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Just How Fast Can a German Shepherd Run?

You’ve invested in your GSD mainly for its practical use as a security element for your family. Or, you’re looking to enter it in a dog show for speed contests. Either way, you understand the benefits of knowing a German Shepherd top speed and will need tips on how to optimize it. This article does just that.

What is a German Shepherd top speed?

A German Shepherd running can reach a top speed of 30 mph (or about 48 kph). Originally bred as a herding dog, today’s GSD carries its longstanding traits of dependability, hardiness and strength through the generations. 

This muscular dog breed is capable of running at speeds of 15 mph and higher from 5 to 20 miles (between 8 and 32 km). In other words, a GSD is capable of running at reasonable speeds for almost 1 hour, if you’re wondering how long can a German Shepherd run.

What factors may decrease a GSD’s top speed?

Outside of injury, disease and infection, there are some factors that need to be taken into account when preserving and optimizing your GSD’s agility.

Age

Older GSDs are less likely to be as sprite and agile as younger ones. Typically, a GSD can be described as a “senior” or “geriatric GSD” by the time it is 9 or 10 years old. Geriatric GSDs will tend to not be interested in running, jumping or hard-impact, high-intensity activities. This is usually because of joint and knee problems, weight gain and weaker bones.

Because of a weaker constitution and health concerns, geriatric GSDs are not recommended to engage in running for extended periods of time and should not be forced to run faster than they can manage.

Weight gain

GSDs are prone to weight gain if they do not exercise regularly or are overfed. This fact paired with the tendency for GSDs to develop hip dysplasia and joint problems can severely impact how long can a German Shepherd run as well as top speed. 

Overweight GSDs must lose weight at a steady pace and can regain their top speed by sticking to high-protein, low-carb diets, walk for at least 30 minutes a day and slowly build up their strength and endurance until they are healthy enough to run.

Pain

While not always apparent, GSDs tend not to run or jump if they are feeling uncomfortable or are in pain. Check your GSD’s back and legs for any lumps or abnormalities. Muscle spasms, spine compression, intervertebral disc disease or nerve compression are possible reasons why your GSD avoids vigorous exercise.

Make sure your GSD properly warms up and cools down after strenuous exercise and stretches appropriately to avoid painful muscle cramps and joint damage that may hinder your GSD reaching its top speed.

What are some exercises that increase German Shepherd top speed?

A GSD should be gradually conditioned before they reach their peak of fitness and agility. The following exercises and activities help properly condition your GSD and are ranked from lowest to highest intensity.

Swimming

GSDs can engage in swimming as an entry-level, agility-building exercise. The water serves as both a cushion and resistance to help develop your GSD’s muscles while being a low-impact exercise.

In addition, swimming can improve joint and hip health as blood flow is increased in these areas.

Walking

This is regarded as the baseline and most standard exercise activity for basic GSD care. You can start at a leisurely pace of about 2-3 mph (about 4.5 kph).

Walking your GSD helps develop its gait and gets its legs used to coming into contact with the ground. It is a good exercise that increases your GSD’s heart rate and muscle tone steadily, while also increasing its agility.

Jogging

A precursor to more intense activity, jogging is a more intense version of walking where your GSD’s legs are likely to leave the ground often. Typically, jogging speeds start at 6 mph (or about 10 kph). Jogging is a good warmup prior to sprinting for your GSD.

Jogging helps to further develop your GSD’s cardiovascular health and overall fitness. It also increases your GSD’s energy levels which can help your GSD run for longer periods of time.

Hiking

Hiking or bushwalking your GSD is an advanced exercise that can greatly increase your GSD’s endurance during intense activity. This is also a great outdoor exercise that can keep your GSD physically and mentally occupied while preventing it from getting bored with just running.

This exercise trains and develops the power in your GSD’s legs and heart while improving its lung capacity and health as well.

Sprinting

This activity can be performed during training or exercise sessions with your GSD. Sprinting helps your GSD get used to releasing powerful bursts of physical energy when is needed. You can train your GSD by gradually increasing its sprint bursts by 10 second intervals. 

You will want to sprint condition your GSD until it can continuously sprint for 30 or 45 seconds without stopping.

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