How Fast Can A Dog Run? Average Dog Speed, Fastest Breeds & FAQs

how fast can a dog run

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This content was reviewed and fact-checked by veterinarian Dr. Meri Halvari, DVM.

How fast can dogs run? If you’ve observed your dog sprinting alongside a canine friend at the park or zipping around your yard in pursuit of fun, it’s clear that dogs are naturally fast. But you might wonder, what makes them so swift on their feet? Do four legs give dogs a speed advantage over humans? The running pace of an average dog can vary widely and is influenced by several factors, including body composition, breed, size, and age, among others.

In this guide, we’ll explore all you need to know about canine running speeds. We’ll delve into the mechanics of how dogs run so quickly, identify some of the fastest dog breeds, and much more. Let’s get started!

How Fast Can A Dog Run?

A typical healthy domestic dog, without specific training or conditioning, can reach speeds of approximately 15-20 mph (or 24-32 km/h). Nonetheless, the spectrum of dogs’ top speeds is broad and primarily influenced by their breed and size.

Breeds with shorter legs and more robust bodies, including French Bulldogs and Basset Hounds, tend to run slower than the average. On the other hand, breeds that boast long legs and streamlined bodies, like Greyhounds and Whippets, usually run much faster. Physical conditioning is another factor that influences canine speeds.

Generally, dog speed falls within the three categories below.

Average Dog Speed

The average speed dog can maintain comfortably. It is not the maximum speed the dog can reach but rather a pace sustained over a moderate distance without overexertion. For most healthy adult dogs, this is in the range of 15-20 mph. This speed would be common during a routine run, like when a dog is playing fetch or enjoying a jog alongside their owner.

Dog Running Speed

A dog’s running speed defines any speed a dog travels while running. It can vary widely depending on the dog’s mood, the purpose of running (playful running, chasing something, running out of fear), physical fitness, and immediate environment. Typically, dogs in this speed phase run between 20 to 30 miles per hour.

Dog Top Speed

Dog Top Speed” refers to the fastest speed a dog can reach. This is the peak performance a dog can achieve and is usually maintained for only very short bursts, such as in a high-speed chase or during competitive racing. The average dog’s top speed is typically associated with running dog breeds like Greyhounds, Salukis, and Afghan hounds. Dog top speed fluctuates between 30-45 miles per hour.

Greyhounds, for example, are known to reach top speeds of up to 45 mph, which is far beyond the average for most breeds. This speed is not sustainable for long distances due to the immense energy expenditure and physical demands on the dog’s body.

In summary, “Average Dog Speed” is the comfortable pace for a typical dog, “Dog Running Speed” covers any speed at which a dog runs and varies with circumstances, and “Dog Top Speed” is the maximum velocity a dog can achieve in a full sprint.

How Fast Is The Fastest Dog?

The Greyhound breed holds the title for the fastest canines on Earth, reaching top speeds close to 45 miles per hour. The fastest recorded speed for a Greyhound is 41.8 miles per hour, documented in Wyong, Australia, in 1994. Additionally, an Australian Greyhound is reputed to have reached an astonishing but unofficial speed of 50.5 miles per hour, making it the swiftest recorded run for a dog.

Why Are Dogs So Fast?

How fast can a dog run? Various unique features equip dogs to reach high speeds. Most dogs can out-sprint humans, thanks in part to the advantage of having four legs. Let’s look at the primary physical traits that influence a dog’s speed:

Aerodynamics bodyDogs capable of reaching speeds up to 45 mph undoubtedly possess specialized bodily features. Dogs bred for speed often exhibit an aerodynamic form. Their bodies are crafted to slice through the air efficiently to achieve such high velocities. The fastest dog runners are likely to have a slender build, a small head, a flattened rib cage, and long, muscular legs that are proportionately balanced. These traits work together to reduce air resistance, enabling them to reach and maintain higher speeds.
Respiratory and cardiovascular systemA robust cardiovascular and respiratory system significantly impacts a dog’s endurance and speed. Sighthounds, for instance, have oversized, powerful hearts capable of pumping blood quickly to match racing demands and maintain high speeds. Their large lungs and wide nostrils enable swift and substantial air intake, translating to more oxygen for their muscles and, consequently, increased endurance. In contrast, dogs with smaller hearts and less respiratory capacity tend to be slower runners.
Limbs (legs)Larger dogs often run faster than smaller ones because longer legs mean longer strides, covering greater distances with fewer steps. However, size isn’t the only factor; the key to a dog’s running speed lies in the power of its footstrike against the ground. The stronger the push-off, the faster the dog can run. For example, when comparing a Greyhound to a Great Dane, the Greyhound may be quicker not just because of leg length but because of the optimal combination of limb length and muscular strength, enabling a more powerful stride.
Paws (pads & nails).A dog’s paws are uniquely adapted to facilitate rapid acceleration, especially during sprints. The paws feature thick, tough pads that offer a strong grip across various terrains. The toenails of a dog also play a crucial role, acting like cleats to provide additional traction when moving at high speeds. For owners of swift-running dogs, it’s important to maintain short, well-trimmed nails to prevent them from catching or breaking during a run, which can lead to significant pain and bleeding.
GaitDogs have four gaits: walk, trot, canter, and the fastest, gallop, which includes a suspension phase with all legs off the ground. Speed breeds like Greyhounds and Whippets feature a double-suspension gallop, where they extend fully mid-stride and then tuck their hind legs beneath, propelling them forward efficiently. This gait is key to their high-speed performance.
ShouldersDogs have disconnected shoulder bones (lacking the collar bone, unlike humans) that allow a greater stride length, making running easier and faster.
TailWhen running, a dog’s tail serves as a counterweight to your dog’s body movements. As our dog needs to change direction while running fast, his body needs extra help. The tail ensures your pup doesn’t spin off course or tumble around.

Why Do Dogs Run So Fast? According to Science

Research-based reasons explaining how and why dogs run fast.

  • Limb optimization for sprinting. Research indicates that dogs can quickly transition from walking to sprinting, utilizing limbs optimized for movement. As the Merck Veterinary Manual notes, dogs share many of the same muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments as humans.[1]
  • Force application. Similar to an elite sprinter who can apply significant force with each step, dogs also utilize peak muscular force, which suggests they operate near the force limits of their muscles and limbs.
  • Genetic influence on muscle mass. A study published in PLOS Genetics discovered a genetic mutation in some Whippets that codes for a muscle protein known as Myostatin, which increases muscle mass, enhancing their speed and racing performance (a condition known as Bully Whippet Syndrome). The findings explain why some whippets run even faster than dogs and validate why muscle mass correlates with how fast certain dog breeds can run.[2]
  • Muscle contraction and speed limits. In humans, the running speed limits are set by the contractile speed of the muscle, with muscle fibers contractile speeds setting the limit on how quickly the runner’s limb can apply force to the running surface. The same applies to dogs; the top speed dogs can reach may come down to how quickly muscles in the body can move.
  • Ancestral skeletal structure and endurance. Dogs inherit a skeleton adapted for running and leaping from their wolf ancestors, designed to propel them forward quickly for chasing prey. The University of California, Santa Cruz research compared the running prowess of retrievers, hounds, and northern breeds and found that dog breeds that have remained closest to their wolf ancestors (northern breeds) showed greater athleticism and endurance due to their more wolf-like skeletal structure (the angle of the head and the rear leg are more wolf-like), which allows efficient energy transfer and reuse with each stride.[3]

The Fastest Dog Breeds

Meet the dogs that run the fastest. Here is a list of the fastest dog breeds on the planet.

  1. Greyhound – Top speed: 45 mph
  2. Saluki – Top speed: 42 mph
  3. Afghan Hound – Top speed: 40 mph
  4. Vizsla – Top speed: 40 mph
  5. Jack Russell terrier – Top speed: 38 mph
  6. Dalmatian – Top speed: 37 mph
  7. Borzoi – Top speed: 36 mph
  8. Whippet – Top speed: 35 mph
  9. Doberman Pinscher – Top speed: 32 mph
  10. Border Collie – Top speed: 30 mph
  11. Poodle – Top speed: 30 mph
  12. German Shepherd – Top speed: 30 mph
  13. Scottish Deerhound – Top speed: 28 mph
  14. Giant Schnauzer – Top speed: 28 mph
  15. Italian Greyhound – Top speed: 25 mph
Meet Canine Bible’s own Greyhound, Madrid. He is lighting fast.
The fastest dog breed might be a good family member addition for people who love to run or have an active lifestyle.

As proud owners of a Greyhound, the fastest dog breed in the world, we understand the importance of maintaining their peak physical condition. If your dog is among the fast dog breeds or a fairly active dog, we recommend Whistle, a premier fitness smart tracker for dogs that allows you to track and achieve your dog’s fitness goals based on breed, age, and weight. It also provides health monitoring to catch potential health issues before they become problems.

The Slowest Dog Breeds

Some dog breeds are not known for their speed. The average speed for the slowest dog breeds typically ranges from 5-10 miles per hour.

Here is a list of the dog breeds that don’t run so fast and their estimated speeds.

  1. French bulldog – Under 15 mph
  2. Chihuahua – 5 to 10 mph
  3. Cardigan Welsh Corgi – Under 10 mph
  4. Pekingese – Under 10 mph
  5. Pembroke Welsh Corgi – Under 10 mph
  6. Japanese Chin – Under 10 mph
  7. Shih Tzu – 6 mph
  8. Pug – 5 to 10 mph
  9. Old English Mastiff – Around 15 miles per hour
  10. Toy poodle – 10 mph
  11. Bulldog – Under 15 mph
  12. Bassett Hound – 5 to 10 mph

How Fast Can A Puppy Run?

Generally, very young puppies may only trot a few miles per hour as they’re still mastering the coordination of their limbs and building muscle strength. As they grow and their bodies become more capable of handling the stress of running, their speed can increase.

You can expect most puppies to reach a speed of 5-15 miles per hour. However, larger breed puppies who will grow into dogs known for their speed, such as Greyhounds or German Shepherds, may show an aptitude for running fast even from a young age. By the time they are about six months old, they might be running 10-15 miles per hour in short bursts. Smaller breeds, or those not bred for speed, will typically run slower.

History of Dogs Running Fast

The history of dogs running fast is related to dog racing. Dog racing has a largely undocumented history, but it’s known to have started with Greyhounds, renowned for their speed. The sport took off in the United States in 1919, and not long after, countries like Australia also began setting up racetracks.[4] Currently, only six states in the U.S. allow greyhound racing due to a significant decrease in betting on these races. Additionally, all greyhounds that race in the U.S. need to be officially registered with the National Greyhound Association (NGA).

Dog Evolved to Run Faster

As for the historical evolution of dogs’ running speeds, contrary to the notion that these speeds might have remained static over time, evidence suggests otherwise. Research published in the Journal of Experimental Biology examined the speed limits of dogs, horses, and humans, revealing that the racing speeds of both horses and greyhounds have risen.[5]

The winning speed in the greyhound English Grand National has increased by nearly 15% in the 80 years since its inception in 1927.

Thus, parallel to the improvements in human athletes, our canine counterparts have also experienced enhancements in their racing speeds over the years.

Signs Your Dog Can Run Fast

Here are some common signs your dog is a fast runner.

  • Athletic build
  • You are not able to catch
  • Flexible spine
  • Can easily outrun you
  • Narrow body
  • Ears pushed down to combat wind resistance
  • Front legs move in a synchronized manner, with rear legs
  • Compact paws that are well-arched with tight toes for better grip

Determine How Fast Your Dog Can Run

  • Get a good stopwatch
  • Hit the dog racing track or local track
  • Time his runs
  • Calculate the average speed at which your dog can hit

Why Some Dogs Don’t Run Fast

Some dogs can’t run fast due to their genetic and physical characteristics. For example, certain breeds, like Huskies and Greyhounds, are naturally equipped for speed and endurance.

For sustained running, such as 30 to 60-minute jogs, dogs need to breathe in large amounts of oxygen, which requires specific genetic traits. Consider short-nosed breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs. These “brachycephalic” dogs often struggle with running due to their compromised respiratory systems, which are characterized by narrow nostrils and obstructive soft palates, leading to difficulty in breathing efficiently.

Similarly, larger breeds, including St. Bernards and Newfoundlands, may move quickly but typically lack the stamina for prolonged distances due to their greater body mass.

How Fast Can Small Dogs Run?

Smaller dog breeds like Chihuahuas tend to be slower runners due to their petite stature, with shorter legs that limit their speed and stride length. These breeds also have smaller lung capacities and hearts, so they can’t sustain fast breathing rates for long and tire quickly.

For instance, a Shih Tzu may average speeds of only about 6 miles per hour, while the average dog can reach speeds of 15-20 miles per hour and can keep up a walking pace for much longer periods.

The anatomy of small dogs isn’t typically suited for speed – their limbs and body structure don’t allow for rapid propulsion, unlike some exceptions, such as the Jack Russell Terrier, known for its agility and quickness.

Training Your Dog to Run Fast

If you’re looking to tap into your dog’s natural athleticism and enhance their running abilities, training is key. From building stamina to perfecting form, our comprehensive guide on how to train your dog to run covers it all.

And to ensure your furry friend is geared up for success, check our curated list of the best dog running gear. Dive into these resources and set the pace for a healthier, more active lifestyle with your canine companion. Ready, set, go – let the training begin!

how to run with dogs

Are Dogs Faster Than Humans?

Can dogs run faster than humans? Yes, when it comes to a sprint, the average dog can outpace most humans with ease.

Dog Speed vs Human Speed

When comparing the average speed of a typical household dog, which is around 15-20 mph, to the average speed of a human aged between 18-34 years, which is 13.62 km/h (8.46 mph), it’s evident that dogs generally run faster than humans. On average, dogs run 7 to 12 mph faster than humans. This disparity grows even more pronounced when considering athletic dog breeds, such as Greyhounds, which can reach speeds up to 45 mph.

Fastest Human vs Fastest Dog Breed: Who Is Faster?

The fastest human, Usain Bolt, can run at a speed of 27.8 miles per hour, while the Greyhound, the fastest dog in the world, can run at about 45 miles per hour.

Bolt set the 100-meter world record at 9.58 seconds. By comparison, a Greyhound can complete 100 meters in just 5.33 seconds.

In this comparison, the winner is our canine companion, the Greyhound, sprinting at a rate 1.6 times faster than the fastest human.

Here is footage of a dog versus a human racing to see who is faster!

How Fast Can a Dog Run a Mile?

It depends on the dog breed. An average dog can run a mile in 8 to 10 minutes. An elite dog built to run can easily run a mile in 4-6 minutes.

How Fast Can a Dog Run Mph?

Dogs, on average, can run about 15 to 20 miles per hour. The highest verified speed is 41.8 miles per hour, set by a Greyhound.

Dog Speed Km/H?

When it comes to kilometers per hour, dogs, on average, can run about 24 to 32 kilometers per hour. The fastest speed is 67 kilometers per hour, set by a Greyhound.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sled dogs like Huskies can race over distances of up to 1,710 km in 12-14 days. They can run up to 30 miles per hour on average. However, conditions may affect their running speed, dropping the average to 10 or 14 mph.

Greyhounds are coined as the fastest dogs in the world and can reach speeds of up to about 45 miles per hour.

According to Veterinary Pet Insurance, the modern-day boxer dog is still considered athletic. Boxer dogs can run up to 38 to 45 miles per hour, making them one of the fastest-known dog breeds.

According to the Denver Zoo, African wild dogs can run 37 miles per hour for three miles or more, pursuing prey. Their long legs and large lungs are made for speed.[6]

Due to their work, most police dogs need to be fast. How fast they can go depends on their breed. For instance, the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois (two typical dog breeds that work as police dogs) can turn at an impressive speed of around 30mph. K9 units need to be quick, agile, and fast to perform their duties as canine officers. Check our police dog lifespan to learn more about K9s and their agility, work and speeds.

By nature, labradors are athletes. Labs can reach speeds between 20-30 mph.

Shih Tzus can run at an average dog speed of 6 mph.

The average speed of a Pug dog is between 5 to 10 mph.

Dogs can run 100 yards in roughly 6 seconds.

Cocker spaniels can achieve speeds of up to 30 mph over short distances.

Dogs can run 40 yards in roughly 4 seconds.

The key to a dog running faster than humans is its body structure. A dog’s long, lean, muscular body is vital to a dog’s running speed.

Caring For Dogs That Run Fast

Dogs require regular exercise and mental stimulation, essential for all canines, from high-energy marathon runners and swift sprinters to more sedentary ‘couch potato’ breeds. Engaging in everyday activities such as runs, walks, and fetch not only maintains your pet’s healthy weight but also contributes to their overall well-being.

Leveraging your dog’s innate propensity for running can be fun and rewarding. For ideas on how to channel this energy, explore our guide on dog sports and entertaining activities. Additionally, a dog treadmill can be an excellent tool for enhancing your dog’s speed and endurance. This is especially useful when your schedule doesn’t allow regular outdoor exercise. Dog runs are also great for giving your canine speedster a place to run around.

Regardless of the activity level, ensuring your furry friend gets enough physical activity is the best way to alleviate stress and prevent anxious or destructive behavior.

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Canine Bible uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process and product review methodology to learn more about how we fact-check, test products, and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Merck Veterinary Manual. (n.d.). Description and Physical Characteristics of Dogs – Dog Owners
  2. Parker, H. G., Kim, L. V., Sutter, N. B., Carlson, S., Lorentzen, T. D., Malek, T. B., … & Ostrander, E. A. (2007). Genetic structure of the purebred domestic dog. PLOS Genetics, 3(5), e79.
  3. VonHoldt, B. M., Pollinger, J. P., Lohmueller, K. E., Han, E., Parker, H. G., Quignon, P., … & Ostrander, E. A. (2016). Genome-wide SNP and haplotype analyses reveal a rich history underlying dog domestication. Nature, 464(7290), 898-902.
  4. Bryce, C. M., & Williams, T. M. (2017). Comparative locomotor costs of domestic dogs reveal energetic economy of wolf-like breeds. Journal of Experimental Biology, 220(Pt 2), 312-321.
  5. GREY2K USA. (n.d.). History of Dog Racing in the United States.
  6. Denver Zoon. African Wild Dog, Lycaon pictus.
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