Canicross is a relatively new sport in the UK that combines cross-country running with dogs. The sport involves a dog being attached to the owner via a harness, with the dog leading the way and the owner calling out directions from behind.

This “dog-powered” activity creates a unique team experience, enhancing the bond between owner and pet.

Canicross offers an exciting way for both dogs and their owners to engage in a fitness regime together, promoting better health and improved communication skills. “If you are the outdoorsy, sporty type and own a dog with similar tastes, Canicross could be a dream come true for both of you,” says James Whitten, Marketing Manager at petGuard.

Choosing the Right Dog for Canicross

Not every dog breed is suited for Canicross. Leading pet insurer petGuard identifies breeds that excel in this sport and those that may struggle.

Best Dog Breeds for Canicross:

  • Border Collie: Highly intelligent and athletic, Border Collies excel in tasks and sprints.
  • Labrador Retriever: Easy to train and bred to chase, Labradors are powerful runners with a muscular build.
  • Weimaraner: Known for their energy and stamina, Weimaraners, or ‘Silver Ghosts’, enjoy extensive exercise.
  • German Shepherd: Smart and quick learners, though potential hip dysplasia should be checked by a vet before long runs.

Breeds Less Suitable for Canicross:

  • Short-nosed or Flat-faced Breeds: These breeds may struggle with long-distance running due to breathing difficulties.
  • Dogs with Long or Heavy Coats: They may not cool down quickly, making running in hot weather inadvisable.

Good physical fitness and the absence of issues like breathing difficulties or obesity are crucial for Canicross participation. Owners should ensure their dog is over 18 months old and consult a vet before starting.

Preparing for Canicross

Canicross requires both agility and endurance, so it’s important to prepare properly. “As this is a sport that requires both agility and endurance, it is worth consulting your vet before taking to the open trails that you plan to tackle,” warns Whitten.

Canicross is an excellent way to engage with your dog in a physically stimulating activity that strengthens your bond. Ensuring your dog is fit and healthy, and choosing a breed suited to the sport, will help both you and your canine companion enjoy this thrilling outdoor adventure.