What is the fastest dog breed? That depends on how speed is measured. For the most part, racing dog breeds make up the bulk of a fastest dog list. Think long legs, streamlined physique, and big heart, and classic runners come to mind: greyhound, whippet, and Saluki. However, some breeds, such as the African Azawakh, might surprise you as additions to the list.
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For context, average dog breeds can run between 15 and 20 miles per hour if they are not brachycephalic, like the pug, or extra short-legged, like the Shih Tzu. The fastest of all dog breeds is the greyhound, and there are nine other breeds that come close. However, speed doesn't always come with stamina. Many of the fastest dog breeds make the laziest house pets.
This icon of the racing world is said to be the fastest dog breed in the world. How fast can a greyhound run? Greyhounds can run up to 45 miles per hour — more than double the average dog. The streamlined greyhound has an aerodynamic skull and shock-absorbing paw pads. Interestingly, greyhounds run like cheetahs, with all four feet leaving the ground at the same time at some point. As pets, however, greyhounds sleep up to 18 hours a day and can be slothlike in a home.
While the greyhound might be the racer of choice in North America, the smaller, narrow-waisted Saluki is the racing dog of the Middle East. An ancient hunting breed, the Saluki is a sighthound, which means they hunt by sight, not scent. Consequently, Salukis have a high prey drive and can reach speeds of 42 miles per hour — almost the speed of a greyhound.
The Azawakh is a rare breed not often found in North America, so they are often overlooked when compiling fastest dog lists. However, this ancient breed that once roamed Africa with nomadic groups is exceptionally fast. The African Azawakh can reach speeds of 40 miles per hour and was once used to corner fast-moving prey for hunters. Like the Saluki, they are sighthounds, and they have an exceptionally long neck and legs.
Tied with the Azawakh (and Afghan hound and Ibizan hound) for speed, the vizsla can also run up to 40 miles per hour. This beautiful, sleek, red-coated gun dog is slightly shorter than the greyhound but almost equally fast. Like other breeds trained to work alongside hunters, vizsla are often closely loyal to their people and make good jogging or biking companions.
The Afghan hound
It might be a surprise to see the regal, long-haired, and recognizable Afghan hound on the fastest dog breed list. However, Afghans were originally called "Oriental greyhounds" when they were first shown in Britain in 1907. In fact, the Afghan can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, similar to other sighthounds also originally tasked with hunting gazelles.
The Ibizan hound
Bred to hunt rabbits thousands of years ago, the Ibizan hound is an unusual, sleek hound with a tapered body and large pointed ears that stand upright. Ibizan hounds can run up to 40 miles per hour at their fastest. Ibizan hounds are also good jumpers, which is a consideration when fencing your backyard. Although they make good family pets, the Ibizan has a high prey drive, so they usually aren't good with cats.
The easily identified Dalmatian isn't just a historical firehall feature. They are also very fast dogs. Healthy, young Dalmatians can run up to 37 miles per hour, putting them among the top 10 fastest dog breeds. Not only can Dalmatians run fast but they are also known for their endurance, making them good jogging, hiking, or cycling buddies.
As a dog breed, the borzoi was once called the Russian wolfhound. They are also sometimes referred to as fluffy greyhounds, which is understandable considering their speed. The borzoi can reach a maximum speed of up to 36 miles per hour, though some borzoi enthusiasts claim that these dogs are as fast as greyhounds. Even if they are not, borzois are fast enough to be in the top 10 list of the fastest dog breeds in the world.
Often confused with a greyhound but smaller, the whippet has a similar racing dog build. They are the racing dogs of choice in Britain. Whippets are high-energy, sometimes nervous dogs who are capable of reaching speeds as fast as 35 miles per hour. Short sprints are their specialty. The whippet has been recorded as completing a 40-yard dash in 2.5 seconds.
Made famous in the art by photographer William Wegman, the ghostlike, shiny Weimaraner is not only photogenic but swift. This is a medium-size dog with striking blue or amber eyes. Unlike other fast dog breeds, the Weimaraner needs daily exercise to be content. The Weimaraner can reach a top speed of 35 miles per hour, and they are very athletic dogs.
Other fast dog breeds
Many people might think the energetic border collie is among the fastest dog breeds, and they are fast, reaching a top speed of 30 miles per hour. But that's not fast enough to put them in the top 10 fastest dog breeds. Similarly, Great Danes might not look like a fast dog breed, but the Great Dane's top speed matches that of a border collie — 30 miles per hour — despite their massive size.
- Reader's Digest: 13 of the Fastest Dog Breeds in the World
- American Kennel Club: Greyhound
- American Kennel Club: Vizsla
- Canadian Kennel Club: Afghan Hound
- A-Z Animals: Ibizan Hound
- PetHelpful: The Top 10 Fastest Dog Breeds
- National Borzoi Club: How Fast Can a Borzoi Run
- Spot A Dalmatian: How Fast Can a Dalmatian Run?