How Fast Can Dogs Run? The Average & Top Speed of a Dog

How Fast Can Dogs Run? The Average & Top Speed of a Dog

Last Updated on December, 2022

On average, certain breeds of dogs can run 15-20 miles per hour for short distances. If you’ve ever gone on a run with your dog, you may have thought, ‘Man, that dog can run.’

But really though, how fast CAN a dog run?

Often outrunning humans, most dogs are built to reach galloping speeds. Sled dogs, for instance, are known for their ability to run. 

The average dog can easily outrun the average human. That is a reasonable estimate of how fast a dog can run. Unless you are a trained sprinter, chances are, your dog will be able to outrun you.

Quick Summary

Certain breeds of dogs can run 15-20 miles per hour for short distances.

The average dog can outrun the average human.

Some breeds of dogs can reach speeds of 45 miles per hour.

How Fast Can a Dog Run?

a dog running on the ground

Depending on a dog’s size, body shape, breed and health, most dogs average 15 to 20 miles per hour. If you think about it, that is faster than cycling speed for most people. 

A dog’s natural running abilities depend bravely on the breed of dog. While some dog breeds are bred for running, others are bred to have cute tiny legs that can barely outrun a mouse. 

Some canines are bred for speed and can reach whopping speeds of 45 miles per hour. A German Shepherd could easily outrun a BEAR!

Athletic dogs, much like hunter dogs, are good runners.

Not convinced? Well, get this, an experiment to study the running speeds of dogs led to comparing Greyhound dogs with captive CHEETAHS.

The Greyhounds outran the captive Cheetahs, clocking it at 42 miles per hour compared to the captive CHEETAHS, who only ran at a top speed of 40 miles per hour. 

Greyhound Top Speed: 45 miles per hour.

Compared to other dogs, Greyhounds, in particular, are made for running. Their body shape and size make them ideal runners capable of easily outrunning humans.

However, to understand why some dogs run fast and others lag behind, you must know how a dog runs. 

How Do Dogs Run?

Your dog’s breed and body composition define how they run. The fastest dog breeds have more of a gallop than a run. Their bodies are designed for the task of running. 

Dogs, descendants of jackals and wolves, are ancestors intended to be good runners. It is only in recent years that we humans have been breeding show pooches for the purpose of carrying them around in our huge purses. 

As per a paper by John A. Bukowski , DVM, MPH, PhD and Susan Aiello , DVM, ELS, dogs run in a ‘four-time asymmetrical gait.’ (1)

This form of gallop involves moving the front two legs first, followed by the two hind legs. If you have seen some dogs run, you may have noticed they GALLOP much like horses!

Though the gallop of a dog and that of a horse is varied, it is quintessentially the word to use to define the movement of fast-running dogs. 

Dogs’ feet grip the ground, giving them more traction when running. Their feet are responsible for the complex gait of most dogs. 

Dogs are also built for what is defined as a DOUBLE SUSPENSION GALLOP, which helps certain dog breeds clock fast speeds.

Your canine friend’s strong abdominal muscles, flexible spine and long loins, all run faster and better. 

Some dog breeds are natural-born runners. The fastest dog breed can EASILY outrun the fastest man in the world (Fred Kerley – 26.6 miles per hour).

Related article: Why Do Dogs Run in Their Sleep?

Which Dog Breeds Run the Fastest?

Greyhound dogs running on the ground

The fastest running dog in the world is the Greyhound, capable of reaching a top speed of 45 miles per hour. They are considered the fastest dog breed in the WORLD!

Greyhounds are the most speedy breed of dogs and were initially bred for hunting. Most hunting dogs have fast running speeds. 

Afghan Hounds are yet another breed of dogs that are fast runners. This breed of dog achieves a top speed of 40 miles per hour, which is still faster than the fastest man in the world. 

It doesn’t take a Greyhound or an Afghan Hound to outrun the fastest man in the world. A Siberian Husky, clocking in at a top speed of 30 miles per hour, has more than enough power to outrun the fastest man in the world.

Even smaller dog breeds like the Jack Russell Terrier can still reach the speeds of the fastest man in the world. They are considered some of the fastest dogs on the planet. 

Boxers, German Shepherds and the Border Collie are other breeds of dogs who too clock a top speed of 30 miles per hour.

They too are considered some of the fastest dog breeds. (Border Collies being my favorite breed of dogs!) 

Leggy hounds (hounds that have strong legs), such as the Salukis, Vizslas, and Deerhounds, all run incredibly fast, clocking in at a top speed of about 40 miles per hour. [Vizsla Top Speed: 40 miles per hour] 

some fastest running dogs

Take a moment to understand how fast 40 miles per hour is. That is as fast as a wild LION chasing its prey! These are fast dogs capable of high speeds.

All these fast dog breeds have a few things in common. They all have proportionally longer legs, deep chests and lean bodies. These are mostly hunting, and athletic dogs, all bred to be great runners.

In 2016, a dog named Bailey and his person were clocked in the fastest mile by a dog. One mile in FOUR MINUTES AND THIRTEEN SECONDS!

Other fast dog breeds include the Whippet. [Whippet top speed: close to 35 miles per hour]

Fast breeds also include the Dalmations. These beautiful pooches are great runners capable of clocking good speeds. [Dalmatian Top Speed: 37 miles per hour]

Some dogs run fast while other dogs lag behind. This is completely dependent on the breed.

Which Dog Breeds are Slow Runners?

toy poodle on the ground

Many dogs these days are primarily bred as pets, and gone are the days of hunting dogs bred to catch wild game. Due to this, we now have various breeds of slow dogs. These breeds only lightly jog compared to other faster breeds that rally in the dog park.

Note: These breeds are not intended for dog racing. You will NOT win!

Compared to breeds of fast dogs, breeds such as the Toy Poodle are only capable of reaching top speeds of 10 miles per hour. That ISN’T as fast as the fastest man in the world. 

These breeds of dogs, such as the Basset Hound, make excellent pets. However, they are not fast runners. Unlike faster breeds of dogs, Basset Hounds do not have a double-suspension gallop, nor do they have legs built for such running. 

Clocking in between 5 to 10 miles per hour, Basset Hounds are fast for their size and build, however still slower than other breeds of dogs. 

These breeds of dogs run slowly because they weren’t bred to be fast runners. Slow dogs are slow because they were bred to be cute instead of vicious. It was back in the day you would need a hunting dog. Now, people carry dogs in purses! 

If you take ancient breeds of dogs and compare them to a few 21st-century breeds, you will see how slower breeds appeared over time due to the lack of use of dogs in hunting. 

Larger dogs are, in general, faster. Slower breeds of dogs, including the Shih Tzu, the French Bulldog and Pugs (short-nosed dogs), all have similar body composition, making them slow runners. The reason for their slow pace is their short legs. 

A dog’s speed is highly dependent on its legs—the smaller the legs, the slower the speed. 

For instance, the Cannan, a breed of dog found in the middle east, is still faster than other short-legged dog breeds such as the French Bulldog. 

some slowest running dogs

Your canine pal could be a high-energy dog. However, the fact may remain that they are not designed to run at incredible speeds.

Chihuahuas, for example, are one of the slowest dog breeds. Don’t get me wrong, Chihuahuas are a loyal and sensitive dog breed. However, the size of their legs are not designed for fast running.

Their legs are not long enough to move fast. The average dog, however, has longer legs, making them better runners compared to slower dogs with shorter legs. 

Bottom line: [Short-legged dogs run slowly!]

Can a Person Outrun a Dog?

a human getting ready to run

The average dog that is bred for running can easily reach speeds greater than that of a human. 

Greyhounds: Dog Running Speed – 45 miles per hour. Can you run 45 miles per hour?

Certain breeds of dogs can easily reach speeds of 30 miles per hour. Lap Dogs can run at speeds of 35 miles per hour. Can you run 35 miles per hour?

Younger dogs are usually healthier and faster (depending on age). Maybe you can outrun a puppy Greyhound, but a full grown one? DOUBT IT!

Maybe your dog is fat; too much weight. In such a case, yes, maybe you can outrun your dog. 

However, unless the dog is a slower breed, you will find it very difficult to outrun them. They run faster than captive CHEETAHS!

Smaller dogs have smaller legs, which makes them slower runners. If you are looking to beat a dog in a race, I recommend you race one of these smaller dogs, which also make ideal apartment dogs.

You could give a dog a good run, for short distances. However, you don’t want to test them on a 5-mile run. (Fast dogs also have great stamina.)

Your dog’s speed will define whether you can outrun it. This will be dependent on the breed and other factors, as mentioned.

Is it Good to Run with a Dog?

human running with a dog

It would be best if you didn’t run with a dog unless the dog is fully grown. Puppy play is perfectly fine; however, fast or intense running at a young age could cause development issues in dogs. 

If you are a runner training to run long distances, you can take your pooch along, making the run more enjoyable. 

Running with a dog can be a great way to get some good exercise. They provide excellent motivation for obese people looking for a companion in their weight loss journey.

Are dogs faster than humans? Mostly yes. 

Does that pose any danger to you? Not unless the dog isn’t yours.

It is perfectly fine running with your own pooch. However, we do not recommend that you try outrunning stray dogs or guard dogs; you will NOT win!

Some dogs can reach speeds of 30+ miles per hour. Hence make sure your dog is well-trained. Otherwise, your dog could run away.

Hence, train your dog adequately, before taking it for a run with you. You can always run with your dog on a leash, but we all know dogs love to run free!

Final Thoughts

Dogs can run at incredible speeds for long distances. Dog speed depends on various factors, including breed, size and age

The breed of dog is the determinant factor for dog speed. Some breeds of dogs run faster than others, while others are only bred to look cute.

If you are looking for a fast dog that can even give a CHEETAH a good run for its money, a Greyhound which can top out around a whopping 45 mph should be what you are looking for. 

Though smaller breeds of dogs usually have smaller legs leading to slower speeds, dogs can still run at a speed of 5 to 10 miles per hour, which can even be fast for some people; like me (I am not a runner.)

A lean body, size and age are all determinant factors in the dog’s speed, with the breed being the most important.

Most breeds of dogs will be able to outrun a human. With some breeds even outrunning the fastest human, you can rest assured that dogs run fast; REALLY FAST!

FAQs

Depending on the dog’s breed, dogs can do long-distance running. Labrador Retrievers, German Shorthaired Pointers, Siberian Huskies, English Setters, Standard Poodles and Dalmatians are all excellent long-distance running breeds of dogs.

The Greyhound, capable of reaching top speeds of 45 miles per hour, is considered the fastest breed.

Running with your dog is perfectly safe, just so long as your dog is adequately trained and isn’t too young to join you in your run.

The average speed of dogs is 15 miles per hour.

Greyhounds, Afghan Hounds, Siberian Huskies, Jack Russell Terriers, Boxers, German Shepherds, Border Collies, Salukis, Vizslas, Deerhounds, and Dalmations, to name a few.

Most breeds of dogs are capable of reaching much faster speeds than humans. A fit person can outrun a relatively slow breed of dogs.

A small dog can run at a speed of 5 to 10 miles per hour.

Jack Russel Terriers are both small and fast. They are considered the fastest small dog, capable of reaching a top speed of 30 miles per hour.

Energy levels are essential; however, they are not the only determinant factor in what makes a dog a fast runner.

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Thomas
Thomas Villalpando is the main author of IPet Guides. He spends his time reading, training, and working with several Dogs' behaviors. You can find more about him here.

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