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October 31, 2014

9 Fastest Dog Breeds

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but many of them could bolt out the door pretty damn quickly if you give them reason to. While most large dogs can outrun a human, the nine breeds listed below are the fastest, with the fastest among them raced for sport. Virtually all the entrants are hunting dogs, so if you just can’t seem to keep Brer Rabbit out of your garden, you might want to enlist a little help from these guys.

Note: While certain individual dogs from each breed may be faster or slower than other breeds, these guys are arranged based on averages for the breed. Further, the fastest Greyhound has been credited with a top speed of between 37-45 mph, so the data behind these pups is a bit dubious. As such, I have compiled them per this list, for better or worse. Don’t worry. They can all beat you in a race, even if the figures are way off.

9. Ibizan Hound

I expected to see the Ibizan Hound in a swimsuit, rocking out to some house DJ, but it turns out just because the breed hails from the Spanish Island of Ibiza doesn’t mean it acts like it. Its trot has been described as “ground-covering” and “springy,” both of which sound just delightful. It weighs between 45-64 pounds and is considered one of the most ancient breeds of dogs.

8. Azawakh

This African breed is described as having a feline gait and runs between 35-55 pounds. The dogs are considered among the best coursing (animal-chasing) breeds around, rarely incurring injury, and when they do, healing very quickly. Azawakh love the company of other Azawakh and require a great deal of room to run. So your Brooklyn studio apartment is probably not a great home for them.

7. Sloughi

The Sloughi is closely related to the Azawakh, but appears even faster. I mean, look at that thing. It looks like the canine version of a bullet. Similar to the Azawakh, this dog also relishes movement, so confined spaces are not recommended. It is thought to stem from Ethiopia, though the exact country of origin is the matter of some speculation. In training a Sloughi, it is suggested that you use positive reinforcement rather than punishment. It is said to like “friendly confirmation” of its actions. (Don’t we all?) The Sloughi is still used as both a hunting and guard dog in Africa.

6. Pharaoh Hound

This dog actually hails from Malta, despite its name, and is used in rabbit-hunting in that vicinity. In fact, the dog is so indigenous to the islands in this area that it has difficulty thriving elsewhere and is rarely found in other locales. These dogs hunt in pairs, male and female together, but once they begin to hone in on a rabbit, they emit a high-pitched bark and other dogs come running. When the rabbit retreats to a hole, the hunters release a ferret with a bell on it to root out the rabbit. Once the rabbit emerges, a dog scoops it up and dinner has been picked up. Pretty cool.

5. Irish Wolfhound

In case it was a source of confusion, this dog is named a Wolfhound because it hunts wolves, not because it looks like one. It’s no surprise that a dog that hunts wolves would have to be pretty damn quick, it’s just surprising that such a fast animal hails from Ireland, where there is little premium placed on athleticism. This breed is also regarded as the tallest of all dog breeds, coming in at around 36 inches tall on average. These pups create strong bonds with their adoptive families and can become depressed and even destructive if left alone for a long time. They play well with children and are easy to train. But, due to their speed, you might want to leave the gate closed, because if one gets loose, you’re not going to catch it.

4. Russian Wolfhound (aka Borzoi)

This dog’s shape closely resembles the greyhound, though often with longer hair. These guys often tip the scales at over 100 pounds, making them a formidable foe for man and beast alike. They rarely bark, and as such, aren’t reliable as guard dogs. Borzoi often exhibit “gracious housemanners,” so if you invite one over for dinner, I’m sure you can count on getting a bottle of wine when they show up. However, they maintain a strong instinct to chase what runs from them, so they are natural coursing dogs. These dogs were popular with no less than the Russian Tsars, so if you pick one up, you know you’re getting a winner.

3. Saluki

Such a regal looking Egyptian dog doesn’t look as though it would be among the world’s fastest, but there are only two faster breeds on the planet. This dog comes from Egypt but roamed the Middle East with the nomads, aiding them in the search for sustenance. They are also considered one of the oldest breeds, having been unearthed from sites dating back to 7,000 B.C. These dogs were regarded as especially regal and were even mummified with the pharaohs. Why this breed wouldn’t have been labeled the “pharaoh hound” is most anyone’s guess.

2. Whippet

These dogs are the smallest on this list, but their diminutive stature affords them a speed and agility that few breeds have. They clock in at between 15-30 pounds and are less than two feet tall in most instances. Unlike many other entrants on this list, Whippets are well suited to living indoors, but still require regular exercise. They are good with kids, loyal, and are even known for their large, omnipresent “smile.” They are considered sighthounds, which means they hunt based on sight, rather than scent and smell.

1. Greyhound

This guy runs 50% faster than the fastest human, having been clocked at 39 mph. Remarkably, Greyhounds can also weigh almost 90 pounds, adding size and strength to their speed as well. However, these guys are built for speed, not durability, and as such, their frail skeleton is prone to injury and even their thin skin can tear at the smallest bite. They are used to existing in a pack, so they will adopt a human family as a pack and take a subordinate role. Sadly, racing Greyhounds are often kept in crates up to 20 hours per day, so crate training a retired racer is easy, but sad nonetheless. And if you’re going to keep one in your backyard, you might want to raise the height of your fence, because these guys can jump.