This post on the best dogs for running is based on my opinions. If “your” breed is not mentioned, just add it in the comments!
This post is meant to be fun, and any breed can make a great running buddy or a terrible running buddy.
Breed is one factor. Each dog, regardless of breed or breed mix, is an individual.
And mutts often make the best running buddies of all!
I chose these best dog breeds for running based on:
- owning a dog running business for 8 years
- taking feedback from That Mutt’s community
- running well over 15,000 miles with dogs
- Training for ultramarathons
- running over 500 miles with shelter dogs as a volunteer
Here’s what’s covered in this post:
- Best dog breeds for distance runners
- Best dogs for medium and shorter distances
- The best small dogs for running
- Worst 5 dog breeds for running
10 Best dogs for running long distance
Best dog breeds for ultrarunners, marathoners and half-marathoners
1. Best dogs for running – the Border collie
The one dog we know who has double the energy of our weimaraner is our family’s border collie, Rusty. This breed is light on its feet, medium sized and can go, go, go all day long!
The border collie might be the absolute best running breed there is for any distance but especially the longer distances. The border collie’s coat also helps protect it from the cold and heat. They’re a working breed able to handle the elements and keep going all day long.
2. Belgian malinois
The malinois is known for its intensity, with energy that often exceeds the border collie, believe it or not.
The malinois breed is often used for protection, police work, military work, search and rescue and other jobs. They definitely need work to do and an owner willing to put in the time for training and serious exercise. Running alone is not enough of a “job” for a malinois.
This breed also has a coat that helps protect them from the heat and cold better than the shorter-coated breeds like weimaraners and vizslas.
3. Pudel pointer
I never see this breed mentioned on running lists and it should be at the top! It’s just not a well-known breed in the United States.
I wanted to list the pudel pointer because it’s a less common pointing breed that most people don’t know about. It is not a breed recognized by the AKC. It is recognized by the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association.
Pudel pointers have a wiry coat and are often mistaken for a labradoodle or a German wirehaired pointer.
The most fit dog running client I had when I used to run with dogs full time as my job was Annie the pudel pointer.
Annie and I ran 1,000 miles together over a few years and at that point I stopped keeping track. She was a trained hunting dog and could run forever. Truly impressive.
4. All other pointers
German wirehaired pointer, German shorthaired pointer, English pointer
Pointers are bred to be out in the field hunting all day so they have the energy and speed for long distance running. They’re also happy to crash with you on the couch afterwards.
Sometimes pointers might need to wear a coat in the winter if you live in a cold climate. You may want to consider a wirehaired pointer if you run in the cold since their coats are longer.
Weimaraners are awesome long distance running buddies, and this is the type of dog I have (Remy!). They have serious endurance, speed and drive. Like the other breeds on this list, they are great for long distance because 3 or 4 miles simply will not tire them out!
Weimaraners are a generally healthy breed and decent off leash other than their strong drive to search for birds!
Because of their short hair, this breed can’t handle extreme cold for very long. My Weim Remy did go on one 18-miler last winter when it was around 12 to 15 degrees F with his neoprene vest on. If it’s much colder than that, he only goes out for short runs.
Also, the weimaraner’s short, light-colored fur doesn’t protect them from the sun as well as other breeds.
So similar to the Weimaraner but a bit smaller and with a reddish coat.
Like weims, vizslas also need some protection in the winter. See my post on winter running with dogs.
It’s also nice that vizslas are usually a bit smaller than weimaraners and German shorthairs, so they might be easier to handle (or not!).
The longer the better for these guys. See our post on training for the Iditarod!
Most huskies will not appreciate running in warmer weather, although I saw a TON of huskies at the dog beach when we lived in San Diego.
Of course, huskies love to pull, and they’re bred for it! That can be a good thing if you want to do canicross or skijoring. These are sports where the dog runs out ahead pulling you in a harness with the other end of the leash around your waist as you run, bike or ski.
8. Australian shepherd
Australian shepherds are extremely smart, easy to train and very loyal.
This breed is very popular right now, as well as the “American shepherd” which is really a mini Australian shepherd. They make GREAT long distance running buddies! They also tend to do really well in agility!
9. Brittany spaniel
These dogs are meant to run all day long in the field and their speed, energy and endurance is impressive in a smaller package. They generally weigh only about 35 pounds so they are a great option if you’re looking for a medium sized running buddy.
Of course, they are bird dogs with a strong prey drive. They will need ongoing off-leash training to learn to stick closer to you.
10. Jack Russell terrier
The Jack Russell terrier is my absolute number one choice for a small breed running buddy. These guys can handle rough and tough terrain.
They can handle long distances and speed and the wirehaired Jack Russells can handle some cold weather. (There is a smooth coat variety of this breed and a wirehaired variety.)
One potential drawback is that Jack Russells are known as one of the most difficult breeds to train (whether it’s true or not they have a bad rap, haha!) They love to chase prey and have an independent streak, so some may be challenging for off-leash running.
Other breeds among the best dogs for running long distance:
Since I can’t include them all on my list, here are some other great candidates for distance running:
Malamute, Australian cattle dog (blue heeler), Doberman, foxhound, fox terrier, coonhound (and many other hound breeds too), English springer spaniel, all setter breeds, all of the pointing and flushing breeds, duck tolling retriever, standard poodle, Ibizan hound, some field bred Labradors (hopefully our future pup!) and many, many mixed breeds!
Let me know in the comments what other breeds should be on the list for distance running. If we get enough “votes” I’ll edit my list.
Now, onto …
Best dogs for running and jogging medium distances
Best dogs for those training for 5Ks, 10Ks and maybe even some half-marathons
Literally any breed or mixed breed can be a great running partner in the 2- to 5-mile range. It’s more about the individual dog than the breed, but here are some of my favorites:
1. Best dogs for running medium distances – the Doberman
Their long legs and high energy make them a great choice! Some Dobermans may even make great longer distance running partners.
My second-fittest dog running client was a Doberman named Bentley. The only dog who had more endurance than him was Annie the pudel pointer.
2. Rhodesian Ridgeback
Some ridgebacks will also make great distance runners. They were originally bred for hunting big game animals in South Africa so they definitely have some endurance as well!
This breed is on the larger size of around 85 pounds for the average male.
3. English springer spaniel
Another breed that can also handle some longer distances!
I put them here on our medium distance category because to me their energy is not quite as intense as a border collie or a pointer in my opinion. But they are still high energy and make awesome running partners.
My parents have a 14-year-old springer named Sophie, and she and I went running many times together in her younger years. She still goes for walks at age 14! Read more about springer spaniels here.
4. Standard poodles and all other poodles
Don’t let their looks fool you. Poodles of all sizes are very fit, high-energy dogs!
They were originally bred for hunting ducks and many poodles love to retrieve! Read about miniature poodles below.
5. German shepherd
Obviously German shepherds are bred for some serious endurance as they are often used in police work, search and rescue and other important jobs.
Some German shepherds can also make great distance runners but I feel they are better for “medium” distances. Read my interview with a German shepherd owner who does nosework with her dog.
Dalmatians are great athletes as they were originally bred as “coach dogs” to protect the horses.
The only drawback is they might get sunburned easier than some other breeds due to their thinner, light-colored coats. They’ll also need some protection from the cold.
7. Labrador retriever
I’m generalizing again, but I recommend you go with a field bred Lab as they are generally athletic than “show” labs. Regardless, Labs vary in energy. Some make great runners and others … not so much. We’re getting a field bred Lab next year and I plan to run with this future dog!
I’ve seen many couch-potato labs and I’ve seen labs that could easily compete with my Weimaraner. So, do your research and find the right Lab for your running style.
8. Golden retriever
Goldens also vary so much in their size, energy and personality. Some are very “big boned” and heavy while others are very fit and lean.
Again, I’d recommend a “field bred” golden if you are looking into doing some serious running. My family has had goldens for most of my life and made great running partners up to the 6-mile+ range. Read about why people love their goldens!
9. English setter
Also Irish setters, red and white setters and gordon setters.
These dogs are meant for hunting all day and are great running companions.
Pitbulls also vary tremendously in energy, size and personality. I’m not necessarily referring to the American Staffordshire terrier breed but any breed or mixed-breed referred to as a “pitbull.” Pitbull mixes are popular dogs and many of them make perfect running buddies!
Some heavier set pitbulls might be better with a few slow, steady miles while others can easily handle 6+ miles. I’ve ran with many, many awesome pitbull mixes. They are among the best runners!
Other breeds among the best dogs for running:
Other breeds or mixed breeds to consider as running partners include:
Samoyed, goldendoodle, labradoodle, flat coated retriever, Chesapeake Bay retriever, Portuguese water dog, the Feist dog, curly coated retriever, beagle, American Eskimo dog, Elkhound, Cairn terrier and all other terriers and many mixed breeds!
Basically, most terriers, hounds, retrievers, spaniels and many mutts will make great running partners!
10 best small breed dogs for running
Some of these breeds have been mentioned already but I felt small dogs deserved their own category. They are often overlooked as runners even though some small dogs are among the best!
Don’t underestimate small breeds as great running dogs. Some of these little guys can easily outrun larger breeds. They can easily run 3+ miles at a time and some can even run 6-10+ miles!
1. Best small dog for running – the Jack Russell terrier
Absolute number one choice for a small breed running buddy.
I already mentioned the Jack Russell terrier in the distance category above but wanted to add them here as well.
2. Border terrier
Another high-energy small dog with the endurance to keep up on longer runs!
3. Rat terrier
Are we noticing a pattern here with the terriers?
4. Shiba Inu
These dogs were originally bred as hunting dogs in Japan, according to their AKC page.
Today they are the most popular companion dog in Japan and are growing in popularity in the U.S.
5. German pinscher
This breed is another small breed originally bred to hunt rats. Today they make active companions and watchdogs.
According to the AKC standard, this breed ranges from about 25 to 40 pounds.
6. Boston terrier
You’ll want to be careful running in the heat with a Boston terrier. Because of their “short” face some can have a harder time breathing and they can overheat easily.
However, they certainly have the energy and enthusiasm for a run!
These little dogs are capable of hard work, according to their AKC page. They make great watchdogs and can catch rats.
Beagles love to run, follow their nose and track game!
9. Miniature poodle
I already mentioned the standard poodle above, but all sizes of poodles are active dogs who make great running buddies.
Pictured is our friend Alice who is actually a moyen poodle (or medium poodle) between the standard and mini size. Follow Alice the Pupper on Instagram here.
Papillons thrive in agility, and they make great, little runners!
I’ve been eyeing the papillon breed as a future dog for myself! I’ve never owned a toy breed, and I love how athletic these guys are.
Other small breeds among the best dogs for running
Shelties, American Eskimo dog, Corgi, miniature pincher (min pin), cairn terrier, Westie, cocker spaniel and many mixed breeds.
List your favorite small dogs for running in the comments and I’ll add them to the post!
5 worst dog breeds for running
Every dog is an individual and I’m unfairly generalizing here. I hesitate to even list out the “worst” running breeds because there are definitely pugs that make great running buddies just as there are border collies who are lazy.
That being said, I would not recommend you get one of these breeds with the intention of making him your running buddy. You might luck out, but don’t count on it!
These breeds might be up for a brisk walk or even a slow 1-2-mile run. I just would not recommend these breeds if you are a serious runner and want your dog to tag along.
The laid-back energy of these breeds is one of the reasons they make great pets! Many people prefer a laid-back dog.
The Pekinese has a flat face, short legs and a thick coat.
They make great companions and may be one of the oldest breeds. While they are cute little characters, they are not a top choice for a running companion!
2. English bulldog
Though we all love them, let’s face it, they are better suited for brisk walks than runs due to their short, squatty bodies and flat face.
They can overheat easily so if you do decide to run with your bulldog, head out early in the morning when it’s cooler and bring water along.
I used to have a neighbor who said she ran with her Newfie and I could not believe it! The way he waddled along on walks with such low energy, I have no idea how they ran together.
Newfies are “big boned” dogs with thick coats. They may be happy to walk 2-3 miles on occasion, but they would not be a top choice as a great running partner due to their size.
Simply because of their “pushed in” faces and short, heavier-set bodies, these guys may not be the best running buddies.
They may enjoy a brief 1-2 miles around the neighborhood on occasion or a brisk walk or hike, however!
5. Basset hound
Again, they might be happy to run a mile or 2 on occasion. However, they have short legs and long bodies so they enjoy walking and hiking. Remember that bassets are still hounds, after all, and they do love to be out following their noses!
Other dogs that may not make the best runners:
Chow, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Shitzu, Lhasa Apsa, Chihuahua, French bulldog.
Generally, very small breeds, very large breeds and breeds with flat faces are not your ideal running dogs but again, I’m generalizing.
There are definitely exceptions to the norm! Let me know your opinion in the comments!
Did I miss any of the best dogs for running?
Add your breed or mixed breed recommendation in the comments and I’ll add them to my lists!
Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training and behavior, healthy raw food for pets and running with dogs.