Most dogs seem tireless, compared to humans. And it’s true that no matter what they’re bred for, dogs generally have better stamina than people, if they’re healthy and in good shape. But some dogs are bred for real endurance, others to carry heavy loads, others to swim and retrieve prey. And some are bred to be fast.
Fast dogs through history
These days, fast dogs are often used for racing, but this wasn’t always the case. Most dogs that claim a spot on this list are sighthounds, hunting dogs bred to spot prey with their eyes, before chasing it down. This type of task requires speed and quick thinking, but usually, fast dogs don’t have the most stamina. They’re sprinters, not endurance hunters, so while the fastest dogs can reach up to 45MPH, they can’t maintain it for very long. Meanwhile, dogs that hunt by scent can walk for miles while tracking their prey, relying on smells and tracks to get there.
The top fast dogs tend to be streamlined in how they’re built, in order to move faster and cover a lot of ground very quickly. Their paws are generally more shock-absorbent, and this makes them ideal for a quick, exerting chase.
The fastest of the fast
The breed that tops the list of fast dogs is the Greyhound. They can reach speeds up to 45 MPH, which is impressive, to say the least. Compare this to the 10 MPH that is the average for humans; while we are technically capable of running over 30 MPH, very few humans are actually able to. Even Usain Bolt has only ever reached a top speed of 28 MPH. The Greyhound is an old breed, as well as being the fastest. Their lineage dates back to 2900 B.C. in Egypt, and it’s believed that many coursing hound breeds that came after are related to them.
The second on the list of fast dogs is the Saluki. They are one of the oldest breeds around, tracing their origins back to Egypt and the nomadic tribes of the Middle East, where they were highly revered as hunters and noble companions. Generally, the Saluki doesn’t reach speeds above 35 MPH, but has been known to reach up to 42 MPH. Following these two fast dogs is another very old, Middle Eastern breed ― the Afghan Hound. They can reach up to 40 MPH, even though they’re perhaps best known for their long, flowy coat. They’re closely related to the Saluki, and can run up to 40 MPH.
Sharing a spot with the Afghan Hound is the Vizsla, a lesser-known breed, among fast dogs or otherwise. This one hails from Hungary, and is known for its pointer-retriever hunting skills, protective instincts, and boundless energy. Just like the Afghan, the Vizsla can reach speeds up to 40 MPH.
Further down the list
A breed one might not expect on a list of fast dogs is the Jack Russell Terrier. This little dog is sturdy and energetic, originally used for fox hunting, where they had to keep up with the large hounds as well as dig foxes out of hiding. The Jack Russell can reach speeds up to 38 MPH, and follows the Vizsla and the Afghan Hound on the list of fast dogs. The Dalmatian claims a spot on this list, just below the Jack Russell, clocking in at up to 37 MPH. They hail from Croatia, and were historically bred as companion guard dogs, often running beside carriages to protect them from robbers on the road.
The Borzoi is a breed that resembles the ones at the top of this list, in appearance, but has different origins and a slightly lower speed. Also known as the Russian Wolfhound, the Borzoi is a sighthound that was originally used to hunt wolves. This dog can reach up to 36 MPH ― its name even comes from an old Russian word for “fast”. The Whippet, meanwhile, started out as a Greyhound considered too small for hunting, so they were used mostly as ratters. Nowadays, though, they’re fast dogs that are popular in racing. They can run 34 MPH, is considered the fastest dog of its size, and is overall the fastest accelerating dog in the world.
Breeds that may not seem the fastest can still reach pretty impressive speeds. The Doberman Pinscher can reach up to 32 MPH, the Border Collie can reach 30 MPH, and the Standard Poodle can run as fast as 30 MPH. This makes the Poodle number nine on the list of the fastest dogs in the world. The German Shepherd is used for a variety of jobs in many different fields, and is also a pretty good sprinter ― they can reach speeds of 30 MPH. The Scottish Deerhound, while it strongly resembles the breeds at the top of this list, falls further down on the list, at 28 MPH. Other fast dogs that make it into the top fifteen are the Standard Schnauzer and the Italian Greyhound, clocking in at 28 MPH and 25 MPH, respectively.
Having a fast dog
All dogs were originally bred for a specific purpose, and fast dogs are no exception. Most of the time, they’re meant to sprint and hunt, to spot and catch up with elusive prey as quickly as possible. And while some are still used for this today, most of the time, any of the top fast dogs require a lot of space to run and expend this energy. That said, they usually don’t need too much of it; a Greyhound will, ironically, be fine with chilling on the couch after a good run or two.
If you’re considering getting a dog, one of the fast dogs on this list could be a great option, if you have a lifestyle that suits it. Just remember that you need to let them do what they were born to do, or they’ll get restless and unhappy. And having them off-leash is generally not advised, since the prey drive of sighthounds can be very strong. Remember to keep track of your dog’s needs, and you’ll have a happy life together.