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Compared to humans, dogs are fast!
Heck, compared to most animals dogs are fast!
But how fast can a dog actually run?
While it will vary greatly based on breed, most dogs can run between 15 to 25 miles per hour. However, there are extreme examples on both ends that are well beyond this range. For example, Greyhounds can run up to 45 mph and Pugs are lucky to break 5 mph.
Other sighthounds, Jake Russel Terriers, and, yes, even standard poodles can sprint up to 30 mile per hour.
While these dogs may seem very different, if you look closely, you’ll see that they have a few physical traits in common that allow them to outpace the other breeds.
The fastest breeds of dogs have characteristics built-in from head to to to tail that give them an edge when it comes to speed over short distances. Of course, other dogs have been bred to run fast (though not as fast as Greyhounds), for much longer distances.
Much, much longer distances…as in over 100 miles in a single day!
The research available gets very complicated very quickly, I found, when I started digging into how fast dogs could run. Words like “double suspension gait” and “girdle muscles,” not to mention the 8 different ways of walking dogs can do, can make this an overwhelming rabbit hole of information.
But down that rabbit hole I went!
And in the end, I learned a lot that I’ve distilled down to a few essential bits of information to help you better understand what makes dogs run as fast or slow as they do.
Let’s get started!
How Do Dogs Compare To Humans?
Honestly, humans are pretty slow but to be fair we also aren’t optimized for speed. Instead, humans evolved with a focus on endurance.
Still, when you consider that the average man runs at a speed of 5 miles per hour and that most pugs can reach the same speed or faster you really start to see just how much more efficient dogs are than humans at running.
Even with their short legs, flat faces, and typically not-so-lean bodies, the Pug is able to keep up with a human!
But why are dogs so much more efficient at running? Let’s look at the biomechanics behind how dogs run.
How Do Dogs Run So Fast?
While the fastest dogs have a specialized design that helps them achieve top speeds, there are some speed-focused features that are universal across all dogs.
1. Four Legs Are Faster…Most Of The Time
If you look at a list of the fastest animals on the planet, you’ll notice that almost all of them pull it off by using four legs to go fast.
But why are four legs faster than two?
You might assume that with four legs dogs can take more steps. More steps mean more strides and as a result, dogs should go faster right?
That might work in theory but when you actually look at how a dog runs you’ll notice that their fastest gait is the gallop where the front legs and back legs hit the ground at roughly the same time. In fact, the back legs are very close together and act almost like one limb.
Check it out in this slow-motion video of the super-fast Greyhound showing off his top speed (the video will start right at the slow-motion section):
Even though dogs don’t use their four legs to increase their stride, four legs can still provide more power which allows them to reach top speeds faster.
Imagine that each leg is like an engine that cranks out power for running. We humans only have two engines to keep us going. But dogs, and many of the other fastest animals, have four. That means they’ve got the potential for more power output in every step or stride.
Some folks refer to this running style as a double-suspension gallop but I like to think of it as 4 wheel drive instead of 2 wheel drive.
2. Big Flexibility Leads To A Big Stride and Even More Power
Even though dogs don’t use their four legs to build a bigger stride, they do have another technique that helps them take much larger steps than any human and that’s their extremely flexible spine and shoulders.
For an example of this, just look at the foot placement of this dog:
Notice how his back feet are almost in front of him and just about reach his shoulders?
That’s possible because of a dog’s superior flexibility and it all starts with the collar bone…or really the lack of a collarbone.
Because dogs lack collar bones, they can’t stretch their front legs back behind their backs as we can, and also why their chests are comparatively so narrow compared to ours.
In fact, dogs do not have any bones at all connecting their front legs to their torso. Instead, they have 25 extremely strong and flexible muscles that make up their “shoulder girdle muscles.”
You have these muscles too where your arm meets your torso. But for a dog, the only thing keeping their front arms attached are the powerful muscles in that area which gives them a lot more mobility.
This gives dogs an edge when it comes to speed and agility. Unlike humans, who need their front limbs for a much more diverse number of activities like grabbing, pulling, and pushing, a dog’s front limbs have are specialized to maximize their speed and agility.
This focus on flexibility also allows dogs to take massive steps compared to not only humans but also other animals. To put this in perspective veterinarian Christine Zink explains, “Despite their difference in size, the stride length of a Greyhound at a gallop is approximately the same as that of a Thoroughbred horse running the Kentucky Derby!”
Even the little pug can pull off a large stride compared to his body and it’s part of what gives them an edge on humans- at least when it comes to speed.
But a dog’s speed doesn’t come from shoulder flexibility alone, and just over a dog’s hip and groin area is where they’re the most flexible. They have room there to arch their backs far more than humans can.
When a dog runs, their back goes from completely straight to a rounded arch. Dog’s with longer backs are therefore more able to gain lots of ground very quickly because they can explode from a standstill and cover the length of their back and legs in a single bound.
This doesn’t mean long-back dogs like Dachshunds and Corgis are great runners. A long back needs to be coupled with long legs, a springy spine, and a deep chest to be anything besides a hindrance.
But dogs like the Greyhound or German Shepherds can contract their bodies and turn themselves into a giant, furry spring!
3. Dogs Are More Aerodynamic
Humans evolved to interact with the world in an upright position because it allowed us to hold tools and manipulate our environment. It’s been one of the key factors to our evolutionary success.
But the upright position is far from aerodynamic. If you’ve ever ridden a bike in the wind or anything similar you’ve probably experienced the big difference that just tucking your head can make in terms of speed. When you lower your head on the bike, you become more aerodynamic and a lot faster.
Dogs are naturally far more aerodynamic than humans. The fastest dogs, like the Greyhound, have plenty of aerodynamic enchantments that make them faster. You can actually look at a visual representation of aerodynamic properties across several species if you’re interested but we won’t get too technical here.
Instead, I expect most folks will be able to see how the almost torpedo-like shape of a Greyhound or German Shepherd will be much faster than the human…or the pug.
4. Paws, Pads, And Nails Give Traction
The nails and the pads on a dog’s feet play a crucial role when dogs run. I mean, obviously, feet are important for running, but a dog’s feet are particularly well designed for it. And it’s not like they can strap on a new pair of Nikes before they hit the road.
Most dogs have 4 nails on their rear feet and 5 on their front feet. In the wild, a dog or their ancestral wolf counterparts would find these useful for fighting off predators and taking down prey – not really something Fido is probably going to get into any time soon.
So, besides fighting, these nails also dig into the terrain under them, providing excellent traction in all sorts of environments. Better traction and improved grip lead to more power output and faster dogs.
Dogs’ pads act like shoes (hence the name “pads”). They are collections of thick fatty tissue surrounded by a rough exterior. You can think of it the same way that humans use cleats on a soccer field to not only be more stable but also support a greater power output. This also allows dogs to be more agile while maintaining top speeds.
It may be easy to forget if you have a house dog that carpet, tile, and asphalt are not what dogs were bred to walk on. Dogs were bred outside in all sorts of weather, sand, snow, ice, mud, and long nails allow them to dig deep and target their muscular output, maximizing the efficacy of their motions.
The pads also insulate the dog’s feet from extreme temperatures. Huskies, who run in the snow, and Salukis, who run in hot sand, both have exceptionally thick pads to protect them.
They also act as shock absorbers, diffusing the impact of running across the fatty tissue instead of directly against the bones of their feet.
5. More Efficient Circulatory and Respiratory Systems
There’s a lot that goes into fueling muscles and running efficiently and not only do dogs have four engines (in the form of legs) to our two but they’ve also got an entirely better vehicle!
Okay, maybe we’re losing the analogy here but if we simply compared a dog’s entire physiology to our own, we’d find that in almost every area they’re better equipped for top speeds.
Take for instance the Greyhounds ability to circulate blood. Increased circulation means more oxygen and other nutrients get to where they need to be and in turn, athletic performance is improved. According to veterinarian Christine Zink, “During a 30-second race, a Greyhound circulates its entire blood volume four to five times.”
That sounds like a lot, but how does that compare to humans?
It takes humans roughly 45 seconds to fully circulate their blood volume…one time. That means Greyhounds are circulating their blood volume 5 times the rate of a human. Of course, this isn’t a perfect comparison since the most athletic humans have a more efficient circulatory system but it still highlights the physiological efficiency of the Greyhound.
Greyhounds can pull off this rapid circulation thanks to a faster heartbeat during periods of activity but also because of an overall larger heart relative to their size. As the fastest of all the dog breeds, we’d expect Greyhounds to represent an extreme example but most dog breeds have a heart size that’s around 0.8% of their overall body weight while the average human heart is 0.6% of the overall body.
That’s a small percentage, but it makes a big difference.
Dogs also have more efficient and sensitive lungs relative to humans which only further enhances their ability to effectively distribute nutrients while running.
We could go on and on here, but these are the big systems that make dogs fast.
6. More Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers
There are two types of muscle fibers: fast twitch and slow twitch.
Slow-twitch muscle fibers are those that help with endurance activities while fast-twitch muscles provide larger and more powerful forces but over a shorter period of time.
You can probably guess which kind of muscle tissue the fastest dogs have…it’s all about the fast-twitch muscle fibers!
One study found that Greyhounds had almost 100 percent fast-twitch and other fast-running dog breeds weren’t far behind. Compare that to the human ratio of around 70% slow-twitch or endurance-focused muscle fibers to 30% fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Just another example of how humans were built for endurance while our dogs were built for speed.
7. Head Shape Focused On Speed
The fastest dog breeds have narrow heads and long, pointed muzzles. Picture Greyhounds and Salukis.
These long noses and large mouths allow them to pull in lots of air with every intake of breath, adding oxygen to their blood, which fuels those fast-twitch muscles.
Their heads are also aerodynamic, carving through wind resistance while pivoting on long necks. These long necks and heads extend their centers of gravity forward, allowing them to reach farther in a single stride.
Finally, the positioning of their eyes on either side of their head allows them to see a wider range of vision. This helps them to maintain control while moving at fast speeds and allows them to make split-second directional decisions without having to slow down to turn their heads.
Basically, picture the opposite of a pug. Their forward-facing eyes and short snouts make walking down the stairs at a normal speed treacherous.
8. Tails Help Dogs Stay In Control At High Speeds
Finally, a dog’s tail, similar to their heads at the end of their long necks, extends their centers of gravity and helps them take turns at high speeds without losing control.
When a dog turns and its weight pulls it to the left, the dog sticks it’s tail out to the right to pull it back in the direction it wants to go and to prevent it from tipping over.
This is a simple but ingenious example of evolution, one that us humans have recreated when tightrope walkers use a pole to maintain their balance or when we tie a tail onto a kite to keep it from losing stability.
How Do Dogs Run?
Breaking down a dog’s Anatomy is the first step to understanding what allows them to run at such high speeds. but, more than just having all of the necessary parts to run fast, a dog has to put all of these parts together in order to move.
When a dog runs, we refer to the dog’s “gait.” This is the particular pattern that a dog’s limbs follow when they are moving. I was shocked to find that there are technically 8 different dog gaits, not just 1. Walking and 2. Running.
This video very helpfully breaks down 7 of those gaits, but in my opinion, there are really only 4 distinct gaits worth discussing. I’ve summarized the quick-notes version of each type below.
This is the gait we are all most familiar with. When a dog is “walking,” three legs are on the ground at any given moment, with only one leg being lifted at a time to move them forward.
This casual gait usually maxes out at 1.5-3 miles per hour before the dog switches to trot or a canter
This is nice, smooth gait is what you see if you ever watch dog shows. It is characterized by a flat back and a rhythmic pattern.
In a trot, a dog moves its diagonally opposite feet in sync together. So when their front left paw moves forward and touches the ground, their right rear paw moves forward and touches the ground at the same time, and so on.
This is actually the second-fastest of all the gaits, but a dog will typically switch to a canter before going full gallop.
This is a bouncier gait that you’ll likely see your dog break into before or after the run at full speed.
Unlike the smoother trot, where there are two beats to each stride (one pair of diagonally opposite feet, then the other), a canter is a three-beat stride.
“Three-beats” because there are three moments of paw-to-ground impact in each stride, with two legs moving separately and independently and a pair of legs moving in sync.
This is typically slower than a trot because your dog spends more time bouncing up and down than moving forward, but a dog can more easily shift from a canter to a gallop and a gallop to a canter than from a trot to a gallop or vice versa.
In this sense, you can think of trotting as powerwalking and cantering as jogging.
Ok at this point in my research, this is where my eyes started to cross.
There are two different types of gallops but they both mean that, for at elast some amount of time, the dog is completely suspended in the air. How this happens though depends on the dog breed.
Most dog breeds can only get to the slower, single-suspension gallop gait.
This is the fastest gait that most dogs can achieve. It’s a four-beat gait because all 4 feet hit the ground at separate times, typically following the right-front, left-front, right-hind, left-hind pattern.
Dogs are momentarily suspended in air, but when their feet come down, they continue to hit the ground in the 1,2,3,4 pattern.
Dogs can get great extension in a single-suspension gate, but they are unable to get the “full extension” achieved in a double-suspension gate.
Check out this brief video if you want to see what I mean. It’s a slow-motion video of a Golden Retriver running fast in a single-suspension gait. I’m kind of surprised by how much there is to look at in a simple run.
This is the dog’s running-in-overdrive mode. In fact, only Greyhounds and other sighthounds can run with a double-suspension gait. This is the only gait in which a dog is in full extension.
What this means is that dogs running with a double-suspension gallop have their front legs fully extended forward and their rear legs full extended backward mid-stride. They are only on the ground at all for 25% of the time that they are running.
When they are not at full extension, they are at full contraction, with both front legs reaching backward past their rear legs and their rear legs racing forward towards their chests.
It’s a little bit complicated to describe in words, but if you’ve spent any time watching your dog or other dogs run, you’ll recognize what I’m talking about.
This video has a slow-motion view of a whippet hauling butt across a field in a double-suspension gallop:
Why Did Dogs Evolve To Be Fast?
Just a quick overview of what makes dogs fast and we’ve seen a long list of evolutionary adaptations that have set dogs up to go fast!
But why did dogs evolve for speed?
For the answer, we can turn to the evolutionary history of our canine companions. Dogs evolved from humans 15,000 to 40,000 years ago, and speed is what allowed dogs and their wolf ancestors to capture prey. But wolves aren’t just fast, they can also run for long distances at a time and are what’s called persistence or endurance hunters similar to humans.
Like wolves dogs, evolved for relative speed but didn’t specialize in it. It wasn’t until humans got involved and introduced selective breeding that extreme examples like the Greyhound came to be.
It’s hard to even see the connection between dogs and their wolf ancestors in some breeds. For example, consider how far removed dogs like the English Bulldog is from their wild wolf ancestors. The body of a wolf is long, lean, and efficient. While an English Bulldog seems to have more in common with a bowling ball!
So really, dogs didn’t evolve with a specialization in speed but all the evolutionary adaptations above helped them not only catch prey with bursts of speed but also with endurance. It was humans the further developed the trait and created the fastest breeds.
What Makes Some Dogs Faster or Slower Than Others?
We already know that not all dogs are equal when it comes to going fast but what are the biggest factors or features that can slow down some breeds compared to others?
Short Snouts and Flat Faces
Brachycephalic breeds are dogs with short snouts and flat faces. Many breeds have this to some degree but some of the most extreme examples are dogs like the Pug, French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers.
Because this head confirmation greatly reduces the ability of these breeds to get oxygen and regulate body temperature on hot days it should be no surprise that the slowest dog breeds are also those that have brachycephalic faces.
A longer snout can do just the opposite and allow dogs to more efficiently pull in vital oxygen. It should also be no surprise then that the fastest dogs like Greyhounds, German Shepherds and Borzoi all have long narrow snouts.
Long But Proportionate Legs
Long legs are usually faster but not if they become disproportionately long in comparison to the rest of the body. Consider the giraffe as an example of when leg length goes to such extremes that it just changes the overall biomechanics too much. Giraffes are still fast at more than 35 mph, but with such long legs, they’re in a category all their own.
But just as legs can be too long…they can also be too short and we only have to turn to the pug for an example of this.
When it comes to speed, there’s a bit of a sweet spot in leg length that allows dogs to put their flexible body to maximum use without slowing them down either. The slowest dogs have legs that are too short and the fastest dogs have legs that are just right in terms of length.
The Right Kind of Muscle…But Not Too Much
We’ve already discussed the difference between fast and slow twitch muscle fibers and how the power-focused fast twitch fibers help dogs run faster than humans.
But there can also be a big difference in the amount of muscle and the fiber-type of muscle between breeds, too.
Consider the Rottweiler vs Greyhound. We already know that the Greyhound has a massive amount of speed-oriented fast twitch muscle fibers (more than 90% in some cases) but Rottweilers have a much different history and even pulled heavy carts to market in ancient Germany. That kind of work requires more slow twitch muscle fibers and Rottweilers would have been bred accordingly.
Rottweilers can still run fast with top speeds of 25 mph or more, but that’s quite slow compared to the dogs bred for speed. Other endurance-focused dogs like the Husky may also have more slow twitch muscle fibers.
But the amount of muscle matters too! Dogs like the Rottweiler have a lot of extra weight to carry around which serves them well when they pull carts to market but not so much when they’re trying to reach top speeds.
What Are The Fastest Breeds Of Dogs?
Now that we know not only why dogs are so much faster than humans but also why some breeds are faster than others let’s look at some of the fastest dogs on the planet!
Please note, that measuring the speed of a dog is actually a very complicated process that few folks are doing with any accuracy. Things get more complicated when you consider that there can be a ton of individual variation between dogs of the same breed.
Just like a random sample of humans wouldn’t accurately reflect the top speeds a human being is capable of, the same is true for dogs.
1. Greyhound – 46 MPH / 74.2 KMH
Probably not a big surprise for anyone to learn that Greyhounds are the fasted breeds of dogs. Their anatomies are perfectly designed for power and explosive speed over short distances.
Not only are Greyhounds the fastest breed of dog, but they are actually the eighth fastest land animal, coming in behind cheetahs, lions, and horses, and are actually faster than kangaroos!
2. Saluki – Up To 42.8 MPH / 68.8 KMH
The Saluki has a very similar look to the Greyhound so it should be no surprise that these dogs can run very fast. Salukis, like Greyhounds, are an ancient breed coming to us from Egypt that was bred to chase gazelle and rabbits. They remain much rarer than Greyhounds but are in fact very similar in temperament.
In fact, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Saluki is actually the fastest dog with a top speed of 42.8 mph. However, the caveat is that this only over longer distances but there does appear to be some debate over which breed is the fastest.
3. Afghan Hound – Up To 40 MPH / 64.4 KMH
The Afghan, originally from Afghanistan, is the third-fastest breed of dog. It is also a sighthound, bred to see small, fast-moving prey and give chase right away.
The idea with all three of the fastest dogs is that they would catch their prey incredibly quickly. Other dogs were bred to dig them out of holes, chase them for days, or straight-up fight their prey.
But these dogs were bred to run, so it makes that they’d be the best at it.
Unlike the Greyhound and Saluki, the Afghan has a long flowing coat to keep it warm in the cold mountain regions of Afghanistan. This long hair is a hindrance to them when they try to get up to full speed, which has kept them from being able to claim top honors. Still, there’s no doubt that 40 mph is very fast!
4. Vizla – Up To 40 MPH / 64.4 KMH
These red-coated dogs are technically in the sporting group along with other pointers and retrievers. They were bred to be all-around hunting and working dogs and, unlike the other fastest dogs, they are not couch potatoes.
While it can sometimes be difficult to measure their exact speed, we know that these dogs are very fast and Ruby the Vizla (featured in the video above) is one of the fastest pups in the world as she’s been clocked at up to 40 miles per hour on a trail. You can see Ruby the Vizla running faster than mountain bikes, even with 500 watts of assistance, in the video above!
While Ruby is a bit of a special case, with a little training most Vizlas can likely take their speed up to 40 mph.
5. Ibizan Hound – Up To 40 MPH / 64.4 KMH
The Ibizan Hound is another long, lean, and very fast sighthound that can reach speeds of up to 40 mph. These tall and handsome pups look very similar to all the other fastest dogs on the planet!
6. Jack Russel Terrier – Up To 38 MPH / 61.1 KMH
I’m actually shocked to report that the little Jack Russel is actually the 6th fastest breed of dog, despite weighing in at only about 15 pounds (compared to Greyhounds that clock in around 65 pounds).
Jack Russels are able to run so fast because they hit all of the checkboxes we outlined above. They have long snouts, deep chests, long backs, long legs, and, their secret weapon: insatiable energy and prey drive.
They were bred to chase rats and other small farm pests, and they are wicked good at it. In fact, they were expected to be able to kill one rat every 5 seconds and up to 100 rats in a minute!
7. Dalmations – 37 MPH / 59.5 KMH
Dalmations are one of the all-around best runners when you factor in top speed as well as endurance.
These Jackson Pollockesque dogs were bred in the Mediterranean to run alongside carriages and fend off robbers – not to mention look elegant and amazing while announcing the approach of their owners.
This history of literally running alongside fast-moving vehicles for long stretches of time has made them one of the fastest breeds still around today.
8. Borzoi – 37 MPH /59.5 KMH
Back to the sighthounds now. This unique-looking hound was bred in Russia for chasing small, fast prey like rabbits and foxes.
They don’t have the long flowing coat like Afghans but instead a coarse, thick double coat that sheds like a bear.
But, like other sighthounds, they are extremely mellow dogs in the house, when they aren’t running at break-neck speeds.
9. Whippets – 34 MPH /54.7 KMH
Whippets are basically just smaller, feistier versions of Greyhounds, so it comes as no surprise that they are also on this list.
Whippets were bred for chasing after small prey, just like Greyhounds. However, their small, compact size, weighing in at only about 35 lbS, made them a more versatile choice for farmers and hunters who could not support a dog like a Greyhound.
And, like other sighthounds, they can achieve the double suspension gait, allowing them to maximize their extension and run even faster.
10. Doberman Pinschers – 32 MPH / 51.5 KMH
Doberman Pinschers are one of my favorite dogs, so I was surprised to learn something new about them. They are the 9th fastest breed of dog, which, after taking another look at their deep chests, long legs, pointed noses, and large padded feet, I should have guessed that they were bred to run.
Doberman Pinschers were bred in Germany by a tax collector, who wanted to create the perfect breed of dog to protect him as he walked around town with his tax collections.
In fact, the word Pinscher is German for “terrier.” The breed has come a long way since it was originally created and most countries have dropped the word Pinscher from the official name of this dog.
Only the United States and Canada still officially called them Doberman Pinschers.
11. German Shepherds, Border Collies, and Standard Poodles – 30 MPH
These three popular dog breeds can all reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, so they can share the 10th spot.
While all three of these dogs look very different from one another, they all share similar characteristics that make them excellent sprinters.
They were all bred to be general, all around farm dogs, so agility, stamina, and speed were all important characteristics to breed into them.
My standard poodle is a great runner who has an excellent single-suspension gait when he runs. He just looks like the happiest dog in the world when he gets going!
But, while his long legs and deep chest allow him to reach high speeds quickly, the simple fact is that sighthounds are bred to run the fastest.
Sighthounds are the fastest breeds of dogs, and Greyhounds are the fastest of them.
What Are The Slowest Breeds Of Dogs?
There’s a lot of attention that goes towards the fastest breeds…but what about the champions of taking it slow! What are the slowest dog breeds on the planet?
Well, it can actually be quite hard to measure this as most folks aren’t spending time analyzing these slowpokes but I’ve done my best to give a rough speed estimate.
Keep in mind that there are a lot more slow dogs than fast ones and this shouldn’t be considered a definitive list of all the small slow dogs in the world!
1. Pug – 5 MPH / 8 KMH
It should be no surprise that the little pug just isn’t built for speed. Pugs have such a short face that they have to work hard to breathe when they’re just standing around, let alone running at top speed. To top it off, they’ve got short stubby legs relative to the rest of their body. On average, a pug’s top speed is only around 5 miles per hour.
2. Bulldog- 5 MPH / 8 KMH
It should come as no surprise to see Bulldogs, all Bulldogs, on this list. Frankly, I was surprised that they were able to run as fast as they can.
Physically, Bulldogs check all of the boxes to make a dog a slow runner. They have flat faces that make it difficult for them to breathe, which leaves them winded after only a few steps.
Their short legs and long backs all have to support a big, heady, barrel-shaped chest. These dogs were bred to bight and hold, not chase or run for long periods.
Their entire body is almost the polar opposite of a Greyhound with short, thick legs and a round torso.
These dogs are very playful and can really get going if they are in the right mood. But they are pretty lazy as far as dog breeds go, so that may not happen too often.
3. Basset Hound- 5 MPH / 8 KMH
The Basset Hound may not have the brachycephalic problem that keeps other dogs slow but they do have extremely short legs in proportion to their body. These legs make it very difficult for them to pick up much speed as they’re stuck with a very short stride relative to their long body.
However, Basset Hounds make up for their slow speed with an extremely powerful sense of smell which keeps them useful out in the field.
4. Shih Tzu- 6 MPH / 9.6 KMH
Another short-faced brachycephalic breed, the Shih Tzu has slightly longer and more proportionate legs that can help them run a little faster than other short-faced dogs. Still, they aren’t very fast at around 6 miles per hour.
5. Chihuahua- 10 MPH / 16 KMH
The extremely popular Chihuahua doesn’t have a brachycephalic face to slow them down or an especially large body but they do have very short legs and limited athletic abilities that keep their top speed around 10 miles per hour.
How Fast Are Other Dog Breeds?
What about the dogs with middle-of-the-road speed? Well, this is where all the other breeds come into the play.
Sure, you’ve got dogs like the Greyhound and Saluki that were bred to go fast and dogs like the Pug that were barely bred to move.
But in between all that is where the 15 mph to 25 mph range happens and if you took the max speed of all the dogs at a dog park it would most likely fall into this range.
What About Mixed Breed Dogs?
Most mixed breed dogs will fall into the average speed range of around 15 to 25 mph but in some cases, you could have a dog that’s much faster.
When I say mixed breed, I mean a true hodgepodge of dog breeds over a long period of time with no specific mix. Of course a cross between a Greyhound and Saluki will be fast- there’s no question there.
But could a truly mixed breed dog compete with some of the fastest dogs in the world?
Despite the hotly debated concept of hybrid vigor in dogs, which is the idea that mixed breed dogs have overall more favorable genetics, the fastest dog breeds are just too specialized for speed that a random mix of DNA will have a very hard time competing.
As we’ve already discussed, the Greyhound has been optimized for speed at almost every turn. A mixed-breed may be able to do more things well compared to a greyhound but they won’t be able to compete on pure speed.
That doesn’t mean you can’t find a very fast mixed breed dog and it’s certainly possible to find them running over 30 miles over an hour. But if you want to find a dog that can reach 40 miles per hour or more, like the fastest breeds in the world, then you’ll likely need the specialization that comes with very specific breeding.
How Can I Tell How Fast My Dog Runs?
With all this talk about speed, you might want to figure out how your dog stacks up to the best of them.
You’ve got a few options for testing just how fast your canine companion can run.
Go Low Tech With Just A Stop Watch
If you want to keep things simple, all you need is a known distance and a stopwatch.
Just measure the time that it takes for your dog to travel the known distance and use an online calculator to figure out the speed.
Okay, so the measuring part is easy but the real hard part is getting your dog actually start running when you want them to! There’s also the problem of getting your dog to run full speed and unless they’ve received special training it can be hard to have your dog hit their top speed on command.
Toys and treats are going to be really useful here and after a few attempts, you should be able to get a good idea of your dog’s top speed. But if you want a more precise measurement you’ll need to check out a higher-tech option.
Go High Tech With A Go Pro
You’ve got a few options here and there are specially designed GPS trackers for dogs that do an okay job of tracking speed. But since they aren’t really built to measure speed the accuracy isn’t great.
If you really want to know how fast your dog can run, a Go Pro or similar setup is a better option.
Go Pro has advanced telemetry in just about every camera that will give you detailed information about your dog’s speed along with a whole pile of other data. You can check out the Go Pro Hero 7 on Amazon for a good budget-friendly dog option. You’ll also need a mount to secure the camera and you can see Go Pro’s dog mount on Amazon here.
Once everything is set up, all you need to do is get your dog to run fast, and Go Pro will handle the rest. That’s a lot easier when you’re not trying to measure them over a very specific distance.
If you’re only interested in speed then it probably isn’t worth picking up premium gear but it’s also a lot of fun to see the world through your dog’s eyes so there’s more to Go Pro then just the speed!
Dogs are really fast- especially when compared to humans.
While the average sprinter will have no problem outrunning a pug, the average man might not be able to do much better than the pug’s top speed of around 5 miles per hour. That means even some of the least athletically inclined dogs are still fast by human standards.
Then there are dogs that are built for speed. In almost every possible way dogs like the Greyhound, Vizla and Saluki are made to go fast. Not only is their speed amazing but the massive difference between the 43 mph Greyhound is the 5 mph Pug is, in some ways, even more amazing!
Despite the extremes, there are more dogs in the middle than anything else and most pups should be able to hit top speeds of around 15 to 25 miles per hour.
What do you think? How fast can your dog run?