The 20 Best Dog Breeds for Runners

If you're looking for a new running companion, these 20 dog breeds are the best of the best.

The 20 Best Dog Breeds for Runners

The ideal running-dog companion is low-maintenance and obedient, with energy and endurance.    Photo: Tatiana Katsai/Shutterstock

Dogs may be the 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. These 20 breeds are a great place to start.  

20. American Staffordshire Terrier

The American Staffordshire Terrier
The American Staffordshire Terrier has enough energy to join you on a quick run.   Photo: Aly Tyler/Thinkstock

The stocky and squat American Staffordshire terrier 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

Australian cattle dog
The Australian cattle dog is an athletic, agile breed with a hard work ethic.   Photo: Carmelka/Thinkstock

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

Labrador Retriever
Labrador retrievers have enough energy to keep pace with a sprint workout or go the distance on a 10K.   Photo: PhilStev/Thinkstock

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. Labrador retrievers 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.

17. Boxer

Boxer dog
Boxers were once used as couriers during wartime and to chase down large game, such as wild bison.   Photo: taviphoto/Thinkstock

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.

16. Brittany Spaniel

Brittany Spaniel dog
Brittany spaniels are quick and agile.   Photo: legna69/Thinkstock

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 Pointer
German shorthaired pointers are just as good—if not better—on trails as on the road.   Photo: Lenka Dankova/Thinkstock

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

Siberian Husky
Huskies were bred as sled dogs, so it's in their nature to run, Run, RUN.   Photo: Maria Itina/Thinkstock

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 huskies well insulated in the nastiest conditions for days at a time.

13. English Setter 

English Setter
English setters' optimal distance for a road run is about four to six miles.   Photo: Kjell Brynildsen/Thinkstock

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

Belgian Shepherd
The Belgian shepherd is perfect for long, slow runs.   Photo: Rolf Klebsattel/Thinkstock

Not only does this dog 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.

11. Poodle

poodle
The standard poodle is fast, smart, athletic, and obedient. What's not to love?   Photo: ttretjak/Thinkstock

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

Jack Russell terriers
Small but mighty, Jack Russell terriers have tons of energy and can run for extended periods.   Photo: Ammit/Thinkstock

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

Airedale terrier
The Airedale terrier will do best running 10K or less.   Photo: Eldad Carin/Thinkstock

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.

8. Vizsla

Vizsla
Experienced runners will appreciate the vizsla’s super-athleticism.   Photo: Fenne kustermans/Thinkstock

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

Alaskan malamute
The Alaskan malamute is a great endurance runner and good for those who live in colder climates.   Photo: ZannaDemcenko/Thinkstock

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.

6. Dalmation

Dalmation
Dalmatians will accompany you on your long-distance jogs.   Photo: Yury_Semenov/Thinkstock

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 Dog

German shepherds
German shepherds can keep pace with even the most seasoned runner.   Photo: JennayHitesman/Thinkstock

German shepherd dogs 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

Australian Shepherd
The Australian Shepherd is sets itself apart with its people skills and protective nature.   Photo: Anna Utekhina/Thinkstock

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

border collie
Herding dogs are agile runners, and the border collie is considered one of the most intelligent of the breeds.   Photo: Jordan Edgcomb/Thinkstock

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.

2. Weimaraner

Weimaraner
The Weimaraner excels at short, quick bursts and pacing for long distances, with a low-maintenance short coat for hot climates.   Photo: AnetaPics/Thinkstock

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 ridgeback
Rhodesian ridgebacks are extremely athletic and great with people.   Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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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