Descending from some of the greatest runners on the planet, many domestic dog breeds can run even faster than their wolf ancestors. While wolves top out at about 38 mph, and can maintain this speed only for short distances, some dogs run up to 20 percent faster than, and can maintain such a pace for relatively long distances. As a comparison, the fastest humans on Earth may attain speeds of 23 mph.
Most authorities consider the greyhound to be the world’s fastest dog breed, with breeds such as Salukis, Afghan hounds, vizslas, border collies and whippets, falling shortly behind them in terms of top speed. Purposely bred for speed, greyhounds have been clocked at speeds of up to 45 mph. Nevertheless, the website Vetstreet reports that veterinarian Dr. Christine Zink suggests that many other lightweight, fast breeds are nearly as fast as greyhounds are, and reach speeds between 35 and 40 mph.
Siberian huskies and a few other breeds and mixed lineages are some of the world’s most incredible endurance athletes. Fueled by as many as 12,000 calories per day, these 50-pound dogs are capable of sustaining speeds of 12 mph for more than six hours when pulling a sled. Obviously, when not pulling a 200-pound sled, huskies and other sled dogs are much faster than this -- although not as fast as greyhounds and other fleet-footed dogs.
While all dogs can run, some struggle to attain high speeds or cover lengthy distances. Most such dogs have bodies that are poorly built for running, as they lack the narrow waist, deep chest and long noses, commonly associated with speedy breeds. Because their noses are very short, bulldogs, pugs and similarly built breeds are prone to overheating when they run long distances.
Because of their running talents, dogs make excellent companions for walkers, joggers and runners. However, just as different human athletes prefer different training conditions, different dog breeds excel at different kinds of jogs. For example, if you live in a cold climate, and must contend with snow on your morning run, opt for a Siberian husky, as the breed excels in the snow.
Lightweight dogs with strong hips and legs, such as Weimaraners and German shorthaired pointers, are great for those who run long distances. Alternatively, if you enjoy short, brisk runs to get your heart pumping, select a muscular, lean breed, such as a greyhound, American pit bull terrier or beagle. However, mixed breed dogs also may excel at running, particularly if they have a medium build and energetic personality.