Why Dogs Run Faster Than Humans

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Introduction

Your dog gets out of the yard by accident and he is captivated by chasing a cat. You run after him as he sprints down the street focused on the feline, but he doesn’t stop. Out of breath, you call out his name, but he’s so far ahead of you he can’t even hear you. It’s at this point you realize you’ll probably need to drive in your car to find him. For most humans up against a dog, this happens. Your dog will typically outrun you. Some dog breeds are slower than others and humans might be able to keep up, but aside from athletes, it’s more likely that they can’t keep up with their four-legged friend.

The Root of the Behavior

The key to a dog running fast is its body structure. A long, lean, muscular body is key to a dog speeding down the street. A tall dog, like a Greyhound, will inevitably be faster than a Bulldog. However, even those pups with short legs and stocky bodies will most likely still outrun you. In the case of the fastest dog in the world, Greyhounds are bred for speed. They can run up to 45 miles per hour, which is almost twice as fast as some of the best Olympic athletes. Greyhounds can run faster than racehorses, too. A Greyhound runs with a double suspension gallop. This means that a Greyhound’s legs are only touching the ground about 25 percent of the time. A horse does not have this stance, which is why a Greyhound can outrun both you and a horse. Some other fast running breeds include Doberman Pinscher, Dalmatian, Afghan hounds, Salukis, border collies, Iziban Hound, Pharaoh Hound, Belgian Malinois, Scottish Deerhound, Vizsla, Jack Russell Terrier, and Salukis. These breeds can run anywhere from 30 to 40 miles per hour. 

Another fast breed is the Siberian Husky. These dogs were built for speed and endurance. While they move at about 12 miles per hour, they can maintain this momentum for six hours while pulling a 200-pound sled. The dog breeds that are a bit slower, but still will outrun you include the Clumber Spaniel, Chow Chows, Newfoundland, and the Old English Mastiff. The Old English Mastiff can run approximately 15 miles per hour, which is still faster than the average human. While those dogs are on the larger size, mid-sized dogs that don’t move their paws as quickly include the Poodle, Corgis, and the Sussex Spaniel. You might have the chance of outrunning a Shih-Tzu, Japanese Chin, English Toy Spaniel, and Chihuahua because of their short legs and often short stamina, but they still move pretty fast. These wrinkly faced pups often have shorter legs and larger stomachs, which are not ideal for running. Their body type does not make them the race dogs that Greyhounds are. However, some clock in at 15 miles per hour, which is about a four-minute mile. The average non-competitive runner’s speed is between seven and 10 minutes for a mile or eight miles per hour. 

Encouraging the Behavior

If your dog is not stealing steaks off the grill and sprinting down the street, you should encourage his running. Make sure he is safe, which means keeping him a controlled environment. You do not want him disrupting traffic, neighbor’s yards, or not being able to find him after he has taken off. Even for the slower dog breeds, running is still healthy for a dog. Make sure you give your dog ample space to run around and play so they get out any pent-up energy they might have. If you are a fan of running and want your pup to join you, it might take some training. You should do some reading up on the subject and then take your dog to a trainer with you. Safety is key for both of you, so it is important to learn how to run with him at your side. If you have a dog who loves to hit the ground running, make sure your pup is healthy by taking him regularly to the vet. If you are planning to take your dog running with you, ask your vet or trainer about the right harness or collar. Make sure your dog listens to your commands and visit a trainer before you hit the road. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

Just like you, your pup’s joints can suffer wear and tear, so keep an eye out for any concerning behavior. Call your veterinary provider if you notice limping or lethargy. If your pup is used to running with you and he insists on going out, take him for short walks until you talk to the vet. If you have a fast dog who tends to take off without warning and is unresponsive to your commands, take him to the trainer. This behavior could be problematic not only for traffic or pedestrians, but you might not be able to find your dog. 

Conclusion

Now you know it is your dog’s natural speed that makes him outrun you and not that you have not started that 5k program. Dogs are naturally faster. You can train to outrun Fido, and maybe get one of the short-legged breeds to try outrunning, but do not be disappointed if Fido wins.