How Fast Can Dogs Run: Average Dog Speed, Fastest Breeds & FAQs

how fast can dogs run

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How fast can dogs run? If you’ve ever watched your pup run with a canine pal at the park or even chase you around your yard, you know dogs can run. But, how can dogs be so damn speedy?

Can four legs allow our dogs to run faster than humans? How fast an average dog can run depends on several variables such as body composition, breed, size, age, and other factors.

This guide delves into everything you need to know about a dog’s running speed, including how dogs can run so fast, the fastest dog breeds, and everything in-between. Let’s dive right in!

Why Are Dogs So Fast?

how fast does a dog run

There are several features unique to dogs that habilitate them to run at high speeds.

Most dogs can sprint faster than humans, and having four legs gives them a definitive advantage.

Here are the main physical attributes that dictate just how fast dogs can run:

1. Aerodynamics body

Let’s take the greyhound, one of the fastest dogs, as an example. Any animal that can reach speeds of up to 45 mph must have a very specialized body.

Dog’s that are built to run fast usually have an aerodynamic shape. Their body is designed like it was made to cut through the air to reach high speeds.

The dogs that can run the fastest will most likely have a slender body, small head, flattened rib cage, and long, well-balanced muscular legs to minimize air resistance.

2. Paws (Pads & Nails)

Dog’s paws have a specialized structure that helps them accelerate fast during a race. Their paws are covered by thick, resilient pads that provide a firm grip on almost any surface. A dog’s toenails provide traction while running at fast speeds.

Pro Tip: If your dog is a fast runner, keeping nails trimmed is essential because nails that snag or break during running can cause considerable bleeding and pain.

3. Gait

They have four gaits of speed: walk, trot, canter, and gallop, the last one being the fastest gait achieved when the dog is running at full speed.

The gallop is a four-time gait suspension where all the legs are lifted off the ground. All dogs have a single suspension gallop, and it happens when the dog achieves suspension.

Dogs built to run, such as the greyhound and whippet, have a double-suspension gait that gives these dogs air-born features. The first suspension happens when the dog achieves full extension with the front legs extended forward and the rear legs are extended rearward. The second suspension occurs when the back feet overtake the front. The hind legs are almost under the shoulders.

This locomotion ability in dogs maximizes their speed and distance when running at top speed.

4. Shoulders

Dogs have disconnected shoulder bones (lacking the collar bone, unlike humans) that allow a greater stride length, makes running easier and faster.

5. Respiratory & Cardiovascular System

A strong respiratory and cardiovascular system impacts a dog’s running endurance and how fast they can go.

Dog breeds like the sighthounds are built with oversized, powerful hearts that pump blood fast enough to keep up with the race and incredible speeds. They possess larger lungs and nostrils that allow for fast and deep air intake. Better breathing equals more oxygen for their muscles, and that equals more endurance.

On the other hand, a dog with less capacity and a smaller heart will not run as fast.

6. Limbs (legs)

Larger dogs can usually run faster than smaller dogs as longer legs mean longer strides or traveling greater distances in fewer steps.

However, while larger dogs may have an advantage, the most significant factor influencing the running speed of a dog is not so much its size but the force of the dog’s contact with the ground upon each footstrike. The more powerful the strike to the ground, the faster the dog can run.

For instance, imagine a greyhound racing against a Great Dane. A dog with long weak legs won’t run faster than a dog with the right balance of length and muscle on its legs.

We explain in the next section how muscle impacts dog speed below.

7. Tail

When 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 a little extra help. The tail ensures your pup doesn’t spin off course or tumble around.

Why Do Dogs Run So Fast (According to Science)

Why do dogs run so fast? Research states dogs can go from a steady walk to a rapid sprint thanks to limbs maximized for locomotion.

According to the Merck Manual Veterinary Manual, humans and dogs have most of the same muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments.

Let’s consider an elite sprinter who can apply peak forces of 800 to 1,000 pounds with a single limb during each sprinting step. Just like a runner, dogs are probably operating at (or near) the force limits of their muscles and limbs.

A study published in PLOS Genetics discovered that a “mutation in a gene that codes for a muscle protein known as Myostatin can increase muscle mass and enhance racing performance in whippets.” The findings explain why some whippets run even faster than dogs and validate why muscle mass directly correlates with how fast certain dog breeds can run.

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.

Another reason our furry friends can run fast is that their ancestral skeleton provides the ability to run and leap. Their legs have been designed to propel them forward rapidly to chase and overcome prey.

A recent paper by The University of California, Santa Cruz, compared the running prowess of retrievers, hounds, and northern breeds and found that dog breeds that have remained closest to their wolves ancestors (northern breeds) have higher levels of athleticism and endurance when running compared to other breeds.

The reason may be that the angle of the head and the rear leg are more wolf-like. These features may assist in storing and re-using energy efficiently from stride to stride.

How Fast Can Dogs Run?

Now that you understand how and why dogs run so fast, let’s learn how fast the average dog can run.

Your average healthy house dog (with no training or conditioning) can run at a speed of about 15-20 mph. However, as we saw before, a dog’s top speed depends primarily on the size, body shape, breed, leg length, age, health, and physical condition. 

Some breeds are a lot slower than the average dog speed, while others are capable of much faster speeds.

So, who are these dog breeds? And, is there a limit to how fast dogs can run? 

The answer lies in the Greyhound dog breed. These canine athletes are the fastest dogs in the World, with a top speed of about 45 miles per hour. The highest verified speed is 41.8 miles per hour set by a greyhound in Wyong, Australia, in 1994.

You are also probably wondering, how fast is the fastest dog? An unofficial record by another Australian greyhound of 50.5 miles per hour is the fastest dog ever to run.

Average Dog Speed

How fast is the average dog? In general, the average speed of a dog is between 15–20 miles per hour for short distances regardless of their breed. 

Dog running Speed

The average dog running speed for longer distances sits between 20-30 miles per hour. However, some breeds are a lot slower than that, while others are capable of much faster speeds. 

Dog Top Speed

The average dog top speed is typically associated with running dog breeds like the Greyhounds, Salukis, and Afghan hounds. Top speed fluctuates between 30-45 miles per hour.

How Fast Can A Puppy Run?

Unlike adult dogs, puppies have yet to develop limbs, muscles, and bones which will allow them to run fast when they grow up. You can expect most puppies to reach a speed of 5-15 miles per hour.

The Fastest Dog Breeds

Here is a list of the fastest dog breeds on the planet.

Meet the dogs that run the fastest.

  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

These pups might also be a good family member addition for people who love to run and/or are active.

If your dog is among the fast dog breeds or you have a fairly active dog, considering a fitness smart tracker for dogs like Whistle is an excellent choice. Whistle allows you to track and achieve your dog’s fitness goals based on breed, age, and weight. It also provides health monitoring so you can catch potential health issues before they become problems.

The Slowest Dog Breeds

Other dogs run slowly. How fast can the slowest dog breeds run?

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 (5–10 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 (5–10 mph)
  9. Old English Mastiff (around 15 miles per hour)
  10. Toy poodle (10 mph)
  11. Bulldog (under 15 mph)
  12. Bassett Hound (5–10 mph)

History of Dogs Running Fast

The history of dogs running fast is related to dog racing.

Not much information about dog racing history has been recorded except for the precursor of dog racing, the Greyhound, as they are the fastest dog breed.

When the greyhound racing industry developed in the United States around 1919, Australia was one of several other countries that followed the development of racing tracks. Today, greyhound racing is legal and operational in just six U.S. states, following declines in greyhound gambling of 70% since 1990.

Every greyhound competing on a track in the United States must be registered with the National Greyhound Association (NGA).

What about the history of speed on dogs? Have dogs evolved to run faster?

Dogs have raced competitively for centuries, and one might suppose that their maximum speeds would remain the same over the years. Well, that’s not the case at all!

According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology that researched the limits to running speed in dogs, horses, and humans, the speed of horses and dogs has increased through time. The winning speed in the greyhound English Grand National has increased by nearly 15% in the 80 years since its inception in 1927.

So, just as humans have become faster over time, dogs have too.

Signs Your Dog Can Run Fast

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

  • You are not able to catch him because he or she is so quick
  • He can easily outrun you
  • Ears pushed down to combat wind resistance
  • When running, dogs often move the front legs in a synchronized manner and the back legs as well

Determine How Fast Your Dog Can Run

  1. Get a good stopwatch
  2. Hit the dog racing track or local track
  3. Time his runs
  4. Calculate the average speed that your dog can hit

Why Some Dogs Don’t Run Fast

There are several reasons why some dogs can’t run fast.

A dog’s biological makeup does influence how fast and far they will go. For instance, some dogs are genetically built to run faster and for more prolonged bouts than others are (i.e., Huskies and Greyhounds).

Getting the large amounts of oxygen a dog needs during a 30 or 60-minute run requires a specific genetic composition in dogs.

Can you imagine Brachycephalic dog breeds like pugs and bulldogs trying to run fast for half an hour? Brachycephalic or short-nosed dogs can’t run fast because their breathing can’t keep up. These dog breeds are notorious for their breathing difficulties due to their narrow nostrils and trachea-blocking soft palates.

The same applies to large dog breeds (i.e., St. Bernards and Newfoundlands). Their more massive mass only allows them to run somehow fast but not for long distances.

How Fast Can Small Dogs Run?

Smaller dog breeds have less lung capacity and a smaller heart and generally will not run as fast.

Take a chihuahua, for example; they are slow because of their size; their legs don’t move far or fast enough! Smaller dog breeds also have smaller lungs, cannot maintain the required breathing rate, and usually exhaust quickly.

A Shih Tzu, for example, can run an average of only about 6 miles per hour as opposed to an average dog that can maintain an average speed of 15-20 miles per hour and walk for long extended periods.

A small dog’s limbs are not designed to propel them forward rapidly, and their skeletal structure is not built to run fast except for a few exceptions, such as the Jack Russell terrier.

Training Your Dog to Run Fast

Whether you are looking to compete in dog races or want to make your canine friend your running buddy, we’ve put together a complete guide on how to train your dog to run with you.

Our guide is a fantastic training start to training your dog to run fast and build endurance.

We explain everything from how long dogs can run to the best dog running gear, tips, and more.

Are Dogs Faster Than Humans?

Can dogs run faster than humans?

Dogs can easily keep up with humans when running side-by-side. However, most dogs are faster than humans and can easily outrun most people.

Dog vs Human Speed

How fast are dogs compared to humans?

If we compare the average speed of a regular house dog, which is on average 15-20 mph, to the average speed of a human between the ages of 18-34, 13.62 km/h (8.46 mph), we can see that dogs are can generally run faster than people.

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 with a time of 9.58 seconds. In contrast, a greyhound can run 100 meters in only 5.33 seconds.

In this matchup, the winner is our furry friend, the Greyhound, by running 1.6 times faster than the fastest human.

Dog vs Human: Who’s Faster?

Watch actual 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.

Frenquently Asked Questions

Still wondering, “How fast do dogs run?”.

We answer other frequently asked questions about the dog’s running speed.

How fast do sled dogs run?

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 speed to 10 or 14 mph.

How fast do greyhound dogs run?

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

How fast can boxer dogs run?

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

How fast can African Wild Dogs Run?

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

How fast do police dogs run?

Due to the nature of 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 in an impressive speed at around 30mph. K9 units need to be quick, agile, and fast to perform their duties as canine officers.

How fast can a labrador run?

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

How fast can a Shih Tzu run?

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

How fast can a Pug run?

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

How fast can a dog run 100 yards?

Dogs can run 100 yards in roughly 6 seconds.

How fast can a Cocker Spaniel run?

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

How fast can a dog run 40 yards?

Dogs can run 40 yards in roughly 4 seconds.

Why are dogs faster than humans?

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

Caring For Dogs That Run Fast

Dogs need regular exercise and mental stimulation, regardless of whether they are marathon runners, sprinters, or couch potatoes. Runs, walk, and games of fetch can help keep your pet maintain a healthy weight.

There are plenty of ways to use your dog’s natural running abilities. Check out our guide on getting started in dog sports or fun canine activities. A dog treadmill is another great way to train your dog to run fast and build endurance. It’s also a convenient way to exercise your dog if you don’t always have the time to take him out for runs.

Whether you take our Fido for a casual run or walk, the best was to reduce stress and discourage dogs from anxious, destructive behaviors.

Sources & References: [1] Merck Manual, [2] PLOS Genetics, [3] Science Daily, [4] Grey2K USA, [5] Journal of Experimental Biolog, [6] Deven Zoo

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