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How Fast Can Dogs Run? Breed Speeds Explained

You’ve probably noticed when chasing after your dog that, well, you can’t outrun them. If your dog wants to book it away from you, odds are, they can, which can be both frustrating and potentially dangerous when they’re doing something they’re not supposed to.

However, when watching your dog play with a fellow furry friend at the park, you notice that they’re pretty well neck in neck, begging the question, how on earth can they run that fast? While some dogs are indeed incredibly fast runners, with the ability to outrun a moving car in a residential neighborhood, not all dogs run at the same speed or even in the same manner.

In fact, smaller breeds and breeds with shorter legs run significantly slower than their larger and longer counterparts. So, how fast can a dog run? We take a look at some of the fastest known dog breed speeds and what gives them the ability to easily outrun most humans.

How Do Dogs Run?

What makes a dog a fast runner? Are dogs with super long, muscular legs the only breeds that are destined to be fast runners? Not necessarily. How fast a dog can run depends on its body composition and dog breed, but the following common factors also play a role:

Nails for traction

Nails allow the dog’s feet to grip and feel the ground, allowing them to run confidently and giving them great turning ability

A double-suspension gallop

The double-suspension gait is a four-time, asymmetrical gait seen only in hound breeds such as the greyhound and whippet. The dog can achieve full extension with the front legs extended forward and the rear legs extended rearward. Although this gait doesn’t offer much in terms of endurance, it does maximize speed and distance when running at top speed.

Lots of power

A dog can achieve more power while running due to a flexible spine, long loins, and strong abdominal muscles.

Good health

Of course, good health plays a large factor in whether a dog has the energy, stamina, and endurance to run at the top speed that they’re capable of.

The Average Speed of a Dog

Taking all of the above factors into consideration, what is the average speed of a dog? On average, dogs clock in at about 19 miles per hour, with some breeds being capable of running significantly faster than this, quite literally rivaling the speed of a cheetah.

These dogs tend to have a deep chest, lean body, and proportionally long legs in common, having the power and lung capacity to continuously move fast. However, a dog’s size does not necessarily matter when it comes to how fast dogs run, as long as it possesses these qualities.

The Fastest Dog Breeds in the World

Curious what the fastest dog breeds in the world are? At least one of these may surprise you! The following are noted as being the top 5 fastest dog breeds in the world.

1. Greyhound

two greyhound dog running on track

Not surprisingly, these popular racing dogs are recorded as being the fastest dog breed in the world, with a top speed of 45 mph. Even though Greyhounds have been raced for decades and are still raced worldwide today, these super-fast dogs make excellent house pets. They’re incredibly friendly, affectionate, and easy to maintain health-wise.

2. Saluki

saluki dog close up outdoor

The Saluki comes in at a close second to the Greyhound, with a recorded top speed of 42 mph. One of the oldest dog breeds, the Saluki is incredibly devoted to its people and is incredibly friendly. However, due to their super quick nature, it’s important to train these dogs early on – one look at a squirrel across the field, and they’re gone!

3. Afghan Hound

afghan hound running on outdoor track

Afghan Hound has a top speed of 40 mph, making these beautiful dogs quite the vision when they’re running with their long, flowy hair! While these dogs were once used for hunting in Afghanistan’s deserts, they make loyal and affectionate family pets. However, these dogs are also incredibly independent, making them on the tougher side to train (especially when they’re running away from you)!

4. Vizsla

vizsla running outdoor on dirt track

Technically tied for third place is the Vizsla, at a 40 mph top running speed. Vizslas make excellent family pets, being affectionate, playful, and easy to train. These speedy pups were initially trained in Hungary to run alongside hunters, so it’s important to train them early and not let them get loose.

5. Jack Russell Terrier

jack russell terrier running outdoor in grass

In fifth place is the Jack Russell Terrier, proving that size truly does not always matter when it comes to speed! The Jack Russell hails from England were originally bred to hunt foxes over 200 years ago. Although Jack Russell Terriers often get a bad rep for being “yappy,” this is largely due to a lack of training and small dog syndrome. Jack Russells are active, athletic, and friendly and make great family dogs.

More Fast Dog Breeds

Looking for more of the fastest dog breeds in the world? Check out the list below:

  • Dalmatian (37 mph)
  • Borzoi (36 mph)
  • Whippet (35 mph)
  • Doberman Pinscher (32 mph)
  • Border Collie (30 mph)
  • Poodle (30 mph)
  • German Shepherd (30 mph)
  • Scottish Deerhound (28 mph)
  • Giant Schnauzer (28 mph)
  • Italian Greyhound (25 mph)

Why Some Dogs Can’t Run As Fast

We’ve touched on factors that generally contribute to a dog’s super speed, but what is it that truly weighs against a dog’s ability to run fast and well? While a dog’s size isn’t always a factor, it can be with super small breeds such as the Chihuahua. In this case, a Chihuahua can’t run fast due to its size, usually maxing out at eight mph.

Smaller dog breeds also have smaller lungs and a smaller heart, and their skeletal structure is usually not built to run fast (except for a few exceptions, such as the Jack Russell). In breeds with short noses, such as the pug and bulldog, their compromised respiratory systems are usually the culprit when it comes to why their breathing can’t keep up.

So, why aren’t extra-large breeds at the top of the list when it comes to speed? Just like in the case of super small pups, their size is a hindrance, and they are usually only able to exert a quick, fast burst of energy before quickly maxing out.

The Slowest Dog Breeds in the World

Curious as to what the slowest dog breeds in the world are? Let’s take a look at which breeds make this list:

  • Shih Tzu (6 mph)
  • Lhasa Apso (7 mph)
  • Japanese Chin (7 mph)
  • Pomeranian (7 mph)
  • Chihuahua (8 mph)
  • Daschund (8 mph)
  • Pug (8 mph)
  • Bichon Frise (8 mph)
  • French Bulldog (8 mph)
  • English Toy Spaniel (10 mph)
  • Pekingese (10 mph)

chihuahua running outdoor in grass

Endurance Runners

It’s important to note that just because a dog tops out at a fast speed, that doesn’t mean that they can maintain said speed over a long time. In fact, Greyhounds are sprinters and not distance runners, so these speedy dogs are not necessarily the best choice for taking on a jog. If you do intend to run long distances with a fast breed with low endurance, it’s important that you start with a one-mile jog and slowly increase the distance. These dog breeds must be conditioned slowly to run long distances, which can negatively affect their health.

If you’re a runner and are looking for a dog that can easily keep up with you while keeping up their endurance, the following dog breeds are excellent running companions, managing consistent 10-15 mph runs:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • Siberian Husky
  • English Setter
  • Standard Poodle
  • Dalmatian

Mixed Breed Dogs

Mixed breed dogs may fit into any of the above categories when it comes to their running abilities. You never know which traits a mixed breed dog will inherit from its various ancestors, so it’s important to observe your dog and see what kind of a runner they are, especially if you’re looking for a running buddy.

It’s important to remember that both age and health have a lot to do with what kind of shape your dog is in and highly affects how well your dog will run. All dogs need regular exercise regardless of their breed and running type, so find out what your dog likes and take advantage of their natural abilities!

Health Matters

Regardless of your dog’s age, you should always consult your veterinarian before making any changes in their regular workout regimen. It’s important to ensure that your dog does not have a health condition that would make running or strenuous exercise dangerous.

There are a number of health issues that could leave your dog vulnerable to further injury if aggravated by strenuous physical activity, including heart, respiratory, muscle, bone, and joint issues.

Some breeds are genetically prone to developing these conditions, and strenuous exercise such as too much running can only bring them on sooner. For example, the German Shepherd is known to suffer from hip dysplasia, which would be significantly aggravated by the wrong type of exercise.

It’s also important to remember that even healthy dogs need to warm up by following a routine to avoid injury on their runs and put too much strain on their muscles. This can be done by starting with a few minutes of walking or slow jogging, ensuring that your pup is fully ready and stretched before you reach full speed.

daschund dog

Can You Train Your Dog to Run Fast?

While there are certainly tips and tricks to increasing your dog’s speed and endurance, it’s important to take the above into consideration and make sure that your dog is suited for the kind of exercise you wish to partake in with them. Not all dogs are meant to be race dogs, and not all dogs are meant to be running buddies.

If you know that your dog is physically capable of going for runs or jogs, but they’re just not quite there yet, the following can be useful in encouraging them to stick with it:

  • Bring their favorite toy on your walk or run so your dog can grow to associate going for a run with playtime.
  • Praise them highly and offer them their favorite treat when they’ve done what’s instructed.
  • Keep your sessions short, and to the point when first starting out, so your dog has a better understanding of what the activity is.
  • Make running or walking a chance for quality time with your pup (and an opportunity for you to get in shape!).
  • Keep your running schedule consistent.

Can Dogs Run Faster Than Humans?

So, can dogs really run faster than humans at the end of the day? The answer is, most definitely! With the average house dog’s speed being 19 mph, the majority of dogs will leave us in the dust, as the average running speed for a human between the ages of 18-34 is only 8.46 mph.

Comparing the speeds of even the slowest running dogs that we’ve listed, we’re barely able to outrun a Chihuahua! The fastest human running speed has been recorded as 27.8 mph, which puts only those who are super speedy in line with some of the fastest moving dogs.

Does It Really Matter How Fast Dogs Run?

At the end of the day, knowing how speedy (or how not so) our furry companions are is actually helpful. Faster dogs often need to be more strictly trained, as we know that there is no possible way for us to catch up to them unless they allow us to.

Knowing a breed’s speed limit can also help understand whether or not their activity level may suit your household. We hope that this article on how fast a dog can run provided some valuable insight and knowledge into how amazing and agile our pups actually are!

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Colin Green

Colin Green