21 Most Athletic Breeds

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Dogs are considered to be the most varied species there is, with so many variants and sub-variants that it is hard to believe they are the same species. This mostly has to do with the fact that humans have been involved in the process from the very start, breeding dogs in different directions for different purposes.

Some of the breeds are, of course, more athletic than others and they are perfect for owners who have large backyards and who are ready to dedicate time to exercise their dogs and spend time with them in the outdoors. We will be looking at 21 of the most athletic breeds of dog today.

1. Pit Bulls

The pit bull has garnered notoriety over the years and we have come to the point where there are parts of the world and the US where keeping the breed is actually not allowed by law. One of the reasons for this is their athleticism which makes them particularly dangerous, according to people who believe they are too vicious to be kept as pets.

In reality, as long as the pit bull is trained properly and there is structure in its life, it will not be any more dangerous than any other breed. That being said, these dogs are extremely athletic, with bodies that are pure muscle and with some of the strongest jaws in the canine world.

Pit bulls need to be exercised regularly and what is even more important, they need to be kept secured because their athleticism enables them to break free from most shabby enclosures.

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2. Australian Shepherds

Shepherd dogs are traditionally considered to be very athletic and they have to be considering their purpose originally involved chasing sheep and other cattle for extended periods of time and in harsh conditions. Australian shepherds are considered to be among the most athletic of shepherd dogs which has quite a bit to do with the rough terrain and conditions in Australia’s more unwelcoming parts.

Besides being extremely athletic and resilient, these dogs are fantastically intelligent and incredibly loyal. They are obedient and they do not require a lot from their owner. Since they are also amazing with children, they are considered to be among the best dogs for active families who wish to spend time in nature with their dog.

Keep in mind, however, that they can be suspicious of strangers, but with some socialization, they will come to accept them in no time.

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3. Border Collies

While we are talking shepherd dogs, there is another breed that simply has to be mentioned and that is the border collie. These dogs are quite similar to the Australian shepherd. However, border collies are considered to be somewhat more explosive and intense.

And if you thought that Australian shepherds are intelligent, wait till you see a collie in action. Experts constantly rank this breed as the best among herding dogs and they all agree that a lot of this has to do with their intelligence.

Border collies are so athletic that they require regular exercise or they may turn destructive. The good news is that they will not require you to get involved. They just want to get out and get their running on. Let them have it.

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4. Doberman Pinchers

Doberman pinchers have been known to garner some bad press and just like in the case of pit bulls, this has mostly been unwarranted. There are a ton of myths surrounding these amazing dogs, and they are almost always untrue. Dobermans can actually be fantastically faithful, loyal and lovable.

One of the first things that everyone notices on a Doberman is its majestic figure, the perfect frame that seems so strong that it is almost unbelievable. You have the feeling that they are one of the strongest and most athletic dogs around and they really are.

They are alert at all times and they enjoy playing in nature. They are also very appreciative of challenges that will test their intelligence and their obedience.

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5. Pointers

Pointers are generally considered to be somewhat less popular than other breeds on our list and it is really a shame. They are among the best outdoorsy breeds of dog around and every family that makes a pointer their companion will have tons of fun enjoying time in nature with this wonderful dog.

They are graceful in their athleticism and they sport a lean but very muscular body that simply exudes power. They are always alert and they know how to carry themselves. Pointers also boast an inexhaustible supply of energy and they can run for hours on end.

They are very, very sweet and gentle, but their energetic disposition can sometimes make them seem erratic, which can be a problem around very small children. This is usually not an issue, but we still felt we needed to mention it.

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6. Jack Russell Terrier

The Jack Russell Terrier is definitely among the smallest dogs that we will be looking into today, but this does not mean that they lack anything in terms of athleticism and energy. Quite the contrary. Jack Russells were bred for chasing and retrieving and this means just insane energy that is impossible not to notice.

And truly, people who keep them in apartments claim that their homes buzz with the energy emanating from these little dogs, urging to get outside and active. This is why you will need to take them for regular and long walks if you live in an urban area.

They make the perfect house dog, especially if you have a large backyard where they can let off steam when they feel like it. On top of that, everyone agrees that Jack Russell terriers make for amazing guard dogs.

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7. Bernese Mountain Dog

If you consider yourself to be a serious hiker, there is truly only one breed that you should be looking into and that is the Bernese Mountain Dog. This particular breed is simply majestic in its size and beauty and the best thing is that you will never be able to tire them, even during the most arduous walks. On top of that, they will even help you out by carrying some of your equipment and supplies.

It needs to be pointed out, however, that due to their amazing athleticism and strength, they can be quite difficult to train. They require strong leadership that needs to be exerted at all times. A Bernese needs to be aware of who is boss at all times.

If you train them right, however, you will have the best hiking companion you could have in a dog.

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8. Shetland Sheepdog

Sheepdogs are generally considered to be very agile and intelligent and the Shetland sheepdog is no exception. They are also among the most beautiful such dogs and it is impossible not to notice their gorgeous coat and those beautiful colors.

Above everything else, Shetlands are very agile and athletic. They are fast and quick to change direction and their jumps are a thing of beauty. Despite their relatively small size, they require quite a lot of exercise which will also involve mental exercise that will keep them sharp.

If you are not prepared to give them your time, they may not be the best breed for you. They need to be challenged both physically and mentally and if you do so, they will reward you by being exquisite family pets.

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9. Vizsla

Vizsla is a breed that hails from Hungary where it was used as a hunting dogs by nobility and even royalty. It is a majestic specimen of dog with a lean but strong body and a posture that is unequaled. They are medium-sized dogs and they have that rare balance of power and control. This combination makes them one of the best athletic breeds out there.

These dogs enjoy off-track running with their owner and they show exquisite navigational skills and endurance during such runs. With a Vizsla, it is almost impossible to get lost. Also, there is no way that you will be able to tire your dog out.

On top of all that, these dogs are extremely easy to train and they are obedient. If you are looking for a dog to involve in the active lifestyle of your family, Vizsla is among the best choices, without a doubt.

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10. Dalmatian

Dalmatians entered the popular culture thanks to Disney, but before that, they were well-known among connoisseurs as a sporty and very energetic breed. Their fantastical endurance made them perfect carriage dogs and later, they were used for running ahead of firefighting carriages before the days of fire trucks.

Dalmatians are almost impossible to tire, even if you take them for runs that last for miles. Throughout the run, they will keep up with you and their enthusiasm will not falter for a moment. They can get somewhat protective so you need to make sure that you are always a strong and assertive leader.

Another characteristic of the Dalmatian is that they are especially good with horses, which is what makes them the perfect dog for a farm that includes these animals.

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11. Rat Terrier

Rat terriers are a traditional American breed of dog, used mostly on farms, but also finding their use in hunting. They are among the rarest breeds out there and the communities and organizations of breeders and fans are doing everything in their power to popularize this exquisite breed.

Rat terriers are a small breed of dog, but they pack quite a punch in their small body. They are very muscular for their small frame and they are active 24/7. A great thing about them is that they are highly intelligent and super easy to train.

Rat terriers enjoy obedience training and exercises and they are the happiest when they are making their owner happy. When properly trained and socialized, they are also the perfect family dog. Here’s hoping that rat terriers make a comeback!

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12. Rhodesian Ridgeback

When we are talking especially athletic breeds of dog, there is simply no way that we could leave the Rhodesian ridgeback off our list. If for nothing else, their history as lion-hunting dogs makes a strong argument for this being one of the most athletic breeds out there. Yes, they were used for hunting lions. Real lions. In the wild. You can imagine how athletic a breed needs to be for this.

Rhodesian ridgebacks are large dogs with an insanely strong physique. They are definitely among the strongest dogs out there and in addition to this, they are very resilient. They were first bred in South Africa and this makes them very comfortable in warm climates.

These dogs live for activity and even dog sports where their obedience, agility and lure coursing is put to a test. It goes without saying that they also possess very strong protective instincts.

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13. Weimarane

Weimaraners are probably second only to the Rhodesian Ridgeback when we are talking about how tough hey had to be historically. Namely, these beautiful dogs with a very distinct color were used in hunting for large game, like deer, boar and bear. Yes, these dogs were used to hunt for the most gigantic and dangerous forest dwellers.

It goes without saying that these wonderful dogs are spectacularly athletic, but in addition to this, they are also very adaptive. For instance, you can take a Weimaraner for a series of short and quick runs or you can take it for a long, exhausting marathon. They will keep up with you no matter the distance or the tempo.

Weimaraners are also known to be very easily trained and they do great in a family environment.

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14. Siberian Husky

As a breed that hails from hell on earth, aka Siberia, the Siberian Husky is one ridiculously resilient and athletic breed. They had to be to make it in such harsh conditions with temperatures that reach unspeakable lows. Furthermore, they were used to pull sled, which made them only more powerful and resilient.

Their endurance is legendary and even though they will require strong leadership, they quickly understand their place and responsibilities. You should keep in mind that they sometimes may seem aloof and uninterested, even in their owner.

In addition to this, you should understand that huskies are not too great in warm climates. They should never be exercised too vigorously if the temperature is high as this can even be dangerous for them.

If you live somewhere cold, though, they are the perfect dog for you.

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15. AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG

As its name suggests, the Australian Cattle Dog (or, simply, Cattle Dog) is a breed that was originally used to herd cattle. These dogs, which belong to the group of working breeds, are very resilient, strong, robust and energetic. These qualities are not surprising considering their initial purpose was to drive cattle over sometimes very long distances on a rough, hostile terrain. They are also extremely intelligent, very protective of their owners, loyal and generally healthy, with a long lifespan.

Today, Australian Cattle Dogs are used more as family pets and occasionally as “farmhands” than as cattle dogs. Like all dogs known for their strength, speed and energy, they require plenty of exercise and outdoor time, so they thrive in homes with large backyards and with families who enjoy outdoor activities. They respond well to training and grow to be very attached to the owners.

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16. ALASKAN MALAMUTE

This arctic breed is, just like its relative, the Siberian Husky, very athletic, strong and durable. However, while Huskies are noted for their speed, Malamutes are praised for their ability to pull heavy weights.

These dogs were originally bred in Alaska as utilitarian dogs used for hunting and working. One of their main jobs was to pull sleds carrying heavy freight. This is the job they are still doing today in some regions of Alaska , where they are used for hauling heavy objects and for personal travel. They are also used for mushing, which is basically recreational sledding, as well as for some lesser known sports such as canicross, skijoring and bikejoring. Because of their mild, warm and friendly disposition towards people, Alaskan Malamutes are popular as family dogs too. They do, however, need plenty of exercise and they are not happy in hot climates.

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17. LABRADOR RETRIEVER

Everyone knows that the Labrador Retriever is an amazing family dog, a great friend of children, terrific helper and therapy dog, and an overall delight to be around. However, it’s unfair that incredible athleticism is usually not among the most talked-about qualities of this breed.

Labrador Retrievers belong to the sporting group of dog breeds. This means that they are not only very, very active and energetic, but also very fast, agile and strong. These dogs are, fortunately, not the type that gets nervous easily and they can definitely find ways to enjoy themselves and be happy just hanging around the house, but they definitely need their exercise and playtime. Versatile and adaptable as they are, they enjoy jogging, playing fetch or swimming, whatever activity comes to your mind, as long as it’s allowing them to let all that energy out. And they will be the happiest if they share the activity with their owners.

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18. CHESAPEAKE BAY TERRIER

They say that the Chesapeake Bay Terrier is one of the happiest dog breeds in the world. But that’s not the only thing these lovely dogs excel at – they are also incredibly athletic and they are exceptional swimmers. In fact, Chesapeake Bay Terrier is probably for dogs what Michael Phelps is for humans.

It’s no wonder that this breed is so good at swimming. They were originally bred in Chesapeake Bay region for the purpose of hunting waterfowl, so they had to be great swimmers. Today, of course, there is no official sport where Chessies, as they are called, could show off their skills, but every CBT owner will tell you that nothing makes them happier than jumping in the ocean, a river or a simple pool for a nice, long swim.

In addition to being very happy and athletic, Chessies are also very loyal, intelligent and alert dogs that make excellent family pets.

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19. WHIPPET

This is one of the most exquisite and elegant dog breeds in the world. No one can remain unimpressed at the sight of that powerful, lean, aerodynamic musculature. Whippet is not a big dog, but don’t let that fool you. He is way more powerful and impressive than his size suggests.

Whippet or a snap dog is a sight hound originally bred in England. He is a close relative to the hound, to which he greatly resembles. The most impressive thing about this breed is certainly its speed. If Whippet was a professional athlete, he’d be Usain Bolt. This is the fastest medium-sized dog breed and one of the fastest among all breeds. In fact, the only breed that can run faster than the Whippet is the Greyhound. According to the American Kennel Club, a Whippet can run at the speed of 35 miles per hour. This is also the fastest-accelerating dog in the world.

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20. GERMAN SHORTHAIRED POINTER

This German dog was first bred in 19th century Germany for the purpose of hunting. Like most dogs used for this purpose, especially the pointing breeds, the Short haired Pointer was “designed” to be as athletic and active as possible. And boy, is he ever! These incredible dogs thrive on running, jumping, playing around, jogging and basically being active as much as possible.

The German Shorthaired Pointer is not the kind of dog to lounge around the house all day doing nothing. He needs to vent all that incredible energy he has inside. If he doesn’t, he gets moody, jittery and even unpleasant. The GSP makes an ideal companion to active, outdoorsy families and people who spend a lot of time being physically active. In addition to running, he loves swimming and playing fetch. He can also literally spend hours pulling on a ball tied to a rope or a similar toy.

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21. PORTUGUESE WATER DOG

Did you know that the Portuguese Water Dog was once a regular crew member on fishing and other ships? This incredible breed simply loves water so the crew used these dogs to retrieve lost or tangled nets and other items from the sea.

Today, Portuguese Water Dog is very popular because of his unique, friendly and playful temperament, as well as his loyalty. However, it is also highly praised for his athleticism. Words that bets describe these curly rascals are “adventurous” and “athletic.” If you are looking for a canine companion for jogging, exercise, trekking, hiking and similar activities, especially if you live near a beach, this is your dog. Portuguese Water Dog possesses an incredible stamina and strength and can run very long distances. A Portie (as these dogs are called) will absolutely love living in a home with an active family and preferably a swimming pool!

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