So, you’re looking for a running buddy? Maybe a furry one? With a leash too? Not one too fast, like a Whippet or a Greyhound. Perhaps a German Shepherd.
Maybe you’re just curious about their speed. Could you outrun one? Don’t worry, we won’t ask why.
German Shepherds are independent, loyal, protective dogs, but they aren’t necessarily known for their speed. So, how fast can German Shepherds run? They aren’t slow, easily able to outrun a human, they are clocking 30mph at their peak. They can even run 15pmh for 5 – 20 miles. This fast speed is due to their herding origins. Created first to herd sheep and ending up being bred for German police; they are the result of cross-breeding between herding breeds. The first few were strictly cultivated by their founder Captain Max von Stephanitz of the German cavalry. Once the breed had been established he stayed strict when it came to German Shepherds producing future litters.
It seems the Captain achieved his goal; German Shepherds are the most popular breed to be used in the police forces and the military. This is due to speed, loyalty, protectiveness, and intelligence being bred into them from the beginning.
The American version may deviate from the German Shepherd personality and temperament standards. Thankfully, American breeders have turned back to carefully choosing these key components in pairings. This is because breeding became less rigid when they came to America.
Walk, Trot, Run: The Trotted Gait
German Shepherds have a trotting gait. The long strides of their front and hind legs help them cover the maximum amount of distance, with the minimum amount of steps. This is achieved with an outreaching rhythmic gait with their hindquarters delivering a powerful thrust that drives the body forward. These features make their gait look smooth and effortless.
Reaching for Greatness: The Groundwork
German Shepherds can run up to 30mph, while Greyhounds, the fastest dog, can run at 45mp. Although German Shepherds aren’t the fastest dog in the race, they have quite the speed for a heavier composed dog. The factors that go into them attaining their top speed while running are simple: ample training, high activity level, good health, age, and breeding.
Ample training and high activity levels are important because it prepares your dog’s body to exert the force it takes to hit top speed. If your German Shepherd is a couch potato, indoors most of the day, and not properly exercised it is unlikely they’ll perform to their best abilities. The sudden surge of adrenaline, physical stamina, and muscle strength are needed to achieve their top speed. This means he will run 30mp if his athleticism is cultivated.
Good health, for any dog, is a principle need when attaining their peak performance. A healthy diet is a key way to help your German Shepherd create the body muscle and energy he needs. A diet in rich lean protein will do just the trick. Being an appropriate weight is also a major health component. German Shepherds can be prone to hip dysplasia and joint problems and being overweight will only increase the chances of these.
Age is a limiting factor as well. A young or older dog may have trouble reaching their top speed. Although a puppy may be hard to catch, a fully mature adult would win the race.
Breeding comes into it as it can control the weight, functional ability, composition, energy, and agility of your dog.
Conditioning: How to Help Your German Shepherd Run at Top Speed
Your German Shepherd should receive a minimum of an hour of exercise a day. Keep in mind though that some experts recommend 2 hours. This exercise should be vigorous, such as running. This will keep them docile in the house, but also in peak physical condition.
Other ways to help your dog’s physicality are fetching, hiking, and swimming. An owner can give their dog a workout with just a simple game of fetch; as long as you train your pup to “drop it.” Else it might turn into “keep away.” Swimming is excellent for low impact exercise and can be combined with fetch. Hip and joint health may boost as blood flow is increased in these areas during swimming. Hiking can keep your dog mentally and physically challenged as well, helping with their endurance and stimulating their mind. This may be something to try with dogs who are bored when running. Hiking will develop back leg and heart strength while improving lung capacity.
When exercising your German Shepherd make sure they get sufficiently warmed-up and cooled-down to avoid painful muscle cramps and joint damage. If your German Shepherd seems to be avoiding jumping or running, check to make sure they are feeling sound. Keep your dog in tiptop condition, take him to see the vet annually for preventative care.
Important Signs When Exercising Your Dog
- Missing commands/inattentiveness
- Reluctant to exercise
- Falling behind
- Lameness or limping
- Overtired post-exercise
- Heightened thirst
- Excessive panting
- Sleeping or laying down more than usual
Signs of overheating:
- Dark red or dark pink gums
- Trouble breathing
- Kidney failure (includes depression, constipation, weight loss, lack of interest in food, acute blindness, seizures, comas, blood in urine, and increased amount of urination)
- Diarrhea, turning into diarrhea with blood
- Elevated heart rate
You are Your Greatest Ally
So, how fast can German Shepherds run? We’ve answered that question. It’s not how fast German Shepherds can run, necessarily, but how fast can your German Shepherd run? Training, focusing on health, proper diet, and dedication can help your German Shepherd attain its max speed, health, and athleticism. Perhaps as a bonus, you’ll also be tightly bonded to each other. Run and they will follow.