Can Golden Retrievers Run Long Distances?

By John Martin - December 2, 2020

Golden Retriever running in the field

If you love running and are on the lookout for a running partner who can match you stride for stride, then nothing can beat the Golden Retriever as a great running buddy. There is nothing like running with your pooch. Golden Retrievers are great runners and in short bursts, they can even reach speeds of 35 mph. So, the question is, “Can Golden Retrievers run long distances?”

Well, the answer to that is, “Yes”. Since Golden Retrievers were originally bred as working dogs, they have excellent long-distance running abilities. In fact, they can run around the fields and swim the entire day hunting for birds. However, your canine running partner needs special attention, especially when he is young.

What Makes Golden Retrievers Great Running Buddies?

Golden Retrievers as a breed have characteristics that make them special. They love running and retrieving things for you and this makes them ideal for running for longer periods of time. Golden Retrievers are social, agile and their retrieval instinct makes them great runners. And, not only is jogging or running with your pet good for your health but spending time with your pooch can improve your relationship and help you to bond with him better.

What Makes the Golden Retriever Special?

The history of Golden Retrievers dates back to over 150 years, where they have been companions for humans as working dogs. Golden Retrievers have been used to search for targets, hunt for food and protect their owners. Historically, these dogs have been trained for running for miles and this trait has been passed on for generations. Hence, the breeding and training of Golden Retrievers play a very important role in how the breed behaves even today.

Are Golden Retrievers Made for Running?

Anatomically, Golden Retrievers are made for running. They have a muscular build, high stamina and a personality suited for running. For several decades, Golden Retrievers have been renowned as “running dogs”. Golden Retrievers have larger bodies that let them endure slow and long runs.

However, while they have bodies made for long-distance running, their personalities require short sprints. They run in short bursts of speed, especially while fetching. So, always make sure to mix long-distance runs with plenty of games of “fetch” to keep your golden motivated and happy.

When Should You Start Running with Your Golden Retriever?

A common concern is what age is right to start running long distances with your Golden Retriever. A pup cannot run for extended periods; however, as your dog grows up, he will gain more stamina that will allow him to run for extended times.

The main concern when dogs begin long-distance running is the stress on the bones in their legs and their paws. Also, running very early when your dog is not ready for it can cause joint disorders like hip dysplasia. Get a vet to inspect your pet’s bone strength before you start him with long-distance running.

Once your Golden Retriever is completely grown up, then these concerns reduce and he can start running for extended periods. Typically, Golden Retrievers are ready to undertake long-distance running when they are around 12-18 months old. By this time, their bones are mature and can withstand the stress of long-distance running.

Related: Can Golden Retrievers Be Aggressive?

How to Train Your Golden Retriever Puppy for Long Runs?

While your Golden Retriever pup may not be ready to take on long-distance running, you can begin his training. Preparing your little puppy when he is young can help him last for an hour or more when you take him on long runs. The training need not be very rigorous. You must start nice and slow. Some of the things to do to equip your Golden Retriever pup are:

  • Socialization: Take your Golden Retriever pup outdoors and let him explore the world around. He can learn a lot by exploring.
  • Expose Him to Loud Noises: On long runs, your pet is likely to encounter loud noises that can alarm him and make him nervous. To prevent this, it is a good idea to let him experience various noises, including loud ones around.

When to Stop Your Golden Retriever from Running

While you must be careful with your Golden Retriever pup when it comes to long-distance running, as your pooch grows older, there are many factors to take into consideration. As he grows older, your dog’s muscles begin to weaken and he will not be able to do long-distance running and one day he will have to stop running altogether.

If you are getting your older Golden Retriever to start running long distances and he’s not accustomed to it, then you must ease him into it gradually. Start slow and then increase the distance. The muscles and tendons of the dog take time to become ready for long runs and so, you need to let your pet grow stronger.

You must also get the health of your Golden Retriever checked regularly to ensure that they are not having problems with their bones, joints and stamina. Typically, older dogs have a probability of suffering from mild hip dysplasia and long-distance running can aggravate the condition and cause more pain.

It may also be a good idea to speak with your vet about joint supplements that can extend your Golden Retriever’s running life. If your dog is getting tired easily, then this is a sign that your dog is aging. Another issue that plagues Golden Retrievers is obesity. If your dog is overweight, running long distances can have harmful effects.

So, before you start taking him on long runs, ensure that your dog loses some weight by controlling his diet and with some exercise. Losing around 5-10 lb can help to get your Golden Retriever ready for long-distance runs.

Tips to Enjoy a Run with Your Golden Retriever

When your Golden Retriever is fully trained and conditioned to run long distances, it is important to keep a few things in mind to ensure that he has a safe and enjoyable run.

  • Ensure that your dog is warmed up before you begin your run and after you’re done, cool him down by walking for a few minutes.
  • Take care of the weather conditions. Dogs do not handle heat and humidity very well.
  • Carry water and allow your Golden Retriever to drink at regular intervals.
  • Ensure that your pet has frequent breaks so that he can relieve himself, recharge and also enjoy the things around him.
  • Allow your Golden Retriever to run off-leash only in places where it is safe and legal and only if you have a reliable way to recall your pooch in the midst of all distractions.
  • Watch for signs such as lagging behind or excessive panting. These indicate that your Golden Retriever has had enough.

Training Your Golden Retriever for Long Runs

Golden Retrievers naturally respond to the “fetch” command. Apart from this, you must teach your pet the “heel” command. This allows you to keep control of your dog while running. If you do not want your pet to get distracted, then using the heel command can prevent that.

If you lose control over your dog, he will go off on his own and can get lost. If you want him to be by your side and follow wherever you go, then teaching him the “heel” command is very useful.

It is a good idea to train your Golden Retriever to walk or run next to you on a loose leash. This will allow you to enjoy the experience when you go out for a long run with your pet. When you start your long-distance runs with your Golden Retriever, distractions may be a problem. This will end up with you pulling your pet along rather than your pet pulling you, which can ruin the fun.

This is the reason why you should keep some treats handy. If your Golden Retriever gets distracted by smells and sights and veers of course wanting to investigate, you can get his attention back with the treat and continue with your run.

Related: Are Golden Retrievers Good Apartment Dogs?

In conclusion, the answer to your question, “Can Golden Retrievers run long distances?” is “Yes, they can”. However, it is extremely important for you to understand that although these dogs have a lot of stamina and endurance, your pet may not be able to just go out and run for long distances outright.

There are many factors that you must consider. For instance, the overall condition of your pet’s health. If your pooch is overweight, then you must start small before you move onto long-distance runs. You must monitor your dog’s overall health, weight and diet.

The most important thing is that before you begin any new running routine for your Golden Retriever, you must visit your vet and have your dog checked out. Your vet will be able to discuss issues such as respiratory and joint concerns that can limit your pooch’s potential. Get a green signal from your vet before you start running long distances with your Golden Retriever.