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These 11 dog breeds make the best running partners. Whether you go short distances or run ultra marathons, these are our picks for the best dog breeds for running.

The 11 Best Dog Breeds for Running

Once you’ve made the decision to get a dog, the next step is picking a breed that matches your lifestyle. For runners, such as ourselves, finding the right dog means understanding which breeds enjoy endurance activities, the outdoors in any weather, and can handle long distances. Depending on the type of terrain you run, the temperatures, and the distance, some breeds are a better fit than others.

Here are our picks for the best dog breeds for running:

11. Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever are 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.

  • Best type of climate: cool to mild
  • Terrain: pavement and trail
  • Distance: any
  • Best for: 5m to marathoners, potentially ultra runners

10. 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 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

  • Best type of climate: any though heavy snow may be an issue due to their short legs.
  • Terrain: pavement and trail
  • Distance: marathon or less
  • Best for: 5km to half marathoners, potentially marathoners

If you’re new to running with a dog, check out our Ultimate Guide to Running with a Dog.

9. German Shepherd

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. If you want a dog that you can take anywhere in any weather, look no further than the German Shepherd.

  • Best type of climate: any
  • Terrain: pavement and trail
  • Distance: marathon +
  • Best for: 5km to marathoners, possibly ultra runners

8. Labrador Retriever

Labs are the quintessential do-it-all dog breed and they love to run. Bred to retrieve prey during hunts, the labrador is 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.

  • Best type of climate: any
  • Terrain: pavement and trail
  • Distance: marathon or less due to common health issues related to the joints.
  • Best for: 5km to marathoners

7. Siberian Husky

Huskies and their related brethren, Malamutes, are outstanding running dogs. Originally bred to run countless miles in extreme cold weather these working breeds can spend hours running. 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. Plus, they can be trained to pull you uphill with a proper harness system. Given their thick coats, Huskies tend to prefer colder climates and don’t do well in hot temperatures. If you’re going to be running in the north or in cooler temperatures, consider a northern breed like a Husky.

  • Best type of climate: cool
  • Terrain: trail
  • Distance: the longer the better
  • Best for: marathoners and ultra runners

Need some inspiration to get outside and run? Check out our 29 Instagram Accounts that will Inspire you to Get Outside.

6. Vizsla

The Hungarian Vizsla is relatively unknown outside of the dog lovers world. Vizslas are part of the working class pointer breed and tend to be of medium size. They make fantastic family dogs with their gentle personalities and loyalty to their owners. Vizslas can be outstanding off lead thanks to their “Velcro dog” tendency. Their coats are smooth and short, and they are known as self-bathers. While they can handle the snow for running, they may not be suited to remain outside for long durations in extreme temperatures. If you’re looking to put in the distance on the trails or pavement, consider a Vizsla.

  • Best type of climate: mild or warm, though, they can handle colder climates in short instances.
  • Terrain: any
  • Distance: Marathon +
  • Best for:
  • marathoners and ultra runners

5. Australian Cattle Dog

The Australian Cattle Dog or “Blue Heeler” is one of the best all around outdoor dog breeds. 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. Given their independent attitude, they may be better on leash rather than off lead. The Cattle Dog has a medium thick double coat that doesn’t shed often, which means they’re great in cold and warm climates alike.

Their physical and mental demands are high so be prepared to be hitting the trail frequently and for long distances. Cattle Dogs also need a healthy dose of regular stimulating activities like agility, herding, and training to keep them in balance. They do have hereditary health issues with an emphasis on higher levels of deafness as they age. If you’re thinking of going big on adventures and want the personality to match it, the Australian Cattle Dog might be a good fit for you.

  • Best type of climate: any
  • Terrain: trail
  • Distance: any, with emphasis on longer distances due to the Cattle Dog’s high requirement for exercise.
  • Best for: ultra runners

4. Weimaraner

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. Most Weimaraners make excellent off leash dogs, however, due to their hunting dog instincts they will chase squirrels, cats, and any prey. Weimaraner make great running buddies for both long adventure running or logging the miles on the asphalt.

  • Best type of climate: mild or warm, though, they can handle colder climates in shorter distances.
  • Terrain: pavement and trail
  • Distance: any
  • Best for: half marathon to ultra runners

If you’re new to running with your dog, check out our review of the Ruffwear Slackline leash. It’s a our favorite hands-free leash for running.

Before you hit the trails with your four-legged pal, read these tips on running with a dog.

3. Australian Shepherd

Obviously, we are partial to Australian Shepherds given our experience running with Sora. In fact, we think they’re 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 on a regular basis in terms of not trusting strangers. 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. Whether you’re planning on running a marathon, ultra, or just a jog around the block, the Aussie makes for a great running partner.

  • Best type of climate: any
  • Terrain pavement and trail
  • Distance: half marathon to ultra marathon
  • Best for: marathoners and ultra runners

2. Border Collie

Border Collies are the Michael Jordan of dog breeds. Endless energy, highly athletic, and smarter than the average 5-year-old. Bred to be working or moving animals on the farm, the Border Collie can run all.day.long. They have a high tolerance for adventurous activities like ultra running, marathon training, or adventure racing. The intelligence and trainability of a Border Collie 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 as their dark fur attracts the sun.

Often known as champions of agility and frisbee competitions, the Border Collie is synonymous with athleticism. They simply love and need lots of exercise. Common health issues include sight impairment diseases, deafness, and epilepsy. While they make the best athletes, these dogs are recommended only for those with ample time to exercise and stimulate them. When under exercised or stimulated the the Border Collie can become destructive, so please consider your lifestyle before adoption.

  • Best type of climate: any
  • Terrain: pavement and trail
  • Distance: half marathon to marathon +
  • Best for: half marathoners to ultra runners
Get the right gear for running with your dog.

1. Mixed Breed

Sometimes the best running breed is the mixed dog with unknown origins. Unlike purebreds, mixed breeds tend to have less hereditary health issues and can often be the best at training. Of course, this is a case by case situation, because not all mixed dogs make the best running buddies. For example, a short-nosed pug mix might be a great companion, but probably won’t make the best long run training dog as they will have trouble breathing properly during exercise. They also won’t be able to keep up long distances on the trail. On the other hand, finding a mixed breed like a shepherd, labrador, or border collie can make for the best of breed characteristics.

  • Best type of climate: depends
  • Terrain: depends
  • Distance: depends
  • Best for: depends

Honorable Mentions:

German Shorthaired Pointers, Dalmatian, Portuguese Water Dog, Spanish Water Dog, Standard Poodle, English Springer Spaniel, Rhodesian Ridgebacks (they were bred to hunt lions!), American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Doberman Pinscher.

Adopt Don’t Shop

It would be very remiss of me to not mention that there are plenty of shelter dogs that need homes. When you’re considering getting a new dog, please think about finding one at your local animal shelter, rescue, humane society, or ASPCA, and not buying from a breeder. There are always dogs of the aforementioned breeds available that are in need of a loving family and home. If you need more information, read Humane Society of the United States as a Top 10 Reasons to Adopt.

Finding Your Best Dog Breed for Running

When you’re deciding which breed is perfect for you, take the time to think about your lifestyle and availability to exercise and stimulate the dog. Some breeds are great on the trails, but can be easily bored at home, while others are all-around easy going. Make a pros/cons list for each dog type and try to be honest about where you are in your life. It’s always worth spending the time upfront to find the right partner rather than dealing with an incompatibility match later.

Our Favorite Running Gear

The Slackline Leash by Ruffwear is easy to use and lightweight.
See our review here.
The Trail Runner Belt by Ruffwear is great for hands-free long distance runs

Kurgo Hands Free Quantum, Adjustable Dog Waist Running Belt and Reflective Dog Leash is an easy to use belt that can adjust to any running style.
See our review here.

The Dexas Popware For Pets Collapsible Travel Cup works well for giving your thirsty dog some water.
See our review here.

PIN FOR LATER!

Dave Hoch

Dave finds joy in supporting a vegan, intentional, and spiritual lifestyle. When he’s not jamming out to Phish and reggae, he’s running, volunteering at animal rescues, playing in nature, and being alive.

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