Is Canicross Suitable for all Breeds of Dog?

There are so many ways to do canicross – from casual solo runs to racing; walking to sprinting; flat terrain to fell running; short distance to ultra distance.

There’s almost certainly a flavour to suit every human-canine team. However, be wary of assuming that because a certain level of involvement is good for another dog it’ll be good for your dog too. Breeds such as the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute have been selectively bred for their ability to cover extremely long distances pulling a load. Their conformation (structure) is ideally suited to performing the task without injury. Amongst non-pulling breeds some are more suited to distance running than others. This nice little article on Runners World will give you an idea of what type of runner your dog is likely to be. Some breeds are more suited to pulling a load than others. There is more experience of multi-breed suitability to pulling in the world of canine weight pulling than there is in canicross. An appropriate amount of pulling in harness will be good for most dogs – it is after all a strength workout that will build muscle and fend off age related muscle atrophy. But do be mindful of the fact that your dog is working harder than you. The smaller he is and the bigger and slower you are then the greater the forces at play.

In her article “Canicross – Is Your Dog Ready?” Vet Carol Dobson wrote:

Vet Carol Dobson wrote:

Consider your dog’s type, and exercise him appropriately. Not all dogs are designed for prolonged running, some are not built for running at all! Exercise is healthy, but some need ‘little and often’, rather than a sporting event. The ‘brachycephalic’ or short-skulled breeds are rarely able to cope with fast or long exercise because their breathing and cooling abilities are impaired. Seek veterinary advice if you’re not sure, and watch your dog. He should be enjoying this exercise too!

These words of caution are not designed to put you off participating in the sport. Canicross is a fun activity that will keep your dog healthy and happy. Just think carefully about how much is suitable for your little buddy. There are no hard and fast answers – just watch him closely, build up slowly and let him be your guide.