Can German Shepherds Run Long Distances? + How Long?

Can German Shepherds Run Long Distances

German Shepherds are highly active dogs, and a lazy owner cannot handle them the best. They need their share of a regular walk, daily exercise, mental stimulation, and overall, an active lifestyle.

They have been preached as tireless workers, and inactivity for them brings only adverse effects. Owners who keep their German Shepherd confined under 4 walls for a longer time invest in their aggression and dropping mental health.

However, if you let these canines run and have fun all day, you are investing in their well-being. One of the best ways to engage German Shepherds physically is by letting them Run. Yes, they love to run and have fun around.

This is one of those sports activities German Shepherds are good at and even one of the best at. Running isn’t just a great form of exercise for them, but it also builds their endurance.

However, many new owners often come up with the question, Can German Shepherds Run Long Distances? In this detailed article, we will cover everything you need to know about German Shepherds running. How long can they run and how you can run with them? How much running do they need? Come, let’s find it out below.

Article Published on 22nd December 2021 » Updated on 13th January 2022

aditi chef editorWritten By Sergey Uhanov Certified Veterinarian.
Sergey Uhanov is a certified veterinarian for dogs over 10 years, breeding 3 dogs. He loves dogs and has his own pet clinic in Israel. He likes to help other people with their dogs by sharing his experience and knowledge.

When can German Shepherds start running?

German Shepherds can start running at any age. Once they know how to walk stably, they can choose when and how much to run. However, until the dog is 12 to 18 months old, owners should not make him get into a fast pace running.

As forcing earlier into a fast pace or long-distance running can put negative pressure on a dog’s joints and muscles. It will further make them susceptible to injuries and prone to hip and bone diseases even before turning their old age charts.

Though if your German Shepherd himself starts fast pace running even before turning 1, there’s no need to stop them.

The general rule is, exercise or physical activeness that comes naturally shouldn’t be stopped. However, you can train them on where to take breaks and when to stop.

Can I take my German Shepherd along for a running session?

When Can German Shepherds Start Running Long Distances? German Shepherds have both personalities and qualities of a runner.

These impressive furballs are so good at running that several owners even take them for professional-level running.

However, before you take them for a long-distance running session, train them first. Be it dogs or humans; everyone has to start learning from scratch.

You will first learn to make balance, then walk, followed by low pace/ low distance running and finally fast pace/ long-distance running.

Only with the process, your body takes better at the job without adding any adverse effects, both short-term and long-term.

Once your German Shepherd is 12 to 18 months old, dog owners should not get them into running. Until the age of 1-year, German Shepherds have 80 to 90% of their physical development already.

Thereafter their growth slows down a little. Thus, it is only advisable to take them running once they are done growing.

Running with your German Shepherd- How to Start?

Once your dog is grown enough and is healthy to run, there are a few things you should know about.

Start off Slow

Being a non-runner, you cannot run a marathon or even a small distance race just tomorrow. If you do so, the results and impact on your body will be a sheer disaster. The same goes for your dog.

Although German Shepherds have a lot of strength and energy, start off slow with them when it comes to running. Even though they normally exercise for an hour or 2 daily, you cannot make them run one mile one day first.

Thus, in order to start, let them take some warm-up and then begin with a jogging session. Let your dog jog for 2 minutes with a 1-minute break and continue the session for 10 minutes. Gradually, add a minute of running in between. For instance, 2 minutes jog, 1-minute running, and then 2 minutes jog, repeat.

Further, increase the duration and slowly increase the running time as well. While you are just starting, you can use your backyard or garden as well. This way, you can keep the dog off lease without worrying.

However, even if it’s the first day, make sure your Shepherd stays under your command. If you keep a loose hand on the same, you are investing in a difficult future.

Increase the Distance

Once your dog is healthily running, slowly increase the distance. Half a mile on the first day, 1 mile on the third day, and 2 miles on the weekend. Or add 5, 10, and 15 more minutes gradually.

Give your Shepherd multiple breathing and water breaks in between. Monitor closely how well your dog is taking his running journey.

If you see frequent signs of lethargy, you can slow down for a few days. If you notice that your dog is running but with the least interest, ensure there isn’t any underlying medical concern.

If your Shepherd gets extremely tired after the running session may be because the diet you are feeding him is not enough to manage his physical stress for each day. If so, consider increasing protein and carbohydrates into his diet, as both of these add to the energy.

For female Shepherds, avoid taking them for running when they are in their heat.

Warm-up and cool down at all and any cost

Without warming up and cooling down, you will ruin all the good effects of running for your dog.

Before starting with the running session, your dog may need a good 10 to 15 minutes walk. This will help him get his muscles moving.

Whereas at the end of the running session, allow him to take deep breaths and cool down. Followed by that, feed him a fuller meal and ample water.

Remember, by avoiding warm-up and cool-down sessions, you are inviting muscle and joint injury for your Shepherd.

Always choose the right terrain.

Running over hard pavements is neither healthy for humans nor for dogs. While it adds pressure to human knees, it can hurt your dog’s feet.

Even though their paws are made for walking barefoot, a long-distance run on a hard surface can impact adversely.

The safest ground options for running with dogs include beaches, grassy fields, easy & well-maintained trails, and soft dirt trails.

Be mindful of the weather.

German Shepherds are dogs with a thick, double-layered coat. If you make them run during the peak of summer, they may suffer from heat strokes within no time.

Whereas breezy winters, too, aren’t recommended for the task. Thus, before you both step out for a running session, do look upon the weather for the day.

Do not Overexert

German Shepherds are naturally prone to heart disease along with joint and muscle injuries.

Thus, if, as an owner, you are not being careful with their body and stamina, you are inviting such conditions early and strongly.

If your German Shepherd is panting or breathing heavily or is reluctant to run, just stop. Go close and find out the reason.

If it happened once in a while, maybe it was just a bad day, and your dog was low on energy. However, if the symptoms are repeating, consult with your Vet soon.

How Far and Fast can a German Shepherd long without stopping?

German Shepherds are one of the fastest running breeds who can run at the top speed of 32 mph. On a good day, they can easily go 5 to 20 miles, and however one should not encourage them for running more than a mile.

The capabilities of how far and fast a German Shepherd can run upon factors like:

Your dog’s training, stamina, endurance, age, health, outdoor conditions, running track, mood, and a few other factors.

How much running does a German Shepherd need?

German Shepherds, on average, need 90 minutes of exercise every day. Now their exercise duration can either include solely running or walking, playing, running altogether.

A healthy and well-trained German Shepherd should run 5 miles a day easily.

Wrapping up…

German Shepherds have a lot of fun while running; thus, every owner should include this activity into their routine. Running long distances with them will add to your fun and provide for their physical stimulation. However, at any cost, avoid putting them under physical stress.

Also, dogs who are obese can take a hard time to get easy with running, thus with them, stay patient.


Sergey Uhanov, a certified veterinarian, has authored all of the content here. With over 20 years of experience in dog care and breeding three dogs of his own, he has a deep passion for these furry friends. Sergey owns a pet clinic in Israel where he provides care and treatment to dogs. He enjoys sharing his expertise and knowledge to assist others in caring for their dogs.

Read More About Me >