How Long Should A Dog Walk Be?
[Definitive Guide]

By kropek2021. • Updated July 1, 2021

Dogs are well-known for their exceptional endurance. But how long precisely can dogs walk or run in a day?

Short answer – most dogs will go from 5 to 10 miles. Long answer – it depends. In this article, I’ll be explaining the reasoning behind the “depends.”

Should you even care about the distances dogs can cover, though? Well, yes – even if you are reading this article out of curiosity, you should know the physical needs and limitations of your dog to keep him happy and healthy.

Let me elaborate below!

How Many Miles Can A Dog Walk In A Day?

This largely depends on the breed, but generally, you could expect a dog without training to walk from 5 to 10 miles a day. Fit dogs will likely be able to pull off 20 miles, perhaps even more.

Note that every breed has its own level of physical fitness and endurance. Dogs that have been historically bred for heavy workloads – such as sled-pulling – are much better-adapted to covering long distances than dogs that have been bred for entertainment or as “decoration.”

Factors That Affect A Dog’s Endurance

There are significant differences in endurance between breeds. Furthermore, individuals within the same breed may exhibit markedly different tolerance to long-distance running or walking. 

Factors like age, general health, diet, and training can have a major impact on how long a dog will be able to stay on its legs without breaking a sweat. 

To hopefully give you a better understanding of how long your dog could or should walk in a day, let’s have a look at these factors more in-depth.

Age & health

It’s a no brainer that age and health can be limiting factors in the endurance of dogs. 

Old dogs start suffering from joint issues and other health conditions (like difficulties with digestion or deteriorating eyesight) that may mandate a more reserved lifestyle. With proper care and a good diet, even old dogs can cover dozens of miles, but most senior dogs won’t be quite up for the challenge.

Puppies shouldn’t be exercised too heavily as well. This is because they take some time to fully develop their joints, bones, and muscles. 

The UK Kennel Club actually has a rule of thumb for puppies – 5 minutes per month of age, up to twice per day. As an example, a 5-month old puppy should get at least 25 minutes of exercise every day.

Until about 1 (for smaller breeds) to 1.5 years (for larger breeds) of age, dogs aren’t ready for long-distance hikes. If you try to push your pup too hard in hopes of making him the champion of outdoor hikes, you’ll soon be disappointed. As of yet unfit for strain, puppies may develop long-term issues with their bones and joints.

Breed

Some breeds have endurance running in their genes, while others are best suited for a couch lifestyle.

Breeds like the Weimaraner, Dalmatian, Rhodesian Ridgeback, English Springer Spaniel, Huskies, or Samoyeds can walk or run long distances with little training. It’s because these dogs have been specifically bred to perform running-related activities. 

For example, Dalmatians have originally been used as hunting and carriage dogs, while Huskies and Samoyeds are prized for their sled-pulling abilities.

On the other hand, some breeds – most notably, brachycephalic dogs like Pugs or Frenchies – have difficulties with breathing and can barely keep up with you for 30 minutes at a time. If you want to take your doggo hiking, low-stamina breeds like these are not the right choice for you.

Fitness level

Even if you have the finest Husky specimen in the world, the dog won’t run you a marathon if you don’t properly train him. Also, a protein-rich diet is key to excellent physical performance – if you feed your doggo low-quality food with deficient amounts of nutrients, he may struggle to walk a mere mile.

Poor diet and exercise will lead to a bunch of other health issues, but that’s beside the point.

Want to take your dog on full-day hikes? Be responsible and physically prepare him for the trip. You probably will need to undergo some kind of conditioning yourself to be able to make the hike – your dog likewise needs preparation, no matter how strong their genetic predisposition to long distances is.

Trail difficulty

Trails laden with slopes and turns are going to knock the breath out of you (and your dog) much quicker. When it comes to mileage, a more challenging trail will reduce the distance covered by your dog. A difficult hike may last shorter, but it will have a higher intensity and will thus be more straining on your dog.

Personality

Some dogs may be more up for long walks than others, though generally, dogs of the same breed have similar energy levels and exercise needs.

If your doggo is of a high-energy breed but prefers to stay on the couch, then I probably wouldn’t neglect their desire to procrastinate. However, the likes of Huskies and Retrievers should absolutely get plenty of exercise every day, no matter how much they like to sleep.

To ensure an optimal amount of exercise each day, you should keep a close eye on your dog and look for signs of exhaustion or, on the contrary, signs of boredom or excessive energy levels.

How Long Should A Dog Walk Be?

How long your walks with your dog should be depends on the very factors I’ve outlined in the previous section.

With that said, as a general rule, the optimal duration of walks for dogs tends to be from 30 to 120 minutes. According to PetMD, most dogs can tolerate daily 20-30-minute walks, given that they are in good health.
The more energetic your dog is, the more exercise he will need to stay healthy and quench his thirst for physical activity. But if you aren’t sure how long your dog should walk or run, you should follow a few simple rules.

Monitor your pup’s energy level during the walk. At the beginning of the walk, most dogs will show excitement – but as they get fatigued, you will notice a slowdown in their pace, panting, or increased curiosity toward their surroundings.

Once your dog shows signs of fatigue, don’t push him. Instead, head back home and look for any possible signs of overexertion, like these:

  • Your dog slows down even more on the way back home.
  • Your dog climbs onto his bed and stays lying there for hours.
  • Your dog starts limping during or after the walk.
  • Your dog shows no interest in playing or starts hiding.

In case you spot these and similar symptoms, you should shrink the duration of the next walk. In the long run, repeated over-exhaustion can lead to injuries, significant behavioral changes, and other nasty issues.

You should gradually condition your dog by slowly increasing the duration and/or the intensity of exercise, but you shouldn’t push him too far. While taking your doggo out for walks regularly, you should keep an eye on his condition and try to gradually make exercise more challenging.

The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) – a UK veterinary charity – provides rough guidelines for the minimum duration of exercise for different dog breeds.

Use the numbers as guidance, but don’t forget to keep an eye out for signs of exhaustion and excessive exercise.

And by the way, if you are looking to adopt a dog, you may use this chart to pick a breed that would work best for your schedule.

Is One Long Walk A Day Enough For A Dog?

As long as the walk isn’t too short and light or too long and tough for your dog, one single stroll can be more than enough. However, most people’s schedule probably won’t allow them to satisfy their dogs’ exercise needs in one go – instead, they’ll need to do 2 to 3 sessions a day.
As long as your dog gets adequate amounts of exercise every day, it doesn’t really matter whether you have one long walk or several shorter ones. Adjust the duration and frequency of exercise based on your schedule.

But with all that said, walks – albeit a wonderful activity – aren’t the only thing your dog should be engaged in.

Does Walking Count As Exercise For Dogs?

Yes, walks do count as exercise for dogs. However, walks are just one component of a great doggy routine!

A good exercise plan incorporates both physical and mental challenges. All in all, ensure that your dog has:

  • Vigorous aerobic activity. Walking, running, hiking, swimming, fetch – these are essential physical activities for any dog.
  • Obedience training. Obedience training allows you to tame your dog’s naughty side and to teach him to obey commands. Aside from that, as very intelligent creatures, dogs can get bored if they aren’t stimulated mentally.
  • Time off-leash. No one knows what a dog needs better than a dog itself. Set up a secure area – like a garden – to give your doggo a chance to unleash his primal energy.
  • Dog sports. Scent work, Schutzhund, and lure coursing are fun activities for both owners and dogs. They will enable your dog to have good exercise and socialize with other dogs.

Conclusion

So, in the end, how many miles a dog can walk a day depends on a bunch of factors – age, health, fitness level, breed, personality, and trail complexity.

If you want to improve your dog’s endurance, you should set the foundation early. A healthy diet and just enough exercise are a must for puppies. Then, as your dog grows, you need to keep an eye on his condition and adjust his training routine accordingly.