Hiking Tips

Are German Shepherds Good Running Partners?

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German Shepherds are amazing dogs that excel in many different areas. Not only do they make great family companions, but they are also extremely athletic and agile dogs. While they may not be able to keep up with a Greyhound, they are no slouches when it comes to speed. But what about when it comes to a nice run or a jog? Are German Shepherds good running partners?

Yes, German Shepherds are the perfect companion for someone who loves running. They are smart, loyal and will never leave your side when trained properly, except for that occasional potty break. Due to their herding dog nature, they love to stay busy and they love exercise. They are quick and will have no problem keeping up with the pace. On top of that, they have excellent stamina and can protect you from strangers.

What Makes German Shepherds Good Running Partners?

There are several reasons that make German Shepherds excellent running partners. These traits are the same reason GSDs are so popular in so many different professions.

Agility:

While their agility is not on par with a lot of smaller dog breeds, they are still extremely agile for their size. They do well in the sport of dog agility. This comes in handy if you are in an emergency situation and need to exit the road quickly.

Athleticism:

They are one of the most athletic breeds partially due to their herding dog background. They’re muscular and powerful but also have good stamina. They excel in a variety of sports including Schutzhund which they dominate internationally.

Protection:

GSDs are amazing guard dogs due to their loyalty and protective nature. They will risk their life to save your life. This is an excellent benefit if you plan on running alone. You will feel much safer on those evening jogs. With a bite force of 238 PSI, most would be attackers will probably steer clear of any possible confrontation.

Speed:

They are explosive and fast animals that will have no trouble keeping up with any jogger or runner. They are quicker than humans and have amazing acceleration speed. This means they can take off very quickly from a standing position. Their speed is one of the reasons they are used by law enforcement to chase down criminals who are on the run.

Stamina:

German Shepherds have great stamina and can run for long distances. Because they require at least 1 to 2 hours of exercise a day, a good 30 to 60 minute jog or run is the perfect way to keep them healthy while simultaneously giving you an excellent partner.

GSD Running Fast

How Fast Can German Shepherds Run?

GSDs are good at running and sprinting. They can run up to 30 miles an hour. This is basically twice the average speed of humans which can run between 12 and 15 mph.

In fact, German Shepherds are so fast, they can even outrun the quickest human on the planet, Usain Bolt, by a couple of miles per hour. The Olympian clocked the fastest speed ever by human back in 2009, running 27.5 mph in the 100-meter dash.

Here is a look at how they stack up against some other competitors.

Comparison Chart:

Dog BreedAverage Top Speed
Shih Tzu6 mph
Basset Hound10 mph
English Mastiff12 mph
Saint Bernard15 mph
Papillon18 mph
Beagle20 mph
Shiba Inu25 mph
Rat Terrier27 mph
Siberian Husky28 mph
German Shepherd30 mph
Weimaraner35 mph
Borzoi36 mph
Dalmatian37 mph
Vizsla40 mph
Greyhound45 mph

They aren’t the fastest dog breed but they are clearly in the upper echelon of speedy canines when you compare them to the 360 official breeds recognized by the FCI.

Can German Shepherds Run Long Distances?

Yes, German Shepherds can run long distances if they are the proper age and have received adequate exercise on a consistent basis. They have long, lean, muscular bodies and excellent stamina to endure long jogs, hikes or runs.

They can run anywhere from 5 to 20 miles depending on the dog. However, this endurance and pace must be built up over time when the are the appropriate age. Running them for too long at a young age can damage their joints.

A 5 mile run should be fairly easy for most full-grown GSD provided they have been trained well. One owner, who is a marathon runner, takes her German Shepherd on daily 5 mile runs and one 9.5 mile long distance run weekly. Her dog has no issues. She makes sure to make stops for water throughout the run.

What Age Can A German Shepherd Run Long Distances?

German Shepherd Puppy Running

Running with your GSD is a great way for both of you to stay healthy and fit. However, you don’t want to start running long distances too early on in their development.

While some vets will suggest waiting until they are at least 1 year old, most breeders recommend waiting until they are 18 months to start running any kind of long distances. To be safe, 2 years is even better.

Although the breed does most of its growing in the first year reaching 95% of its full-size adult height and weight, the growth plates continue to close for another 6 months to a year. This means they don’t stop closing until 18 to 24 months.

For this reason, you don’t want them running any long distances that could possibly put too much stress on the elbow and hip joints. Large dog breeds like German Shepherds are more prone to conditions such as Hip Dyplasia.

This painful condition can cause pain and mobility issues later on down the road. In some serious cases, GSDs need a wheelchair to accommodate their back legs. Sometimes full hip replacements are necessary. Fortunately, the condition is hereditary so a health history of the dog’s parents can be a good indicator.

How To Train A German Shepherd To Run With You?

Training a GSD to be a good running partner should begin when they are young with the foundational obedience and socialization training.

This will prepare them to be around other animals and people that they have never met before. This is crucial for running in the future. You don’t want them chasing every stranger they come across.

Once they are 18 to 24 months old and have had the appropriate training as a youngster, you can begin to slowly train them over a period of time to run longer and longer distances.

Tips For Running With Your GSD:

  1. Wait until they are at least 2 years old before becoming your running partner.
  2. Make sure they are free of any joint conditions like elbow and hip dyplasia.
  3. Stop periodically for bathroom and water breaks during the run.
  4. Don’t run when it is too hot to avoid a heatstroke.
  5. Stop running if they can no longer keep up with you.
  6. Make sure they get extra calories in their diet to compensate for what they are burning.

In Closing:

In the end, a German Shepherd will make a wonderful running companion. They will keep you company, protect you from danger, and possibly out work you. Their herding dog instincts make them a perfect fit jogging or running. They have excellent endurance, are super-fast and very agile. Just make sure they are old enough to run long distances. Start out with one mile and work your way up to several miles.

Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

Have you ever had a German Shepherd run with you? If so, how far did you run with them? Any tips or advice for people looking to run with their GSD? Let us know! We would love to hear about your personal experience!

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