Can Your Dog Go the Distance?

Sure most fit canines could thump us in a 5K, but anyone who has ever watched leashed runners at a local park knows that some animals are better athletes than others. But how does your dog rate? Or if you’re searching for a perfect running partner, what kind should you pick?

Not surprisingly, it depends. There’s no perfect running breed for all conditions. “There are many considerations including size, hair coat, activity level, temperament, cost and availability,” says Chloe Hardman, veterinary specialist at Animal Eye Care in Malvern, Victoria (animaleyecare.com.au).

Some breeds, such as greyhounds were bred to run and most working dogs are naturally suited to running. By contrast squishy-nosed dogs, such as pugs and bulldogs, don’t make good distance athletes, because they’re prone to overheating. That’s not to say your pug can’t run, but he probably shouldn’t join you for a late summer 15-kilometre run.

Hardman says if you want to go long or hit technical trails, some breeds definitely rise to the top. (Always check if dogs are allowed on the particular trail you plan to run, on your state’s Parks website, first.)

Here, Hardman picks her top running breeds in five categories.


Best For Long Steady Runs (15K)

Australian Kelpie

Australian Cattle Dog


Ibizan Hound

German short-haired pointers

Siberian Husky


Best for Mid-Level Runs (Less than 10K)

Airedale Terrier




German Shepherd

Rhodesian Ridgeback


Best for Shorter Runs (Less than 5K)

Border Terrier


Jack Russell Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terrier


Beagle (always on lead)


Going Fast (4.30-minute-kilometres or faster)

Australian Kelpie

Australian Shepherd

Ibizan Hound

Siberian Husky




Best for Obedience (especially on trails)

Golden Retriever

Labrador Retriever

Standard Poodle

Australian Shepherd

Border Collie

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