Dogs get high when they run

Scientists have discovered that dogs experience a high when they run, much like humans do when the exercise endorphins kick in.


The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, involved people and dogs working out on treadmills. After their workouts, scientists found that both had “significantly increased exercise-induced endocannabinoid signalling following high-intensity endurance running.”

David Raichlen of the University of Arizona who carried out the study said, “A neurobiological reward for endurance exercise may explain why humans and other cursorial mammals habitually engage in aerobic exercise despite the higher associated energy costs and injury risks, and why non-cursorial mammals avoid such locomotor behaviours.” Cursorial mammals are those with a physiology that suits running, such as dogs.

Photograph copyright of The Mighty Pooch Dog Photographers

Photograph copyright of The Mighty Pooch Dog Photographers

To those of us who watch our dogs run joyfully every day, however, this probably comes as no surprise. Seeing Bruce gallop at full pelt after his ball time and time again – each time running as fast as he possibly can with no let-up – leads me to believe that he gets a serious buzz from powering across the park. He’s also much happier in general after a good run.

If you’re looking for a breed of dog that would make an ideal running partner, there are some breeds more suited to long distances than others, according to Christie Aschwanden who wrote an article on the topic for Runner’s World. She writes, “Some breeds, such as huskies and greyhounds, were bred to run, and most working dogs are naturally suited to running. By contrast, squishy-nosed dogs, such as pugs and bulldogs, don’t make good distance athletes, because they’re prone to overheating. That’s not to say your pug can’t run, but he probably shouldn’t join you for a late-summer 15-miler.”

Weimeraners, goldendoodles, German shorthaired pointers, vizslas and Jack Russell terriers are all cited as good companions for runs of more than six miles, due to their medium build and well-muscled hind quarters. In contrast, brisk, shorter runs of less than six miles are more suited to greyhounds, English setters, beagles and golden and labrador retrievers, due to their lean, muscular build and penchant for sprints.

Words: Aislinn Kelly

Email Aislinn:

The Mighty Pooch is a specialist dog photographers based in Yorkshire but happy to travel for photoshoots. Go behind the scenes of some of our shoots.


One response to this post.

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