Over short distances, dogs are faster than humans because their body structure gives them that speed advantage. Research has it that while a dog can sprint at a speed between 15 – 20 mph, the average speed of a human is 8.46 mph. Overall, being a four-legged mammal gives a dog all the advantages over a short distance.

All four-legged animals are faster than humans over short distances, but nothing on the globe can match the homo sapiens over long distances; it’s why we’re bipedal, have no heavy fur, and can sweat from just about every part of our body.

No doubt, dogs are naturally faster than humans. HOWEVER, humans are the top long-distance runners in the world.

For example, wild dogs kill their prey by running them down the same way we used to, with the leader swapping places with the rear jogger to maintain a relentless pursuit until the game collapses from exhaustion. This process lasts around 12 kilometers.

A human can run a 26-mile marathon efficiently without anyone catching up to them in the lead.

While a dog will have to stop more frequently to rest and cool off than a human, and thus, if the race lasts long enough, the human will run down the other animal and pass it if the human so desires.

We used to kill and eat the prey animals we hunted down more frequently. For a short distance, a young man or woman who is athletic and a fast runner can outpace some tiny breeds of dogs.

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However, unless they are highly obese, overfed and under-exercised, or living indoors, practically any medium to large breed of dogs can run far faster and farther than an Olympic-level athlete.

The 2 Factors That Determine The Speed Of A Dog

1. Breed Of The Dog

A dog’s speed is mainly determined by its physical traits. And these physical traits of a dog vary by breed. The size of a dog has a lot to do with how fast it can run.

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Dog breeds with longer limbs can take huge strides and cover more ground than dogs with short limbs. At the same time, breeds with thick coats overheat easily, making it difficult for them to run for long periods at top speeds.

2. Size Of The Dog

The size of the dog also influences it. A healthy human can outrun most small breeds, but anything more significant is out of the question.

If you mean faster in terms of intelligence, the dog has an advantage in instincts because he still has a lot of “wild” in him. It is present in humans in terms of reasoning and abstract abilities.

The Body Structure of Dogs

Dogs have many physical features that allow them to run at high speeds. While only a few dogs can outrun the fastest human (running at 43 km/h or 27 mph), almost all of them have the potential to outrun the average person because of their body structure.

All dogs have paws, pads under their feet, and nails that help them turn easily while running. These advantageous features also help to maintain their asymmetrical gait. Fast dogs have lean legs and powerful muscles that support their frame and give them speed and endurance.

Reasons Dogs Are Faster Than Humans Over Short Distances

  1. Dogs are designed to be fast animals. They were bred from wolves and other wild dogs and then domesticated. They must chase and kill prey that moves quickly.
  2. For a long time, humans hunted and gathered, focusing on collecting. Because we employed tools, sprinting after the food wasn’t necessary. A dog’s faster than a human is due to a biological characteristic that evolved to aid food hunting.
  3. They are four-legged creatures. On the other hand, these legs can be far shorter than human legs. Even so, they can run faster. The way they use both sets of legs is crucial.
  4. Humans run only with their legs, while the upper body contributes little to the motion of running aside from providing stability. A dog makes use of its entire body. They don’t have to devote as many muscles to staying upright as humans. They devote their whole body to the activity of running.
  5. A dog’s physiology is far more efficient at running than humans. This means they are speedier across short distances than we are. Because of our better endurance, we can still outrun them over time.
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Why Are Dogs Faster Than Humans?

Dogs Run With Their Toes Instead of Their Entire Foot

When humans walk or run, our toes and soles make contact with the ground. This is known as Plantigrade Locomotion. When dogs walk or run, only their toes make contact with the ground, known as Digitigrade Locomotion.

Dogs can move in this manner because their ankles are structurally located where human knees are. As a result, the “soles of their feet” are analogous to human calves. Plantigrades are slower than digitigrades. Digitigrade movement allows for longer strides, which is important for speed.

Fastest Dog Breeds

Meet the world’s top ten fastest dogs:

10. Weimaraner – Top speed: 35 mph

The Weimaraners were bred as big game hunters for catching bears, deer, mountain lions, and wolves. Weimaraners are dogs with a lot of energy and stamina and can reach a top speed of 35 mph.

Weimaraner – Credit: MaxPixel
  • Speed: 35 mph
  • Average weight: 70 pounds
  • Average height: 25 inches
  • AKC Sporting Group
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9. Whippet – Top speed: 35 mph

The Whippet is similar to its larger Greyhound cousin. They are born dog racers and can reach a top speed of 34 mph, making them ideal for their original purpose of hunting rabbits.

Whippet – Credit: Luca Finardi, Pexels
  • Speed: 35 mph
  • Average weight: 32 pounds
  • Average height: 20 inches
  • AKC Hound Group

8. Borzoi – Top speed: 36 mph

The Borzoi breed, also known as the Russian Wolfhound, originated in Russia in the 17th century. Russian aristocracy bred them to hunt wolves. Some farmers also used them to protect their livestock.

Borzoi- Credit: Luca Finardi, Pexels
  • Speed: 36 mph
  • Average weight: 85 pounds
  • Average height: 27 inches
  • AKC Hound Group

7. Dalmatian – Top speed: 37 mph

Dalmations can reach speeds of up to 37 miles per hour. Their quick pace served them well when they were used to running alongside carriages to protect passengers from highwaymen.

Why Are Dogs Faster Than Humans - Dalmatian
Dalmatian – Credit: NeedPix
  • Speed: 37 mph
  • Average weight: 52 pounds
  • Average height: 21 inches
  • AKC Non-sporting Group
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6. Jack Russell terrier – Top speed: 38 mph

The Jack Russell Terrier is the fastest for its size among the top ten fastest dogs. They were bred to be the perfect fox-hunting dog because they can reach a top speed of up to 38mph.

Jack Russell
Jack Russell – Credit: Pille Kirsi, Pexels
  • Speed: 38 mph
  • Average weight: 12 pounds
  • Average height: 11 inches
  • Terrier but not an AKC-recognized breed

5. Vizsla – Top speed: 40 mph

Like the Afghan Hounds, the Vizla can run at speeds of up to 40 mph, just like hounds. Vizlas have been bred for hunting and upland games, thanks to their extreme speeds. As a breed, they have developed their hunting instincts over time and are incredibly trainable.

Why Are Dogs Faster Than Humans - Vizsla
Vizsla – Credit: Pxhere
  • Speed: 40 mph
  • Average weight: 55 pounds
  • Average height: 22 inches
  • AKC Sporting Group

4. Afghan Hound – Top speed: 40 mph

Afghan Hounds are also one of the oldest breeds around. You may recognize Afghans from their long, almost human-like hair. Afghan hounds are insanely fast, reaching speeds of up to 40 mph.

Afghan Hound top speed

  • Speed: 40 mph
  • Average weight: 55 pounds
  • Average height: 25 inches
  • AKC Hound Group
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3. Ibizan Hound – Top speed: 40 mph

The Ibizan Hound has a history dating back to 3400 BC. In the eighth century, Phoenician traders brought Egyptian dogs to the island of Ibiza. Ibizans first used dogs for rabbit hunting, and they still do so today. Ibizan hounds can jump up to six feet from a standing position. The Ibizan Hound can reach a top speed of 40 mph

Ibizan Hound top speed
Ibizan-Hound-Credit: MaxPixel
  • Speed: 40 mph
  • Average weight: 47 pounds
  • Average height: 24 inches
  • AKC Hound Group

2. Saluki – Top speed: 42 mph

The Saluki is considered one of the oldest dog breeds, dating back to 7000 BC in ancient Egypt. They are the second fastest dog breed, with a top speed of 42mph.

Saluki Hound top speed
Saluki – Credit: MaxPixel
  • Speed: 42 mph
  • Average weight: 50 pounds
  • Average height: 25 inches
  • AKC Hound Group
  1. Greyhound – Top speed: 45 mph

On a straight run, a greyhound can reach up to 45 mph speeds. On a round track or lure course, it averages 40 mph.
Greyhounds spend most of their time lounging and sleeping when they are not running or racing. They are gentle, sweet, and affectionate. Greyhounds make excellent pets.

Why Are Dogs Faster Than Humans - Greyhound top speed
Greyhound- Credit: Luca Finardi, Pexels
  • Speed: 45 mph
  • Average weight: 65 pounds
  • Average height: 28 inches
  • AKC Hound Group

In conclusion

Scientists believe 40 mph is achievable, but the current most excellent human speed is 28 mph. Greyhounds’ speed may reach up to 45 miles per hour. Humans, on the other hand, are built for long-distance travel.

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Only a few dog breeds have been bred to travel vast distances (huskies can travel 100 miles daily). Humans trained in fast walking can cover 30 miles in 30 minutes. The male world record distance is 303.506 kilometers (188 miles).

So, while the best person can run faster over longer distances than the fastest dog, the fastest dog can outrun the fastest man over shorter distances. According to theory, humans can run at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, but the fastest recorded runner, Usain Bolt, has been clocked at 20 miles per hour.

The average dog can run 25–30 mph short distances, depending on health, breed, and physical composition. At 45 mph, the Greyhound, on the other hand, can leave everyone in the dust.

The Saluki has a top speed of 42 mph, the Vizsla and Afghan Hound have a top speed of 40 mph, and the Jack Russell Terrier has a top speed of 38 mph.

The Dalmatian has a top speed of 37 mph, the Borzoi has a top speed of 36 mph, the Whippet has a top speed of 34 mph, the Doberman has a top speed of 32 mph, and the German Shepherd and Poodle have The Basset Hound are likely the slowest.

Humans have a long way to go before outrunning several of these animals.


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