A reader left a message on my answering machine the other day asking, “I am an amateur athlete and I want a dog to accompany me when I work out. You said to select a breed to match your lifestyle, so, what breed do you recommend?”
It would be easier if you had mentioned your athletic specialty. Since you did not give your name or phone number, I can only give suggestions for a variety of physical activities and hope I include yours.
First, jogging. Nearly any breed in the hound, sporting, working or herding groups and some terrier breeds can keep up with a jogger. If fast walking is more your speed, you could consider additional breeds from the non-sporting group like the Dalmatian, keeshond, miniature or standard poodle or Tibetan terrier. I doubt if you are a slower walker, but for my other readers, let me say that any breed, including the toy breeds would benefit from a daily walk.
Secondly, bicycling. Again, it depends on the speed and distance you might go. My border collies and standard schnauzers enjoyed keeping up with my leisurely pace for the few miles I used to bike. (They may have wished that I had gone faster or traveled further, but they seemed to enjoy the outing.) If you use a 10-speed bike or if you go long distances, you should make your canine companion selection from the long distance speedsters like: greyhound, Afghan, borzoi, Ibizan hound, Irish wolfhound, Saluki or Scottish deerhound. Just be sure you take sufficient water with you to keep your dog hydrated and take periodic rests.
Then there is swimming, but that depends on the rules of the pool owners. If you are allowed to have your dog accompany you in the pool, think of the water dogs like Newfoundlands, Portuguese water dogs or any of the retrievers.
Most dogs benefit from the exercise of swimming and some breeds really love it. Trainers for the various canine water sports like dock diving, recommend starting a young dog out wading in water that just covers its feet to prevent a fear reaction. Then, gradually increase the depth of the water until the dog is swimming.
Most trainers also use K-9 lifejackets for safety. If you are swimming in a pool, be sure to hose the dog off to remove the chlorine when you get out.
Cross-country hiking is another activity that nearly any sturdy breed would enjoy. However, real mountain climbing is not a place for a canine companion, only a human buddy.
If feats of strength like hammer throw, shot put or weight lifting is your sport; you might like to train your dog in weight pulling. Choose any of the draft dogs like malamute, Bernese mountain dog, Rottweiler or a physically strong mixed breed.
Be sure to have any dog you select evaluated by your veterinarian to make sure it is physically capable of joining you in your activity. This exam should include bone structure, especially the joints, feet and muscles.