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Canicross Basics - Which Dogs Should/Shouldn’t Run?

According to Some breeds are simply not cut out to running, some are better for short runs and some are endurance dogs.

Considerations for Running:

  1. Minimum Age - The Vet Team at the French Canicross Federation have done research on growth plates and concluded that minimum age to compete is 15months. Although most vets advise that the bigger the breed, the older they need to be, so 18-20months is sensible.

  2. Maximum Age - As your dog gets older they will slow down, they may develop arthritis and they aren’t likely to tell you that they don’t want to run or are in pain.  They may want to run, but if they have joint problems such as arthritis caused by hip dysplasia or Patellar luxation, running can be painful. You can help prevent this by giving your dog regular massage and physio whilst they are running, there is some evidence that green-lipped muscle will help too.

  3. Heart Health - If any heart health issues are raised at your annual vet checks, ask if your dog should be allowed to pull in a harness. Dogs that are obese may have a harder time of it.  Overweight dogs can benefit from more exercise, but you may want to adjust your pace/distance of the walk or run accordingly.  Building up by 10% distance slowly each week is essential to build heart health to a max of 30mins, depending on breed. Again,  CHECK WITH YOUR VET

  4. Breeds who shouldn’t run because they can’t breath - Most of these fall into the category of brachycephalic breeds. Their small faces,  flattened noses, partially obstructed airways, and smaller nostrils may make running for any distance out of the question.These breeds such as Pugs, English Bulldogs, Shih Tzu, Boxers, and Boston Terriers would do better on a leisurely stroll.

  5. Breeds who’s stature isn‘t ideal for running - Breeds that have shorter legs such as Bassett Hounds, Dachshunds, Corgi are not ideally suited to running.  They are less likely to be able to keep up the pace especially if you are working on your speed. Keep the runs short, no more than 30mins, they need to work at their pace. Our local vet has advised against Great Danes running as they are prone to joint issues

Shorter distances of sprints:

Whippet, Greyhound, Afgan Hound, Saluki, Borzoi, Pharaoh Hound, Weimaraner, Doberman Pincher, Ibazan Hound, Scottish Deerhound are all capable of 30+mph

Suit shorter distances of medium speed:

Pitbull (Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier), English Setter, Retreivers (labradors and Goldens, or longer distance but slower), Belgian Malinois

Dogs suited to Steady Speedy:

Vizsla (top speed 40mph), Jack Russell Terrier (but due to their short legs, only 25mph & keep it short


Longer distance runners:

Huskie (28mph, but be careful of overheating)

Dalmatian (at 35mph is also a sprinter)

Border Collie & Kelpie (30mph is fast and has endurance)

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Retreivers (either slow long distance or short medium speed)

Standard Poodles


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