The Top 10 Most Athletic Dog Breeds
Dogs are, in some ways, mankind's greatest invention. Over the course of thousands of years, we have turned wild wolves into five pound Chihuahuas and huge Great Danes. The species Canis lupus familiaris is more diverse and specialized than any other animal on Earth. There is a breed for every individual, including those looking for an athletic partner. Whether you'd like a jogging companion or are looking into dog sports such as herding or agility, below are ten of the most active dog breeds that will keep you on your toes for hours on end!
American Pit Bull Terrier
Unfairly maligned as vicious, American Pit Bull Terriers are superb athletes. Originally bred for dog fighting and catching large game, they are not prone to human aggression and make for wonderful family dogs. Nowadays, Pit Bull owners channel their dog's energy and drive through sports like weight pulling. Some Pit Bulls have managed to pull 8,000 lbs!
While a well-bred and socialized Pit Bull should have a stable and friendly temperament, the breed's original purpose still lingers and presents a potential for dog-aggression. For many dogs, it's never an issue, but it is something to consider if you plan to have your pup out and about in heavy dog-traffic areas. There is also a stigma attached to Pit Bulls and their owners, so if you plan on getting one, be prepared for some snide comments. If you feel that a Pit Bull would be great for you, there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of them in local shelters. Adopting a Pit Bull is a great way to save a wonderful potential pet's life!
Almost every herding breed could be on this list. Australian Shepherds, affectionately known as 'Aussies,' are loving, loyal, and energetic. They are one of the larger herders, and excel at agility. Aussies are very intelligent and will require mental stimulation as well as physical. They're a popular breed, partially due to the fact that most have an 'off switch'; i.e. the ability to settle when not actively engaged in something. Size, shape, and temperament can vary depending on what lines are present in a dog's pedigree. Aussies from a working background tend to be more driven and you may need to work to curb herding behaviors.
A true workaholic, the Border Collie is the Australian Shepherd's more intense cousin. Highly biddable and considered the most intelligent of dog breeds, Border Collies NEED a job to be happy. These jobs can be simple: putting toys away, grabbing a soda from the fridge, or even playing fetch. As long as they feel they are serving a purpose, the Border Collie is a content dog, but without something to occupy their amazing brains, they can become destructive and obstinate. They are the champions of agility, as the perfect mix of size, speed, and athleticism to navigate quickly while still focusing on their handlers.
Lovable and loyal, Boxers are one of the best family breeds when they can keep all four paws on the ground. Bred, like the American Pit Bull Terrier, for fighting and hunting, the breed has since transitioned into a companion role and are extremely devoted to their owners. Unlike herding breeds, the Boxer's energy is not 'focused.' Young dogs can seem like whirling, clownish dervishes springing this way and that with no idea what to do with their excess energy. They are generally wild and rambunctious for the first two years of their lives before slowing down just a fraction as adults. Boxers can have many health issues, so buying through a good breeder is essential. If you're looking for an athlete without the intense drive of a herder, the Boxer may be the perfect breed for you!
The media's favorite 'vicious dog' before Pit Bulls became popular, Doberman Pinschers are a bold breed that would do anything for their owners. They are large dogs bred for guard work and protection, and as such they need to spend lots of time with their family. Socialize them well as puppies and you will have a well-adjusted guardian at your side for jogs, hiking, and any other job you could ask for.
German Shorthaired Pointer
A great all-around hunting dog, the German Shorthaired Pointer is a jack of all trades. Not only are they visually striking, but their 'can do' attitude makes them a popular choice for the weekend warrior. Owners describe them as the jocks of the dog world, not the most intelligent in the class but certainly willing to please and always ready to go out and do something. They are one of the best jogging companions on this list, but also compete in agility with great success.
The fastest dog breed, Greyhounds typically begin their life at a racecourse and are adopted upon retirement. Being raised in a professional setting, they tend to be well socialized and trained, making them great dogs for first time owners. The Greyhound, contrary to popular belief, is actually something of a couch potato. They enjoy a good zoom around the yard, but as sprinters they settle nicely when indoors. They make good family pets and are actually one of the easiest large breed dogs to own, being low-shedding, calm, and fairly simple to train.
Greyhounds have a high prey drive and can never be allowed off-leash in an unsecured area. This is extremely important to remember with this breed.
Jack Russell Terrier
These pint-sized pups have oversized personalities! If you're looking for an active dog but can't own a bigger breed, Jack Russell Terriers are great for dog sports or kicking around town. They have a typical terrier personality- headstrong, vigorous, and protective. They were originally bred to hunt foxes, so you can imagine the tenacity and punch these little dogs pack. They aren't to be taken lightly, so make sure you know what you're getting into with this feisty breed.
Perhaps the bravest of dogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks originated in South Africa and were used to hunt lions. The dogs would distract and bait the lion while their masters moved in for the kill. As such, they are large, agile, and courageous. They are named for the distinctive ridge of fur down their back. The Ridgeback is fiercely loyal and aloof with strangers. Gaining popularity in America, they have immense stamina and a long, loping stride better suited for brisk bike rides than jogging.
One of the most beautiful dog breeds, the Siberian Husky is not for the inexperienced. Behind those beautiful blue eyes lurks a determined hunter and tremendous athlete. Independent, enduring, and endlessly energetic, they are a highly rewarding breed for those that can meet their needs. They were bred to pull heavy weights for miles, and because of this they can run for hours on end without tiring.
Huskies, like Greyhounds, should be kept leashed or fenced in at all times. With a high prey drive and great stamina, dogs can take off at a moment's notice and be miles away in mere hours.
Remember, adopting or buying an active dog is like signing a contract for the next fifteen years. All dogs need daily exercise, but these breeds require several hours of sustained activity every day, rain or shine. Be absolutely sure you can commit to this before making the leap, as unprepared owners will soon find themselves overwhelmed and frustrated by a dog that can't contain its own energy. If you value your own health and know you're a dedicated fitness enthusiast, then consider these breeds for a rewarding companion, always willing to join you for a 5 AM jog.