Best Racing Dogs: Top 7 Champion Breeds, According To Experts

The modern version of dog racing came about in 1912. This is the first time that the classic oval track and a mechanical rabbit were utilized together to entice greyhounds into a highspeed chase, though this is not the only type of dog race. The two main criteria for racing dogs are stamina as seen with snow dog sled teams; and speed as displayed by the graceful greyhound. Our list of the top seven best racing dogs explores the most popular breeds that dominate with speed on the track.

Canine sports cover a surprisingly wide range of activities that are often supported through professional competition leagues. Some of the most famous canine competitions include agility courses, water games, and of course speed trials. Professional athletic animals have a controversial history due to animal mistreatment. Modern dog sports have oversight practices in place to ensure the humane treatment of canine competitors.

It is easy to marvel at the simply amazing feats that dogs can accomplish. Great leaps, dashing dives, and agile catches are all within the purview of sporting dogs. For breeds like the Australian shepherd and border collie, dog sports are a great way to keep them engaged and happy. Just as these breeds have an instinct to display the skillset of hunters and herders, racing dogs have an instinct to run.

Greyhound racing and speed trials share common roots with dog coursing. In coursing, muzzled hunting dogs chase a live hare and are judged for speed and the ability to run the hare across the track. This competitive sport is regulated and judged in the western United States, and its fans claim that it’s a way to showcase a hunting dog’s skillset and agility.

In modern dog racing a mechanical hare decoy is used. A dog’s irresistible instinct to chase takes over when the gate opens and the mechanical hare speeds down the track. Dog racing roots stretch back millennia, from greyhounds chasing gazelles in ancient Egypt to greyhounds competing in chariot races alongside Pharoahs. Across continents, various breeds – Salukis in Arabia, Whippets in England, even Dachshunds in Germany – found their place in the pursuit of speed. Today, racing dog breeds are honed for athleticism, boasting incredible physical and mental traits.

Traits that make for a great racing dog:

  • The Need for Speed: Lightning-fast sprints are the name of the game. Look for breeds like Greyhounds, with slender bodies, powerful muscles, and wind-swept agility. They can hit speeds of over 40 mph, leaving opponents in their dust.
  • Stamina and Strategy: But raw speed isn’t enough. Endurance races demand breeds like Siberian Huskies, adept at sustained running and intelligent pacing. Their thick coats and efficient metabolisms give them an edge in longer competitions.
  • Sharpened Instincts: Hunting heritage plays a crucial role. Breeds like Whippets, descendants of Greyhounds and Terriers, possess a natural prey drive that fuels their focus on the lure. Their quick reflexes and sharp turns keep them on track.
  • Beyond the Breed: Temperament matters! Racing dogs need calm composure in the kennel and fierce determination on the track. Trainability and a strong handler bond are essential. Breeds like the Greyhound, while lightning-fast, can be independent, while Siberian Huskies, though athletic, require experienced handlers for their boundless energy.

Remember, racing is an ethical responsibility. Whether you are looking into competitions or just want a speedy pup at home, prioritizing animal welfare and responsible practices is a must. Our trusted sources provided us with indispensable data that helped us rank the best racing dog breeds for speed trials based on which breeds were most recommended across the board. These impressive pups are awe-inspiring when they display their legendary speed and endurance. Let us know your favorites in the comments below!

The List: Best Racing Dog Breeds, According to Experts

1. Greyhound

It’s an easy guess that Greyhounds would rank first on our list. These iconic racing dogs are the fastest in the world. “Not only does their sleek body build make them agile, but the way their muscles and bones are structured enables them to swiftly make adjustments to their movements, making them great runners,” praises Small Dog Place.

Two Greyhounds running
Two Greyhounds running (Photo by Natallia Yaumenenka on Shutterstock)

Why do they top the list? Top Dog Tips raves, “This is the fastest of the racing dog breeds that can reach speeds of 45 miles per hour… It’s said that these canines have two speeds, hyperdrive, and couch potato—making them easily adaptable to a quiet life at home.”

According to DogCrunch, “These slender and long pooches were originally bred to be used as a hunting companion to hunt deer, foxes, and hares, but soon their racing prowess was recognized. These aerodynamic hounds can reach a speed of 45 miles per hour. Moreover, these are sprinters, which means, they possess a small energy reserve that is released in one burst.”

2. Saluki

Salukis hold the title of second fastest breed right behind the greyhound. “Lean in stature and independent in nature, Salukis were sought by kings to do their hunting because they were so agile and able to hunt by sight rather than scent, according to American Kennel Club (AKC). That’s not all that’s impressive: Salukis also run at about 45 mph,” describes Parade Pets.

short-coated brown dog
Saluki (Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash)

This sharp-eyed breed can achieve high speeds and display impressive agility. Reader’s Digest says, “Hailing from the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East, Salukis are an ancient breed of hunting dog. They were used by kings to hunt down speedy game like antelope, and they’ve retained their sprinting skills today. Roughly the same shape as a Greyhound, with the recognizable small waist and deep chest, Salukis are very beautiful dogs with long, feathered, floppy ears and gentle dispositions.”

For more on their history: “Once known as the Persian Greyhound or the gazelle hound, the Saluki has long been considered one of the most ancient of breeds. Recent genetic evidence confirms this to be the case. Scientists speculate that Salukis and other ancient breeds descend from the first dogs and made their way through the world with their nomadic owners,” elaborates iHeart Dogs.

3. Border Collie

Border Collies dominate in speed and agility trials on obstacle courses. These often-elaborate courses can look less like a traditional track and more like an episode of “American Ninja Warrior.” Highland Canine Training comments, “Like many other working dogs, they love to run – at top speed, a Border Collie can run as fast as 30 miles per hour. They are very energetic dogs requiring plenty of daily exercise. Whether it is fetching a ball or herding livestock, providing a Border Collie with an active lifestyle is very important.”

Border Collie running with a ball
Border Collie playing ball (Photo by Anna Dudkova on Unsplash)

Accoridng to AZ Animals, “It is impossible to train out [the] desire to nip, push, and bark. This herding energy instead should be focused on other tasks. Whether it’s herding sheep or participating in dog sports, this breed needs a job. For the Border Collie, daily retrieving or quick walks are insufficient forms of exercise. They need a lot more intensive exercise to optimize their health.”

These pooches are also smarties. AmityPets details, “Border Collies are excellent dogs that are known for their intelligence and agility abilities. In fact, Border Collies have won agility competitions more than any other breed of dog. Because of this, they are often used in dog races as well. Border collies are fast, but can be weighed down compared to other dogs due to their long hair.”

4. Afghan Hound

For many, Afghan Hounds are primarily known for their runway model looks. But they are also capable of great bursts of speed. Daily Paws offers, “Just look at how those gorgeous locks flow in the wind! An Afghan hound, native to Afghanistan, was also the first-choice hunting hound for Asian and English nobility for his ability to track game over long distances.”

brown and black long coated dog
Afghan Hound (Photo by Julio Bernal on Unsplash)

Like many dogs on this list, they were born with the instinct to run. “Although this racing dog breeds a combination of aloofness and dignity, their intelligence and independence truly bring them to life. Originally from the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan, the Afghan Hound’s flowing coat was used for warmth in harsh conditions,” explains Top Dog Tips.

Plus, their beauty is remarkable. Reader’s Digest states, “Although Afghans look more like supermodels than sprinters, they’re another old breed whose thick, silky coats and large paws allow them to keep up and keep warm on the rocky hunting grounds of their Central Asian homeland… They also make a great running partner! Having been bred for all-day hunts, these hounds have tons of stamina and can definitely keep up on the miles.”

5. Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terriers are little dogs that can reach a remarkable speed for their small frames. Reader’s Digest claims, “These sweet little guys may look like bouncing teddy bears, but they’re surprisingly quick, sprinting onto the list of fastest dog breeds with a top speed of 38 mph. If you’re looking for a small dog that makes a good running partner, the Jack Russell is a great option: They have a lot of stamina and can run about ten miles per day!”

white and brown short coated dog on brown field during daytime
Jack Russell Terrier (Photo by Valeria Dubych on Unsplash)

Moreover, they have a vast reserve of energy that makes them well-suited for racing and agility speed trials. “They have endless amounts of energy and an independent mindset. They hate to be bored and can cause trouble if their intelligence isn’t given an outlet. If you have the time and patience to train a Jack Russell and provide him with plenty of energy, he can be a great companion and may excel at a variety of dog sports,” adds iHeart Dogs.

They’re tiny but mighty! “Often referred to as the ‘fastest, smallest’ dog breed, the explosive speed of a Jack Russell Terrier is far greater than their size. Jack Russells can run as fast as 30 miles per hour, covering short distances in lightning bursts… They are always ready for play and can be the perfect small dog breed if you have an active lifestyle,” mentions Highland Canine Training.

6. Vizsla

Also called Hungarian Pointers, these dogs typically display a distinctive rust colored coat. “Often mistaken for the Rhodesian Ridgeback or even a Coonhound, the Vizsla has a body meant to run.  More of a sprinter than a long distance runner, this is one quick dog, both on land and in the water,”  according to Small Dog Place.

brown short coated dog on brown sand during daytime
Vizsla (Photo by Cole Wyland on Unsplash)

As pointers, they have a traditional role as hunting companions. “Tied with the Afghan Hound for the third-fastest breed, the Vizsla gets up to about 40 miles per hour when running. Because of their extreme speeds, Vizslas have been bred for hunting and upland games over the years and as a breed, they’ve honed their hunting instincts and are exceptionally trainable,” asserts Parade Pets.

“They tend to bond closely and affectionately to their owners, and with their graceful gait and immense stamina, they’d be perfect running, hiking, or cycling companions. Vizslas’ tails are quite brittle, and are therefore often docked a third of the way down to prevent injury, although the necessity of this operation is contested,” evaluates Reader’s Digest.

7. Dalmatian

Dalmatians are beautiful spotted dogs that have achieved fame thanks to Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” movies as well as the loveable character Marshall from “Paw Patrol.” Daily Paws compliments this fantastic breed, “To run alongside fire trucks requires both speed and stamina, and Dalmatians have both! Exceedingly sweet, ‘Dals’ make great therapy dogs, too, when properly trained and socialized.”

black and white dalmatian dog on green grass field
Dalmatian (Photo by Michael Walk on Unsplash)

Most famous as fire house dogs, these fine pups are also excellent racers. “Dalmatian races typically have only four dogs and dogs can run either 260 or 460 meters. Just like in traditional dog races, they chase a robotic rabbit. Their endurance keeps them going during the race, just as it does with other real-life tasks,” assures AmityPets.

Not only are they great on the track, but by the side of an active owner. “Dalmatians have the kind of athleticism stamina that makes them perfect for hikers, joggers, and outdoor enthusiasts. Originally bred as guard dogs, high-energy Dalmatians can be aloof with strangers and are protective of their humans. With regular exercise and lots of love, Dals make wonderful companions,” says Reader’s Digest.

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