Running with your dog is an excellent way to get exercise. Both you and your canine companion can stay fit while getting to spend time together. But what distance is too far for your furry friend? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. It depends on many factors, including the dog’s breed, age, weight, size, health condition, fitness level, temperament, and terrain type.
Some dogs can run for miles without any problems, while others might not be as resilient or agile and could experience joint pain or fatigue after running a short distance.
How Far Can Your Dog Run?
As mentioned earlier, there is no definite answer to this question. It’s hard to determine a safe distance for your dog because it depends on the breed, age, weight, size, health condition, fitness level, temperament, and type of terrain.
I’ll break them down into details so that you see how these factors can affect how far your dog can run. But generally speaking, you can expect more from a large, athletic, young dog than from older or small dogs. And most dogs can run 20 to 40 miles per week.
1. Your Dog’s Breed
When considering how far you can take your furkid on runs, the first thing to think about is the dog breed, as not all dogs are created equal.
Some canines that were explicitly bred for work like herding or hunting breeds, for instance, Border Collies, Vizslas, and Dalmatians, will have exceptional endurance and stamina for long-distance running.
Other dogs that were bred for companionships, like the Malteses and Chihuahuas, may have a hard time keeping up with their owners and may run slower than the average dog. So obviously, they won’t be able to run as far and are more suitable for shorter sprints or walks.
Brachycephalic breeds, like the Bulldogs or Pugs, will also have a hard time running. That is because they have shortened nasal passages and airways that may make it difficult for them to breathe while they’re jogging.
2. Your Dog’s Age
Age is another factor that will impact how far your dog can run with you. Generally, puppies cannot handle as much exercise as adult dogs because their bones haven’t fully developed yet and may be prone to injuries. So stick to walking or only run with them when the dog’s growth plates are entirely close, usually about one year old, depending on the breed.
Also, older dogs may not be able or willing to take on long-distance runs like their younger counterparts. For instance, a healthy middle-aged dog might be able to handle running 5 to 10 miles per day easily, while an elderly golden retriever might have a hard time getting around after only 2 to 3 miles. The reason is that as they age, their stamina and muscles deteriorate, and lessening in strength can hinder their ability to move as fast and long.
Plus, they are more susceptible to joint pains, arthritis, and other health conditions that can make it painful for them to continue running. So if you have an elderly dog, make sure you pay attention to their behavior when you take them out on runs. If they show signs of fatigue or joint pain, like slowing down, frequently stopping, limping, or refusing to move, they are done for the day and shouldn’t run again until these issues subside.
3. Your Dog’s Weight
Your dog’s weight is also a consideration when determining how many miles your canine can run. Overweight dogs may find it difficult to go as fast and far as dogs of normal weights, as it will require more effort from the overweight pup. Also, carrying extra pounds can be very taxing on their body, which can cause joint pain or muscle fatigue after even just a few miles.
4. Your Dog’s Size
Another factor to consider is your dog’s size. Larger dogs like German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Siberian Huskies will have more stamina and endurance than smaller pups. Not to mention, they have longer legs as well, meaning their strides are longer, which can help them travel faster and run longer distances. So they certainly can run farther than smaller breeds, like Chihuahuas, Jack Russell Terriers, or Malteses.
5. Your Dog’s Health
Your dog’s health is also a vital factor to consider. If your canine has any past or current injuries, joint pain issues, or other health problems, running long distances is not advisable as that could cause them unnecessary pain or damage, which can, in turn, aggravate these pre-existing conditions. In fact, they probably aren’t suited to go running at all!
6. Your Dog’s Fitness Level
Needless to say, your dog’s overall fitness level will also affect how far they can safely run. If your canine companion isn’t accustomed to exercise, they won’t have the stamina and endurance to jog multiple miles.
7. Your Dog’s Temperament
Additionally, your dog’s temperament will have an influence as well. Some dogs love exploring the outdoors, so you might be able to take them on longer distances without any problem. On the other hand, if your four-footed friend is a more laid-back type, they might be happier sticking to running short distances or just plain walking.
8. The Terrain
The terrain you are running through, like hills or uneven surfaces, can also affect how far your canine can go. Obviously, flat terrain will be easier for your dog to traverse than a hilly or bumpy course.
The same can be said for the surface quality. For instance, if it’s a paved road with no obstructions or distractions, then your dog will probably be able to run longer than if you take them on an unpaved trail where there are branches, rocks, and numerous other things that can distract them from continuing the run.
How Far Can an Average Dog Go Before They Start Experiencing Fatigue?
Good question! But unluckily, there is no simple answer to this question either as it also depends on everything I’ve mentioned above. Plus, the temperature outside could play a role as well. The hotter the weather is, the quicker your dog will tire out.
Therefore, the best advice I can give you is to pay attention to your furry friend when taking them out for a jog. Closely observing them is the best way of knowing when they are tired.
If you notice they are slowing down, panting heavily, stopping frequently, or leaning on one side more than the other (this could mean pain in their limbs), then slow down and call off the run. If you continue despite their protests, then you are doing them a disservice and may cause them unnecessary pain or injury.
Read More: How Hot is Too Hot to Jog With Your Dog
What Are the
Best Dog Breeds to Take on Long Runs?
Although you can attempt to run with any breed of dog, certain dogs tend to fare better than others. For example, larger and more athletic dogs like German Shepherds and German Shorthaired Pointers were born for running. Not only do they love being outdoors, but they also have the stamina needed.
However, not all high-energy dogs can handle long runs. For instance, Greyhounds are more suitable for racing. Their thin and sleek body is built for short bursts of speed and quickness instead of enduring the stress of intense activity for prolonged periods.
The best dogs for long-distance running, like half marathon and marathon, are those who have tremendous endurance. And in my opinion, breeds that are best of the best, physically fit enough, and genetically disposed to go long distances without issue are Dalmatians, Weimaraners, Vizslas, German Shorthaired Pointers, and Border Collies.
Read More: Top 8 Small Dog Breeds for Runners
In short, there is no definite answer when it comes to determining the best running distance for your dog. It all depends on the factors mentioned earlier.
And keep in mind that it’s crucial not to push your pooch too hard or fast before they are ready, as this might lead to injuries. Instead, ensure you have a structured running program, always start slow, and gradually increase the distance as you see fit.
Lastly, make sure to protect your dog’s paws by letting them wear doggie booties, especially if jogging on hot pavement or sidewalks. And remember to observe your dog’s behavior and body language during the run, so you know when they’ve had enough and need a break before it becomes detrimental for them.