Dogs are possibly the most diverse pet species out there. There’s truly a breed for everyone!
You can get a tiny toy dog that fits in your purse or a giant breed that weighs more than you do.
There are lazy dogs who prefer to spend their days lounging indoors, but there are also highly-energetic pups who will gladly accompany you on lengthy mountain hikes.
And there are fast dogs who can chase and catch just about anything… and slow dogs whom just about anybody could chase and catch!
In fact, speed is one of the most variable dog characteristics. And it’s an important aspect of a dog’s overall personality and temperament.
We’ve ranked 10 of the most popular dog breeds by their top speeds. From record-setting highs to yawn-inducing lows, one thing is clear: dogs can do it all!
Canine Speed Demons
These five breeds aren’t just the fastest dogs out there — they’re some of the fastest land animals, period. Let’s meet the world’s speediest dogs and find out just what makes them so fast.
Dog Breed: Greyhound
If you’re familiar with dog racing, you’re familiar with greyhounds. This long, lean breed is the dog of choice for racing.
Few animals can match the greyhound in speed and endurance. Greyhounds can reach speeds of 45 miles per hour, and they can reach that speed from standing in just six strides.
But greyhounds aren’t just incredible sprinters. They can maintain speeds of 35 miles per hour over distances as great as 7 miles, making them amazing endurance runners too.
The secret to a greyhound’s speed is in its physiology. Their large chests contain a massive heart, which pumps out the blood at up to 340 beats per minute when running at full speed.
A greyhound’s lungs are also larger than most dogs’, and they take in up to 90 liters of air in 90 breaths every 30 seconds when galloping.
And this breed’s narrow waist bends in the middle like a cheetah’s, lengthening the dog’s stride and providing its legs with a little extra propulsion.
But the real kicker is that most of the time, greyhounds are incredibly lazy. They are incredibly lazy and seem to prefer life at the extremes: moving as fast as they can or not at all.
Dog Breed: Saluki
Tall, slim and silky, the Saluki is a dog that screams elegance. But don’t let its regal appearance fool you: this dog is a force to be reckoned with at full speed.
Capable of sustaining speeds of over 42 miles per hour across distances of over 800 meters, the Saluki is an even faster endurance runner than the greyhound.
This high stamina is partially due to the Saluki’s densely-padded paws, which act as heavy-duty shock absorbers. Running simply doesn’t affect the Saluki’s joints like it does with other breeds.
Dog Breed: Vizsla
This Hungarian hunting dog has risen in popularity as a companion animal for its loving personality. Vizsla fans often refer to their pups as “velcro dogs” for their tendency to stick close to their owners.
That is, until they see something interesting in the distance.
Then all bets are off as the Vizsla takes off running, reaching speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.
Like the Saluki, the Vizsla can’t outpace the greyhound over short distances. But unlike greyhounds, Vizsla can sustain their top speeds for distances of over a mile.
Dog Breed: Jack Russell Terrier
Who would have thought such a small dog could rank so highly on the list of fastest dog breeds?
Its short legs and small lungs seem like they would work against the Jack Russell Terrier’s quest for speed. But maybe this breed’s strong determination and sturdy build contribute to its success.
With a top speed of 38 miles per hour, the Jack Russell Terrier is the world’s fastest small dog.
Perhaps centuries of being bred for hunting have refined this breed’s speedy genes to perfection. Its origins can be traced back to the 1700s, when it was used mainly to hunt foxes.
Dog Breed: Borzoi
It figures that this Russian dog would be good at, well, rushing!
The Borzoi was originally bred to hunt wolves in the great Eurasian north. A little ironic, to be sure, but the modern Borzoi is undeniably majestic.
Resembling a greyhound with a long, wavy, silky coat, the Borzoi tops out at 38 miles per hour. Perhaps that’s why it was given its unique name, which is derived from a Russian word meaning “fast.”
The greyhound similarities don’t stop there, though: the Borzoi is also a couch potato at heart. Sensitive, laid-back and fond of doing nothing, Borzois balance energy and relaxation with expert precision.
Lazy Loafers and Scruffy Slowpokes
These dogs are the opposite of the previous five breeds — they’re the slowest pups around. So if you’re looking for a dog that’s easy to exercise and tough to lose track of, consider one of these unbeatable slowpokes.
Dog Breed: Toy Poodle
Standard poodles — the full-sized ones — can reach very respectable speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.
But their petite counterparts, toy poodles, get left in the dust by just about every other breed out there.
Maxing out at 10 miles per hour, the toy poodle’s size puts it at a disadvantage. They’re shorter than 10 inches from paw to shoulder, and those tiny legs simply can’t compete with the longer legs of bigger dogs.
What the toy poodle lacks in speed, though, it makes up for in personality. Fiercely intelligent and full of surprises, the toy poodle will keep you on your toes, even if you won’t need to lace up your running shoes to keep up with it!
Dog Breed: Basset Hound
Proving that big dogs can be slow too, the Basset Hound’s 10 mile per hour max speed won’t win any races.
But although its big bones slow it down, they provide it with the strength and stability needed to keep going over long distances.
Still, this breed usually prefers laying around inside to running around outside. Its calm, patient temperament more than makes up for what it lacks in speed.
Dog Breed: Shih Tzu
This classic lap dog has waddled its way onto our list of slowest dogs at its top speed of 6 miles per hour!
The Shih Tzu may not be fast, but it still looks like a blur trotting past you due to its dense, fluffy coat. Some owners joke that its hair growth is faster than its running speed!
But just because Shih Tzus can’t run doesn’t mean they can’t play. They can spend hours playing tug of war or roughhousing with other dogs — but when they’re done, they head straight for their owners’ laps.
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Dog Breed: French Bulldog
Even though they’re on our list of slowest dogs, French Bulldogs can be fast when they really need to be.
At full throttle, they can hit a respectable 17 miles per hour. The catch: they can’t hold it for longer than a few seconds.
Send a French Bulldog running for any longer period of time and you’re looking at speeds of around 3-5 miles per hour.
It’s probably for the best; these brachycephalic dogs are known for their respiratory and circulatory issues. Too much exercise is bad for these short-snouted dogs, so their low speeds may actually work in their favor.
Dog Breed: Pug
Is it any surprise that the dopey, lovable pug makes our list of slowest dogs?
Stout-legged and short-snouted, pugs simply don’t have the lung capacity, heart strength or leg length to be effective runners.
At least, most of them don’t. At the 2019 International Pug Race in Berlin, a pug named Emma ran 50 meters in under 6 seconds, reaching speeds of 18.6 miles per hour!
But many other pugs in the race failed to exceed 2.7 miles per hour. That’s slower than the average human walking speed of 3 to 4 miles per hour.
"If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two."
-- Phil Pastoret