Runaway Dog: Which Dog Breeds Are Most Likely To Run Away?
Dogs run away for a whole bunch of reasons - but are there some types of dog breeds that are more likely to run away? Here are a couple of runaway dog breeds & how you can pre-empt their escape artist tendencies.
Every year, thousands of dog owners experience a runaway dog. Around the world, around 10 million dogs go missing every year!1 And with all the reasons why dogs run away, you might find yourself wondering if your dog’s breed has anything to do with their escape artist tendencies. Which brings up the question: which dog breeds are most likely to run away?
Your dog’s breed can affect their temperament – including how active or excitable they are. High-energy dog breeds tend to be curious, investigative, and more likely to have a high prey drive. So it’s no surprise that they might be more adventurous than others – even taking themselves for a walk whenever they get the chance.
Table of contents
- 10 dog breeds most likely to run away
- Are brachycephalic dogs more likely to run away?
- Why do runaway dog breeds tend to…well, run away?
- Keep your runaway dog safe – no matter why they escape
10 dog breeds most likely to run away
1. Australian Shepherd
Curious, friendly, and highly excitable, Australian Shepherd owners typically lose this breed about 0.9 times a month. They’re a prime example of a runaway dog you just can’t get mad at. Australian Shepherds are an active dog breed that also makes for excellent running dogs. (Or your best bud on your next hiking trip.)
💡Pro tip: Do your best to tire out your Australian Shepherd to prevent them from running away. They need a ton of exercise to stay happy, healthy, and fit. And one of the prime reasons dogs run away is pent-up energy. (Which can lead to them getting bored because they’re not getting enough activity.)
Says his mom Autumn, “We thought we were crazy for a while. Then, we discovered Tractive and were relieved to find out we weren’t crazy – Opie really was the most active dog around.”
2. The Labrador family
Another runaway dog breed are Labrador Retrievers. Dog parents typically lose their Labs about 2.13 times a month. Because much like Shepherds, your Lab is likely to keep you on your toes with how much energy they have! Plus, with their friendly natures, Labs might run off to investigate some nearby sight, sound, or smell to become best buds.
Like Happy, an off-leash Golden Retriever, who ran off into the woods on his first hike in the Alps. Luckily, his mom Francesca was able to find him in no time with Tractive’s LIVE Mode and real-time tracking.
💡Which is why we’d always recommend you revisit your Lab’s basic training to help curb their runaway instincts a bit. It’s not enough to just teach your buddy to sit, stay, come, or heel once and be done with it. Rather, retraining your buddy can both help you spend quality time with them, keep them mentally active, and help reduce their tendency to bolt away from you.
Check out a fun, practical option like clicker training if you’re thinking of a method that’s based on positive reinforcement. Or consider enrolling your buddy in a training program to leave some jobs to the pros.
3. Treeing Walker Coonhound
Descending from a long line of hunting dogs, Treeing Walker Coonhounds are another runaway dog breed to watch out for. Dog parents typically lose this breed about 0.9 times a month. And one of the prime reasons your Coonhound might run away is their high prey drive. Aka, their hunting instincts kicking in and driving them to chase down a raccoon, deer, squirrel, or some other woodland animal.
💡Coonhounds make for excellent running dogs. But when they’ve caught scent of “prey”, they can reach speeds of up to 22 miles (or 35 km) per hour! So it might not be the best idea chasing them down. For max safety, make sure yours is microchipped so a helpful stranger can take them to a vet, scan it, and contact you.
Or consider attaching a dedicated dog GPS tracker to their collar. Which helps you track your running dog in real-time – and over an unlimited range.
4. Jack Russell
Small, swift, and just brimming with energy, Jack Russell terriers need to stay occupied to prevent an escape attempt. Jack Russel owners typically lose their dog about 1.2 times a month. They’re excellent family dogs, especially if you have young kids at home. But watch out: Jacks need a ton of exercise and mental stimulation to stay engaged. (Else they might get bored and engage in destructive behavior instead.)
💡Jack Russells are an intelligent, trainable dog breed. So you can keep them engaged by upgrading their basic training and teaching them more complex tricks instead. (Like play dead or high five.) Besides, with a few DIY dog toys (like some of your old clothes tied together into a “rope”), you can keep them busy with games like tug of war or hide and seek.
But with their small size, your Jack Russell might end up getting stuck in an airvent or one of your wardrobes trying to hide from you. So here are three fun, quick, and easy ways you can locate your dog indoors with your Tractive device.
5. German Shepherd
Despite being one of the most intelligent, trainable, obedient breeds out there, German Shepherd owners lose this breed about 1.5 times a month. Which seems counterintuitive, right? After all, German Shepherds are well-known for their discipline and low distractability. (Making them excellent police sniffer dogs.)
⚠️ But it’s actually your Shepherd’s sense of smell that might drive them to run off and investigate something in the woods or wilderness. (Or if they’ve smelled a female in heat nearby.) Or chase down “prey” – which might even include other pets or people.
And in the cold winter months, snow can actually mess with dogs’ sniffing senses. Making it difficult for them to find their way home back to you.
6. Spaniel Breeds (Cocker Spaniels, English Spring Spaniels, Cavalier King Charles)
With their gorgeous coats and friendly temperaments, Spaniels are one of the most popular dog breeds in the US. Unfortunately, Spaniel owners lose this breed about 0.9 times a month.
Even scarier, Spaniels are also prime targets for dognapping attempts. They were the third most commonly stolen dog breed during the COVID-19 lockdowns. (With up to 34 Cocker Spaniels stolen in the UK alone!2)
💡One of the quickest ways you can intervene in a dognapping attempt? Tracking your dog in real-time. Like the story of Kathy, a Beagle who was hard at work during her hunting dog training – until her dad (who was tracking her real-time position with Tractive’s LIVE Mode) noticed her speed suddenly and sharply picking up. (Indicating she’d been caught by dog thieves.)
Luckily, Kathy’s Tractive device helped her dad track her live position. So after calling the police and a two hour car chase, she was rescued and returned to her parents, safe and sound.
7. Border Collie
Intelligent and highly active, Border Collies were historically trained as herding dogs. So it’s more common you’ll find them running around farms and green spaces, burning off some energy. Sadly, Border Collie owners lose this breed about 1.2 times a month.
If you live on a farm or a large property, you might’ve considered building a fence to keep your pets in.
- But besides being expensive to set up and maintain, your Border Collie is smart enough to dig under a fence – or just jump over it.
- Plus, vets around the world discourage the use of invisible dog fences or e-collars that rely on static shocks to train your dog their boundaries.
💡Imagine getting an instant alert on your phone or tablet when your Border Collie leaves a “safe zone” (aka, your backyard)? With Tractive’s Virtual Fence, you can easily set up safe zones and no-go zones – and quickly intervene once your dog’s tracker picks up they’re trying to sneak away.
No shock administered, no stress involved. Just a quick notification on your device – and a more proactive way to keep your dog safe. (Without compromising on their love and trust for you.)
8. Great Danes
Sociable, goofy, and an all-round gentle giant, Great Danes still count as a runaway dog breed. Like with Border Collies, Great Dane parents are likely to lose their dogs around 1.2 times a month. And one breed-specific temperament trait might be one reason. Aka, your Great Dane’s need for alone time after a long day of socializing with people, pets, and pet parents.
💡Much like cats, dogs tend to have their favorite “hiding spots” – around your house and even outdoors. It’s where they might retreat after a long day or stash their hoard of toys and treats. (Or where they might huddle if they’re scared or even sick.)
With Tractive’s Location History, you can get a picture of your Great Dane’s favorite chill-out spots – so they both get to cool off and you can rest easy, knowing exactly where to find them.
Tractive’s Location History has even saved the lives of dogs around the world. Like Imogen, a high-energy Borzoi, who bolted past the fence – and crashed through the ice of a frozen lake nearby. Thankfully, her mom was able to pick up on where she was from Imogen’s Heat Map and Location History. Saving her from freezing and drowning.
9. Bernese Mountain Dogs
Affectionate and protective, Bernese Mountain dogs are a powerful breed originating from Switzerland. They were originally bred as herding and draft dogs, pulling heavy loads in farms. Bernese Mountain dogs are loyal to a fault and attach quickly to their families. And even so, they’re likely to get lost around 0.9 times a month.
⚠️ A key reason for your Bernie’s runaway dog instinct is separation anxiety. Bernese Mountain Dogs are especially vulnerable to developing it because of how they attach to you as their primary caregiver. It’s when your dog develops the fear you’ll abandon them and never return. So they might engage in destructive behaviors, like peeing around the house, drooling, or escaping outdoors (likely to find you!)
Separation anxiety in dogs is also a major reason why they run away. Which is why it’s a good idea to ensure you’ve gotten your Bernie microchipped and equipped with a GPS tracker when you’re out and about. So you can help them slowly build trust in you and learn to rely you’ve always got their back.
10. Belgian Malinois
Smart, strong, and swift on their feet, Belgian Malinois are another dog breed from the Shepherd family. And like their cousins, they were trained to herd cattle and guard farms from invaders. Making them a highly intelligent, active, and easily bored runaway dog breed that’s likely to get lost around 1.2 times per month.
💡Belgian Malinois dogs (and others in the Shepherd family) need a thorough bout of exercise to prevent a runaway attempt. It’s how dog parents like Autumn prevent high-energy Shepherd mixes like Opie from running away. With your Tractive device’s built-in motion detector, you can track your Malinois’s active minutes throughout the day to ensure they’re getting enough exercise.
So you can keep them tired out, happy, and most importantly – safe at home, by your side.
Are brachycephalic dogs more likely to run away?
You might’ve heard of brachycephalic (or large-headed) breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, Staffies, St. Bernards and Mastiffs – and their tendency to escape as well. These breeds tend to be large, strong, and stubborn by temperament. So it’s possible they’ll get bored or anxious being confined indoors – or even to your backyard. (Aka, a prime reason why dogs run away.)
So a smart way to keep them safe? Regular outdoors time – and activity tracking.
- When you make walks and outdoor exercise a priority, your dog might be less likely to bolt the fence or escape their crate. Plus, they’ll benefit tremendously from the sensory stimulation of being in nature.
- Just be careful with brachycephalic dogs and exercise. With their shorter snouts, they might experience breathing difficulties like sleep apnea. So stick to short walks and always keep an eye on your buddy’s level of comfort.
Regular activity tracking also helps you ensure your dog is getting enough exercise – and also if there’s a drop or a spike in their everyday activity. Which, in the long run, can even help you pick up on a health issue early on. Brachycephalic dogs do tend to be vulnerable to health conditions like cardiovascular disease. But with a Health Alert, your Tractive device can help you pick up on a drop in their regular activity – so you can get them to a vet immediately.
Why do runaway dog breeds tend to…well, run away?
Dogs run away for a whole bunch of reasons – besides the ones we’ve covered, like a need for exercise. But just to wrap up, here are some other important reasons underlying these runaway dog breeds’ escape artist tendencies.
Active dogs tend to be highly intelligent, which means keeping you on your toes when it comes to keeping them mentally active as well. A dog who isn’t stimulated with sufficient activity, who is neglected by its owners, or left alone for long periods of time, may also run away to find distractions and/or new playmates.
If your dog tends to get spooked by loud noises, they might be more likely to run away. It’s why more dogs go missing around the 4th of July than any other day of the year. So if you’ve got loud fireworks or thunder around you, an open door or backyard gate can be enough to inspire an escape attempt.
So keep an eye out for the signs of fear in dogs – which can help you more quickly comfort them and prevent them from running away.
Training your dog their boundaries is an important part of their socialization. But if you have difficulties firmly saying “No!” to those puppy dog eyes, it might actually increase the risk of a runaway dog.
Because, think about it. If your dog has never learned that it’s forbidden to leave the safety of your backyard, both of you might only learn the consequences the hard way. (Aka, if your buddy gets lost outdoors.)
So as important as it is to train your dog to learn their boundaries, it’s equally important you learn to stand your ground when they protest. (And come equipped with snacks and games to redirect their disappointment away.)
Runaway dog breeds tend to be curious, inquisitive, and adventurous. So they’re more likely to explore the great outdoors when out on a run or on a hike. Which, sadly, might end up with them meeting the wrong end of a porcupine, eating something potentially toxic, or even bringing back an angry Mama bear chasing them!
So make sure to look up your local leash laws and keep your runaway dog safely clipped and harnessed when outdoors. Check out our post on hiking with dogs to get a full list of do’s and don’t’s when out in the wilderness.
Your runaway dog’s prey drive might lead them to chase down a woodland animal – or pick a fight with another pet, person, or even predator. (Which, if they run into a wolf, moose, or bear, might end up with some nasty injuries.) Besides, dogs’ mating instincts tend to send them into overdrive – especially if they’ve picked up the scent of a female in heat nearby.
So take some time to really get to know your dog – and what tends to drive them to bolt off. Some might respond quicker to another dog in their territory. (While another might just disapprove of your local bird population.) This can help you reliably pre-empt an escape attempt for the long run.
And for your rough and tumble outdoor adventures, always consider strapping a GPS dog tracker to your buddy’s collar.
So with just a glance at your phone, you can always track where your dog is – no matter how far. Tractive’s DOG XL Adventure edition comes with bite-proof fiberglass casing and an extra long battery life of up to 30 days. So you can run, hike, or swim by your dog – 100% stress-free.
Always know where your dog is
Follow every step in real-time with unlimited range. Get alerts if they wander too far. Keep them happy & healthy with Wellness Monitoring. And let others – like walkers or sitters – keep an eye on your dog too.
Keep your runaway dog safe – no matter why they escape
If you’ve got an escape artist in your family, their safety should always come first. So with these steps, you can stay on top of your runaway dog’s safety, once and for all.
- Make regular exercise a priority. Most runaway dog breeds to need a high amount of daily movement to tire out. With regular activity tracking, you can ensure they’ve gotten enough exercise per day. (And nip an escape attempt in the bud.)
- Follow your local leash laws and ensure your dog is used to a leash and collar (or harness.) Here’s a complete guide to leash training a puppy or dog.
- Take some time to know your dog and pick up on their instincts. Prey drive, mating instincts, or even territorial instincts can all cause your buddy to bolt the fence or run off into the wilderness.
- Ensure your dog is microchipped. A 10-minute, painless, affordable procedure, microchips are like a permanent ID tag for your dog. They can help a vet or local shelter identify you by scanning your lost dog’s microchip – and then contacting you to inform you they’ve found your dog.
Finally, invest in a dedicated dog GPS tracker to stay on top of your runaway dog’s adventures. Tractive pet parents around the world – just like you – are relying on our lifesaving technology to keep tabs on their escape artist pets. And ensure they’re back home, safe and sound.
Read more: Tractive reviews on Trustpilot
Want to see the Tractive DOG XL Adventure edition work in practice? Here’s a short, action-packed video to get you pumped!
Know someone with a runaway dog at home? Share this post with them – and make the world a little safer for our furry friends today.