German Shepherds are a breed known for their adaptability and strong bodies. They can actually run for many miles depending on their training and health.
On average, a healthy German Shepherd can run between 5 to 30 miles per hour.
This depends on many factors that allow your dog to run at certain speeds.
Factors affecting a German Shepherd speed
1.) Health of the dog
A healthy dog can easily reach this speed, unlike an unhealthy dog. One factor affecting your dog’s health is the type of diet that you give to your dog.
German Shepherd dogs need a diet that is full of protein so it can build their muscles and bones.
2.) The level of training
Train your dog very well so they can reach this speed. By staying active, your German Shepherd dog will have endurance and speed to run for a long distance.
3.) The age of the dog
Age can affect how far can a German Shepherd run. If your German Shepherd is a puppy or old, they will not be able to run for a huge distance.
Meanwhile, a mature and well-fed German Shepherd will be able to run for a longer distance at a faster speed.
What age can a German Shepherd start running?
The best time to start taking your German Shepherd for a run is after they complete 12 months of age.
The reason is that your German Shepherd will have their bone growth completed at that age.
Once your German Shepherd dog is 12 months old, you can introduce them to running gradually and as long as your dog is comfortable with the pace and duration.
If your dog is under that age, then you could allow them to play in a park and walk them two walks per day. Don’t overexercise them as this will affect them badly.
How much exercise does a German Shepherd needs?
German Shepherds were originally bred to be herding dogs.
As a result, they have too much stamina and energy that makes them need to get exercise along the day.
So how much exercise do they need? Generally, they need about 2 hours of exercise per day so they don’t get bored.
They are highly energetic so they need exercise whether walking, running, or playing around games such as fetch.
How to train a German Shepherd to run with you?
When to start?
This is the first thing that every dog owner should know. German Shepherds are youthful dogs that take a longer time than other dogs to grow up.
Thus, it is best recommended to wait for a year or a year and a half before putting your German Shepherd in a strong running program.
This is best for two reasons:
1.) Their bodies still need to grow. If you start early, it can put your German Shepherd at risk of breaking their bones and muscle injuries.
2.) Your German Shepherd dog has to be well trained before taking them on a run. You’ve to train them in basic obedience training such as sit and stop. By doing so, you lessen the chance that your dog will get hurt.
Start off slow
Even though German Shepherds have a lot of energy and can exercise for 2 hours per day, they still need the training to be able to run for a long distance.
So how do you train your dog to run? First, let your dog walk and enjoy their time outside.
In this step, put a loose leash on them so they won’t get lost and stay with you.
Second, you can start jogging with interval training. This happens by making a variation for walking and running.
An example would be to allow them to walk for two minutes and then run for a minute.
You could do this training for 20 minutes for the first couple of weeks so your dog gets used to running.
Gradually, you can reduce the amount of time spent walking until it’s running all the time.
An important tip is that throughout training your dog, you have to keep an even pace and you can still talk and ask your dog certain commands.
Raise the distance
When your German Shepherd is used to running, you can start to raise the distance.
Here are some tips to raise the distance safely:
- Every other day, plan a route of 2- 3 miles for your dog to run in. You can do this three times a week. Always keep the leash loose and keep a pace between you two so you can give your dog commands easily.
- After a week, add half a mile which is equivalent to 10 minutes. It’s important to keep a watch over your dog. If they become tired, then stop until you can gradually add the half-mile. Eventually, your dog will be able to run the extra half mile every few weeks.
- Slowly, you can raise the distance more but always keep in mind your dog’s health as a top priority. Never push your dog to more than they are capable of.
Be patient and take breaks
Don’t push your dog when you are starting to train them. It is a process that takes time.
If it is the other way around that your dog is faster than you, be patient with yourself because practice makes it attainable to be able to keep up with your dog’s speed.
Always take breaks to rest and have abundant water with you so you and your dog can drink.
Also, carry with you snacks depending on your distance and how far you and your dog will be going.
Warm-up and cool down your dog
Always give your dog time to warm up before starting to run. This ensures that your dog doesn’t get injured.
Start by letting your dog walk for a couple of minutes at a slow pace so their muscles don’t become strained. Also, do so after they finish the exercise.
Signs that you’re running too fast with your German Shepherd
There are many signs that you are overexercising your dog. These signs are:
- Missing cues and commands
- Heavy breathing and excessive panting
- Being very thirsty
- Difficulty getting up and laying down
- Not wanting yo start a run or continue it
German Shepherds are at risk of muscles and joint injuries. They are known to have hip dysplasia. One of the causes of hip dysplasia is overexerting them in exercise.
You have to always make sure that you aren’t overexercising them.
Beware of the type of terrain
Don’t let your German Shepherd or any dog walk on a hard floor; It will definitely hurt your dog.
Even though your dog’s paws are tough, they will get hurt on these surfaces.
An example of a terrain that would definitely hurt your dog is ice.
So what kind of terrain could your dog walk or run in? The best type of terrain is one that is soft. Examples include grass, dirt, trails, and beaches.
Also, make sure that the pavement that your dog walks or runs on isn’t hot. It is best to place your palm on the ground and test whether it is hot or not.
Beware of the weather
German Shepherds are double-coated in which they have two layers of coat that help protect them depending on weather conditions.
Their double coat protects them during the winter but can cause them to become overheated during the summer.
Cold weather doesn’t cause a problem to your German Shepherd especially anything below 65 degrees.
However, higher temperature poses a problem to your German Shepherd.
If both humidity and heat are above 150 degrees, it will be too hot for your German Shepherd to run.
However, it can also cause a heatstroke to your dog if the temperature is above 75 degrees.
So what if you want to run with your dog in the summer? Is it a safe option?
Well, you can actually run with your dog during the summer if you follow certain tips so they could be safe.
You have to limit the distance that your dog runs in. Also, you have to stop for lots of water breaks.
You can also run during cooler times such as early in the morning or late evening.
Beware of a heatstroke
You have to watch your dog if there are any signs of a heatstroke that they may have. Here are the signs of heatstroke:
Signs that your dog has a heatstroke:
- Excessive panting
- Difficulty breathing
- Elevated heart rate
How to deal if your dog has a heat stroke while running
1.) Take their temperature
Take your dog’s temperature rectally. A dog’s temperature should be between 99.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
A dog becomes overheated if their temperature is higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
A temperature of 109 F is fatal to your dog’s health.
2.) Remove the dog from the heat
Move your dog to an indoor place where they can stay cool and their temperature will drop.
If it isn’t possible to get them indoors, then get them to a shaded area. Preferably an area that has airflow.
To lower their body temperature, you will also need to not allow them to run or engage in any kind of activity.
A very good option, if you can, is to carry your dog instead of letting them walk and get them to a cool place.
3.) Let your dog drink water
When you give your dog water, you have to make sure that the quantity of water is small.
If your dog doesn’t seem interested in water, you could give them chicken or beef broth as a substitute.
It is important to never force your dog if they can’t drink freely.
Instead, you can wet their lips, gums, and tongue with water from a facecloth or clean towel.
A German Shepherd can run for a long-distance depending on how trained they are, their age, and health.
To train them to run, you have to follow certain steps that are crucial to making your dog be able and comfortable running along your side.
To know more information about whether a German Shepherd can hunt or not, check Can German Shepherd Hunt, is it in Their Nature?