Goldens are energetic, athletic dogs that excel in all kinds of sports and physical activities. If you like running and are wondering if a golden retriever is the right dog for you, he is.
But exactly how far and how fast can golden retrievers run? Well, an adult golden retriever can run an average of 3-4 miles (5-6.5 km) with a maximum distance of 6-8 miles (9.5-13 km). They are fast runners and can run with speeds up to 35 mph (48km/h). However, it’s important to train them when they’re young and to never force them, and work with them instead.
There is actually quite a lot to learn about running with your golden retriever, so if you are serious about taking them jogging or running, keep reading (and maybe take notes).
The Basics of Golden Retriever Running
Goldens were bred to retrieve game for hunters, which means that they were bred with the intention of being agile fast dogs with strong stamina. They were meant to be good runners and to be able to run long distances and run for a long time without getting tired.
However, this doesn’t mean that they’re just naturally good at it, and while some goods are certainly are excellent runners, they are the exception and not the rule.
Just like you can’t wake up one day and decide to run a 10k, your dog also needs time and training to be the great runner you want them to be. The good thing is that they can definitely be great runners, you just need to put in some work.
Can Golden Retrievers Run Long Distances?
Yes, Golden Retrievers can run long distances up to 6-8 miles (9.5-13km) in the run. Adult Golden Retrievers can start running when they are 12 months old as their muscles and bones will have matured enough to withstand the pressure and stress of running.
Taking your golden retrievers running while they’re younger than that, or taking them running long distances too fast will lead to problems. For example, they can cause joint problems like hip dysplasia.
That’s why it’s very crucial to not push your dog too hard and just listen to what their bodies are saying. If your golden starts showing signs that they don’t want to keep running, you should stop running.
It should also be noted that not all goldens develop at the same rate, for example; males tend to develop physically faster than females, and males also tend to be slightly stronger and more physically capable than females.
You can learn all the 19 differences between male and female golden retrievers here.
How Fast Can Golden Retrievers Run?
Adult Golden Retrievers can average speeds of 25-30 mph (40-48 kmh) with some goldens reaching speeds up to 35 mph (56 km/h) on short sprints.
This actually makes them one of the fastest dogs out there, but not fast enough to get into sports.
For reference, the fastest dog in the world is the Greyhound which has a top speed of 45 mph (72km/h), and humans can only with speeds up to 28 mph ( 45 kph), which chances are that you are not going to reach because you are not Usain Bolt, well, unless you’re, and in this case, it’s an honor to have you read my small blog.
In short, your golden retriever will be faster than you once they’re trained enough, but that’s for short sprints only. Generally speaking, humans are not good at running sprints, and we’re quite slow when compared to other animals – even our dogs.
However, the reason we’re the #1 predator on the planet is our extraordinary stamina, not our speed. We may not run faster than our dogs, but they will definitely become exhausted before we do – assuming both human and dog are in top physical shape, of course.
What Makes Golden Retrievers good runners?
Goldens are good runners because of a couple of reasons;
- They were bred to be good runners
- They are physically strong
- They absolutely love running
Bred to Run
Goldens were bred to assist hunters who would shoot birds out of the sky and the dog will run to grab the bird to come back.
It’s worth noting that they were bred in Scotland, and the terrain there is quite rough, so the dog had to be agile and be able to run over the rough terrain quite easily.
Although they may seem all fluff, there is a lot of muscle under all this golden hair. Goldens are the gentlest dogs, but they are strong. A male adult golden retriever weighs 66-74 lbs (30-34 kg).
Their muscular build makes it easy for them to run and makes it possible for them to get better with time – just like we do with regular exercise.
Dogs love running, but especially goldens. No matter what happened in the day, what time of day it is or even what the weather is like, the moment I grab my dog’s leash, their tail will start wagging like crazy because they know we’re going out for a run, and they love it every single time.
If we had the same enthusiasm for every run or jog like our dogs, we would not have an obesity problem.
You get good at what you love and goldens absolutely love running outside, so they naturally get really good at it and become the best running companion anyone could wish for.
Training Your Golden Retriever for Running
Running with your dog could be a safe and enjoyable way of spending time with them while also getting the daily dose of exercise both of you need to stay in shape.
Dogs also make for great running partners and I’ve found my dog to be a very strong motivator for me to keep my exercise routine and regimen, which is a very pleasant bonus.
Here are the basics of how to train your do to run with you.
Start at the right age
You can start training your golden when they are 12 months old, but you should know that it can differ from one dog to another and not all goldens develop at the same rate.
If your dog seems too young to start running, they probably are. Some dogs will keep developing until 18 months old and are not fit for long-distance running before then.
Don’t rush it, if they are uncomfortable with it, just stop. You can also check with your vet and they’ll tell you when you can start training your dog as they can tell from the dog’s physical condition better than you can.
How to Train Your Golden to Run with You
There are 4 steps to train your dog to run with you:
- Teach them the loose-leash walking
- Walk then jog then run
- Teach them speed cues
- Build their endurance
Teach them the loose leash walking
Before you can start walking or running with your dog, you need to teach them the loose leash walking.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Start with Controlled Off-leash walking
Start by taking them off-leash and walking them inside the house or in a fenced area. Look excited and talk to them in an upbeat voice for a couple of minutes so they follow you, then stop talking.
When your dog goes back to whatever they were doing, call them again while being excited and repeat the process. Every couple of steps, reward them with a small treat, and then stop talking to them.
Repeat the process.
- Then Take it outside
While walking them outside on a leash, when your dog starts pulling in the forward direction, stop and move backwards a few direction. While stepping back, call them by name in a cheerful voice and reward them when they come to your side.
Then resume walking. If they stay walking by your side calmly without pulling on the leash, reward them every 5-10 steps with a treat to teach them that pulling on the leash will not lead them to walk forward, and instead it’s walking by your side calmly that brings them the good things.
- Repeat while loosening the leash
As your dog starts learning to walk politely by your side at the speed and in the direction of your choice, you can start making the leash looser and looser.
Of course you should keep rewarding them when they’re being good and stop walking when they pull on the leash. You want your dog to enjoy the experience but to also learn that walking calmly by your side is how they get the good things.
- Don’t pull
If you pull on their leash to move them in a new direction, it will confuse the dog because you are teaching them that pulling on the leash is acceptable and at the same time you stop when they pull on the leash.
Don’t give your dog mixed signals, if they are not allowed to pull on the leash, you are not allowed either.
Walk then Jog then Run
Once your dog is taught to walk without pulling on the leash, you can start walking them with the leash hanging in a J shape.
Reward them for keeping the leash like that every few minutes and praise them when they ignore interesting things like squirrels and interesting smells.
It’s important to remember that you always want to keep them by your side, not in front of you or following you. If your dog runs in front of you or weaves from one side to another, they will trip you or tangle your legs or their legs in the leash.
Just pick a side and make them stick to it.
After mastering walking, start jogging slowly, then pick up the speed. Everytime they pick up the pace or slow down when you do, reward them and praise them. You want to reinforce the behavior of following your lead while running while keeping the leash loose.
Teach Them Speed Cues
Just before you start increasing your pace, choose a cue and say it to your dog. Something like “let’s go” will tell your dog that it’s time for a walk, and a different cue like “let’s run” will teach them to pick up the pace.
Start by teaching them while at walks using short bursts of jogging or running. I found it particularly useful to teach them different cues for different speeds.
For example, teach them something like “Slow it” to tell them to slow down and something like “go fast” for short but fast sprints.
How to Build Their Endurance
Just like you need time to build up your endurance, your dog does too. If you’re an experienced runner, you shouldn’t expect your dog to be able to keep up for miles in their first few months of training.
Take things slow, you need to build their endurance in a good pace just like you did when you started running.
Dogs will often take several weeks before they are adapted to long-distance running. If you are not a regular runner and will start building up your pace with your dog, be aware that your dog will adapt to long-distance running faster than you will.
10 Safety Tips to Running with your Dog
Running is usually a safe activity, but there are some things that will need your attention nonetheless to make sure it stays this way.
Here are 10 safety tips to for running with your dog;
- Warm-up before running for at least five minutes.
- Carry water for you and your dog, and offer it to them regularly
- Give your dog frequent breaks, especially at the beginning
- Only allow your dog off-leash if they have a reliable recall even when distracted and only in a safe area (where it’s legal)
- Watch for signs that they’re tired. If your dog is panting too fast, if they’re lagging behind, or if something is off about how they walk, you should stop.
- Always have a plan B available – know what you should do or who you’d call if something went wrong
- Try running in an area away from car fumes, smoke, and distractions. You can also choose a time like early morning to eliminate all of these.
- Beware of heat. Goldens can adapt to hot weather with some precautions. (Learn 13 ways to help goldens handle hot weather here)
- Beware of humidity, they don’t handle it as well as we do
- Beware that your dog may keep running when they’re tired or in pain just to please you, so make sure that it’s an enjoyable experience for them as well.
Is Running Bad for Golden Retrievers?
No, running is not bad for golden retrievers. They are excellent running partners and they enjoy it even more than we do. You should, however, keep an eye on them while running to make sure they are not in pain or are pushing themselves too hard to please you.
Dogs, and goldens are no exception, will keep on running or doing other activities even if they don’t like it if they see that it makes their owner more pleased with them.
You should also watch for any signs of injuries especially if your dog is approaching their golden years (older than 10 years old) as this is where many goldens will develop certain health conditions that prevents them from running such as hip dysplasia. Needless to say, you should slow down your pace as your dog starts getting old.
Are golden Retrievers good off leash ?
Golden retrievers are great off leash once you train them. They are highly obedient and have strong instincts to stick to their owner’s side.
However, it may require some training to reinforce the behavior and fight off distractions if you usually walk them on a path that’s full of smells, sights, and other animals that might distract them.