Some humans love to run. I’m guessing that’s you! Some dogs love running as much as their humans do. If you’re searching for a dog to join you on your runs, you shouldn’t just pick any type of dog. You have to choose a breed that will enjoy running just as much as you do.
What are the best dogs for trail running? Based on body type, temperament, and fur, these are the 10 best dog breeds for trail running:
- German Shorthaired Pointer
- Jack Russell Terrier
- German Shepherd
- Labrador Retriever
- Catahoula Leopard Dog
- Siberian Husky
- Standard Poodle.
You need to match the right dog to your preferred outdoor activity. It’s like taking a husky on a run or a pug on a run: huskies are natural runners, while pugs get easily overheated. What makes a specific dog breed good running partners? We’ll tell you in this article.
Best Dogs For Trail Running
There are good dogs that make excellent companions for a run around the park.
Then there are those dogs that just seem built for trail running.
If you want a furry companion to keep up with you on your trail runs, it’s essential to do your research and choose your dog carefully. To help you make your decision, here are the 10 best dog breeds for trail running.
1. German Shorthaired Pointers
German Shorthaired Pointers have a number of advantages when it comes to trail running:
- They are very sure-footed and have quick reactions. This makes them perfect for trails with obstacles.
- Their lean body allows them to run long-distances over a longer time.
- They’re bred to be fast and light on their feet. This enables them to make quick decisions while on the trail.
- They are known to be family dogs. They have an affectionate and excitable temperament that is easily trained. Pointers love to interact with others and are a great choice for runners who run on popular trails or with a partner or group.
Let’s start with a word of caution. Weimaraners require proper training to become calm and controlled when out on the trail.
With that out of the way, here ate the top reasons you can take Weimaraners trail running.
- They are excellent dogs for both long steady runs and long fast runs.
- Their breed is prized for having high endurance and stamina.
- They require frequent exercise and play to remain healthy.
- Their lean, tall body and short hair make them the right choice of running in a hotter climate.
- Their webbed feet make it easier to traipse through puddles and marshlands.
Weimaraners are very attached to their owners. So attached, they can have anxiety when you are away. So it is vital that if you make a habit of running that you both keep the same pace and don’t separate for long distances on the run.
If you live in a hot, sunny area, a Vizsla is the dog for you! Vizslas have short sleek coats to prevent from overheating.
- Their lean and muscular build help them with running.
- They are a great all-around trail runner. They excel when running on a trail with obstacles, running long, steady runs, and running long, but quick runs.
- Vizslas are well-mannered, energetic, and loyal. These traits make them wonderful companions when out on the trails.
- They are generally kind and welcoming to strangers. However, they may bark or become hostile if they feel like someone is invading their pack space. Their protection can provide reassurance if you’re out running in the early mornings or late nights.
4. Jack Russell Terriers
Small but proportionate is the best way to describe Jack Russell Terriers.
- Their bodies may be small, but they are muscular and lean.
- Plus, they have an athletic build suitable for running long distances without tiring.
- Their energy can seem to be never-ending, and they may not be tired even after a long day of activity.
If your favorite running trail is busy with humans and other dogs, ensure your Jack Russell is appropriately socialized. These Terriers can get into trouble with larger dogs or other animals due to their extra energy. They can also tolerate children but will not tolerate any form of abuse from anyone, even if it is accidental.
5. German Shepherds
German Shepherds are medium to large-sized dogs.
They have a double-coat of thick brown-black fur. This characteristic, plus their stocky, muscular build, is what makes them fantastic trail running partners. This is especially true when running in the cold.
Their high intelligence makes them perfect for obstacles or tricky portions of the running trail that you may stumble across.
You may want to take precautions with your German Shepherd when going on more popular trails. Why? They are quick to take note of any hostility and are not immediately friendly or accepting of strangers. If they’re not socialized properly, they can attack someone on the trail if they make an intimidating move.
7. Labrador Retrievers
Probably one of the friendliest breeds, a Labrador Retriever is one of the best breeds to take trail running.
- They have an energetic, friendly, and happy temperament that provides excellent company while on the trail.
- If you go on popular running trails, a Lab may be for you because they’re welcoming and accepting of strangers unless they feel that you are in a dangerous or potentially harmful situation.
- Their bodies have a slightly stocky and muscular build. They love running (except if they are overweight).
- Labs have webbing between their toes, giving them an advantage over other breeds when running through the snow.
All these characteristics allow them to thrive on trail runs during the summer and the winter (even when it snows!)
7. Catahoula Leopard Dog
The Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog has a lean build with long legs. This build makes them great long-distance trail runners. They can run for long periods if you keep a slow and steady pace.
Their short fur prevents them from overheating.
The Catahoula’s webbed feet make it suitable for running on muddy and boggy trails.
Most Catahoulas are even-tempered and will not attack a stranger or another animal. However, some have issues with socialization and hostility. If you run with different or rotating partners each day, you should ensure your Catahoula has been appropriately trained.
This popular black and white spotted dog is another breed perfect for the long, calm, and steady style of trail running.
- Dalmatians are medium-sized with a well-defined, muscular build with high endurance and stamina.
- They have short, fine, and dense hair, which prevents them from overheating in the summer. But Dalmations are poor choices for running in the winter.
- Dalmatians are very energetic and playful and tend to enjoy going on runs frequently.
- They’re very intelligent. They are also known for having a fantastic memory. This makes them great to have when you run on the same trails often.
- They are also protective, but not aggressive when it comes to defending their owners and are cautious around strangers. Their caution can help protect you when running on your own and away from home.
9. Siberian Huskies
- The Siberian Husky is known for its thick coat. This double-layer coat consists of a dense inside layer and a layer of straight guard hairs. Huskies are built to run through the cold, even though snow and ice. Be careful during the summer: their double-coat can cause them to overheat quickly.
- They have a muscular and lean build.
- Huskies are friendly and loyal.
- They like to adventure out on their own. So your Husky needs proper training, so you’re confident they will come back to you during your runs.
- They don’t have an extreme predator streak. This means they won’t run off at every little animal they see or hear in the woods
- Huskies are relatively good with children and other people.
10. Standard Poodles
As the owner of poodles, I wanted to first clear one of the biggest misconceptions made about poodles. They may look like a precious dog but they are no “sissy”.
- Poodles are incredibly athletic and naturally well-built for exercise and long-runs.
- They thrive when they can spend time outdoors and are great at going on long, steady runs.
- Their muscular bodies and fluffy hair manage to keep them relaxed and cool when out and about.
- Poodles are very intelligent. And we know that some intelligent dogs are easily bored. Running on difficult trails can assist with this, as well as switching trails frequently. They’re able to adapt and adjust when on the run and, due to their intelligence and honed senses, they can alert you to dangers ahead or difficult terrain.
What about running with mixed breed dogs?
Although certain breeds excel when taken out for a good run, what about mutts? Mixed breed dogs (especially ones with unknown parents) can be some of the best dogs for trail runners.
Look for mutts that have with a mix of the best dog breeds for trail running and you will triumph on the trail.
What Makes Certain Breeds Best for Trail Running?
The good dogs for trail running all have similar traits.
The best trail running dogs are lean and have longer legs (in proportion to their bodies).
Unless they are a miniature breed of dog, which frequently has shorter and stubbier legs, height doesn’t matter.
That doesn’t mean that short-legged or chunky dogs are not good runners. It just means they may not be suitable for long runs. On a longer run, these dogs have a higher chance of overheating or becoming exhausted. These types of dogs should not be overworked, or it could be hazardous for their health.
The best dogs for trail running to take with you are the ones that will enjoy the run as much as you.
You will need a running companion that listens to you. Otherwise, they might run off or fight against you (if on a leash) to try and investigate any random thing that catches their attention.
You also want a dog that is good with people. When you come across other runners on the trail, it would be embarrassing, and possibly harmful to your dog if they jump on or run towards strangers.
For the most part, any type of fur is okay as long as it is not dragging on the ground.
It may seem like a majority of running dogs have shorter hair, but plenty of dogs (like Huskies) are good runners and have a thick coat.
The length of fur depends on where you live, as well. You wouldn’t want a shorthaired lab running in freezing temperatures. Similarly, you wouldn’t want a thick-coated dog running in 90 degrees. Try and find a dog whose fur is best suited to the temperatures your area is.
Find Out What’s Best For Your Dog
No matter what breed of dog you have, you’ll need to introduce your dog into your running routine slowly.
Start slow and build-up based on how well your dog handles it.
If they’re keeping up just fine, add extra runs on days off until you are both challenging each other.
Your dog may seem like one of the best dogs for trail running, but it could be the complete opposite. Your dog may not like going outdoors or may not enjoy running and would rather sit and play in the yard. That’s okay, and you need to make you’re aware of what they’re comfortable with.
The same can go for dogs that don’t exactly live up to the “ideal” trail running dog description who may love to run (and are good at it). Take them out and see what they can do and what their bodies can handle. Training and conditioning for these dogs might take longer, but they could become one of the best runners of them all!
In general, always make sure you’re sure your dog is comfortable and enjoying what you are doing.
If your dog shows signs of distress or discomfort, do not force them to keep going or do it again and again.
How far can specific dog breeds run in a day?
When can I start trail running with my puppy?
Most websites say you can begin running with your puppy at 6-7 months of age. Don’t start with trail running straight away! Start with games of fetch and then make them longer. Then move to easy short runs (10 minutes, 15 minutes, etc).
To find out the most correct age to start trail running with your pup, I would recommend you ask your vet for your breed of dog.
If you start trail running with your puppy too early, you can damage their bones and joints because they are not fully formed. Some breeds will need between a year and 18 months for full development, especially for bigger breeds.
What’s a good resource for owners that like to run with their dogs?
Where can I find dog-friendly races to run with my dog in the U.S.?
How to get your dog started with running?
Check out our guide that details the steps to make your dog the best running partner ever!
Can a dog run a marathon?
Find out by reading our article here.
Dog breed running guides
Would you like to know if specific dog breeds are better running partners than others. Check out our breed running guides:
- Boxers (coming soon)
- Rottweilers (coming soon)
- Small dogs (coming soon)