Best Small Dogs for Running

Running is a great way for you to exercise, clear your mind and enjoy the outdoors. Dogs love to run and play outside, so it only makes sense you want to include your best friend in an activity you already enjoy.

When it comes to a dog as a running partner, it makes sense that most people think of big dogs but small dogs can make a great running partner for all levels of runners.

Small dogs as running buddy

Here are some small breeds that will be able to run just as far as you do.

Jack Russell Terrier

When thinking of the Jack Russell Terrier, many of us think of a small dog with spring loaded legs and endless energy. This breed doesn’t tire quickly, and will be able to keep up with you all day – where ever you go. This breed will challenge you to run faster. These dogs are ideal for shorter distances, but those who run often.

One of the things you need to know about this breed is that they require a lot of interaction with you. If you don’t spend a lot of time being active with them, they may find other ways of expending that energy (which could include chewing your furniture or shoes).

It is also important to note that if you have this breed you will need to do a good amount of training. The reason for this is that they have strong hunting skills so you don’t want them going off to chase mice or squirrels while out on your runs. Make sure they will stay focused on you during your workouts.


This breed of dog is less commonly know, but they have an incredible amount of energy to just keep going. This breed of dog is perfect for those runners who like to go long distances. This dog isn’t as small as the Jack Russell Terrier but it could be considered a medium sized dog if you’re willing to look at a dog a little bigger.

This breed is wants to please their owners, which makes them exceptionally great for bonding and training. They are also very loving and affectionate towards their owner so going on runs with their owner will make them happy to be spending time with you.

Vizsla walking with it's owner

Additionally, these dogs are built to exercise so if you are considering this breed for your home then you will need to be prepared to exercise and be active quite often.


This adorable, small dog is one of the best family dogs as they are playful and outgoing. Beagles are also cuddly dogs who develop a strong bond with their family members.

They aren’t really suited for long distance runs but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy long walks and short jogs. They are also really great hunting companions, if that’s something you’re looking for in a dog.

Beagles are naturally a very curious dog, and can be mischievous if they don’t have enough exercise and mental stimulation. If you enjoy short runs for exercise then a beagle could be your ideal dog. They also love to socialize so if you are part of a running group where others bring their dogs it would be a great opportunity for your beagle to spend time with other dogs.


Do you enjoy short, fast runs? You’re in luck with the Papillion as they are fantastic sprinters. This small, agile dog is a little deceiving in how athletic they actually are. They can do almost anything a big dog can go, so you can definitely take this little guy along on your runs.

This breed also enjoys being outside with you so you can spend lots of time bonding with your buddy as you explore nature. Now they might not be able to keep up with you should you be a long distance runner, but if you’re more interested in shorter distances the Papillion will be a great choice for you.


Now the poodle comes in a variety of sizes, so some poodle breeds won’t be considered a small breed. Smaller poodles are very athletic for their size, though, and shouldn’t be discounted from a great running buddy.

Poodle walking in the park with it's owner

What’s great about poodles is that they aren’t afraid to jump into water or get wet – despite how they might be perceived – so they will be able to enjoy the outdoors with your best friend. Poodles are also keen listeners and eager learners so they are usually pretty easy to train.

Poodles hardly ever shed, but they do need to be groomed once every 6 weeks or so. Poodles can also make a great family dog so your kids will have a companion to play with.

Things to Consider About Getting a Dog for Running

Now that you have a few breeds to consider for your small running buddy, there are other things you need to consider about getting a dog for running to make sure you get the most out of the time you and your dog spend together.

Make sure the dog wants to run

Well of course most dogs love to play and run around in the backyard, especially with other dogs, but does this mean you dog will want to go on dedicated runs with you? Will they get distracted easily or try to chase after other animals, which makes your run not enjoyable at all? Despite the list of recommended breeds, you should always make sure that the actual dog you’re bringing into your home will enjoy running.

Just because a breed of dog is suggested for running, it doesn’t mean that all dogs of that breed will make great running buddies. Every dog has their own unique characteristics, so get to know your dog.

Don’t run with a puppy

We know, we know – puppies are just adorable when they’re running with their oversized paws and fluffy faces but you should not start running with your dog until they are completely mature.

Puppies are still growing and going on long – or even regular – dedicated runs can be harmful to their development. It can damage their joints which can lead to painful conditions like arthritis later on in life.

You should always check with your vet, but it’s generally recommended you want until your dog is between 18 months and 2 years old before you start running with them and training them to run with you.

Make sure your dog is social and obedient

While your dog is, presumably, a very loving dog with you, how does your dog react to other dogs while you’re out on walks? And can you get your dog to come on command, even with distractions?

How dog reacts to other dogs

It’s always encouraged that you follow the leash laws of your city/region when running with your dog, but you will very likely come across other dogs and people while out on your runs.

It’s important that your dog will not react in a negative way to those you come across, and potentially cause harm to you while trying to run. It will take some time for you to train your dog properly to run with you – and that’s ok – but just remember that not all dogs are meant to be running partners, and that’s ok too.

Do not run with a Brachycephalic breed

Ok – what? There are certain dogs that, no matter their size or physical abilities, should not be joining you on your runs. These dogs are known are Brachycephalic breeds, or dogs with really short noses.

Dogs with short noses often have very well-built bodies that can make them attractive to runners and have their owners thinking that they would be great for being active.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Their short noses leaves them have difficulty breathing on the best of days – think of the way that bulldogs can grunt just wandering around the house – so getting them to exert themselves with exercise makes breathing that much harder for them.

Does your dog fit into this category? Dogs like pugs, bulldogs, chow chows, Pekingese, Lhasa Apso, and English Toy Spaniels to name a few. Dogs with longer noses are the best ones for running partners.

If you have concerns about whether your dog is suitable for running, it’s important to check with your vet to answer any questions you might have.

Wrap Up

Running with your dog brings so many benefits to your life. It not only gets you out of the house and exercising, but it also gives you time to bond with your best friend. Dogs love to spend time with their people so why not give them some great exercise with their favourite person.

You may also notice that your dog is a better-behaved dog, overall, when they have regular exercise and have challenges to keep them occupied. If you are regularly active with your dog, you will likely also notice that it’s easier to train them and get them to respond to what you want them to do.

Before you start running with your dog, it’s important to check in with your vet to make sure your dog is healthy enough for running and there aren’t any concerns. As always, pay attention to the signals your dog gives when running to make sure they’re comfortable and having fun!