Can Shetland Sheepdogs Run Long Distances? (Explained)

Can Shetland Sheepdogs Run Long Distances

Shelties are great running partners. However, Shelties are not very predisposed to running longer distances. You have to be mindful of conditions like temperature. Given their lovely double coat, Shelties are more prone to overheating. When running with your Sheltie, you should keenly watch out for signs of exhaustion like drooling or if your Sheltie is panting too much. You could make things easier for your Sheltie by breaking up the run and reinvigorating it with fresh water. You could intersperse the session with intermittent runs and walks.

Many questions arise when you want to take your Sheltie for a run. How long is ideal for a running session? What are the best conditions for running with your Sheltie? You should be rightly curious about the endurance levels of your Sheltie, as well as the health risks associated with running. Wouldn’t you like us to dive deep into all these and many more?

Shetland Sheepdogs’ Running History

Origins as Herding Dogs

Shetland Sheepdogs originated as herding dogs on the Shetland Islands, known for their challenging terrain. Their job was to work sheep and other livestock by running around the animals and barking to move them in the desired direction. This required the Shelties to be agile, energetic, and have good stamina for running around all day.

Early Dog Shows and Racing

As Shetland Sheepdogs started participating in dog shows in the early 20th century, they showcased their intelligence and athleticism:

  • Shelties immediately excelled at dog agility trials and races.
  • They demonstrated impressive speed, coordination, and willingness to run on courses.
  • Shelties won many races and events, amazing crowds with their natural running ability.

Modern Roles as Pets and Competitors

Today, the Shetland Sheepdog is mainly a lively companion pet. But they are still prized for their energy and athleticism:

  • Excellent jogging and hiking partners for active owners.
  • They thrive in sports like agility, flyball, and obedience competitions.
  • Many Shelties participate in popular racing events, such as the Fast CAT, a well-known dog sprint competition.
  • Their running heritage means they love to sprint around the backyard playing fetch!

How Fast Can a Shetland Sheepdog Run?

Admittedly, the Sheltie is not among the fastest dog breeds. This dog has average speed levels, in the region of 15-19 miles per hour.

It is rare to see a Sheltie clocking speed heights of 26 mph (miles per hour), unlike speedster dog breeds like the Greyhound and the Poodle who clock speeds of 45mph and 30mph respectively.

How Far Can a Shetland Sheepdog Run?

Most Shetland Sheepdogs enjoy regular runs of:

3-5 miles: Great beginner distance for the average adult Sheltie. Allows them to stretch their legs and get exercise.

5-10 miles: A healthy Sheltie who has been trained regularly can comfortably run this distance. They can build up to this range comfortably.

10+ miles: Shelties conditioned for endurance can manage half or full marathons with appropriate training. However, only attempt such long distances if the Sheltie is healthy and enjoys running.

These distances will vary depending on the Sheltie’s age, health status, and fitness level. Work closely with your veterinarian when conditioning a Sheltie to run farther distances.

How Long Can a Shetland Sheepdog Run at One Time?

The Sheltie will undoubtedly excel on shorter jogs, but not very long mileage runs at once. A healthy Sheltie can be recording up to 30 miles in a week. Far higher energy level dogs can go as much as 100 miles in a week.   

Shelties ideally should not run for more than 15 minutes at a stretch. You can keep your Sheltie for longer on the road for up to 20-30 minutes exercising, but it should be broken into walking one minute and running high speed for 30 seconds.

If you are running in sunny weather, make sure to stop every 10 minutes and give your Sheltie fresh water.

Shetland Sheepdog Endurance

Origins as Tough Herding Dogs

Shetland Sheepdogs developed impressive endurance from their history as herding dogs, working long days in harsh outdoor conditions.

  • Ran miles around pastures herding livestock in all weather.
  • Worked upwards of 10-12 hours per day in hilly, challenging terrain.
  • Developed incredible stamina to keep running and barking at sheep continuously.
  • Built lean muscles and lung capacity from all the running exercises.

This history shows that Shelties were specifically bred for energy, speed, and the stamina needed to work a whole day without getting tired.

Endurance for Various Activities

Today’s Shetland Sheepdogs can tap into their natural endurance in many ways:

  • Hour-long play sessions – Shelties love to fetch and play chase games for extended periods.
  • Hiking and backpacking – They can hike many miles on a trail in one outing.
  • Dog sports – Shelties excel at agility, flyball, and other sports requiring stamina.
  • Jogging or running – With proper conditioning, Shelties enjoy running long distances.
  • All-day excursions – Shelties bounce back quickly and can handle full days of activity.

Shetland Sheepdogs were built to have energy and stamina all day long. When exercised regularly, they thrive with outlets for their endurance.

Should You Run Long Distance with Your Shetland sheepdog?

The Pros of Running with Shelties

Running moderate distances has many benefits for Shetland Sheepdogs:

  • Excellent form of exercise they are built for
  • Burns pent-up energy in a productive way
  • Makes them feel like they have a “job” and purpose
  • Strengthens human-dog bond through shared activity
  • Provides mental stimulation and enrichment

For Shelties who enjoy running, going on regular jogs is a very fulfilling activity that taps into their natural skills and drive for movement.

Potential Risks to Consider

However, there are some potential downsides to be aware of with long-distance running:

  • Risk of injury if running on hard surfaces or without proper conditioning
  • Heat stroke or dehydration if running in hot, humid weather
  • Hypothermia if running in very cold temperatures
  • Lameness or limping due to overexertion or repetitive use injuries
  • Respiratory distress for dogs with snub noses like Shelties

Running long distances is very strenuous exercise. Owners should closely observe their Shelties for any signs of discomfort or pain during and after runs.

Things to Watch Out Before Run Long Distances

Many dog owners are absorbed by the thrill and intensity of their running exercise that they forget to watch out for the dog they are running with.

If you are running for a reasonable time with your Sheltie, you must be keen on its temperature condition. Your Sheltie is more susceptible to overheating as it has two layers of coat. Shelties don’t sweat as humans as their dense fur wouldn’t let them.

If the weather outside is running as high as 85 degrees, you shouldn’t go outdoors for a run with your Sheltie. Generally, we discourage running out with your Sheltie if the prevailing outdoor temperature is more than 70 degrees.

If you insist on running during those heightened temperatures, it is better to run in a shade. It would be terrible to run your Sheltie on the sand in such high temperatures. Also, you should shun surfaces like asphalt and blacktop when it is excessively hot.

You can even ascertain the befittingness of the temperature of the running surface by placing your bare foot (you can also use your hand) on the surface for about 10-12 seconds.

Is it too hot for you? Yes, and your Sheltie will suffer running consistently on such hot surfaces.

Keeping Your Shetland Sheepdog Safe on the Run

It is crucial to keep your Sheltie safe when you run with it. Here are some safety measures we recommend that you adopt to keep your Sheltie safer on the run.

Ensure You Have Put Tick Protection in Place

If your Sheltie is running with you, it is undeniable that you are exposing it to ticks. Your dog can pick up ticks on its path. This can be dangerous to the Sheltie.

Make sure your Sheltie tick medication is not outdated. When you are through with your running session (possibly after running through long grass and woods), you can inspect your Sheltie for ticks.

If you find any, promptly get rid of them. In situations where your Sheltie has been bitten by these ticks, immediately reach out to your vet.

Keenly Watch Out If Your Sheltie is Getting Tired

A running Sheltie is prone to heatstroke and exhaustion. This can be manifested on the run in vomiting, lethargy, shortness of breath from excessive panting, and drooling.

If your Sheltie is displaying these signs, chances are it is getting overexerted or suffering heatstroke. At that point, it becomes dangerous to force them on the run.

When your Sheltie shows these signs, give it some freshwater and even pour some on its body and head to reduce the body temperature.

Don’t Ignore Their Paws

Abrasions and cuts on the paws of your Sheltie are quite normal when it runs on hard surfaces. Its paws are also vulnerable to burns if it runs on scorching surfaces.

When you are done with the running session and back home, check your Sheltie’s paws if there are such cuts, burns, and injuries. If yes, you can reach out to your vet.

Let us state here that if you are running your Sheltie in the snow, make sure to steer clear off roads that have salt treatments.

This can dangerously sting the feet of your Sheltie. Now, if your Sheltie happens to lick these salty paws when you get home, it could trigger stomach upsets in them.

How Much Exercise Should My Shetland Sheepdog Get?

We are strong proponents of breaking the exercise routine of your Sheltie, given its moderate endurance levels. Your Sheltie no doubt needs regular engagement and stimulation.

Each exercise session shouldn’t be more than 15-20 minutes. Longer exercises could make it stressed or more distracted in the session.

Health Problems Associated with Running Long Distances

There are many health complications you could expose your Sheltie to if you get it running very long distances.

It Can Suffer wear-and-tear on Paw Pads

Some dogs wouldn’t mind exercise playing on wounded paws. They can sacrificially take all that pain for the fun to continue. But for a sensitive dog like the Sheltie, torn paw pads are horrible for them.

Your Sheltie, if it runs for too long, can have terrible tears on its paws, with conspicuous flaps of skin on the pad. In other cases, the pad may appear thinner than it typically is.

There is also the possibility of infection of the paws from extreme running. Such infection is evident in pus coming from the pad or swelling.

Your Sheltie Could Suffer Joint Injury and Sore Muscles

When your Sheltie runs excessive distances, it becomes more prone to joint injury. This could subject its joints to sprain and strain. Typically, for the Sheltie, the front legs support 60% of its weight.

Running long distances risks the occurrence of meniscal tears and disruptions in the cranial cruciate ligament. Such excessive distance running can also cause your Sheltie to suffer sore muscles

In such cases, your Sheltie would be suffering stiffness in their muscles (or overall muscular pain). If your Sheltie is suffering from this, you will notice that your Sheltie struggles to stand up after an exercise session.

The resulting pain wouldn’t only rob them of their mobility, it could even result in a decline in appetite levels. In extreme cases, you may hear your Sheltie whimpering as it walks about. 

Extreme Running Can Cause Heat Sickness

Shelties are prone to heat strokes when they run too long in sunny temperatures. We have already examined the propensity of the Sheltie to overheat from its dense fur when running in hot climes.

If your Sheltie overheats from such long-distance running in torrid weathers, and its body temperature climbs north of 106 degrees, it could suffer fatal complication hyperthermia and severe dehydration.

You Might Also Like:

Scroll to Top