weimaraner is a fantastic running dog. The have short maintenance-free coats, heaps of energy, and are incredibly friendly.

Unlike the herding breeds, the Weimaraner are not typically independent, and enjoy being close to their owners, which makes them great off-leash candidates.

That said, they can have high prey drives, due to their hunting dog instincts and will chase squirrels, cats, and other small critters.

Ideal climate: mild or warm, though, they can handle colder climates with the right gear.
Terrain: pavement and trail
Distance: 5k to marathon+

German Short-Haired Pointers are great long distance running dogs.
Photo courtesy of @runningwithsam

German Short-Haired Pointers

German Short-Haired Pointers (GSPs) make great dogs for active owners. Thanks to their hunting backgrounds, they are build for endurance and love to work for long periods of time.

The breed is energetic, friendly, and eager to learn. Because they are hunting dogs, they will likely have a strong prey drive, which can be tamed with dedicated training.

Ideal climate: any, due to their short coats, they may require a jacket in colder weather.
Terrain: any
Distance: 5k to marathon+

Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Bred to chase lions in Africa, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are designed to go the distance. They will thrive in an active home.

They can be a bit stubborn and challenging to train, so they need a handler who can provide direction and consistency.

Despite their high energy, they have an off switch and are happy to chill at home provided they receive the right mental stimulation and physical exercise.

Ideal climate: any, they are great in the heat, and may require a jacket in the winter months
Terrain: any
Distance: 5k to marathon+

Standard poodles can make great long distances running dogs.

Standard Poodles

Many people don’t think of brains and athleticism when they think of poodles, but they make great dogs for active people. Usually seen coiffed for shows, poodles have been used for military and police work for centuries.

Ranked among the most intelligent breeds, poodles come in three different sizes (standard, mini, and toy).

Originally bred to retrieve game from water, the breed name comes from the German word pudel, which means puddle.

Ideal climate: any
Terrain: any
Distance: 5k to marathon+

German Shepherd Dog

The German Shepherd is considered an all around great dog as they are highly intelligent, loyal, and active.  

German Shepherds have been used in military, police, and search and rescue for many years and it speaks to the breed’s ability to excel in a variety of demanding situations.

They are known for their ability to learn quickly and train easily. Of course, any GSD lover knows that they are prone to hip displaysia, so check with your vet before heading out for a long run.

Ideal climate: any, great in the snow, avoid extreme hot temperatures
Terrain: any
Distance: 5k to half marathon+

Golden retrievers make excellent middle distance running dogs.

Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is the gold standard (pun intended) for family dogs. They have an excellent demeanor, easy going personalities, and are athletic.

Their coats can be long, which means they do better in cooler or mild climates. Goldens can easily run long distances and generally have great stamina.

Ideal climate: cool to mild, watch out for snowballing on their fur during the winter months.
Terrain: pavement and trail
Distance: 5k to Half Marathon+

Labrador retrievers make excellent middle-distance running dogs

Labrador Retriever

Labs are the quintessential do-it-all dog breed and they love to run. Bred to retrieve prey during hunts, labs are always ready for action.

Their coats are sufficient for cold or warm weather and their demeanor is friendly and relaxed. They can be a bit goofy and silly, and often do well off-lead with proper training.

Labradors are used as service dogs for people with disabilities and are regularly trained for military, police, and detection.

Do keep in mind that many Labradors can suffer from a host of hereditary health issues like hip dysplasia, obesity, and knee and eye problems so you’ll want to keep your dog healthy and fit with regular check-ups.

Ideal climate: any
Terrain: any
Distance: 5k to half marathon+

The Best Small Dog Breeds for Running

Think small dogs can’t run? I used to think the same, but I have been proven wrong over the years.

I know of Dachshunds that have run a marathon distance and have an Instafriend who runs with her pug mix.

These are breeds that you might not immediately consider as candidates for best dog breeds for running.

Dogs of all sizes can run, you just have to introduce them to the sport and see how they take to it.

Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell Terrier may be small, but they can be lightening fast. Bred to chase small prey like rats, the Jack Russell is a running machine.

They have endless energy and athleticism. Jack Russell’s are of the working classification and these dogs love to burn off their type A personalities.

The breed has long wire-haired and short-haired coats and can easily handle any climate. The shorter legs mean that ultra long distances and heavy snow may be challenging, but generally speaking, these dogs can handle varying distances

Ideal climate: any, though heavy snow may be an issue due to their short legs
Terrain: pavement and trail
Distance: 5km to half marathon

Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie)

Smaller cousins to the Collie, Shelties are herding breeds that enjoy vigorous exercises and would suit middle distances runners.

Bred to herd sheep, the energetic breed needs regular exercise and mental stimulation to avoid finding their own jobs (i.e. herding the humans).

Ideal climate: any, though prone to overheat in warm climates.
Terrain: any
Distance: 5km to half marathon

Shiba Inu

These cat-like dogs love to move and were originally bred in Japan to hunt small game.

They can be a challenge to train, due to their stubborn tendencies, and therefore may make great candidates for balanced training.

Shiba Inu can go for long periods of time and their agility makes them great trail companions thanks to their ease of navigating tricky terrain.

Ideal climate: any
5km to half marathon

Have I left any good dog running breeds off this list?

What is your favorite dog breed for running?

The Best Dog Breeds for Running Pinterest Image


Monday 26th of June 2023

Dalmatians can run 30 miles a day as they were bred to run alongside horses and carriages. Hence the nickname "Coach dog".

Jen Sotolongo

Tuesday 11th of July 2023

I didn't know that about Dalmatians! Sounds like they would make a great running partner!


Thursday 26th of January 2023

CSV: 100 km. And forget the marathon and such short distances.


Wednesday 5th of October 2022

Pit bulls are always overlooked. They are very athletic and great companions. I have been hiking with pitbulls for the last 40 years. Always off leash and never a probblem. I hike 1000 or miles a year latey and my pit bull can do 20 miles a day - day after day in vertually any terain.

Just wanted to mention this.

Jen Sotolongo

Friday 21st of October 2022

I love pitties and am glad you came to advocate for them as good adventure companions! They are indeed athletic and with the right conditioning can certainly make good running dogs.

Antal K

Tuesday 17th of May 2022

Hi! Very good list, spot on! I run with a German Boxer. No problem in the winter, even below -10C. The problem starts with the heat. We run only in the morning, early morning and along the river or close to some streams, so he can drink regularly. No leash. He doesn't chase other runners or cyclists but can't stay close to me. Not a trained heel runner. He is running in front or stops sniffing around but stays in visible distance and stops or comes back when called. The longest we went was 1hour 45 minutes. In the last 20 mins he was not so enthusiastic any more but kept up the pace. I think my boxer could qualify for a half marathon, given enough water along the way.

As for Vizsla, you really need to be active and run with them regularly and long otherwise they make your life complicated.


Monday 6th of June 2022

@Jen Sotolongo, Our little dog is an awesome runner. He’s half fox terrier and half something soft with floppy ears - maybe spaniel? Rescue puppy so we’re not sure. He’s nearly 2 and weighs about 9kg.

His longest run so far is 20km (at cycling speed!)- not tired. He’s trained to run on lead on a bike but always happy to be off lead of course! Loves swimming too.

Can’t paste a photo in the box unfortunately.

Jen Sotolongo

Monday 23rd of May 2022

That's awesome that your Boxer enjoys running! I think they could probably go middle distances, as long as it's not too hot out and there's plenty of water, as you said!

Raymond P Vaughn

Sunday 25th of July 2021

I just went through your website and I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited to skip a couple years, get older and graduate from high school to get to experience and see all that unbelievably beautiful nature that we have on earth. I’ve always wanted to cycle around the world since I was younger, but I thought it requires years and years of physical training, cycling and going to the gym which I don’t really have the time for, but hearing about your experience made me realize that being mentally prepared is way more important than being big and buffed. I will keep reading your journey hopefully one day I can join and share mine! Thank you

Jen Sotolongo

Sunday 25th of July 2021

Aw this makes me so happy and stoked for the day that you can make your dreams come true! If you ever have any planning questions, don't hesitate to reach out!