Just like people, some dogs make better athletes than others. There is no perfect breed for all distances or conditions. In addition, a dog’s personality and temperament can also determine if they will make a good running buddy or not.
Breeds to Avoid… In general, small dog breeds (eg. Chihuahua’s) large dog breeds (eg. Great Danes) or brachycephalic breeds (eg. Pugs or Bulldogs) may not make the best exercise companions. These dogs can still run, there just may be other breeds out there that are better suited to joining you for a regular 10k. I have blogged previously about running with my chihuahua.
And now for the Top Ten…
#10 Bitser Many mixed breed dogs can make ideal running companions, especially if they are medium-sized, keen and alert.
#9 Jack Russell A surprise entry. Originally bred to hunt foxes, Jack Russell’s have a lot of energy and can run for a surprisingly long time. If you are looking for a more compact dog breed that is suited to running 10km or more, this could be the breed for you.
#8 Staffordshire Terrier They might not look like a running breed, but they have plenty of energy and a muscular build. They would be more suited to brisk, shorter runs.
#7 Greyhound These dogs were bred to run! Greyhounds have a muscular, lean build and are best suited to the shorter distances. Whippets are another breed that have similar characteristics to the Greyhound.
#6 Poodle The Poodle was originally bred as a gun dog, and therefore has athletic instincts. They are also energetic and obedient, making them great running partners for short to middle distances. Cheryl says her Poodle could easily run 10km with her on the Fernleigh Track at 8 or 9 years of age.
#5 Labrador The most popular breed of dog in America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK is also a popular choice among runners. Like Poodles, they were originally bred as a gun dog. They have a muscular build and a larger body size, making them more suitable to slower runs. Their obedience also makes them good on trails. Ashley has taken her Labrador for runs up to 17km and he doesn’t tire at all. Yvonne regularly runs between 5 and 12km with her Labrador. Colleen also has 2 Labradors, and will run 8-10km a couple of times a week with them. However, Rebecca says when she tries to take her Labrador for a run, he just wants to stop and say hello to everyone. And Reggie’s Labrador Toby just stops dead after about 4km of running and refuses to go any further. Anna tried running 5km with her Labrador once, and thinks it nearly killed him! So at the end of the day, it really can come down to the personality of the dog.
#4 Australian Cattle Dog (and other herding breeds) The Australian Cattle Dog was originally developed in Australia to drove cattle over long distances. It is an athletic and agile breed that likes to have a job to do. They are strong and muscular, and have high energy levels and an active mind. They need to be exercised daily. They suit running medium to longer distances. Other herding breeds such as the Border Collie, originally developed in Scotland to herd sheep, also make great running companions. These dogs are very intelligent, and require considerable daily exercise and stimulation. Tracy runs with her Blue Cattle Dog, and says that he will go until he drops. Suze also used to Run regularly with her Blue Cattle Dog X distances of around
#3 Dalmatian Dalmatians originated in Croatia and were originally bred to escort carriages and keep pace with the horses. They are a muscular breed, with excellent stamina and endurance. They would be best suited to longer, slower runs. Kirsty used to run with her Dalmatian, regularly clocking up 15km or more. Dave Robertson and his Dalmatian Bella are also regular running partners around Newcastle.
#2 Wiemaraner This breed was originally developed in Germany as a gun dog. Wiemaraners, and other similar breeds like Vizslas and German Shorthaired Pointers, have a mental aptitude for running. They are medium sized, and have a lean build, so are suited to running fast, or long. They also make excellent companions on trail runs as they are sure-footed and quick to react. They also suit running in warmer climates, as they have a short coat, and long noses. Alicia regularly runs with her Wiemaraner Maverick, and says he will basically go as long as you do. She selected the breed for this reason. Heidi has a Wiemaraner and a Whippet. The Wiemaraner has done all of her marathon and Ironman training with her. She used to take her Wiemaraner with her when she went mountain biking too, and he could handle distances of 30km or more. Michelle has a German Shorthaired Pointer, and regularly runs 10-18km with him.
#1 Kelpie The Kelpie is a herding dog originally developed in Australia. It has been exported around the world, and is primarily used to muster sheep, cattle and goats. A good working Kelpie is a versatile dog, and can work all day. They are medium-sized and muscular, and excel at agility. A Kelpie holds the world record for dog jumping. They are best suited to longer slower runs, and need to be exercised regularly. They are also intelligent and alert, and make good companions on trails. Karen has a Kelpie, Cadence, who is her regular training partner. Karen recently won first place in the Anzac Ultramarathon. Cadence ran part of the race with her, as well as the bulk of her training. Her longest to date has been Sugarloaf to Heaton Gap lookout return, just over 40km. Cadence’s Vet says she is one of the healthiest Kelpies he has ever seen.
Beware what may become of your house though, if something happens and you (and your working dog) can’t get out for a run!
Anybody looking for a new dog, particularly a running companion, please consider adoption. Many of the dogs featured in this post (including Tequila the Chihuahua and Cadence the Kelpie) were rescue dogs. If you’re looking for a kelpie, cattle dog or border collie please contact the Australian working dog rescue (AWDRI). They do a fantastic dog rescuing and rehabilitating working dog breeds. Ex-racing greyhounds can also be rehabilitated to make great pets and running partners.