What Are the Best Dogs for Running?

8) Is swimming important? Do you want a dog that enjoys swimming? Some breeds love the water and naturally enjoy swimming. The sporting dogs that hunt birds are in this category. Other dog breeds aren't much interested in swimming, though there are exceptions in every breed.

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9) Do you want a dog that is more trainable and obedient? Labradors and golden retrievers are well-known for their easy going personalities and general desire to please humans. Other breeds are more independent and may be more interested in doing something else. For example foxhounds, coonhounds and Rhodesian ridgebacks are dogs stimulated by scents and sights (like squirrels, bunnies and cats). It might be more interesting to chase a cat than to run with you or listen to your voice commands.

10) Do you have allergies? Some dog breeds—such as the standard poodle and the labradoodle—are more easily tolerated by people who suffer from allergies.

11) Do you prefer a small, medium or large dog? This preference may be tempered by your living situation. You might prefer to have three large dogs; but you live in a one-bedroom apartment in the city. These three large dogs would be better suited for a living situation that has a yard and plenty of room to exercise.

In addition to these questions, there are several online questionnaires that can help you decide what dog would be best for you. I suggest filling out a few of these as each one asks slightly different questions. You can also ask other athletes about their canine running partners.

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Once you have the characteristics of several breeds of dogs that would fit well into your family, consider adopting a running dog from the local Humane Society. The Humane Society can usually give you a good idea of the breed mix of your pup. Some of the mixed breed dogs make outstanding running partners. If you prefer a specific breed, consider looking for a rescue program for that breed.

Fall and spring are the times when most dogs are having litters, and when puppies are usually available for adoption. Just remind yourself that cute puppies turn into bigger dogs and come with commitments. If you are ready to take on the time and responsibility to train and care for a dog, you might find the best running partner you've ever had.

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Finally, I asked my friends, and friends of friends, which dogs they like to run with. Here is a list of their favorite running dogs:

  • Airedale Terrier
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Border Collie and Labrador Retriever mix
  • Boxer
  • Dalmation
  • English Springer Spaniel
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labradoodle
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Labrador and Golden Retriever mix
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Siberian Husky
  • Standard Poodle
  • Vizsla
  • Weimaraner
  • Whippet
  • Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Do you have a good running dog? What breed or mix of breeds was it?

More: Train Your Dog for Long-Distance Running

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Gale Bernhardt was the USA Triathlon team coach at the 2003 Pan American Games and 2004 Athens Olympics. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Games in Sydney. She currently serves as one of the World Cup coaches for the International Triathlon Union's Sport Development Team. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow cycling and triathlon training plans. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.

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