Strong and durable are the two most notable traits attributed to the Alaskan Malamute. Unlike its speedier, race-loving cousin, the Siberian Husky, this Arctic breed was raised to pull heavy freight over long distances. The AKC says that sledding, weight-pulling and backpacking with their owners are among the Malamute’s favorite pastimes.
Known for its high-energy temperament and need for vigorous activity, we didn’t even have to think twice about including the Australian Shepherd (which is not from Australia, by the way) on this fit list. “Herding dogs were bred to have high stamina, work long hours and have a strong work drive. A working breed loves performing for us, making them a natural with their athletic abilities,” says Swanson. Also known as “Aussies,” according to the American Kennel Club this breed excels most at agility, obedience and herding.
This bow-wow’s got brains and brawn! Akin to the straight-A, letterman-jacket-wearing captain of the football team that you envied in high school, not only is this breed among the fittest of fit, but it’s considered one of the world’s most intelligent dog breeds too. “[Border Collies] scream intensity, strong work ethic, and the need to please. They want to ‘perform’ for you. They excel at sports like dock diving, flyball, agility, obedience trials and many more,” says Swanson.
Siberian Huskies are like the marathon runners of dog breeds. According to the AKC, they were the original breed used in the 408-mile long All-Alaskan Sweepstakes race, so yeah, they can run fast and far. The Siberian Husky is outgoing, energetic, has unparalleled endurance, and is included on the American Kennel Club‘s Official Most Active Dog Breeds list.
If the Siberian Husky is the marathon runner of dogs, then the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the Olympic swimmer. Originally bred along the coast of—you guessed it—The Chesapeake Bay for hunting waterfowl, this brawny breed's swimming abilities are on par with, say, Michael Phelps. The AKC also considers it an exceptionally happy breed. Must be all those exercise endorphins…
Also a part of the AKC’s official most active dog breeds list, the Dalmatian is an activity-loving, high-energy hound. One of its early occupations was to run ahead of horse-drawn firefighting carriages to clear a path and lead the horses to the fire. Keeping pace with an animal more than twice your size sounds like no easy feat, so this is one pretty fit puppy.
You know how you start to feel antsy and irritable if you don’t get your exercise in? The German Shorthaired Pointer feels your pain. This type of dog is a natural athlete and requires plenty of daily exercise. The American Kennel Club says the GSP loves to run and swim, making it a great companion for sporty types and fit families.
This extremely energetic breed, which is actually not recognized by the American Kennel Club, was originally bred for hunting. In other words, they can run fast and like to chase things. Despite a small stature, it’s been reported that a Jack Russell Terrier will dare to take on adversaries twice its size or bigger. Say what you will, but we’d rather not mess with any pooch that’s fast, strong and unafraid. “Don't discount smaller breeds. [They] don't lack what the bigger breeds offer," says Swanson, "they just have it in a smaller version.”
It’s only fitting that you’d find a dog originally bred to hunt lions among the fittest breeds in the world. Quite commonly regarded as on of the most muscular and athletic dogs, the Rhodesian Ridgeback has guns and isn't afraid to use ‘em. Don’t equate them to the aggro muscleheads at your gym, though. According to the AKC, they’re just as cuddly as they are strong.
Another breed that was originally bred for hunting, the Weimaraner has the need for speed. In addition to its swift nature, this pup’s most lauded athletic abilities include endurance, agility and fearlessness. It is included in Runner’s World's list of best endurance-running dogs and is sometimes referred to as the “grey ghost,” because of its unique coat coloring.
This breed also falls into the category of smaller-statured breeds that shouldn’t be judged by their size. And unless you like losing, don’t try to challenge this pooch to a race (you know, if racing canines happens to be a hobby of yours). According to the American Kennel Club, a Whippet can run as fast as 35mph, making it the fastest domesticated animal in its weight class (larger greyhounds are a bit faster).