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German shepherds are well-known dogs that have been famed for their strength, speed, and being police dogs. But how fast can a German Shepherd run?
This is a question that you probably asked yourself when you saw one of these dogs running. German shepherds have a set of factors that make them favorable to be used in police and military.
You can also have these dogs as your companion. They make very good pets because of their trainability, obedience, and eagerness to please their furparents.
According to Highlands Canine, the German Shepherds are the second most popular dog breed in the world for the year 2022.
Knowing how fast a dog can run is beneficial because this will guide you in what to expect when you go with him for runs.
You can also estimate how well your dog runs based on his breed category and what he can achieve. This can also indicate if your dog is having issues with his joints.
How Fast Can a German Shepherd Run?
German Shepherds are one of the fastest dog breeds, thanks to their strong, muscular bodies. They can run at a top speed of 30 miles per hour (48.2 kilometers per hour).
They accelerate their speed when they’re chasing after something during their working roles or exercises. Their fast pace and intelligent nature have made them suitable to be used in police and military works.
How long can a German Shepherd run? When well-prepared, a fit German Shepherd can run for up to 20 miles (32 km) in one session.
These dogs have the ability to max out their speed with a few strides only. They are hence very effective when responding to emergencies.
German Shepherds attain their top speed after one or two years of age and they become slower as they get older. You need to train your dog and exercise them regularly to make them good runners.
How German Shepherds’ Speed Compare with Other Dog Breeds
German Shepherds can run faster than most dog breeds, but they are toppled by a few. The English Greyhounds which run up to 45 miles per hour are considered the fastest dogs in the world.
They were originally bred to be hunting dogs, but are currently used mostly as racing dogs.
Dog breeds that have almost similar running speeds to German Shepherds are Jack Russell Terrier, Siberian Husky, Border Collie, and the Great Dane.
Doberman Pinscher dogs are slightly faster than German Shepherds, maxing their speed at 32 mph (51.5 kph).
What Makes German Shepherds Run Fast?
German Shepherds are one of the fastest dog breeds in the world, with a maximum speed of around 30 mph.
But what makes them so good at running? Read on to find out why this dog breed outshines others when it comes to speed.
1. Long legs
German shepherds have relatively longer legs compared to most dog breeds. These long limbs are capable of achieving maximum speed after around 7 strides.
Long legs help dogs to cover a large distance within a shorter time.
2. Muscular bodies
Running requires a lot of strength and German Shepherds have a strong muscular body that makes them fit to run.
The strong bodies can withstand harsh weather conditions that may affect how far a dog can run.
3. Flexible Spine
German shepherds have a flexible spine which allows them to be swift when running. They can swiftly change direction during running without reducing their speed by a lot.
4. Ability to focus
Once a German Shepherd sets his eye on an object, they will pursue it with the best capability. These dogs are motivated by accomplishment.
Their intelligence, obedience, and discipline enable them to focus on one thing at a time.
Factors That Affect Dogs’ Speed
Some German Shepherds can go a few miles past the average speed of 30 mph, while some can go below. There are some factors that will affect how your dog will run.
German Shepherds will attain their maximum speed at the age of between 1 – 2 years old. They will maintain high speed during their prime years but the speed will drop once they start getting older.
Elderly dogs have reduced speed than younger dogs because of lower energy levels, and weaker bodies with less muscle. If your dog is not running fast because of age, then that is normal and it should not worry you.
The ideal weight of an adult male German shepherd is between 75 – 90 pounds while that of the female is 55 – 70 pounds.
An overweight or obese dog would not attain the maximum speed with ease. Dogs with extra pounds will find it difficult to run faster than those with ideal weight.
If you have an overweight German Shepherd, you should change his diet and watch his feeding habits. Those extra pounds make your dog susceptible to other health conditions.
Underweight dogs will also not run properly. They do not have enough muscle and strength to sprint their bodies within a short time.
Sick dogs will definitely have a reduced pace than healthy ones. Dogs with joint problems can hardly run. Running with your dog is a great way to tell if he has any joint problems.
You will notice them trying to limb as they gain traction in slow running. Hip dysplasia is a common disease that affects German Shepherds, and reduces their running speeds significantly.
Diabetic dogs have reduced energy levels and therefore may not gather the strength to run properly.
4. Training and exercises
Active German Shepherds can top the 30 mph speed and even add a few miles if they are fit enough. Exercising makes your dog’s body used to hard work and builds stronger muscles.
It is difficult for less active dogs to reach their potential maximum speed. German Shepherd run speed can be improved by training and regular exercises.
How To Train Your German Shepherd to Become Faster
Even though German Shepherds are fast breed dogs, you need to regularly train them to get the best from them.
Training dogs from a young age is better than training them in their adult years. If you have an adult dog, do not give up yet. You can start now and train your dog to become the best version at their age.
Once your German Shepherd gets to two months old, you need to start training him for at least 10 to 15 minutes every day.
If you notice that your pup is overwhelmed with longer training sessions, you can reduce the time range to between 3 to 5 minutes per day.
1. Check if your dog is suitable to run for long distance
Having a German Shepherd does not mean that he is fit to run at an instance. Consider your dog’s age and underlying medical conditions to assess whether he is a good candidate to run.
Wait until your dog is around 1.5 years old before you can start taking him for long-distance runs. Puppies should not be subjected to intense running because their bones are not fully developed.
Take them to the vet for their regular checkup and inform your vet that you intend to train your dog to run.
Your vet will probably give you an additional recommendation based on the dog’s health history and some dietary suggestions.
Dogs can get hip dysplasia, among other related conditions, when running while they are not fit to do so. So please make sure your dog is cleared for this activity to avoid them getting injured.
2. Get the right gear
Ensure that the dog gets the right kit for them to run comfortably. Avoid using collars which might strain your dog’s neck during running.
You can use a dog harness instead, and a loose leash to make your dog feel more comfortable during the training sessions.
Always run with your dog on a leash when going along a busy road to keep them safe. A leashed dog will also maintain his concentration when running.
This will be useful when you are running in a busy environment with birds and other creatures that may distract your dog’s attention.
You can fit your dog with a GPS collar during the training sessions. This will help you track the progress of your dog and gives you real-time feedback on his location.
Do not forget to carry some water when going out with your dog for training. Water is very crucial in cooling down a dog from an intense running session.
3. Warm up before training
You need to warm up before training to prevent your muscles and those of your dog from aching, and joints from getting injured.
Walk with your dog for a short distance and let them get their muscles ready to work out. Let your dog play and engage with his favorite interactive dog toys for a few minutes before going out.
This will prepare his mind to be alert during the upcoming session and get his attention ready. Do not forget to cool down after the training session. This will prevent muscle aches and joint pains.
4. Start slowly
Start off by running with your dog for an easy mile and improve the pace as you proceed. You can use a dog harness and leash to guide them through the neighborhood and up to the hills for simple walks and runs.
German Shepherds are strong dogs, but this does not mean that they can immediately run for long distances without progressive training.
5. Increase the pace
After you have had several slow-paced running sessions with your dog, you can now build up the distance and increase your pace.
Convert the jogs into slow runs then increase the intensity slowly, make sure you are not overwhelming your dog.
Always be alert and watch out when your dog is exhausted and may need to cool down. Take that break, let your dog pee on the side, and give him some water to cool down his body.
Based on his progress, you can sprint with your dog for manageable distances like 100 meters. Run very fast and let them try to reach their topmost pace.
6. Do not force your dog to run faster
Allow your dog to walk and run at his pace. While you are encouraging them to be faster, do not force them to attain speeds they cannot handle.
Most dogs will make stops, sniff, and mark the area during the runs. Allow your dog to chase birds while running, because this will exercise their natural hunting instincts.
Make it your hobby to run with them and do not force them to cover long distances.
7. Fetch toys
Dog ball fetch toys are one of the best items you can use to train your German shepherd to run faster. Get a suitable fetch toy and throw it to a distance, and encourage your dog to run after it, fetch, and bring it back to you.
This type of training helps your dog improve his pace and alertness. It also makes your dog loyal and obedient to basic commands.
8. Consistency in training
Consistency and persistence are key to achieve a certain goal. Do not get demotivated if your pup has not shown any improvement within the first few weeks.
Give him more training time before looking forward to seeing the results you awaited.
Reward Your Dog During and After Training
Using rewards to train your pup is one of the best ways to get better results. Give them some tasty dog treats every time you notice some progress.
Praising and motivating your dog to continue learning is also a good form of reward. Give them a pat on the back and pet them in the right way to show your happiness, and love towards their achievements.
Training can be tiresome. The treat will also provide your pup with some additional energy to keep him going.
Best Diet for Athletic Dogs
Athletic dogs like German Shepherds need a balanced diet that supplies the nutrients they need for running.
You need a good mix of energy-rich foods, proteins, vitamins, and carbs that help your dog to develop their muscles for more effective running.
It is best to give your dog three meals a day rather than having them take one large meal in the morning. Create a mix of both commercial dog food and homemade dog food.
The goal is to ensure that your dog gets the best nutritional benefit from what he eats. Don’t forget to give them clean drinking water throughout the day.
You can always use an automatic dog feeder that can be programmed to give a certain amount of food a few times a day.
You can boost your dog’s bone health by getting him some hip and joint supplements. This will reduce the probability of developing joint problems and hip dysplasia which are common in athletic dogs.
Having German Shepherds as Pets
German Shepherds have long been used as Police dogs, guardian dogs, and military dogs. Some people have probably wondered whether this dog breed can be a good pet.
German shepherds can form the best companions and family protectors when properly trained. This is an ideal pet to have in an active household, especially one that requires a watchdog.
If not well trained, then these dogs can sometimes be hard to deal with. This might bring disharmony to other pets and human family members too.
The advantage of German Shepherds is that they can easily be trained to perform different tasks and they take pride in it.
They are very intelligent and their desire to perform better makes them a good breed for active families. You can train your German shepherd to take care of your children and elderly people.
German shepherds can become stressed when they meet new people or go to new environments. Make sure your dog is properly socialized with your family and neighborhood to make him feel part of your household.
It is ideal to keep your German Shepherd in a fenced home with a playing yard, rather than an apartment. They are active dogs and require a large space to walk and run even while at home.
Benefits Of Fast-Running Dogs
Dogs who run have the major advantage of being healthy. Running helps the dog to burn energy and prevents them from being overweight.
Their musculoskeletal system is also improved and they have a lower risk of acquiring some diseases.
Being a fast-running dog, German shepherds have some benefits that have seen them get preference over other dog breeds in certain sectors.
They have been long used by the police as K9 dogs because of their adaptable features that fit their role. Apart from being fast runners, they are intelligent dogs who can work under pressure.
German shepherds are also used as guard dogs for patients and the elderly. Their intelligence and quick pace make them a perfect fit to relay information to caregivers in case of an emergency.
How fast can a German shepherd run? A healthy adult German Shepherd can achieve a top speed of about 30 miles per hour. This will however depend on several factors that influence the dog’s fitness to run.
German Shepherds’ running speed has well been utilized by the police and military as guard dogs. They also make good companion pets because of their confidence, obedience, and loyalty.
Thank you for reading through this article. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and I will gladly get back to you.
Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.