How Fast Do German Shepherds Run? Breed Comparisons


Whether you own a German Shepherd or you’re interested in their impressive performance, you’re in the right place. German shepherds, also known as GSDs, are strong, agile, and as quick as can be. They’re often used as as guard dogs and police K-9 units, thanks to their quick, reliable pace.

German Shepherd running

German Shepherds can run up to 30 miles per hour. When in pursuit something, they accelerate much quicker than most other dogs. Their speed peaks after one to two years and it slows down as they get older. German shepherds are faster than most dogs, but Greyhounds top them by 15 mph.

Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following info about how fast German shepherds run:

  • A table chart comparing German Shepherds with other relevant breeds
  • Various traits that impact a GSD’s top speed and acceleration
  • Numerous uses for their undeniably impressive pace

How Fast Can a German Shepherd Run?

German Shepherds are fierce competitors who need to have a purpose. You’ve probably seen them used as police dogs, guards, or service dogs, as some of the most loyal pups on the planet.

Thanks to their impressive muscular build and unshakable focus, German Shepherds can hit their peak speed after only a brief period of acceleration – this is key to catching the object they are in pursuit of.

Related:

Why Are German Shepherds Good Police Dogs?

Are German Shepherds Good Service Dogs?

Let’s now take a closer look at three speed measurements of German Shepherds:

Top Speed

According to Cheat Sheet, German Shepherds max out around 30 miles per hour. Their long limbs and strong muscles contribute to this brisk pace.

However, not all GSDs can reach this speed. Numerous factors may alter their performance, all of which we’ll cover in this article.

Acceleration

Most dogs accelerate much quicker than humans, cars, and everything in between. They can reach their top speed within 6 to 12 strides. German Shepherds typically hit their to speed in around 7 to 8 strides, which is significantly faster than most dog breeds. Once they’re locked on something, they’re unlikely to slow down.

Play vs. Pursuit

It’s essential to remember that German Shepherds aren’t going to hit 30 miles per hour every time they run. Just like humans, dogs don’t shoot for their top speed with each pursuit.

However, German shepherds are much more likely to hit 28 to 30 miles per hour if they’re chasing a squirrel, toy, or intruder than if they’re running around for fun.

As you can see, German Shepherds are much faster than many animals, including humans. Usain Bolt recorded the quickest pace for any person alive at 27 miles per hour. Most of us can’t dream of running that fast, much less 30 mph!

German Shepherd Speed Compared to Other Breeds

There’s no doubting the speedy nature of German Shepherds, but are they the quickest dog around? Surprisingly, no!

Greyhounds take the cake with an astounding 45-mph pace. They’re the fastest dogs in the world. That being said, German Shepherds lead most of the pack. Below, we’ll use a table to show you how they stack up against the rest of the group.

Top SpeedDog Breed
German Shepherd30 miles per hour
Greyhound45 miles per hour
Labrador Retriever25 miles per hour
Poodle30 miles per hour
Chihuahua15 miles per hour
Basset Hound10 miles per hour
Shiba Inu25 miles per hour
Corgi23 miles per hour
Malamute36 miles per hour

It’s important to note that many dogs rarely run at their top speed. For example, Alaskan Malamutes typically reach an average pace of 5.3 miles per hour, as stated by Inupiat.

This speed allows them to compete in long-distance races and journeys. They’re not supposed to exhaust themselves by maxing out as quickly as possible.

On the other hand, chihuahuas and basset hounds are a bit too small and clumsy to keep up with the pack. They’re not known for high speeds, but that’s not their purpose.

Every breed has a unique talent. German Shepherds have impeccable focus, loyalty, and speed. This is what makes them the ideal dog for many different applications.

Needless to say, German Shepherds are near the top percentage of dogs in terms of speed and acceleration. There are many reasons why German Shepherds are so quick.

For example, they’re naturally built to chase their prey as a food source. This trait stems from many years ago, but it continues to play a significant role in their performance.

Read on to discover more details about why GSDs can run so fast.

What Allows German Shepherds To Run Fast?

While they can reach 30 miles per hour, most German Shepherds jog at a slower pace. Their 30mph range is a full sprint, so it’s not an average or expected number.

Instead, they typically canter between 15 to 20 miles per hour. Nevertheless, their relaxed running pace is faster than many dog breeds, as described in the previous section.

So, why can German Shepherds run so fast? Let’s analyze a list of reasons below.

  • They have a muscular build. German Shepherds are packed with striated, tough, and dense muscle. They use every ounce of their ability to pursue whatever they are focused on. You can train your dog to chase local pests, intruders, or toys. Find a purpose for your GSD and watch as nature takes its course.
  • German Shepherds have long legs. Their elongated limbs boost their speed by creating more distance per stride. Compared to chihuahuas, GSDs are about four to five times the height. It’s no surprise they can outpace their tiny friends. They’re built to run from head to toe (and head to tail, for that matter).
  • They can maintain their pace for about ten minutes. Alongside speed, the duration of running is crucial. If your dog can run 45 miles per hour but only for five seconds, it’s not too impressive. Pet Spruce explains that German Shepherds can run for around ten minutes before slowing down. Again, that’s their canter pace, not their gallop.
  • German Shepherds have unbreakable focus and attention. When they want to chase something (unless they’re trained otherwise), GSDs dart after it. This is why they are such a popular choice for many law enforcement agencies.
  • They can figure out the best path of pursuit as they go. German Shepherds analyze everything in front of them, allowing them to determine which way presents the quickest path to their target (or toy). Rather than running through rocks and rubble, they know they can run around the edges to get to their destination faster.

German Shepherds are the ultimate combination of focus, intelligence, and speed. The three traits make them excellent runners, propelling them to the top of the list.

Take a look at the speed and focus of the German Shepherd in the video below, and see for yourself how impressive their speed actually is:

In the next section, we’ll cover what you can do to help your GSD reach their full speed potential.

Can You Help Your GSD Run Faster?

Yes you can! German Shepherds react to their environment and many other factors to change their performance. Sluggish training and lack of a proper diet will limit their success.

You play a significant role in improving and maintaining your GSD’s physical capabilities. If you want to help your German Shepherd live long and run fast, we have you covered.

Follow these five tips to help your GSD run quicker:

  • Give them a good diet. German Shepherds need between 18% to 22% of their diet as protein. They should consume up to 2,100 calories, depending on their size. Your dog shouldn’t consume too many fillers, including wheat and other flavorless additives. Make sure your dog is getting enough vitamins and minerals to fuel its muscles, too.
  • Play with your GSD daily. GSDs energetic dogs that need a big yard and lots of exercise. Throw their toys around the grass and take them for a run. If you’re locked into a busy work schedule, it’s important to walk them for 15 minutes before and after work. Before you get a German Shepherd, it’s crucial that you understand and meet their exercise needs.
  • Train them with an agility course. If you have a mid-sized backyard, you can create a course filled with ramps, ropes, platforms, and other obstacles for them to run around. Your GSD will learn to pursue their target without acting recklessly. Instead, they’ll adapt to the environment and follow the path of least resistance (which is one of their best traits, as mentioned above).
  • Allow them to get enough rest. All animals need plenty of sleep to maintain healthy muscle growth. Their downtime is just as important as the playtime. Although it’s tempting to hug and play with your sleeping dog, letting them relax and sleep is crucial for their health. Good exercise and dieting will improve their sleep, too.
  • Use a baseball or tennis ball launcher. You don’t need to exercise as much as your German shepherd for them to get an adequate workout. Instead, you can use something like the GoDogGo Fetch Machine. You can set the distance and watch your dog run around the yard. The machine has three settings, so you don’t need a massive area to use it.

German Shepherds have a strong desire to run, play, and bond. By following these helpful suggestions, you can give your dog everything they need to enjoy their life and run as fast as possible.

If your GSD is overweight or anxious, their speed will be limited. Regular visits to the vet will prevent underlying issues and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Related: Is My German Shepherd Overweight? Here’s How to Tell

Do German Shepherds Slow Down With Age?

Like all dogs, German Shepherds begin to slow down in their later years of life. They’re not going to maintain a 30 mph pace throughout life. You can spot minor changes to know when they are slowing down.

There are a few predictable, noticeable symptoms of old age that contribute to a lowered running pace, and we will now take a look at what these are.

Poor Vision Directly Impacts Speed

Many dogs lose their eyesight when they get older. They don’t always go completely blind, but there’s a high chance they won’t be able to see as well as they used to.

An older dog’s eyes may get a bit cloudy, and depth perception worsens. If your German Shepherd can’t catch toys or it has trouble jumping off the couch or bed, they might be losing their sight. Without optimal vision, chasing anything will become quite the challenge.

Hip Dysplasia Affects Speed

Sadly, German Shepherds are prone to hip dysplasia. Many large dogs develop hip dysplasia, and there’s not much you can do to stop it.

Fortunately, there are many medications and surgeries to limit or at times even reverse its effects. Needless to say, hip and other joint problems may limit your German Shepherds running pace.

Related: German Shepherd Joint Problems: All You Need to Know

Heart Problems Can Limit Speed

Some GSDs develop anxiety which, just like people, can take a toll on their hearts. What this means in practice is that there’s not enough oxygen in their bloodstream to allow them to run at their full potential. The good news is you can prevent these problems with proper diet, exercise, bonding, and vet visits.

Related: How to Deal with German Shepherd Separation Anxiety

What Can Their Speed Be Used For?

As mentioned previously, German Shepherds need a purpose to fulfill their potential. They’re not meant to lay around and relax all day. Your dog wants to feel special and serving you is what makes them feel this way.

The ways in which German Shepherds serve people are many. Below is a list of some of the most popular applications in which speed is a defining trait that makes them stand out above the rest:

  • Military use
  • Search and rescue
  • Personal protection
  • Service dog work
  • Airport security
  • Herding
  • Schutzhund/ IPO
  • Tracking
  • Agility competitions
  • Dock diving
  • Frisbee competition
  • Jogging partner
  • Biking partner

As you can see, a German Shepherd’s speed can be put to use in many ways, from simple fun to applications that save lives!

Are GSD Mixes Fast?

We know that German Shepherds are quick, but what about mixed breeds? German Shepherd Greyhound mixes are an ever-growing breed that continues to gain popularity.

This breed is quick since it combines the speed of of a Greyhound with the muscle and agility of a German Shepherd. It’s easy to understand why this mix would be so quick.

We have an in-depth look at this breed for you in this excellent article linked below:

German Shepherd Greyhound Mix: Fast and Forever Loyal

On the other hand, the ‘Shug’ is much slower. Shugs are a combo of a German Shepherd and a Pug. As you could imagine, pugs aren’t the quickest breed. In fact, they can only run at about 5 to 10 miles per hour.

While they may not be able to run fast, these dogs are nonetheless amazing companions – take a closer look at the Shug in this informative article that we’ve written for you linked below:

German Shepherd Pug Mix: Small Dog With a Big Attitude

Alaskan Shepherds (a mix between GSDs and Alaskan Malamutes) are incredibly fast. Depending on their genes, this mix may be faster than a pure-bred German Shepherd. Thanks to the Alaskan Malamute’s desire to canter for countless miles through varying terrains, they have excellent endurance as well.

Note: Much like every other dog breed mix, you can’t predict the top speed or acceleration of German Shepherd mixes. Speed depends on their parents, the total percentage of each breed in their blood, and a number of other traits.

Nevertheless, you can assume bigger, and muscular GSD mixes will be quicker than small mixes.

Final Thoughs

German Shepherds are naturally one of the fastest breeds of dogs. However, proper diet and exercise are essential to help them run to their full potential.

Keep in mind that German Shepherds, like all dogs, will slow down with age. A healthy dog is much more important than a dog that can simply run fast, so it is also very important to keep an eye out for joint and vision problems as your GSD gets older to prevent any unintended harm from over exercising them.

Hunter Reed

I've owned and trained German Shepherds and a variety of other large and medium breed dogs for over 20 years now - Rottweilers, Dobermans, Pit Bull Terriers - just to name a few. Myself, along with my team of highly experienced canine professionals, strive to bring you the best and most useful information to help you raise your dog the right way. Read my story here.

Recent Posts