Dogs could very well be the perfect running partners: They’re always ready to go, they eagerly keep pace, and they never complain about being tired. But not every dog is built for running. The ideal jogging companion is low-maintenance and obedient, with energy and endurance. If you’re looking for a new pacer, these 20 breeds are the best of the best.
20. American Staffordshire Terrier
This stocky and squat breed doesn’t look like a running dog, but it has plenty of energy, agility, and muscle to join you on a quick, few-mile jog. Vigorous daily exercise will make this dog—and you—happier. The Am Staff, as it’s sometimes called, loves having a job to do, such as pushing you one more time around the block.
19. Australian Cattle Dog
A natural herder, the Australian Cattle Dog (also known as a Queensland, Blue, or Red Heeler) is an athletic, agile breed weighing in at around 35 pounds. Their instinctual hard work ethic means they love having a job or a task at hand, so they make perfect running partners to push you out the door and to the finish line.
18. Labrador Retriever
Labs are used to being on these types of lists (you’ll also find them in our Best Family Dogs and Best Active Dogs galleries), so it’s no surprise that they’re included here, too. Labs are lean but sturdy and have enough energy to keep pace with a sprint workout or go the distance on a 10K. Like all gun dog breeds, Labs can be extremely obedient and willing to work ’round the clock, making them the perfect adventure companion.
Ever seen a “Boxer Burn” or a “Nascar Lap?” Often, Boxers will get a burst of energy and zip around the yard or living room as fast as they can until they plop down, completely spent. This explosion of energy makes sense, as Boxers have running in their blood—they were once used as couriers during wartime and to chase down large game, such as wild boar and bison. Because of their squished faces, exercise in extremely hot weather can cause breathing problems. Remember not to run too hard or long with puppies or younger dogs (of any breed), as too many miles might throw off their growth plates and cause problems in the future.
16. Brittany Spaniel
Get ready for that pleading look that just says, “I want to go outside!” Brittany Spaniels are eager-to-please, very smart, and very energetic—they need lots of exercise, more than just a walk around the block. Leggy and light boned, these hunting dogs are quick and agile. “We had a Brittany for 12 years, and he was the greatest dog that I have ever had,” says one commenter on LetsRun.com.
15. German Shorthaired Pointer
German Shorthaired Pointers are true endurance athletes; they require regular exercise every day. Thanks to a lean build and muscular hindquarters, this breed is great for long runs (more than ten miles) and even keeping up with cyclists. Bred as hunting dogs, GSPs are sure-footed and have good reaction time, making them just as good—if not better—on trails as on the road.
14. Siberian Husky
Huskies were bred as sled dogs, so it’s in their nature to run, and run some more. Their endurance is never-ending. And the colder the weather, the better, so if you’re one of those crazy people who ran through the Polar Vortex, this is the breed for you. Thick fur—a soft undercoat and a longer, coarse topcoat—keep them well insulated in the nastiest conditions for days at a time.
13. English Setters
English Setters get feisty (read: ruin furniture) when not exercised enough, which is good incentive to get outside. Although this breed was bred as a gun dog for running in fields all day, their optimal distance for a road run is about four to six miles. And stay out of the woods; their long fur can easily gather brambles and twigs.
12. Belgian Shepherd
Not only does this breed have an elegant, proud stature, but its gait follows suit with a smooth, tireless stride that is perfect for long, slow runs (this dog is so graceful, in fact, that you might look clumsy running alongside it). This strong and lean breed, also known as the Belgian Shepherd, won’t tire. After all, these dogs have worked as herders, message carriers, ambulance dogs, and even machine gun pullers during WWI, according to the American Kennel Club.
Although the breed might seem pretentious—and even prissy—the Standard Poodle shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to being a running companion. The breed has plenty of energy, but isn’t short on intelligence or obedience, either. The poodle was bred as a gun dog and a water retriever, and the breed retains those athletic instincts, which will surely kick in on a long, slow run.
10. Jack Russell Terrier
Small but mighty, Jack Russell Terriers have boundless energy and can run for surprisingly extended periods of time. If you're looking for a more compact long-distance running mate, this adventurous breed should be just right.
9. Airedale Terrier
Live somewhere hot? The Airedale Terrier has a short, wiry coat made for just such a place. Airedales love to run, but since they’re on the smaller side, you’ll probably get along best if you’re running 10K or less, according to Runner’s World.
Experienced runners will appreciate the Vizsla’s super-athleticism. According to Runner’s World, this breed excels at speed, endurance, navigating obstacles, and even jumping. What further sets Vizslas apart is their exceptional trainability, which could be a plus for those who live in busy areas or want to skip a leash.
7. Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan Malamute has a thick coat and was bred to carry loads over long distances, so it is a great endurance runner and good for those who live in colder climates. With their hardy build and intelligence, Malamutes will gladly tough out less-than-ideal conditions by your side.
Dalmatians can keep pace with horses. Which means they can keep pace with you. These large and lean dogs were classically employed to run ahead of firefighting carriages and clear the way, but they’re just as happy running through the park. Great if you’re looking for a more protective breed to accompany your long-distance jogs.
5. German Shepherd
German Shepherds are known for having many talents, and running is one of them. Strong and durably built, this breed can keep pace with the best of them. Even better, German Shepherds are good with kids, protective and eager to please—sure to become much more than a running companion.
4. Australian Shepherd
The Australian Shepherd is another busybody herding breed that sets itself apart with its people skills and protective nature. This breed would make a wonderful addition to an active family, and a good companion for anyone who likes to explore different kinds of terrain.
3. Border Collie
Herding dogs are agile runners, and the Border Collie is considered one of the most intelligent of the breeds. This dog loves having a job to do, says the American Kennel Club, so keep it busy as a faithful and sure-footed running mate.
What makes the Weimaraner such a great choice for running companion is its endless adaptability. The graceful “grey ghost” breed is touted by Runner’s World as excelling at short, quick bursts and pacing for long distances, with a low-maintenance short coat for hot climates. The Weimaraner is also great at navigating rough terrain or trails, and it is fearless, easily trained, and a great family pet—a winner all around.
1. Rhodesian Ridgeback
Rhodesian Ridgebacks were originally bred to hunt lions in Africa, so they are extremely athletic, yet surprisingly good with people. This magnificent breed has an efficient stride and a short, low-maintenance coat that helps when running in the heat.
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