Weekly Wellness: Why dogs can be a runner's best friend

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COLUMBIA - You've put on your sunscreen. You're lacing up your shoes. What else is there to do before you head out on that run? Grab the leash and your new running partner.

It's time to answer this week's question: what are the best breeds for running?

Some dogs are just not into the exercise thing. And some dogs NEED it. (Boy, do they ever.) So this week we're checking out an article from Active.com that reviews the best breeds for their activity level.

Short-Distance Breeds:
Jack Russell Terrier: The Jack Russell Terrier is a tough, sturdy terrier that's very energetic. A quick 5K run is the perfect way to get this little guy some exercise. His short legs are strong enough for three miles, but you need to train him to work up to that distance. If you're looking for a shorter distance, faster breed, then this is the pup for you.

Toy Poodle: Just because the toy poodle is more known for beauty and pamper, doesn't mean this breed is lazy. This pooch is pretty quick and doesn't get the credit it deserves. Poodles were originally bred to retrieve, meaning they're active and energetic. A quick, short run will help burn the energy and give you a great tempo running bud.

Tenterfield Terrier: This happy little dog loves to be by its owner's side, which makes them a great running companion. The Tenterfield Terrier is an active and agile working terrier. This breed is very intelligent, bright, happy and eager to learn. Bred as a working dog, this dog has energy to burn, and at a fast pace. If you enjoy fast, short runs, bring this little guy along with you.

Shetland Sheepdog: The Shetland Sheepdog is essentially a smaller version of a working Collie. The Shelti is very obedient and excels in agility, herding and conformation, which make for a great running mate. This little breed can hang, but not for miles. A short tempo run is perfect for this four-legged friend.

Airedale Terrier
: The largest of the Terrier family, the Airedale weighs about 60 pounds - no wonder it's called The King. Extremely smart, these bubbly and energetic dogs love to hunt, guard and run, which is one reason they served for the military and White House. If you're looking for a canine to run fast-paced, shorter to medium distances, then this four-legged friend is right for you.

Labrador Retriever: A sporting and family dog, the Labrador thrives with an active family. The Labrador (Lab) is originally from Newfoundland where they worked alongside fisherman, pulling nets and catching escaped fishes. Once crossed with settlers, the Labrador honed in on its natural retrieving skills. A very alert, smart breed, the lab is perfect for fast-paced short runs or slow and steady long runs.

Golden Retriever: Whether you want a fast-paced, short-distance run mate or a slow and steady long running partner, the Golden is right up your alley. These are lovable, well-mannered, bright dogs that love to hunt, track, retrieve, fetch, or perform tricks. The Golden is very trainable and loves to be by their master's side. Just make sure you show leadership so Fido doesn't pull you on your runs.

Long-Distance Breeds:
Australian Shepard: The Australian Shephard, also known as the Aussie, is the ultimate working dog. Thought to originate from Europe, these dogs were made to herd sheep once in America. Exceptionally smart, the Aussie is also known for sport and agility competitions. They have incredible stamina and can run for long periods, which is why this canine companion makes a great running buddy.

Siberian Husky: Want to set out for a 10-mile run? No problem. The Siberian Husky loves to run. Summer running might be a bit much for them because of their fur, so make sure you stop frequently to hydrate. But come wintertime, they are in their element. Not only is running a great form of exercise for them, but it also helps them to release excessive energy. Make sure to wait for their bones to fully mature before you hit the pavement to help minimize joint issues down the road.

Alaskan Malamute: The Alaskan Malamute is a very powerful, strong-willed and fun-loving dog. Its strong-boned and compact body is designed to haul heavy loads - hence they pull sleds or carts. Without adequate exercise, they can become destructive. It's very important that they get a sufficient amount of exercise every day, which is why they make great marathon-training partners. They are capable of going the distance.

Border Collie
: Many dog experts believe that the Border Collie is by far the smartest, most intelligent breed out there. They are one of the best breeds for herding and they are natural born athletes. Their body is built for speed, agility and stamina. Since they are so smart and energetic, you have to be a very stern owner or they may destroy everything you own, which is why adequate exercise is so vital. They love to run, play and chase animals. So snap on their leash and head out for a long run.

German Shepard: Known as the military dog, the German Shepard is a very loving and loyal dog. But intruders beware; this breed is extremely protective of their family. Yes, the German Shepard is known to be a bit aggressive, but with lots of training, they are great dogs. This sturdy, muscular and solid bone-structure breed loves to work and play. Their strong body allows them to go out on runs for miles at a time. Get them on the same marathon-training plan as you so they can perform their best.

Rhodesian Ridgeback: From South Africa, the Rhodesian Ridgeback was bred to farm and hunt because of their long and muscular build. Also known as an athletic dog, they have an incredibly amount of stamina, but without physical exercise they can become unmanageable. They make great running companions.

Other Great Long-Distance Breeds:

  • Ibizan Hound
  • Greyhounds
  • Weimaraners
  • Vizslas

Some tips to follow when you're going to start running with your four-legged friend:

  • Talk to your vet: Be sure to tell your vet that you plan on exercising with your dog so that they can pay close attention to heart, lungs and joints (just in case there's a health issue that you're unaware of).
  • Know your breed: Some dogs are good for running, some aren't.
  • Build up gradually: Just like people, dogs need to train up to longer distances.
  • Watch your paws: Be aware of the surface you're running on and watch for hot blacktop, jagged ice, glass or other debris.
  • Stay hydrated: both of you
  • Listen to what he's saying: Your dog probably doesn't use words so watch for signs like foaming at the mouth, heavy panting, glazed eyes or slowing down pace. This means he needs a break.
  • Keep a bag with you: Just because you take a bathroom break before your run doesn't mean that your dog knows to... don't leave a mess for someone else. Run prepared.
  • Leash your dog: Even if it's a law, it's just good practice. It can help to keep both of you under control and in pace.
  • Clean those paws: When you get back from your run, clean your pup's paws with a warm soapy rag to help clean off any irritants or debris that can get between their toes and cause an infection.

I hope you'll enjoy your new running partner!

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