How Fast Can A Dog Run?

Filed in Dog Health on September 5, 2021

How Fast Can A Dog Run

Did you catch the Westminster Dog Show in June? I’m an addict and saw the whole thing.

I enjoyed watching all the beautiful dogs, but one in particular caught my attention. Lark, a tiny Papillon, stole the show in the agility competition because of how fast she tore around the course.

It was most impressive and she won her class and got the crowds cheering! Who knew a little dog could go at that speed? And it got me thinking about how fast can a dog run.

I immediately thought about the saying “faster than a Greyhound” and wondered if this long-legged athlete was the fastest dog known to man. If not, which breed was? Surely not the Papillon?

When I did my research it turns out that Greyhounds are indeed our fastest fidos. While most dogs run 15 to 20 mph, Greyhounds can run up to 45 mph! However, there are other speed demons out there.

In this blog post, I’ll discuss factors affecting speed, how fast can a dog run with a list of the speediest canines, some slower dogs, and more.

Factors that Affect How Fast A Dog Can Run

Many factors go into how fast our four-legged friends can fly down the street. Like humans, canines come in all shapes and sizes but they all have spines and skeletons that are designed to help them run.

Greyhound sprinting in the race track

Greyhound sprinting on the race track.

The fastest ones, however, have other bodily structures that get them that extra mile. These include:

  • Special feet
  • Extra strong muscles
  • Leg length
  • Shape of head and/or nose

Traits like these were developed in certain dogs to make them more useful to humans who needed them for work. So what they were bred for is a huge factor in how fast they can run.

Some were fine-tuned to hunt or herd, while others developed into guard dogs and more.

These working breeds (think Border Collies, Pointers, Vizslas) needed to move fast to do their job, so naturally they became the speed demons.

Later on in our evolution, when dogs weren’t needed purely to benefit survival, humans developed breeds that didn’t necessarily have to do a job. Some became companion animals while others were bred for sport.

Think about our fastest dog, the Greyhound. It can achieve speeds of 45 mph because its body with long muscular legs and a long-nosed head was developed to hunt and later to race.

Salukis, Afghan Hounds, and Borzois have the same characteristics. They’re not quite as fast, but they’re not far behind.

Even though small breed dogs can’t compete with these mighty runners, they can’t be ruled out completely. In fact, the speed of dogs is one of their 15 superpowers.

We’ve seen what a Papillon can do, but Jack Russell Terriers can go even faster than that…up to 38 mph covering short distances at explosive speeds.

This sturdy working dog was bred to hunt small animals and never give up until they caught their prey. It’s a powerhouse of an animal!

Fastest Dogs on the Planet

Most dogs can run between 15 to 20 mph for short distances, including the Papillon which can reach speeds up to 18 mph.

We know that Greyhounds are the fastest dogs in the world, but would you like to know how their competitors fair?

Here is a list of the quickest canines (Note: there are some minor differences with speed stats online). Did your athlete make the grade?

1. Greyhounds – 45 mph
2. Saluki – 42 mph
3. Vizsla – 40 mph
4. Afghan Hound – 40 mph
5. Ibizan Hound – 40 mph
6. Jack Russell Terrier – 38 mph
7. Dalmation – 37 mph
8. Borzoi – 36 mph
9. Whippet – 35 mph
10. Pharaoh Hound – 35 mph
11. Weimaraner – 35 mph
12. Doberman Pinscher – 32 mph
13. German Pinscher – 30 mph
14. Great Dane – 30 mph
15. German Shepherd – 30 mph
16. Border Collie – 30 mph
17. Standard Poodle – 30 mph
18. Siberian Husky – 28 mph
19. Scottish Deerhound – 28 mph
20. Giant Schnauzer – 28 mph
21. Rhodesian Ridgeback – 25 mph
22. Italian Greyhound – 25 mph

Life In The Slow Lane

Two bulldogs running

Two bulldogs running

But let’s look at the other side of the coin. Where are our slow coaches?

Short-legged or flat-faced breeds such as Basset Hounds, Dachshunds, Bulldogs, Bloodhounds, Boston Terriers, and Pugs were not built for speed. Their short legs or smushed-up faces don’t allow it. They have skills in other areas.

Bloodhounds, for example, are scent hounds. To track people who are hiding or lost, this dog developed a nose like no other, huge ears to waft up the scent, and a body hung low to the ground.

Some of our bigger dogs, too, prefer life on the slow side. Mastiffs, Saint Bernards, Chow Chows, and Great Pyrenees are great working dogs but their jobs don’t need them to be fast.

  • The Saint Bernard, for example, was bred to locate and rescue people trapped in the snow. They needed to be sure-footed but not fast.
  • Some of these larger slow breeds also have thick coats, like the Chow Chow. They would overheat if they ran a lot.
  • Labradors are hunters but they were required to swim more than run, so they developed waterproof coats and special “otter tails” to help them move in the water…not over land.

Conclusion on How Fast Can A Dog Run

As pet parents, not many of us need our dogs to work for us. But we do need to know something about our dog’s breed so we know things like how much exercise they need to be balanced.

A lot of problems with our pets come from a lack of exercise. Ask any mom or dad with a Vizsla!

My Chihuahuas are content with three shortish walks a day, but I’ve had a Jack Russell Terrier that needed a lot more than that to make her content. Look what she was created for!

If your dog was bred to run you need to let it run. That doesn’t mean you have to enter it into sporting events – a simple trip to the dog park for zoomies with friends can make all the difference.

So how fast can a dog run? It all depends…and knowing how much your dog needs to run can be the best gift you can ever give them.

If you want to know some other random dog facts, check out this article on what is a male dog called.

About the Author

Wendy Hollandsworth is a contributing writer to Dog Endorsed. She is a freelance canine copywriter who specializes in blog posts, content articles, product descriptions, and sales emails. An experienced editor and writer, she’s worked in four countries, has had hands-on experience with dogs in boarding, grooming, training, and pet-sitting, and loves what she does. When she’s not creating content she’s usually taking her three dogs Finn, Meg, and Ziggy Stardust to the dog park or making them a home-cooked meal! Sometimes her husband gets one, too.

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