Top 5 Best Athletic Dog Breeds for Athletes

It is a fact that any dog that gets proper training can do anything, so there is no need to discriminate breeds. However, some dogs do not have the build to carry the stress of tedious exercise because they are prone to heatstroke. So, as someone interested in dog athletics or an athlete, it is helpful to know the top athletic dog breeds.

Classifying dogs as athletic and picking the top five among them is tedious because some are better at different sports. Also, the numbers of athletic dog breeds in the world are numerous, so picking five is tasking. However, here are the top five we chose.

1. Border Collie

These guys are a bundle of energy and intellect and have excellent tolerance for various types of adventure. Border Collies were initially farm animals. Due to their intelligence and being highly trainable, they are great off-lead dogs. 

Having a smooth double coat helps them stay effectively insulated in all temperatures. They are agile and excellent Frisbee players but need a lot of exercise time to stimulate them. If you do not exercise them, they can become destructive.

Collies are prone to deafness, epilepsy, and vision impairment. They are excellent for marathoners and are good with pavements and trails.


Border Collie | PawsyPrints

2. Vizsla

A Vizsla is relatively unknown among dog parents and lovers, and they are very energetic and happy. They are excellent family dogs that are loyal and gentle. They are famous self-bathers and have Velcro dog tendencies. 

Vizsla’s can handle running in the snow but cannot stay in extreme temperatures for long periods. These dogs can run in any terrain and are excellent for marathoners and ultra runners. Also, they are hunting dogs, and they may have predatory instincts.


Vizsla | PawsyPrints

3. Siberian Husky

A Husky is an excellent runner and can spend hours running in cold weather. They can excel in snow-related sports, ultra runs, and marathons. Because of their thick coat fur, running in hot temperatures can make them susceptible to severe heatstroke. Their terrain of preference is a trail.  


Siberian Husky | PawsyPrints

4. Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesians are dogs that hunted lions in Africa originally, but they are also good with people, surprisingly. They are great at running in the heat and are extremely athletic.


Rhodesian Ridgeback | PawsyPrints

5. German Shepherds

German Shepherds are loyal, active, and very intelligent. They are the famous police dogs and are great for search and rescue missions.

These dogs are fast learners and train efficiently. However, they are prone to hip dysplasia, so you need to be careful with them. They can run with marathoners on pavements and trail terrains in any climate.


German Shepherds | PawsyPrints

How to Make your Dog More Athletic

Provided your dog is young, can move, and is healthy; it has a level of athleticism. Any properly trained dog can be athletic. Dogs tend to be happier when they have the freedom to move around and play. 

Any dog that feels loved can trust the owner better and become willing to obey and learn new tricks. A determined person can help their dog reach full athletic potential with:

  • Consistency
  • Good evaluation
  • Weight control

An owner can also practice proper nutrition and utilize dog exercise equipment to help their dogs.

Conditioning your Athlete Dog

If you plan to participate in any sports occasion with your pooch, you will have to follow a regular exercise routine. Dogs, like human athletes, need proper training to condition their body before any event. Before you enroll your dog in any sports event, you will have to research and see if it is compatible with your pet.

Before Conditioning

Before you start getting your dog involved in sports actively, you will need to run physical checks. You would need to chat with your veterinarian about the sports plan you have and ask for health concerns. They will have to run x-ray scans to check their bone structure.

Also, if it is a puppy, take into account some conditioning factors for puppies. Their conditioning process needs to be slow and careful to avoid bone and joint damages. Before you begin puppy conditioning, you will have to wait for the proper fusion of your dog’s growth plate, irrespective of the breed.

Visiting a Specialist

Like a professional athlete needs daily specific training, serious canine athletes also need individual routines that fit their specialized sport. Specialists like physical therapists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, and massage therapists can help your dog athlete stay in top shape. 

You can also try hydrotherapy—swimming or underwater treadmill—to help your dog maintain and build muscle. If you feel your dog is injured and your vet cannot handle it, try an orthopedic specialist or a canine sports medicine practitioner for better odds at recovery.

Stretching Exercises

Pulling your dog’s limbs to force them to stretch can cause your dog injury or pain, so you will need a vet physical therapist or a vet to guide you. To be safe, you can let the dog lead the conditioning exercise by allowing it to move at its own pace, or use treats to make them move in directions that mimic stretching motions. 


Every dog needs to stay active, but a canine athlete needs more than playing in the backyard. You have to be intentional and cautious during conditioning exercises. Cooling down and trick training are essential parts of conditioning. They can also serve as an excellent post-workout therapy.

Common Questions

To answer some of the questions that you may have, which we didn’t cover in the article, here are some frequently asked questions.

Which breed is an excellent long-distance runner?

The distance most dogs can run depends on the terrain, but some of the long-distance runners are:

  • Shepherds (like Border Collies)
  • Northern breeds
  • Hunting Breeds

How far can a dog run?

A healthy dog that is training can run up to 30miles a day. However, the distance varies based on breed, stamina, health, and experience.

Which dog breed is better for sprints?

Dogs like Pitbulls, Golden Retrievers, Greyhounds, and Labradors are excellent with short distance racing.

Can you run with a little breed or a puppy?

Yes, you can run with a little breed, but they need to work harder. With puppies, it depends on the age and type, but it is ideal to wait for their growth plate to fuse first.

Which breeds are bad runners?

Short-nosed, brachycephalic dogs are bad runners because they do not ventilate properly and are prone to heatstroke.

Any properly trained dog can be a great asset to an athlete. There are many breeds not mentioned here that are excellent athletic dog breeds, so you can make further inquiries with friends and family when finding the perfect fit for you.