Known for their tough bodies and ability to adapt, German shepherds can usually run for many miles. However, this is dependent on the level of training and the general health status of the dog, as a well-trained dog can build up endurance and run many further miles.
Because German shepherds are spry, athletic and have high energy, they usually work with the police. This gives you a fair idea of how strong they are with proper training, can run many miles.
If you are an athletic person who usually goes for a run and planning to get a dog, we recommend the German shepherd breed for you.
How Fast Can A German Shepherd Run?
As one of the fastest breeds of dogs, German shepherds are known to be able to run between 5 and 20 miles, going at 32mph. As already indicated, they can go even further and faster with training, good health and if the weather conditions are good.
History Of German Shepherd Breeds In Relation To Running
As medium to large breed dogs, German shepherds are very energetic owing to its herding past. Having originated as herd dogs in the late 19th century, German shepherds were expected to keep up with a lot of farm animals (cows, sheep etc.), herding them for many hours and that is exactly what they did, as they are eager to please.
They were expected to be alert to any form of danger and the intelligent, protective, obedient and loyal nature of German shepherds meant they executed their herding duties flawlessly.
With all of the energy, a German Shepherd had to have in its herding days, and with its larger, more lean and muscular build, they are quite capable dogs when it comes to many forms of exercise.
Although German shepherds back then were not expected to run several miles, their energetic, athletic nature has been carried on to this day and as such, with good training, your German shepherd should be able to take your morning runs with you.
It comes as no surprise that German shepherds are now being used as working dogs in many services such as the police to fire services and this is because of their strength, dependability and endurance.
Factors That Can Affect A German Shepherd’s Speed.
Whether or not your German shepherd can run an average 5 to 20 miles or more depends on several factors and these include;
As with humans, if you want your German shepherd to run several miles with you, it is important that you give it specific training in this regard. Training should be aimed at improving the stamina of your dog and also strengthening its muscles. We will further discuss how to train your dog to run with you later in this article.
Age of your Dog
Your ageing dog cannot run as far and fast as when it was young. This is the same with human beings; the older you get, the less energetic you become and subsequently, you cannot run as fast as you used to.
Thus, as your German shepherd ages, its joints and overall body weight do have a toll on its ability to run as fast as it used to. This should not be a cause of concern when noticed.
Your Dog’s Health Status
There are some common health issues that may affect how far and fast your dog can run. For example, if your dog has joint problems, it may not be able to run quickly. Hip dysplasia, which is common in dogs and causes hip joint displacement, is a condition that affects dog speed.
Another health issue worth noting is diabetes as this can affect your dog’s overall energy levels. First, your dog will lose weight and suffer fatigue and continuous tiredness. On the other hand, your dog being overweight can affect its speed and agility too. You should make sure you’re not overfeeding your dog.
The kind of food your German Shepherd consumes can have a big impact on how well it can run quickly for extended periods of time. Our canine friends rely on fats for energy as opposed to humans, who need glycogen (a substance contained in carbohydrates).
What kind of runs you want to take your German Shepherd on will determine how much extra fat they need.
Your GSD shouldn’t need more fat than what the typical commercial dog food includes if you want them to join you for a 20-minute exercise a few times a week. however, if you want your German Shepherd to accompany you on consistent 5-plus-mile runs, you might need to add some extra fat into their diet.
Extra virgin olive oil, cheese, whole eggs, fatty seafood, chia seeds, coconut, and coconut oil are some of the healthiest fats for German Shepherds.
To assist give your German Shepherd gain more energy, you only need to increase their fat intake by 1-2 percent, which is comparable to one teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. As adding fat to your GSD’s diet can result in more bowel movements, be ready to carry an additional bag or two of faeces.
You should slightly increase your German shepherd’s protein intake when training them to run in order to aid in muscle growth and repair.
An adult German Shepherd typically needs 18% of their diet to be protein. For those GSD who are engaged in more strenuous exercise, their diet should contain about 25% protein.
Beef, lamb, veal, chicken, turkey, duck, fish (not shellfish), lentils, plain chickpeas, natural cooked beans, eggs, and cheese are the greatest sources of protein for German Shepherds.
When Is It Okay To Start Running With My German Shepherd?
You can start running with your puppy once you bring it home, which is usually when they are 8 weeks old. However, until your dog is between 12 and 18 months old, you should not run long distances with it as its muscles are not yet developed enough for long-distance runs.
Running long distances with your dog who is less than 12 months can expose it to such health issues as hip and bone injuries even before they age.
Nonetheless, if you notice that your German shepherd puppy has started some long and fast pace runs by itself, you should not deter it from doing so. You should only train it on when to take a break and when to stop.
How To Train Your German Shepherd To Run With You
Your German shepherd friend is all grown and you feel it’s ready to go on runs with you. Here’s how to train it to do so;
You Should Start Slowly
You cannot run a marathon or even a short distance event tomorrow since you do not run. The ramifications and effects on your body will be a complete disaster if you do this. That also applies to your dog.
Despite the strength and energy German Shepherds possess, beginners should take it gently when teaching them to run. Despite the fact that they often work out for an hour or more every day, you cannot make them run a mile on the first day.
Allow them to warm up first, and then start a jogging exercise after that. Allowing your dog to jog for 2 minutes, followed by a 1-minute respite, should last for 10 minutes. Add a minute of running in between gradually.
For example, 2 minutes of jogging, 1 minute of running, 2 minutes of jogging, and so on. Also, increase the duration and slowly increase the execution time. If you’re just getting started, you can also use the backyard or garden. This way you can remove your dog from rental without worry. However, make sure that your dog is still under your command on the first day.
Increase the Distance
When your dog runs healthily, slowly increase the distance. 0.5 miles on the first day, 1 mile on the third day, and 2 miles on weekends. Alternatively, gradually add 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes. Allow your shepherd a few breaks for breathing and water in between.
Watch carefully how well your dog is doing on their running journey. If you notice signs of lethargy frequently, it may slow you down for a few days. If you notice your dog running but with slight interest, make sure there are no underlying medical conditions.
If your German Shepherd is extremely tired after running, it may be because the food you’re feeding him isn’t enough to handle the daily physical stress, you should consider increasing protein and carbohydrates in its diet. You should not take your female shepherds for a run during its heat season.
You Should Warm Up and Cool Down
In the course of training your dog, there should be intermittent breaks to allow yourself and your dog to catch a breath and cool down. This is important, especially for your dog to avoid overexertion as well as prevent muscle and joint injuries.
Give your dog about 15 mins to walk and get the muscles ready before starting to run with it. After training, allow it to cool down for some time and give it ample food and water.
The Terrain is Important
Beaches, grassy-fields, soft dirt trails and easy and well-maintained trails are some of the safest grounds you can run with your dog as hard pavements are not advisable. Hard pavements are neither healthy for humans nor dogs as they can affect your dog’s feet.
German Shepherds mostly have a thick, double-layered coat. They might quickly have heat stroke if you make them run during the hottest part of the summer. While windy winters are also not advised for runs. So, check the weather for the day before you and your running partner head outside.
If the temperature is higher than 88 degrees Fahrenheit, you shouldn’t run with your German Shepherd. The likelihood of heatstroke significantly increases if the heat and humidity levels are this high.
Heatstroke can develop quickly into a medical emergency and could pose a life-threatening risk. Keep in mind that your German Shepherd can only perspire through their paw pads and by panting. You should keep your run short and, ideally, in a covered place when the temperature is around 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
During summer, you can run your dog during cold hours, such as early morning or late evening.
Be Mindful of Overexertion
As a German shepherd owner, you should take care so as not to put undue pressure on your dog during runs.
Note that GSD are easily prone to heart diseases as well as joint and muscle pains and as such if you notice that your dog is panting excessively and being reluctant to run, you should not force it.
Rather, find out why it would not run as there may be an underlying health concern. If this is consistent, you should talk to your vet.
Signs Of Overexertion In Your German Shepherd
As already indicated, you should not push your dog too hard when running with it. Make sure you are taking things slow and at a considerable pace that won’t overexert your dog. look out for these signs of overexertion so you can know when to stop;
If your dog starts to miss cues as well as commands you give it, this may be a sign that you’ve pushed it too far. Also, excessive panting and heavy breathing can be signs that your dog is extremely tired.
Other signs include limping, lethargy, excessive thirst, stiffness, not wanting to continue or start a run, difficulty in lying down and getting up refusing to stand, etc.
Hip dysplasia in German shepherds is known to be mostly caused by overexertion. This is dangerous and irreversible damage to your dog and you do not want that. Thus, it is important that while running with your dog, you do not put so much pressure on it. You should also look out for these signs for early detection and prevention.
Signs That Your German Shepherd Is Having Heatstroke
If you suspect your German Shepherd has heatstroke it is very important to remove them from the heat source, and give them a little water (do not give them too much in one go as this increases their risk of bloat.
Some of the signs include diarrhoea, vomiting, excessive panting, collapsing, increased heart rate and difficulty in breathing.
Running and other physical activities are essential for your German shepherd’s health. However, how far and fast they can run depends on their age, level of training, diet and overall health status.
You should patiently train your dog to run with you. Start with walks and gradually take things up. Do not over-exercise or overexert your dog as that will put a strain on his muscles and can lead to dangerous dysplasia.
Once your dog has good health and stamina, you have yourself an energetic running mate and you are sure to enjoy many miles with your shepherd.
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