Go Dog, Go was the title of a famous children’s book penned more than 50 years ago by P.D. Eastman, but it is also what we say when we see some of these dogs take off running. Greyhounds, Vizslas and Jack Russells are just some of the breeds that leave the rest of the pack in the dust.
Check out our slideshow of amazing dog breeds that were built for speed.
The Greyhound — The King of Canine Racers
When you think of fast dogs, the tall and lean Greyhound is the first breed that usually springs to mind. This long-legged, smooth-coated racing breed has been clocked at speeds up to 45 miles per hour, sparking its nickname: the 45-mph couch potato. Why this nickname? This is a breed blessed with speed bursts when overcoming prey, especially hares, but one who craves lounging on sofas in between races.
“There are no good studies on this, but it looks like Greyhounds are not substantially faster than some other breeds like Border Collies and probably other larger, lightweight breeds,” says Dr. Christine Zink, DVM, a canine sports-medicine veterinarian. “For example, by my calculations, many fly ball dog teams, which are timed to the hundredths of a second, are traveling at 37 to 40 mph when they hit the box.”
The Saluki — Putting the Capital “S” in Swiftness
A feather-footed cousin of the Greyhound, the Saluki has been clocked at nearly 43 mph, a speed recorded in the 1996 edition of the Guinness Book of Records. It may be that over distances of more than half a mile, the Saluki is faster than the Greyhound. Contributing to the Saluki’s stamina are his heavily padded feet that help to absorb the impact that running has on the body. Hailing from Ancient Egypt, the Saluki is recognized as one of the oldest breeds, dating back to 7,000 B.C.
The Whippet — The Poor Man’s Racehorse
Whippets, originally called snap dogs for the speed at which they snapped up the rabbits and rats they coursed, were probably developed from a blend of Greyhounds, Italian Greyhounds and terriers. The nineteenth-century workingmen who created them, later turned to racing them against each other, and they became known as “the poor man’s racehorse.” Today, this medium-sized sighthound is a fierce competitor in lure coursing events and ranks among the fastest breeds, having been clocked at 36 mph. Ready for this? A Whippet can run 200 yards in less than 12 seconds.
The Border Collie — Built for Speed and Cornering
Long acknowledged for being one of the top Einsteins in the dog world, the workaholic Border Collie is designed to move quickly and make hairpin turns in order to direct large flocks over what are sometimes long distances. Border Collies can corner like fine sports cars, maintaining control and speed through turns, skills that also serve them well in canine sports such as agility, fly ball and flying disc competitions. These black-and-white torpedoes have been clocked at speeds of up to 30 mph. And noted for their intense gaze, Border Collies are recognized for keeping their eye on the prize.
“To be honest, in a race between a Greyhound and a Border Collie, my bets will always be on the Border Collie,” Dr. Zink says.
The Vizsla — A Vroom With Four Legs and a Tail
Medium-sized with a lean body, short coat and a mental drive to run, the Vizsla can outsprint most dogs in a one-mile competition. Originating in Hungary, this breed must deal with constant canine confusion, often misidentified as a Rhodesian Ridgeback or Redbone Coonhound. But make no mistake, this hunting dog is quick both on land and in the water. Sporting a golden rust-colored short coat, the Vizsla is agile and able to turn quickly.
The Alaskan Husky — The Marathoner of Dogs
Alaskan Huskies were originally developed to deliver goods and supplies to remote frozen areas, so speed and endurance were vital assets. Huskies were and still are developed through crosses between spitz-type village dogs and fast sporting and hound breeds such as German Shorthaired Pointers or Greyhounds. Their thick coat and stocky body help them cope with cold temperatures. This breed has been clocked at 28 mph, but a team of sled dogs can maintain average speeds of 10 mph for hours and miles over snow-covered terrain during sled races like the famous Iditarod.
Jack Russell Terrier — Small, Speedy and Stubborn
Also known as the Parson Terrier by the American Kennel Club, the Jack Russell Terrier earned a prestigious reputation a couple centuries ago as an amazing fox hunter. Despite being a favorite family dog, this breed has never shook off his confidence, ready attitude, tenacity, speed or endurance traits. Don’t let his small size fool you — the Jack Russell Terrier can reach speeds up to 25 mph in short bursts.
The Doberman Pinscher — Fleet-Footed Guard Dog
Developed in the 1800s by a tax collector looking for a canine bodyguard with the muscle power and the speed to catch and retain thieves, the black-and-tan Doberman Pinscher can accelerate to speeds of up to 30 mph. This is a working breed with an innate desire to protect. With his intense loyalty, sharp teeth and pure knockdown power, this working breed is definitely a match for any intruder attempting to flee the scene on foot.