The 9 Best Small Dogs For Running Partners

Dogs are some of the best running partners, especially smaller dogs that can keep the same pace as the runner. Traditionally smaller dogs have more energy than the average medium or large-sized dog. So, this makes them the perfect companion for your early morning run.

The 9 best small dogs for running partners include:

  1. Beagle
  2. Toy Poodle
  3. Welsh Corgi
  4. Papillon
  5. Jack Russell Terrier
  6. Wire Fox Terrier
  7. Tenterfield Terrier
  8. Parson Russell Terrier
  9. Rat Terrier.

We know it can be overwhelming to find your new best friend, so, if you’re on the hunt for the ultimate running buddy, let us help make your decision easier!

Beagles Are Good for Short Distance

When this dog isn’t cuddling with you for an afternoon nap, they will be begging for some exercise.

Beagles crave at least one (1) hour of activity a day in any environment.

Once they understand the words ‘walk’ or ‘leash’, you won’t be able to get your pup to calm down until they go outdoors.

If you are a short distance runner, a sprinter, or are just getting started on your marathon training, then Beagles are the perfect match.

If you like hiking and running, Beagles make great hiking dogs because of their energy and stamina.

Toy Poodles Will Maintain Your Pace

Poodles might come off as pretty and pompous, but they are not afraid to get down and dirty on the trails.

They were originally bred to retrieve game shots by hunters in creeks and lakes, so they are used to running.

They enjoy long, steady runs and can maintain your pace.

Once the Toy Poodle starts to get worn out, all they need is a dip in the local creek or stream, and they will be ready to keep coasting.

Poodles are typically very playful and will make your run a fun one!

Welsh Corgis Have the Energy

Despite their stubby legs, the Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis are among the best jogging partners.

This highly energized dog is not for a sit-at-home family.

Not only do Corgis have a strong mind, but they are built strong physically.

We guarantee that they will beg you for a game of fetch even after you return from your evening jog.

Any Corgi will make a great partner on hikes, provided they are fit and not overweight.

Papillons Loves To Sprint

Don’t let these small dogs fool you. Their bundles of energy make them very agile on their feet. That’s why they are best suited to runners who prefer to sprint or jog short distances.

You would need to build up to a distance to a couple of miles to ensure they can keep up with you when you jog 2-3 times per week. Be cautious when running with your Papillon in the heat.

They are very playful dogs and make great companion dogs.

Jack Russell Terriers Run for Miles

These fireballs are ranked with high energy levels. They are always ready for extra playtime and extra-long runs.

As the Terrier was bred for hunting, they are focused and driven on the finish line. Don’t let their size fool you. They are quick and can keep up with you, no problem.

Ultimately, they are in it for the long run. You can build up a Jack Russell’s running distance up to 10 miles.

best small dog breed for running

Wire Fox Terriers Are Great 3 Mile Runners

These alert dogs are great running partners. They typically enjoy at least 30-45 minutes of exercise daily, making for the perfect companion on an average 3-mile run.

Wires are confident, friendly, and highly energetic.

If you decide to skip your daily run, then you might end up playing fetch for longer than expected.

Tenterfield Terrier

The Tenterfield Terrier, also known as a Miniature Fox Terrier, needs a daily walk or jog. They originated as a working dog, used to catching mice, rats, and another vermin.

Let’s hope you don’t encounter any vermin on your jog with your Tenterfield because they will bolt away from your side.

If you’re looking for some other fun stuff to do with your Tenterfield Terrier, these dogs excel in agility and flyball competitions.

Parson Russell Terrier Enjoy All Terrains

Along with Jack Russells, Parsons are short-legged spurts of energy.

These sporty terriers like to extract their excitement by running among:

  • Horses
  • Fox
  • Sheep
  • Humans.

PRT’s do not like to be cooped up in the house chasing their tail for hours. They look forward most to getting their exercise outdoors.

The Parson Russell is the perfect companion for your daily workout if you enjoy activities like:

  • Pavement running
  • Trail running
  • Hiking
  • Mountain biking.

Rat Terriers Are Easily Trained

The Rat Terrier is one of the most active hunting dogs within the Terrier breed.

They can be trained relatively quickly, yet they still enjoy a good chase after the neighborhood groundhog or mole.

These dogs can run 2-3 miles if they are healthy and well-conditioned.

Have your Rat Terrier well trained before taking them for outdoor runs as these breeds get sidetracked quickly. You might want to invest in a longer leash to help keep this dog’s brain on the right path.

The Summary So Far

The best small dogs for running are playful dogs with loads of energy to burn. They are fit, healthy, and conditioned to keep up with your pace. These dogs can join you on long steady runs on a trail, park or pavement, jogs or sprints at the track.

Here’s a summary of which dog breed suits each type of runner.

BreedWould Suit
BeagleA short distance runner, a sprinter, or someone just getting started with training for a marathon.
Toy PoodleA runner who enjoys long and steady runs.
Welsh CorgiJoggers
PapillonSprinters and short-distance joggers
Wire Fox TerrierJoggers who prefer shorter distances (around 3 miles).
Jack Russell TerrierJoggers who run between 3 to 10 miles per session.
Tenterfield TerrierJoggers
Parson Russell TerriersLovers of pavement and trail running
Rat TerrierShort distance joggers (up to 3 miles)

Small Dog Breeds Not Built for Running

Every dog needs to engage in some daily activity, but not all breeds are made for running.

You will get a short burst out of your pup, as most of these dogs are quick. But if you decide to go out for a mile-long run, expect to walk a majority of that with some small dog breeds.

If you get fit on a dirt road or a hiking trail, don’t take these pampered pups along with you:

  • Yorkshire Terrier (Yorkie)
  • Pomeranian
  • Shih Tzu
  • Chihuahua

Although these are all active dogs, they are much happier in a fenced-in yard or with a lap around the block.

Contrary to what their chunky rolls might show, Bulldogs and Pugs do not need much exercise. In fact, these short-snouted, stocky dogs should not be outdoors long as they do not do well in the heat at all. Give them puzzle toys or KONG balls to give them the exercise needed without becoming exhausted by cardio.

What Classifies a Dog as Small?

During our research for the best small dog breed for running, we defined a small dog as weighing under 22 pounds and standing under 16 inches.

Of course, there are slightly overweight dogs, but they still meet the small dog criteria’s initial requirements.

Things You Know Before You Run With Your Dog

Don’t start too young

If you are running with a puppy, they need to be more than eight (8) months old. This is because their bones and growth plates develop to handle running on hard surfaces. To ease the pressure on their joints, try to have your dog run on grass or softer surfaces than concrete.

Train your dog

Also, if your canine companion is excitable, invest time in training them to settle down on your run. This will avoid them from dodging off suddenly (especially Terriers and Papillons) and chasing a cat, bird, rat, or mouse.

Take care of business

Go for a short walk with your dog before the run. Ensure your dogs relieves themselves before the run.

Look for signs

As you get to know your dog, you will notice when they tire or are too hot. Therefore, pay close attention to signs of heat exhaustion or dehydration.

Healthy and fit

Train your dog over time by building up their running distances.

Play it safe

Get your dog to wear reflective gear if you are running at night.

Products to Help Prepare for Your First Run

Preparing for a run for yourself is a lot of work and effort. Adding an extra partner shouldn’t have to add any more stress.

Let us help you out with the best products to ensure you get the most out of your workout.

Compact water bowl

Safety and health are essential on a run with your best buddy. Make sure to pack a compactable water bowl and extra water to ensure you all stay well hydrated when running on a hot day!

Our recommendation is this Prima Pets collapsible silicone water bowl.

Hands-free dog leash

A hands-free leash will guarantee a safe run for you.

Here are our recommendations.

Best hands-free leash with waist belt: Mighty Paw Running Leash

This leash consists of bungee cord and reflective stitching. This leash is suitable for small dogs because it’s adjustable and not too heavy. It’s perfect for running and walking, even if you have more than one furry friend.

Best running/utility belt: Kurgo K9 Excursion Running Belt

You may prefer to have a running belt where you can stash your keys, phone, and poop bags (waist pouch) and hold a water bottle. Attach the Mighty Paw Running Leash to the clip, and you are ready to go.

Best non-hands free leash for small dogs: Hurtta Leash For Jogging

You don’t have to hold this leash in your hand as you run. Instead, it wraps around your hand like a glove, so you are kinda “hands-free”. This leash also has reflectors stitched into the leash to keep your dog seen in the night or low-light situations.

This is not a great option if your small dog is a puller.

Best running harness for small dogs: Ruff Wear Front Range

Having a harness will allow you and your dog to run comfortably without choking or pulling.

This harness has plenty of padding to keep your small dog comfortable.

You can clip the leash part of your Mighty Paws either on the front or the back of the harness. If your small dog pulls when they run, the front clip is the ideal option. This is because your dog finds it harder to keep moving forward without spinning around.

This harness also has a reflective trim to keep your dog shining during your evening jogs is optimal.

Running at night time

We recommend a LED collar and a high visibility reflective vest for your dog.

Now That You’re Ready

Which are the best small dogs for running? We’ve covered 9 energetic breeds that would make the perfect canine companion.

So, when out for a quick jog or a long trek through the trails, take one of these small athletic dogs with you. A running companion always helps keep the motivation high, the mind clear, and the movement steady. We look forward to seeing you both out there!

Other Helpful Resources

Here at Outdoor Dog Fun, we know that next to walking your dog, running with your dog is a popular outdoor activity. Take a look at these running-related articles:

If you’re mad about small dogs, here are some other topics related to small dogs that we’ve published on the Outdoor Dog Fun blog:


Michelle loves enjoying the outdoors with her dogs. She grew in a big house near the beach with German Shepherds. Nowadays, Michelle has down-sized her dogs to poodles, proving small dogs can enjoy the outdoors too! Her dogs enjoy playing fetch, swimming, and long walks. Michelle and her dogs enjoy escaping the city limits to hike, camp, and swim.

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