Best sporting dog breeds for runners or active people


Best sporting dog breeds for runners or active people The ancestors of domestic dogs often ran for long distances to catch their prey, so many breeds of dog retain great stamina and a will to run. Some dog owners love to train or run with their dog, or to take them on long walks each day.  There are breeds that are best suited for active people, and a choice of 10 breeds is given below.  Such a list is always a personal choice, so there are inevitably many other good breeds for active people not included, as well as individual dogs of no particular breed. Here you can find more information about canicross: how to start running with your dog.


Our selection of best sporting dogs

Hungarian vizsla

  • A hunting dog, active and loyal

  The Hungarian vizsla is an exceptionally active breed. They were bred as hunting dogs and are eager to run fast but will stay loyal to their owner. They are somewhat lighter in build but with a similar physique to Weimaraners and German short-haired pointers. Vizslas need to be given lots of exercise each day and can be the most rewarding of dogs for active owners. They are good and affectionate family dogs too. Their short coat may not keep them warm in the cold when not running, so take a blanket if needed.

Spanish galgo

  • A hunting dog that loves running

  The Spanish galgo is one of the fastest breeds of any dog, with a physique built for speed that is not unlike a greyhound.  Galgos have been bred as hunting dogs for chasing prey, so they are very athletic.  Unfortunately, there are many galgos that are retired each year and no longer used for hunting. These still make excellent companions as they have a good temperament as a family pet, being generally quiet and docile.  They are independent by nature but also gentle and individuals stay athletic even when they get older.

Siberian husky

  • Ideal to run in the cold

Huskies and their relative the Alaskan malamute were bred as sled dogs and will take on tough terrain in winter or summer.  They have great strength and a renowned running endurance and are the main breeds used for long distance sled races. They are bred for cold climates and have long coats so they cannot run for long in warmer temperatures.  They are independent by nature and need good training.

Jack Russell terrier

  • Small dog great as a running parter

Terriers are very active dogs but the smaller physique of some terrier breeds is less well suited for long distance exercise.  However, Jack Russell terriers with their short coats and exceptional energy do run for long distances despite their small size.  Among small breeds this makes them an excellent choice as a fitness companion.

Labrador retriever

  • A sportive and very friendly breed

The heritage of Labrador retrievers is from hunting dogs that would work all day without tiring.  They have great stamina when given the opportunity to be active and they will run long distances, especially dogs from lines bred for field work.  They are also known as very friendly dogs for a family and that can be readily trained and are good with other dogs. They like to stay close to their owner and are loving companions.

English springer spaniel

  • Medium-size hunting dog, very sociable and affectionate

Many breeds of spaniel are active, but none more so than the English Springer Spaniel with its long-legged build. It was bred to find and flush out game for hunting, and dogs from a working background are especially active compared to dogs bred foe show. It is a medium sized breed and very sociable and affectionate, but lively as well.

Border collie

  • A great and quite small running partner

They are known for their skill in herding sheep and will work endlessly in this role. They are an exceptionally intelligent breed that also make good pets.  They are athletic and have a very energetic nature. They will make a great running partner at a modest pace since they are smaller than other active breeds, but still will cover a great distance alongside you.


  • A guard dog always ready to run with you

Dalmatians are a very distinctive looking breed with their black spots on a white background.  They have great endurance as they were originally bred to run alongside horse-drawn carriages for long distances, and would be guard dogs at night..  They have much stamina and are excellent running companions.


  • A small but really active dog

  There are three sizes of poodle – standard, miniature and toy. Poodles may not have a reputation as a very active breed, but they were originally bred in Germany as hunting dogs.  They are happy to run, swim, jump and retrieve and many active owners find them a great breed to have, with a choice of 3 sizes depending on owner wishes.  They have a single coat of curly hair that needs regular trimming, especially if the temperature is warm, to stop them overheating while exercising.


  • An energetic and very family lover dog

  Boxers are intelligent, energetic and also very playful. They are a good family dog with a good temperament.  They are also very active and strong, so are a good choice for active owners.  They have short hair so are better suited than some breeds to warmer conditions. They were originally bred in Germany from ancestral shepherd dogs and are regarded as working dogs.


Dr Peter Messent  27 March 2017

For your interest

How much water do dogs need a day?

Many dogs seem to drink a lot of water each day. Cells and organs in the body contain about 70% water, making it the main body component.

How does heat affect dogs and cause heatstroke?

Dogs get overheated more easily than people and this can quickly lead to physical distress known as heat stroke (hyperthermia).