Are Pitbulls Good Running Dogs?

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I’ve recently started jogging with my standard poodle, Romeo. It’s good for us both… but I hate it for so many reasons!

There I am, sweating, panting, moaning, dying. And there he is, prancing like a dressage horse, smiling at everyone, afro bouncing in the sunlight. 

Judging by the looks of the people and dogs we pass by, we have kind of a Beauty and the Beast vibe going on.

We pass by a lot of people walking their dogs, mostly Pitbulls and Pit mixes, but very few other folks are jogging. It makes sense, jogging is the worst, but it got me wondering if there was maybe any other reason they weren’t jogging.

After I kept seeing so many Pitbulls happily jogging, I started wondering…are Pitbulls good running dogs?

Yes, Pitbulls can make great running dogs, but they are not the best. They have lots of energy and are very game, but they have some physical and behavioral limitations that will keep them from being able to safely run for more than about 7 miles. Less than about 7 miles and they are perfect.

Check out Duke in the video below get himself set up on the treadmill and hammer out a quick mile:

Why Are Pitbulls Good Running Dogs?

Let’s look at a few reasons why Pitties make good running dogs.

Reason 1 – Energetic

If you have ever met a Pittie, then you’re probably familiar with the fact that they are extremely energetic dogs that need plenty of exercise

They were bred to be hunting and sporting dogs, so they have all the energy required to get up and out the door with you for your run.

While some breeds are less energetic or cooperative by nature, like Chow Chows or Bulldogs, who may be reluctant to go for a run, you can always count on your Pitbull to be ready to go.

Reason 2 – Endurance

So while it is true that Pitbulls will be very excited to get out the door and start running, so will a lot of other breeds that will quickly lose steam.

Because of their history, Pitbulls naturally have a ton of endurance. They’ll be able to keep up with you for the duration of your run (assuming you’re not marathon training).

Some breeds like Rottweilers or other Terriers may be very excited to get started running with you, but will likely get tired or lose interest after only a few blocks.

Reason 3 – Short Coat

Unless you are going jogging in the snow the short coat on the Pitbull is another asset when it comes to running.

Their short coats do not insulate them as much as their long-coated counterparts. This keeps them cooler when they are outside exerting themselves while running.

The fact that it’s fur means that it shouldn’t be prone to matting either. Matting is a common problem for dogs with hair that go running. The friction causes their hair to knot, especially in their armpits, but that’s not a problem for Pitbulls.

And while it may seem like the less hair you have the better, that’s not necessarily the case when you’re running in the sun. 

While a Pitbull’s fur is nice and short, it’s still thick enough to shield them from the sun and prevent them from getting a sunburn.

Reason 4 – Safety

While not everyone will agree that Pitbulls have appropriately earned their reputation as an aggressive breed, the fact remains that that is what a lot of people will see when you are out running with your Pitbull.

This is something that a lot of people may like about running with a Pittie, though.

Pitbulls definitely look intimidating, intimidating enough to scare off any would-be criminals or wrongdoers you may encounter on your run.

People who run in urban areas, alone, out in the country, or, frankly, anywhere you may encounter another person, may be much safer with a loyal Pittbull at their side. 

Reason 5 – Size

Finally, Pitbulls are the perfect size to be your running partner.

Pitbulls are typically between 35 and 45 lbs and are not usually more than two and a half feet tall at the head.

That makes them pretty much a medium-sized dog, but keep in mind that they have a lot of energy and endurance packed into that average size body.

Dogs that are smaller than 35 to 45 lb will struggle to keep up with you on a long-distance run. Because of their small size, they’re going to have to work too hard to keep up with you to be able to last that long.

Conversely, dogs who are much larger than that typically end up wasting a lot of energy trying to move their giant bodies along with you. It’s much harder for them to move all that weight.

Some larger dogs are not always lumbering though. Tall, lanky dogs like Weimaraners and Borzoi also make great running dogs. 

However, since both of these breeds can easily when twice as much as a Pitbull, you are going to end up spending a lot more on food and maintenance costs, especially since you are probably going to need to feed them more if you take them jogging regularly.

Not only that, but these larger dogs may be so big that it is difficult to hold them close to you while you run but not so close that they get in a way.

So Pitbulls, right smack dab in the middle of the weight chart, end up being an excellent choice for joggers.

Reasons They Are Not The Best

All of the above said, Pitbulls are not necessarily the ideal breed for jogging.

They have a lot of assets that make them very good at it, so you would do well with picking a Pitbull as your jogging partner.

However, there are some characteristics you should keep in mind that hinder their ability to claim the number one spot as far as running dogs go.

Reactive

Pitbulls are a more reactive breed of dog, especially with other dogs.

This can create a hazard for you, your dog, and anyone else you are encountering while you run.

A quick pull to the side from a Pittie reacting to something could pull you down to the ground or out into traffic.

Keep in mind also that your Pitbull is going to be in a different state of mind while running than they normally are.

Their heart is going to be racing, they will be breathing heavily, they may be picking up on the stress that you feel from the exertion, and they may be in a new environment.

All of these things may make a Pitbull who is normally not reactive more reactive.

Short Snout

While I do love the giant, gaping, goofy smile on Pitbulls, the wide mouth and shorts come with their downsides.

Pitbulls have brachycephalic noses. While not have the most extreme case like you’d see on Pugs or French Bulldogs, they do not have the long snout that’s best for running as you’d find on a Greyhound.

This means that your Pitbull will breathe less efficiently than a dog with a long snout. The consequences of this are twofold.

First, Pitbull will not be able to oxygenate their blood as quickly while they are exerting themselves. This will lead to cramping, muscle soreness, and fatigue faster than other dogs.

Second, your Pitbull will not be able to bring cooling air into their mouths and lungs as quickly and efficiently. 

Remember that dogs do not sweat, so your Pitbull has to cool themselves off by panting heavily, which brings cool hair into their mouths and bodies.

Because they are not as efficient at breathing as other dogs, they will not be able to cool themselves off as efficiently and, therefore, will overheat faster.

Not Bred For It

This kind of brings me to the last point, which is that, while Pitbulls are fantastic, athletic dogs who will succeed to some degree at almost every activity, running is not what they were bred for.

Dogs that were bred for lots of running typically have larger feet, better for traction and shock absorption.

Their hearts are larger and more efficient, and their chests are deeper to accommodate their larger lungs.

And they typically have longer legs, which allows them to take bigger Strides.

Pitbulls have relatively short legs, which means that they will have to take more steps to cover the same amount of distance as a dog with longer legs. This matters more when you are on longer runs.

All in all, Pitbulls are great dogs for casual joggers, but because of their physical shortcomings, it is best not to run with your pitbull for longer than 7 miles.

For me, that’s more than I will ever run in a single sitting (hopefully), so a Pitbull would be a great option for me.

But if you’re a much more serious runner than me, you should consider getting a dog that has longer legs and is built for running.

Your pitbull will likely try to keep up with you, but they may injure themselves trying to do so.

How Fast Can Pitbulls Run?

Over short distances, Pitbulls can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, making them one of the faster breeds of dogs over short distances. For a run over a couple of miles, you can expect your Pitbull to average up to 13 miles per hour. Of course, it depends on how fast you are travelling, and your Pitbull will almost surely be able to match your speed.

Pitbull Running Gear

If you are ready to start jogging with your Pitbull, there are a few things that you may want to pick up to make the activity less stressful and more fun for you both, especially if you are going to do it for the long term.

You will want to pick up a harness for your dog so that you do not risk straining their neck running with a leash. This one is lightweight and low profile, so it won’t chafe your Pitbull over time.

You’ll also want to get a jogging leash to keep your hands free and your dog safely tethered to you.

This one securely wraps around your waist with a simple buckle is compatible with any standard leash or harness.

What’s also great about it is that it has an elastic band sewn into the leash, which provides gentle, gradual resistance when either one of you starts to pull too far away from the other one (as opposed to the hard snap you’d get at the end of traditional leashes).

If you are going for a good long run with your dog, you may want to bring your phone, some water, or some other accessories with you. A saddlebag like this one fits nicely around your dog and lets them your equipment while you jog.

This foldable water bowl is lightweight and compact but large enough to accommodate your large Pitbulls big mouth if you need to take a break for a drink during your run.

Finally, while you may be jogging in your pair of Nikes, keep in mind that your Pittie is running on their bare toes.

You can apply this balm to your dog’s paws to make sure they stay hydrated and moisturized. This will help prevent cracking and keep them nicely padded so your dog does not injure the bones in their feet while they run.

Running With Your Pittbull

Pitbulls make excellent running companions for people who run 7 miles or less.

They have a lot of energy, they can stick with you for a long time, and they are an excellent safety feature, intimidating as they are.

Running more than 7 miles is quite a feat for both dogs and people alike, so anyone looking to run more than that amount should look for a dog who has been bred specifically for running long distances like that.

For your casual jogger, Pitties are an excellent choice. Gear up and hit the road!