The Best Running Dogs: 8 Best Breeds For Running Companions

A running partner can be the companionship you need for the miles of endless roads or trails. 

When your motivation to lace up your sneakers and head out for a run isn’t where you’d like it to be, a running partner can provide the boost you need to take on your workout with enthusiasm and commitment.

While some runners turn to their partner or spouse, a neighbour or coworker, or a buddy from their running club, other runners find that when it comes to the ideal running partner, dogs take the cake. 

However, not all dogs are destined to be the best running dogs, and distance running can actually be unhealthy for dogs with certain health conditions or of certain builds.  

If you’d like to turn your four-legged friend into your running buddy, it’s helpful to know which breeds make the best running dogs. 

Running with your dog can be fun and rewarding, and it is a great way to give your dog the exercise he or she needs while checking off that box yourself.

Some runners also feel safer running with a dog, particularly if they’d otherwise be alone.

What Makes A Good Running Dog?

When it comes to choosing dogs that make the best running companions, in many ways, it’s less about specific dog breeds and more about specific traits of the dog.


Here are six traits to consider when trying to find good running dogs:

#1: Leg Length

Dogs with very short legs, such as Chihuahuas and Dachshunds, are never going to be good running dogs simply because you’ll exhaust their short legs within a matter of blocks. Greyhounds and Salukis, in contrast, have long legs to better match your stride.

#2: Body Size

This trait is a bit of a Goldilocks situation. Dogs that are too small won’t be up to keeping pace with you given their short legs. Large, heavy dogs may not be the best-running dogs either, as their weight and size can put excessive stress on their joints should they be running weekly mileage with you. 

Dogs over 80 pounds are prone to joint problems later in life, so distance running can cause premature wear and tear on their hips and knees, especially if they run on pavement.

#3: Bone Structure 

Just as humans have various biomechanical abnormalities, such as leg length discrepancies, hip rotation, etc., dogs can have structural issues. 

Speak with your vet about your dog’s joint health and structure, including hips, knees, ankles, and back to ensure your canine buddy doesn’t have biomechanical issues or injury risk factors. 

Some dog breeds are prone to hip dysplasia, and dogs with long bodies, such as Dachshunds, frequently experience back issues. Running can exacerbate any structural issues with your pup.

#4: Snout Length

Dogs with a flat snout, such as Boxers, Pugs, and Bulldogs, do not make good running dogs because their flat snout inhibits breathing and panting, both of which are physiologically required when you take them running. 

Panting is the way that dogs cool themselves off. Therefore, running can be dangerous for a dog with a flat snout because it cannot cool itself adequately.

#5: Coat Thickness and Texture

Dogs with long, thick coats will have difficulty cooling their body when running in the heat. If you want your dog to be a year-round running buddy, the coat should be short and not particularly warm.

#6: Energy and Interest

Your dog’s energy level and interest in running are also key traits to consider when determining which dogs make the best running dogs. Your dog’s desire to run and running potential should match your objectives and training needs. 

Some dogs like to run off-leash but feel trapped and unmotivated once you tether them. Other dogs have the attention span to whirl around the neighbourhood or trails for 2-3 miles at top speed but have no interest in hanging back with you at a plodding pace for 10 miles.

Either way, you don’t want to be pulling your furry friend about making it a frustrating experience for you both.

Which Dog Breeds Make The Best Running Dogs?

Not surprisingly, this list is dominated by medium to large dogs bred for endurance. 

While you absolutely can take your larger or smaller dog running, it’s just not quite what they’re bred for! Here’s our baker’s dozen of the best dog breeds for runners.

1. Vizsla

With a handsome, rust-coloured coat, the Vizsla is a bird-hunting dog. They are total balls of energy that should not be underestimated.

  • Best For Long trail runs, good in the heat, and going fast. Excellent for competitive canicross, (Canicross is the sport of cross-country running with dogs)
  • Off-Duty Behavior: Wired. These dogs practically vibrate with energy, and often don’t do well in civilian or city lifestyles. Be prepared for daily exercise, even when you’re sick of running
  • Common Health Concerns: Hip dysplasia, blood clotting disorders, epilepsy.

2. Weimaraner

Sleek, silvery fur makes the Weimaraner nearly unmistakable. They’re quite a bit larger than the Pointers and Vizslas but are similarly leggy and energetic.

  • Best For: Long trail runs, fast. Excellent for competitive running or skijoring if you keep them warm.
  • Off-Duty Behavior: Energetic, but generally not frenetic. Expect daily exercise.
  • Common Health Concerns: Prone to bloat, otherwise generally healthy.

3. Pointer (German Wirehaired or German Shorthaired)

These dogs are go-go-GO! Pointers are the slightly more common cousin of the Vizsla. They often have handsome spotted coats and are gracefully leggy.

  • Best For: Fast, hilly trail runs. Wirehaired Pointers have a burr-repellent coat. Both varieties can excel at shorter races.
  • Off-Duty Behavior: Similar to the Vizsla, the Pointer often requires a lot of exercises every day. They can be busybodies of sorts, and often need a lot of “work” to do.
  • Common Health Concerns: Generally long-lived, may experience some hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, or bloat.

4. Siberian Husky

The quintessential running dog, Huskies love to pull and run. They’re not as fast as the upland game dogs above, but they’re endurance freaks. 

They can’t be shaved and have a plush coat, so look elsewhere if you want a summer running buddy.

  • Best For Long winter runs, pulling sports such as skijoring or mushing.
  • Off-Duty Behavior: Huskies are known for howling, digging, and otherwise being a nuisance if under-exercised (and sometimes even when they should be tired). They love chasing bunnies and can be tricky to train, but they are a joy to live with when your personalities mesh.
  • Common Health Concerns: Eye issues, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia.

5. Fox Terrier

One of the smallest dogs on this list, the Fox Terrier has a nice wiry coat that keeps him cool. This breed has a characteristically cheery yet energetic temperament. 

They’re not generally good off-leash without substantial training, but boy are they fun!

  • Best For Regular, shorter runs. Good in the heat.
  • Off-Duty Behavior: These dogs tend to be spunky and playful, but won’t need a daily run. They are real hunters, so keep them on a leash or behind a fence until you’ve done a lot of training!
  • Common Health Concerns: Generally healthy, no common issues that directly affect running. Most commonly struggle with eye diseases or cataracts.

6. Whippet

Leggy and lean, whippets are built for speed. 

In fact, they might seriously outpace many runners (that’s why we didn’t include their cousin the Greyhound). 

They’re excellent in the heat and generally lounge around at home.

  • Best For: Fast runs, running in the heat.
  • Off-Duty Behavior: Whippets are generally pretty easy around the home and tend to be couch potatoes. They are tricky to train for off-leash reliability since they’re bred to chase fast-retreating objects (such as bunnies or cars).
  • Common Health Concerns: Allergies and eye issues such as cataracts and lens luxation.

7. Eurohound

The Eurohound is technically a mixed-breed dog. They’re bred for sledge racing, canicross, skijoring, and bikejoring. And they’re fast. 

Generally, a Eurohound is a mixture of a Siberian Husky and a pointing breed (most often the German Shorthaired Pointer). 

Sprint racers prefer to have 50/50 mixes (fast and light, but get cold easily), whereas distance racers generally will only have? Pointer to? Husky.

  • Best For Competitive running or pulling. Pick the percentage of Husky that suits your climate.
  • Off-Duty Behavior: Variable (they are mixed breeds, after all). These dogs are bred for racing and running, so don’t expect a couch potato dog!
  • Common Health Concerns: Variable. Bloat, hip dysplasia, and eye issues may occur but they do have some hybrid vitality.

8. Border Collie

Whip-smart and with an energy level to match, the Border Collie isn’t a good dog for beginners – but they’re often great for runners. 

With two coat types to pick from and a generally healthy bloodline, Border Collies are great options if you can keep up.

Their close relative the Australian Shepherd is another good running buddy, but the Border Collie’s smooth-coated option meant they made the list instead.

  • Best For Daily runs of almost any distance, not generally good at pulling. Pick a smooth-coated Border Collie if you’re in a warmer area.
  • Off-Duty Behavior: Variable, but generally Border Collies are very busy. If they’re bored or under-exercised, they can be anxious, clingy, and obsessive. Plan for daily exercise and lots of mental enrichment for these overachievers.
  • Common Health Concerns: Generally healthy, but may suffer from hip dysplasia.

9. Labrador Retriever

What is the lab not good at? These all-around family dogs can be great jogging partners. 

Opt for a “field bred” Lab to get more energy or a “pet line” Lab to get a casual weekend warrior.

  • Best For All-purpose jogging buddy. Depending on the individual, they may need that daily run – or they might not. Generally not a first choice for racing.
  • Off-Duty Behavior: Varies. Many labs are excellent family pets that lounge around the home and love playtime. Others, especially those bred for hunting, can be nearly as energetic and needy as a Border Collie!
  • Common Health Concerns: Hip dysplasia and cancer are both huge concerns for this breed. Ensure your Lab’s hips are cleared before starting to take him running.

10. Parson Russell Terrier

Bold yet sweet, the Parson Russell Terrier is the slightly more energetic and larger cousin of the Jack Russell Terrier. 

They’re quick enough to keep up with most runners, yet small enough for city apartments.

  • Best For The urban jogger.
  • Off-Duty Behavior: Energetic, but cuddly. Expect “mandatory” playtime most days, but this dog won’t drive you bonkers if you can’t run that day (unlike the Pointers in the list).
  • Common Health Concerns: Compulsive behaviour (chasing imaginary flies, digging, tail-biting), cancer, and patellar luxation. Check your Parson’s knees before taking him on the trails.

11. Standard Poodle

The Poodle defies its aristocratic looks and is a true athlete. 

Their long legs and shaveable coat make them a great choice for warmer climates – especially if you’d rather skip the frenetic energy of a Vizsla.

 For shorter, slower runs, you can opt for the Miniature Poodle instead.

  • Best For All-purpose jogging.
  • Off-Duty Behavior: Poodles can be clingy, but otherwise are fun to live with. They’re very smart and need a reasonable amount of exercise. Poodles, when properly exercised, can be good urban or suburban pets.
  • Common Health Concerns: Poodles may suffer from progressive retinal atrophy, bloat, or epilepsy. Concerning running, they are also prone to collapsed tracheas.

12. Pit Bull

With their wide grins and almost overly muscular bodies, Pit Bulls are excellent and determined running partners. 

Pick a longer-nosed Pit Bull (not a short-nosed, boxer-like one) and they’re generally good in the heat (but not very fond of the cold). 

Pit Bulls are also excellent stranger-repellant, making them a popular choice for female joggers.

  • Best for: The daily jogger.
  • Off-Duty Behavior: Pit Bulls can be playful to a fault, so it’s important to teach them to relax and give them adequate mental and physical exercise. They tend to be very sweet with their families and can be quite snugglers.
  • Common Health Concerns: Generally healthy, may suffer from hip dysplasia or allergies.

13. Belgian Malinois

Not for the faint of heart, Belgian Malinois are right up there with the Border Collie on both smarts and energy. 

With alert ears and an intimidating bark, the Belgian Malinois is a popular choice for personal protection dogs. 

They also make great running companions when well-trained!

  • Best For Brisk, medium-length runs or long and slow runs.
  • Off-Duty Behavior: These dogs are not for beginners. They can be quite territorial and may pace and patrol incessantly if not given a different job. “Mals” are excellent dogs for trainers and athletes who will appropriately channel their energy and brains. That said, when they’re adequately cared for, they’re not above a well-earned snooze!
  • Common Health Concerns: Belgian Malinois are prone to elbow dysplasia, a serious concern for running. They can also have eye issues such as progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts.


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