While some dog breeds can run fast, you’ll occasionally come across a dog that can run like the wind. These lightning-quick canines really know how to put the pedal to the metal and can accelerate to insane speeds. Most of these speedy pups started out as sighthounds bred to course or track down agile game animals like rabbits, foxes, or deer. They range in size from tall to small, but all evolved traits that allow them to reach serious speeds. Although some breeds enjoy a reputation for going fast, others tend to fly under the radar while continuing to notch impressive numbers on the speedometer. That said, do you know which breeds count among the fastest dogs in the world?
In this article, we’ll discuss 11 of the fastest dog breeds from across the globe. For our ranking, placing will be determined by a dog’s top speed rather than an average speed. This means that some dogs may place higher than they normally would due to evidence of particularly fast specimens. Without further ado, here is a list of 11 of the fastest dogs in the world.
The Weimaraner is a large, athletic breed of hunting dog. Originally bred in the early 19th century in what is now modern-day Germany, the Weimaraner got its start hunting large game like boar, bear, and deer. With its strength, size, and stamina, it can reach a top speed of up to 35 miles per hour. It gets its name from the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Karl August, who lived in the city of Weimer and enjoyed hunting. That said, it also occasionally goes by the name “Gray Ghost” due to its gray coat, eye color, and stealthy approach to hunting prey. The Weimaraner is an energetic hunting dog and requires an active owner. Due to their high prey drive, they will frequently course and kill small mammals and may not get along well with smaller pets.
Also known as the Russian hunting fighthound or Russian wolfhound, the borzoi traces its roots back to the working dogs of Central Asia. After the 17th century, the breed became popular in what is now modern Russia as a hunting dog thanks to its impressive speed. At their fastest, borzois can run up to 35 miles per hour. Despite their history as hunting dogs, borzoi also make great domestic pets. Their family-friendly reputation likely stems from their quiet and sensitive nature. That said, they can act nervously around children, and their large size can make them difficult to handle without appropriate training. It’s essential that borzois get plenty of exercise and that you give them variety in terms of tasks when it comes to training, as they can easily get bored.
Also known as the English Whippet or Snap Dog, the Whippet is a small-to-medium-sized sighthound breed from England. Descended from Greyhounds, the Whippet gets its name for an outdated 17th-century term that translates as “to move briskly.” Despite their smaller stature than some other sighthounds, Whippets can reach speeds up to 35 miles per hour. Given their speed, they qualify as the fastest dog in the world in their weight class. They excel in dog sports including agility courses, lure coursing, flyball, and dock diving. Known as gentle and quiet dogs, Whippets make excellent house dogs thanks to their dignified air. In fact, their stately appearance and popularity in racing led many enthusiasts to call them a “poor man’s Greyhound” or “poor man’s racehorse.”
One of the most recognizable breeds in the world, the Dalmatian is famous for its unique white coat covered in black or brown spots. It traces its roots back to the historical region of Dalmatia in modern-day Croatia, which is also where it gets its name. Originally raised as hunting dogs, Dalmatians also rose to prominence through their work as carriage dogs and escorts for early fire engines. At their fastest, they can run up to 37 miles per hour. Thanks to its novel colors and athletic physique, it remains popular both as a show dog and a family pet. They inherit a high susceptibility to certain health problems, including deafness, urinary stones, and allergies, which may require frequent medical interventions. While they tend to get along well with children and other animals, they possess a lot of energy and can act distrustful of strangers.
#7: Irish Wolfhound
As its name suggests, the Irish wolfhound was bred to hunt wolves, though they have also been used to hunt deer and wild boar. There is also evidence that they hunted Irish elk, which became extinct 12,000 years ago. Their top speed is 40 mph, which they can only maintain for sprints, not long distances.
Speaking of extinction, the breed almost went extinct as the number of wolves and other game decreased in Ireland. In fact, a US Civil War memorial to the Irish Brigade at Gettysburg featured a life-sized Irish wolfhound. The inscription erroneously states that the breed “…has been extinct for more than a hundred years.” In the mid-1800s, Captain George Augustus Graham, a Scottish soldier, made saving Irish wolfhounds from extinction his mission. He did this by rounding up Irish wolfhounds to use in his breeding program and crossing them with Scottish Deerhounds.
Today, Irish wolfhounds are far more likely to be family pets than hunting dogs. They are large, powerful canines, but known for their gentle dispositions. Like other sighthounds, they do have an extremely strong prey drive, however, so experts don’t recommend keeping them in homes with small animals.
#6: Ibizan Hound
The Ibizan hound originates from Ibiza, Spain, which is also where it gets its name. A member of the hound family, the Ibizan Hound is an agile, lean breed with serious speed. At its fastest, an Ibizan Hound can run up to 40 miles per hour. It historically worked as a hunting dog in the Catalan-speaking regions of Spain and southern France. Thanks to its agility and quickness, it can hunt small game including rabbits and hares over difficult terrain. The breed comes in two different varieties – smooth and wiry. You can easily spot an Ibizan hound thanks to its large, upright ears that taper from the base to the tip. Known for their intelligence and engaging nature, Ibizan hounds also love to entertain their owners. While they can act stubborn at times, they respond well to positive reinforcement.
#5: Afghan Hound
Closely related to the Saluki, the Afghan hound is a breed originating from the colder, mountainous regions of Afghanistan. Known by many other names including the Barakzai hound, Kabul hound, or Galanday hound, over 13 different types of the breed currently exist. Originally bred as a working dog, many of the modern breeds now feature prominently as show dogs and racing dogs. With a top speed of 40 miles per hour, the Afghan hound is one of the fastest dogs on earth. It comes in a wide variety of colors, including fawn, gold, brindle, red, blue, white, and grey, and traditionally sports a fine, silky coat. Due to their long, luxurious hair, they require frequent grooming and maintenance. In addition, they frequently struggle with obedience training and require an experienced and determined trainer.
The vizsla is a medium-sized sporting dog from Hungary prized for its natural hunting ability and superior trainability. In its native Hungary, its name translates to “searcher” or “tracker,” an obvious nod to its skill at smelling and running down fowl and other small game animals. Like the Afghan and Ibizan hounds, vizslas can run up to 40 miles per hour. Despite their smaller stature, they frequently feature defined muscles. They come in a range of colors, with the standard being a golden rust hue. Due to their size, build, and color, they often get mistaken for Rhodesian ridgebacks or redbone coonhounds. Vizslas tend to act very affectionately and quickly bond with their owner. They make great guard dogs and hunting dogs, and excel both at pointing and retrieving, as they are natural swimmers.
The Sloughi is a sighthound breed from North Africa. Often confused with the saluki or Afghan hound, the Berber people originally bred the sloughi to hunt game including hare, jackal, fox, wild pigs, and gazelle. Thanks to its robust and athletic frame, it can reach a maximum speed of 42 miles per hour. When running, it appears elegant and does not possess any exaggerated movements or disproportionate limbs or muscles. Due to their history as hunting and guard dogs, they tend to act reserved around strangers, and may not act overly friendly at first. Known as a typically shy breed, they require proper socialization, but generally, get along well with children and families. That said, they possess a high prey drive, so it’s important to introduce your sloughi to small pets at a young age.
The saluki is a standardized breed of sighthound originating from the Fertile Crescent. An ancient breed bred by nomadic tribes to hunt game, the saluki is often mistaken for the sloughi or Afghan sound. With its deep chest and long legs, it can run up to 43 miles per hour. In addition, they possess incredible stamina and can run 2 to 3 miles at high speeds before tiring. Their coats appear either smooth or feathered, with the fur on both types possessing a silky texture. They come in a range of colors including white, cream, fawn, red, tan, black, or tri-color. In addition to generally acting reserved around strangers, Salukis do not like rough play and enjoy quiet environments. Despite their size and activity level, they do well in apartments, although they exhibit a high prey drive and may chase smaller pets.
Also referred to as the English greyhound, the greyhound is a sighthound famous for its role as a coursing and racing dog. The breed is over 4,000 years old and was historically used to chase down pretty using its keen eyesight and speed. It’s the fastest dog in the world, capable of running up to 45 miles per hour for short stretches. That said, it lacks the stamina of more rugged breeds such as the saluki, which can run at high speeds for longer distances. They typically grow short fur in a variety of shades and sport a lean, sleek frame. Known as good house pets with loving natures, greyhounds get along well with children and other pets. That said, they often exhibit a sensitive nature and high prey drive, which can lead them to chase small animals and pets if they do not receive socializing and training.
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