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How Fast Do German Shepherds Run?

How Fast Do German Shepherds Run?

German Shepherds are generally considered the world’s most versatile dog breed.  They’re especially loved for their incredible combination of abilities like scenting and tracking. But what about running? How fast do German Shepherds run?

How Fast do German Shepherds Run?

German Shepherds can reach speeds of 30 miles per hour. That allows them to consistently rank among the top ten fastest dog breeds in the world.

Although they can run pretty fast, they typically prefer keeping a moderate and steady pace along with their humans.

What is the Fastest a German Shepherd was Recorded to Have Run?

Based on the American Kennel Club’s Fast CAT (Coursing Ability Test) records, the fastest German Shepherd of all time is a female named Caradoc’s The Wicked Truth.

She was recorded to have completed the 100-yard dash reaching top speeds of 32.89 miles per hour.

Why Can German Shepherds Run so Fast?

German Shepherds are working dogs with a long history as herders. In the field, they relied on their ability to run fast across vast pastures in order to herd their sheep and protect them from predators.

This enabled them to develop long legs, a flexible spine, and strong muscles that produce incredible power to propel them to remarkable speeds.

Additionally, the double suspension gallop comes naturally to the German Shepherd.

This running gait is similar to leaping, where the dog contracts its body in order to use the hind legs and then the front to propel its body forward. It will then fully extend its body with all limbs suspended in the air.

This is the same running style that racing Greyhounds are known for.

Modern GSDs are still quite athletic, especially when they’re given plenty of opportunities to exercise. Running and engaging in various types of physical exercise strengthens their muscles as well as their heart and lungs.

This contributes not only to their running speed but also endurance and agility.

What Factors Contribute to GSD Running Speed?

Although German Shepherds are generally fast runners, some run more slowly than others. Here are the most common factors that could slow down a GSD and keep them from running at top speeds:


GSDs run the fastest between 2 and 6 years old. Before that, their bodies have not yet developed fully. After that, their bones, joints, and muscle strength will begin to decline.

Physical Condition

German Shepherd running in grass

Overall health will affect any GSD’s ability to run. Of course, if they are sickly or have bone & joint conditions like hip dysplasia, they will not be able to run very fast.


Some dogs are more athletic than others. While it isn’t likely to have a GSD that won’t want to run at all, there are a few that are much more physically active and energetic.


Even if they’re natural runners, GSDs are able to reach their peak running speeds through training and physical conditioning. The more they practice, the stronger their muscles, heart, and lungs get.


GSDs will run faster if they’re really excited about what they’re running after. Additionally, the incentive doesn’t have to be what they’re chasing but what they get as a reward.

How Much Should German Shepherds Run?

German Shepherds are not very good at self-regulating. So, it would be up to you to keep them from overexertion. Puppies especially need supervision.

Generally, the rule for exercise duration is 5 minutes per month of age until they’re a year old. This applies to a single session and it is recommended for GSDs to have two exercise sessions per day.

Given this rule, a 2-month-old GSD should only run for a maximum of 10 minutes while a 10-month-old can run for 25 minutes. Doing this twice a day would keep them happy and fulfilled.

As for adult GSDs, how long they run per session will depend on their energy levels and physical conditioning.

Some will be pooped after a few rounds of fetch while others can run steadily for 30 minutes straight. It would be up to you to observe your own dog and determine what their bodies can handle.

What Can a German Shepherd’s Speed be Used for?

The German Shepherd’s remarkable speed is most useful in law enforcement. Indeed, their running ability gives them a huge advantage in all sorts of police work, especially in suspect apprehension.

Their speed is also beneficial in the field where they need to run across great distances to make sure their herd is tightly grouped and that no sheep wander off.

Outside of work, the running speed of GSDs is also an advantage in a variety of canine sports. They are exciting teammates in flyball and disc dog. They also excel in agility courses and were bred to compete in Schutzhund.

Amusingly, the GSD’s speed goes beyond running and translates to other activities.

For example, a German Shepherd holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest time a dog weaved through 60 poles. The dog named Zinzan astoundingly completed that course for only 12.14 seconds.

What is the Fastest Running Dog Breed?

Greyhounds are generally regarded as the fastest dogs in the world, which is what spurred the controversial sport of dog racing.

These dogs can reach top speeds of 45 miles per hour, which definitely leaves other breeds behind. For comparison, here’s a list of the top five fastest dogs in the world:

RankBreedGroupTop Speeds (mph)
3Afghan HoundHound40
5Jack Russel TerrierTerrier38

Surprisingly, however, Whippets outnumber Greyhounds in AKC Fast CAT all-time records. At the top of the list is a male Whippet that reached speeds of 39.45 miles per hour.

For comparison, here’s a list of the top ten fastest Fast CAT competitors:

RankBreedBreedSpeed (mph)
1Debmar Dark and DangerousWhippet39.45
2Debmar In the Fast LaneWhippet38.92
3Rb’s The Sky’s the LimitGreyhound38.87
4Jammin’ Afternoon Tea at ChartwellWhippet38.67
5CH Kelcorov’s Winter is ComingBorzoi38.6
6Farseer Out of This WorldWhippet37.56
7Whiskey DagnabitGreyhound37.49
8Whispering Woods Dancing River LordGreyhound37.37
9Fairchase Debmar Dark Force RisingWhippet37.35
Kentfield’s Dharma BumWhippet
10Fairchase Debmar Midnight MayhemWhippet37.24

Running Speed: German Shepherd vs. Other Large Dog Breeds

Check the table below to see how the German Shepherd’s running speed compares with other large dogs in AKC’s top 10 most popular dog breed rankings.

In this comparison, the average speeds are based on the top 10 Fast CAT records.

BreedGroupAverage Speed (mph)
Labrador RetrieverSporting29.84
German Shepherd DogHerding30.32
Golden RetrieverSporting29.92
Standard PoodleNon-Sporting28.42
German Shorthaired PointerSporting29.82

The GSD might not be able to compete at the same level as the large and fastest dog breeds like the Greyhound, Saluki, and Afghan Hound. However, they can definitely outrun the most popular breeds of similar size.

Can a Human Outrun a German Shepherd?

No, humans cannot outrun a German Shepherd. Of course, this will depend on the condition of the dog as well as the human.

However, this is generally impossible, which is why police dogs are almost always able to apprehend fleeing suspects.

Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest runner, completed the 100-meter sprint within 9.58 seconds. That puts his speed at 23.35 miles per hour, which is significantly slower than German Shepherds.

Even his peak speed of 27 miles per hour wouldn’t have been enough. The average person runs much more slowly than that, so outrunning a GSD just isn’t likely.

Final Thoughts

Although they might not be top of the list, German Shepherds are considered one of the fastest dog breeds. Combined with their running speed is their incredible agility and stamina. This combination is part of what makes them the perfect working canine.

Did you know that German Shepherds also jump pretty high? Given all their abilities, it’s no wonder they excel in so many different roles.

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