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The Top 10 Most Athletic Dog Breeds

Updated on February 13, 2016

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!


Australian Shepherd

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.

Border Collie

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!

Doberman Pinscher

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.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

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.


Siberian Husky

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.


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    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Thank you for an informative and well written hub about some of my best friends!

    • cmontijo profile image

      cmontijo 5 years ago from Somewhere in the World

      I had a Siberian Husky, they are awesome dogs with a lot of endurance but they are not the smartest :)) but I loved her

    • Gofygure profile image

      Gofygure 5 years ago from Kutztown, PA

      Thanks for the comments! I love Huskies but I don't think I'll ever own one. They're very independent and I prefer more biddable dogs.

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

      Great hub - mine's an Airedale Terrier, lots of energy and full of character. Did consider a German Pointer too.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 5 years ago from Iowa

      I love your dog-related hubs! I don't have any of the breeds listed, but my dogs have been pretty atheltic, too. My English springer spaniel mix loves to run with me. She gets so excited whenever I put on my running shoes. For the first half-mile or so we have to run at a full-out sprint. My 5K time has improved significantly since I got her! My other dog was a lab mix who loved to swim. We'd take her on canoe trips and she'd swim alongside the canoe.

    • mjfarns profile image

      mjfarns 5 years ago from Bloomington, Illinois USA

      This is a great hub! Makes me miss my athletic dog who unfortunately passed away last year. He was the best disc golf partner dog I've ever had!

    • Gofygure profile image

      Gofygure 5 years ago from Kutztown, PA

      Sorry to hear about your loss, Mjfarns. The problem with developing a 'working' relationship with your dog is that it makes losing them that much harder.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Kay Badder 5 years ago from USA

      I think I'll add Brittany Spaniels. They'll chase a ball all day and not get tired of it. After a 4 mile walk they're still raring to go. Thanks goodness they aren't any bigger than they are or no one could keep up with them.

      This was an interesting article. I voted up.

    • TheEpicJourney profile image

      TheEpicJourney 5 years ago from Fairfield, Ohio

      Great Hub!!Though I was sad that you didn't mention Alaskan Malamutes along with the Siberian Huskies :(. I realize the task of limiting yourself to 10 good dog breeds for exercising would be rather difficult so i'll let it slide ;). I'm a huge fan of exercising with your pet! SO much so that I took a job to promote the idea (paw jogger):). Anyway, very informative article covering some great breeds for exercise partners. I liked that you gave some recommended activities for each one. I look forward to some more dog articles!

    • Gofygure profile image

      Gofygure 5 years ago from Kutztown, PA

      TheEpicJourney- I looove Alaskan Malamutes. All the ones I've met have been absolutely fantastic dogs. I'm glad you found a job you can enjoy!

    • profile image

      Andy 5 years ago

      Weimaraner should definitely be on this list

    • profile image

      Cb 4 years ago

      Rhodesian ridgeback

    • Val Swabb profile image

      Val Swabb 4 years ago from South Carolina

      This is a wonderfully written article. Do you mind if I link it in one I'm writing. Mine is about picking the right dog for a family.

    • profile image

      Josh 4 years ago

      This list is missing some breeds that are more qualified than the following.

    • profile image

      mark schuette 4 years ago

      unlimited dog exercise under excellent dog control


      its way safer than using a bicycle and more fun !

      thank you

    • profile image

      Someone 4 years ago

      wow, you choose a boxer, and a pit bull for reason which booth have breathing problems, but completely over looked the Heeler. Austrian heelers are more dingo than people would care to know. They were created cause all those other herding breeds you listed weren't tough enough for the job. I'm a dog groomer, who's training in search and rescue, and my grandpa breeds 12 different breeds of dog. The heeler should have been first on your list, not the pit bull.

    • auspicious12day profile image

      auspicious12day 3 years ago

      Great article...very informative...I have Chesapeake Bay Retreivers, they are great running companions, too, and considered very athletic dogs.

    • profile image

      Breathing Problems 3 years ago

      People keep mistaking American Pit Bull Terriers for their American Bulldog cousins. Tsk tsk. They should not have an underbite and they don't have breathing problems because they aren't brachycephalic thanks to the terrier blood in them.

      And they scent just fine. There are plenty of examples of drug/bomb detection and SAR (search and rescue) pit bulls. How can they be the MMA fighters of the dog world if theh have breathing problems?

      They definitely deserve to make the list. They are equally strong and agile (they can/will juke you if you try to chase them down). They are also more resilient physically and mentally than most if not all breeds. Try to put a border collie through the same horrific abuses that pit bulls take for breakfast...they are just simply a really amazing breed.

    • FullOfLoveSites profile image

      FullOfLoveSites 3 years ago from United States

      This is really interesting, I love dogs. And I love walking with them, much more jogging with them. Very informative article.

    • profile image

      mark schuette 3 years ago

      high drive dog exercise AND control

      check out these new dog/human powered rigs

      offering unlimited dog exercise under excellent dog control

      much safer and thus more fun than any other wheeled device- and a new urban mushing sport !


      of course its NOT the only way to exercise your dog- just one great way- and part of the mix.

      any chance of a link or NEWS item?


    • profile image

      jon 3 years ago

      what about the american bulldog? they are extremely athletic!

    • profile image

      tim 3 years ago

      i like the german shorthair the most. Im looking for a good dog and i think this is the own for me. Can someone tell me if they eat chickens.

    • profile image

      Walt 2 years ago

      Wow...who created this list... Pit bull? Let alone some of the other ones. What about the WHIPPET!!!!!!! I have a whippet that will wait for a frisbee at 70yards. The fastest excelerating dog in the world . Athletisism at it's finest.. Not a lot of comparisons at all!!!!! I'll give a boxer or vizsla a 30 yard head start in the 100!

    • profile image

      Sarah Wong 10 months ago

      I have a boxer he is the best he does love his long runs as I rollerblade with him and there so awesome with kids even kids they don't know they still want to give them kisses :D There thee breed to get and there supper smart and Kind I know they say there guard dogs but not really lol Well mines not anyways he is a big baby lol I also bike with my baby boy too were 1005 loyal to one another he is my everything and I'm his everything and no issues at all and he is a rescue too and my own support dog :D

    • profile image

      st 8 months ago

      add german shepherds! I HAVE ONE AND IT IS SO athletic!! I'm series! It can run for 3 miles without getting tired!

    • profile image

      ERIN JOHNSON 7 months ago

      American Bulldogs

      My Bulldog was super athletic and able to keep up with us horseback riding . Tough and smart , easy to train . Was excellent with my kids and also a great guard dog !

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