Have you ever watched your dog run around the yard or with its pals in the park and wondered how fast can a dog run?
The answer to this question depends on the individual dog. The running speed of a dog depends on its breed, size, and body structure.
Dogs such as dachshunds or basset hounds with short legs are naturally slower than the long-legged Greyhounds or Salukis.
Read on to find out more about how fast can dogs run – from the slowest to the fastest pups, as well as how they run and what are their running speeds.
How do dogs run?
How fast an individual dog can run depends on its breed, body composition, age, fitness level, and other factors. But overall, canines are potentially very good runners, thanks to these specific qualities they share:
- Their feet and paws’ structure allows for dogs to feel the ground and get a good grip of it while running. Their nails offer additional traction and thus allow running in complex gaits, turning easily while running, and running fast.
- They run in double-suspension gallop, which helps increase the distance and the speed when running at their fastest.
- Dogs have a forward drive and lots of power provided by their flexible spines, long loins, and powerful abdominal muscles.
Dogs have a single suspension gallop, also referred to as a four-time gait. They run in a pattern in which the front feet lift off of the ground before the corresponding rear ones step on the ground in a sequence that is asymmetrical and is as follows: RF – LF – RH – LH.
Some of the fastest dog breeds have a so-called double suspension gallop that allows their bodies to be “flying” in the air while neither of the dog’s feet is touching the ground.
On average, a dog can run at about 15-20 mph when it covers short distances. But some breeds are slower, and others can be much faster than that.
So, how fast your dog runs depends on its age, health, physical composition, and breed.
Some dogs are amazing runners
Most people immediately picture a greyhound when it comes to the fastest running dog in the world. And they are right. Greyhounds are the fastest dog breed, and some of them can reach a running speed of up to 45 miles per hour. This is close to the running record for long distances of the fastest mammal in the world – the cheetah. Although, the cheetah will beat a Greyhound easily in a short sprint.
Some of the other long-legged hounds, like the Saluki, the Afghan hound, and the Vizsla, are also impressive runners and can reach speeds of around 40 miles per hour.
The German Shepherds, Collies, and others are slightly slow and can run at 30 miles per hour.
It may come as a surprise to some, but the small-sized Jack Russell can run at an impressive 38 miles per hour.
Boxers, too, are known as great runners. They were used as courier dogs during the World Wars due to their speed and agility.
But what these seemingly quite different dog breeds have in common that makes them great runners?
The answer is – lean bodies, proportionately long legs for far reach, and deep chests allowing for sufficient lung capacity and cardio power to run fast.
But keep in mind that all of the measured high running speeds from above were measured for dogs running sprints at short distances.
Some dogs which have the stamina for it can run longer distances fast as well. For example, in 2016, a Weimaraner set a world record for running 1 mile in 4 minutes and 13 seconds.
Other dogs are not as fast runners
But the abovementioned champion runners of the canine world are more of an exception, as most other dogs can run at a speed of about 19 miles per hour only.
Some of the smallest breeds, like Chihuahuas, are even slower merely because of their tiny size and tiny legs.
Short muzzled breeds like Pugs and Shi Tzus are slow runners because of their difficulty breathing due to the specific structures of their palates and their short noses.
The giant breeds like Newfoundlands and St. Bernards are slower runners due to their large mass, even though they can be amazingly quick for short bursts but have little endurance to keep the speed up.
Here are some of the slower dog breeds and their average running speeds:
- French Bulldogs – less than 15 mph
- Pugs – from 5 to 10 mph
- Bulldogs – under 15 mph
- Shi Tzus – under 6 mph
- Basset Hounds – from 5 to 10 mph
Still, this difference in the running speeds between different breeds doesn’t mean that dogs from different breeds can’t enjoy running, racing each other, and playing together.
Some dogs are endurance runners
As mentioned earlier, the highest speeds cited above were measured for short sprints, but there are some dogs that can perform better in running long distances instead and maintain a good running speed throughout the run.
Some of these long-distance canine runners who make perfect running or jogging buddies are:
- Siberian Huskies
- Labrador Retrievers
- Standard Poodles
- German Shorthaired Pointers
- English Setters
These dogs can maintain a steady speed of 10-15 mph for long distances. For example, Siberian Huskies who participate in multi-day sled races run for miles and days at high speed and at a long distance.
If your pup is a mixed breed and doesn’t fall into any of these specific categories and breeds, then its running speed and abilities depend on its age, structure, and health.
As a whole, younger dogs are faster runners, while senior dogs may be slowed down due to arthritis or other joint pains.
No matter whether your pup is a champion sprinter, a marathon runner, or likes to trot slowly, all dogs need daily walks and exercise to stay well and healthy.
If you have an active dog that doesn’t mind running, you can take it running, hiking, cycling, jogging, and on adventures with you if you want it to stay in good shape and be a happy pup.