Fitness Articles

Sporty Dogs: The Best Breeds for Active People

The Best Dogs for Running, Biking and Other Outdoor Activities

If you're an active and outdoorsy person who likes running, hiking or boating, it's nice to have some company who shares your passion. When your friends and loved ones aren't available, there's a dog for that.  
Before you adopt a cute little puppy, consider your choice carefully. Some dogs love tagging along on your active pursuits and climate, but others, no matter how hard you try, will never be your go-to sporting buddy. While every dog has an individual personality and temperament, certain breeds (or mixes of those breeds) are more likely to enjoy (and keep up with) certain physical pursuits.
Find out which breeds are most geared toward specific activities, sports and climates so you can find your perfect match!
Long-Distance Walking
Nearly all dogs love to go for walks, but if you plan to cover serious ground (more than a mile or two) the average canine might not be willing to go the distance. These three breeds will walk the line.

Doberman pinscher: This large, energetic dog's behavior improves when he gets plenty of exercise. Long walks are perfect for this breed, which is known to excel in obedience training. Many people are afraid of Dobermans because of their reputation as guard dogs, so be prepared to get some looks on your walks—which could be a good thing if you walk alone and want to feel safer.

Rottweiler: Proper training and early socialization is crucial for this powerful breed. The cute puppy can reach more than 100 pounds in weight in a matter of weeks. Long walks are a healthy choice for these dogs who can easily become overweight if they're given too much food.

Border collie: This herding dog has virtually limitless amounts of energy and curiosity, which can make him a challenging pet to own. Keep him busy or he'll get bored. This is also a perfect breed to explore dog sports like agility and flyball.
For running, you'll want a companion who can keep up with you in both speed and distance. A long-legged dog will be better able to match your stride and stay the course. These are the best breeds to consider if you prefer a four-legged running partner.

Rhodesian ridgeback: Bred in Africa to hunt lions, these dogs can be stubborn if not trained early in life. But their stamina will impress even the most avid runners.

Saluki: For fast runners, there's no better companion than this ancient breed. These sleek dogs are difficult to train and tend to be quiet and shy. Always keep this breed on a leash, otherwise their strong prey drive could cause them to chase a squirrel (or a cat) right into the street.

Vizsla: This hunting dog needs an hour of exercise a day to be happy, but he'd rather stick beside you than stray far away. Help him stay warm during winter runs; his short coat won't do the trick. Continued ›
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About The Author

Megan Patrick Megan Patrick
Megan Lane Patrick has been a professional writer and editor for the past 16 years, and was a chronic dieter for at least 30. A combination of weight-loss surgery, mindful eating and daily exercise finally allowed her to maintain a weight loss of more than 100 pounds. When she's not lifting weights at the gym, you can find her walking shelter dogs as a volunteer for the SPCA.

Member Comments

  • Update: It got me thinking so I just did a teensy bit of research, and what do you know, pit bulls do make good hunting dogs. Though the cat might still pose a problem. - 8/29/2015 9:06:19 AM
  • We've been considering getting a dog, so this is a good article to have around. And I learned something new... I never would have pictured a poodle as a dog bred for hunting. My biggest limitation to getting a dog is our cat, and our limited space. Not so much that we don't have enough of it, but my kids seem to think that every square inch needs to be occupied by toys. And then there's the issue of breed. I want a hunting dog. Hubs, not so much. And then there's my littlest girl, who while wandering around the SPCA the other day, fell in love with a pit bull. Not that I have a problem with that, but again, I want a hunting dog, and I don't know if a pittie would really fit that bill... plus, I'd be mildly afraid to get my face bit off if it were to be startled by a gun shot... which I'd also have to take into consideration considering the ever increasing crime ridden environment of our neighborhood. - 8/29/2015 8:58:04 AM
  • i agree you need to pick a dog that will be part of your family and not just your activity...i have owned many different types of dogs and what i have found out is that they are very happy just being with their owner and doing what they are we as owners need to consider the health of our pets...if it is a hot and humid day...a dog does not sweat like humans and i know it is tempting to take our pets with us,but they actually are much better and happier at home and in theAC...they may not feel this way, but i know in my heart they are much better. i right now own 2 Australian shepherds and one is older and the other is has been so humid so i only walk the younger one when my BFF comes and we walk our dogs. hers is a small dog and he is more active than my Aussie...she just plods along with me and is happy to go at my pace and the little guy sprints and stops and sprints. this little guy can fit under my Aussie and still have room all around with air space.

    yes, greyhounds are site dogs, but they are also couch need to check into what type of dog will fit your life style and they will also fit your exercise style as they want to be with you as they are pack animals and they love you more than they love themselves.

    my brother owns 3 greyhounds and they walk these dogs several times a day.

    please don't get a dog and just have it tied outside and never interact with them. if this is your choice please pass on having a dog or any type of animal as a pet as they look for you for companionship. they just love you. - 7/28/2015 11:44:56 AM
    Good to see an article about dogs and exercise. There is so much information 'out there' about dogs, dog breeds, best breeds for owners, dogs and exercise, dogs, dogs, dogs! Cut the author a break...this is just a short article about a vast subject, and there are many dog breeds - pure and convoluted...that would thoroughly enjoy exercising with you. Do your own homework before owning ANY dog...whatever your reason...and be responsible. Dog ownership is not for everyone, and if you are the type of person who gets bored easily, moves frequently, lacks adequate pet-care funds, or just lacks patience, please do the world a favor and DO NOT GET A DOG...not a rescue dog, not a pure bred...just don't do it. Dogs are living, breathing, caring, loving, intelligent creatures, and deserve our best treatment and love.

    - 7/28/2015 10:54:07 AM
    My problem with the article is that many people already see a dog as an object or a toy, something to treat whatever way they like, and to cast away all too easily.

    This article too seems to talk about dogs only with respect to the use they have for us humans, while in my idea first of all an animal deserves our care and respect. - 7/28/2015 10:06:02 AM
  • We first do get a dog for the love of dogs. But picking one for our lifestyle is considerate of the animal's care, too. I do not rescue a dog that would need to live in very hot weather if he is a short snouted breed. And I do not pick one who is very active and needs run time if I will leave him at home all day while I work.

    This is not an either/or point. Personally, I choose rescue dogs for myself, but even in that I select a dog who would be compatible with my lifestyle. Even personality has to match. Being responsible means I'm thoughtful about my selection in many different ways. - 7/28/2015 9:56:18 AM
    To be honest it is a RIDICULOUS idea to me to get a dog just to have a companion for exercise.

    If you get a dog, get one from the shelter and get it because you LOVE DOGS, not to suit your own needs!!! - 7/28/2015 9:42:42 AM
    The best breed of dog for any activity is a RESCUE! - 6/29/2015 9:51:10 AM
    I take my BOYKIN Spaniel on my daily walks. She never tires, stays close without being on a leash, obeys key commands (Stay, Sit) when traffic interferes with out walk. She is a great companion.

    Cliff Autry - 6/28/2015 9:58:55 PM
  • My minature schnauzer is a great walking partner. He does 5 miles without a second thought. - 6/28/2015 7:51:13 PM
  • My husband and I owned 5 greyhounds over the course of several years. They are great on walks, but they are sprinters. They don't have the long-distance stamina other dogs have.

    Never let a greyhound off the leash. They are sight hounds, and if they see something in the distance, they're gone and you will probably never find them.

    Greys are wonderful for breaking the ice when you're in a new location. Everybody wants to pet them and you'll meet a lot of people. - 6/28/2015 5:58:35 PM
  • Pit bulls are great, just need to be careful around other dogs with some. Plus, a lot of people believe the 'evil dog' hype, so watch the humans too. Check out for info. Our redbone is a little too erratic to take out without a leash, and when he's done exercising, he's by-dog done!

    Of course, the first choice in an animal companion should always be the one that shows up and needs a home. Rescue, don't purchase, unless you want to get into showing dogs. - 6/28/2015 5:06:09 PM
    Rat terriers are also a very healthy breed -- average life span is 15-17 years! They have so many breeds mixed in that they tend not to suffer from alot of the allments I have experienced with my other Purebreds (Sammys, shelties, poodles) I would never have adopdted a terrier, but my boy needed a home or he was going down. I have never regretted the decision to adopt him, although he has bit a few power and light people who do not listen when I say wait, I need to pull him in. He is great out and about, but protective at home. He makes me be active! He loves a good run. The puggies are lazy buggers, they like a good walk but not too long or thet resist by laying down and refusing to get up until they are ready, lol My running bud is always my rattie!
    - 6/28/2015 4:53:04 PM
    Rat Terrier! My Rattie is happiest and most behaved when he has had alot of excercise. It takes about an hour walk, or run at dog park to get him out of his anxiety. But he a great sit home dog too. Ratties are up for whatever you want! My boy encourages me to get out and go :) - 6/28/2015 4:43:06 PM
    Its very nice that the author gives a positive plug to aggressive breed dogs, however, being a very seasoned Rottweiler owner, I can tell you that the puppies do NOT achieve more than 100 lbs in a few weeks. They do grow into large, very powerful dogs, being a member of the Mastiff family; they are also referred to as 'gentle giants'.

    Rotties tend to grow for 2 yrs. My boy (RIP) did not hit 100 lbs until he was almost 15 months, & my present little girl who is 15 months, is not quite 60 lbs at this point. They also are pre-disposed to Canine Bone Cancer & will require a lot of veterinary treatment late in life. You should be aware of that going in. Unfortunately, their life-span is only 8 or 9 yrs, but I know of a few who lived well over 15yrs without the cancer attacking them. I have been on cancer journeys with two Rotties over the last 10 yrs. Carrying health insurance on these dogs is essential!

    They can also be very aggressive when you don't keep their minds engaged. They are very intelligent dogs & can out think most humans, they get bored very easily. One needs to be a strong leader type of personality, as these dogs must be lead. Left to their own, they can form very bad habits & become potentially dangerous.

    I think this author, although this is an excellent article, should really have done more in-depth research before writing about any aggressive breed dog.

    - 6/28/2015 12:35:48 PM

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