Good question – are you faster than a dog?
This sounds like an experiment waiting to happen. Watch our experiment below, then set up your own!
Tape or cones
Set the Track
Find an open area and measure 30 feet.
Mark a start and a finish line with tape or cones.
Have a friend time how long it takes you to run 30 feet.
Record your time in a data table.
Repeat your run two more times, recording your speeds in the data table.
Calculate the Average
Grab a calculator and calculate the average amount of time it took you to run 30 feet.
The average is found by adding all three of your times together, then dividing that number by three.
Compare your Time
If you have a dog at home, record how fast they can run 30 feet. Remember to time their run three different times, then calculate the average.
No dog? No problem! Compare your speed to several dog breeds below.
What was the result?
Are you faster than a dog?
Why do you think it is important to record multiple times instead of just one?
What would you change about your experiment next time?
Why do you think some dogs are so much faster than humans?
What’s the Science?
The Scientific Method
Good experiments use the Scientific Method. All scientists use the same general process when they want to answer a question or investigate something new.
The chart below shows the steps in the Scientific Method. Remember, scientists don’t need to do every step in the Scientific Method every time, and the steps can be done in different orders!
Why are dogs so fast?
All dog breeds have physical characteristics that make them successful runners. They have grippy paw pads and toenails that give them traction. Their flexible spines and asymmetrical gait also contribute to speed, allowing the dog’s body to stretch and extend as well as compress and push forward. Most dogs can reach sprinting speeds between 15-20 miles per hour (mph). Of course, the size, body shape, and health of a dog will influence how fast it can run.
The fastest dogs have long powerful legs, lean body mass, and narrow heads. They also have strong heart muscles and large lung capacity to help their bodies work harder while running. In contrast, slower dogs have shorter legs (like dachshunds), larger body mass (like Newfoundlands), or trouble breathing (like bulldogs).
Greyhounds are considered the fastest dog breed, clocking in around 40-45 mph. Compare that to the fastest human speed ever recorded was about 28 mph, a record set by Usain Bolt. Here are the average speeds for a few common dog breeds:
Dogs vs. Cheetahs
Compare the speed of a greyhound and a cheetah in slow motion.
How fast would that feel like?
A dragonfly’s top speed is around 18 miles per hour. To a 5 foot tall human, that kind of speed would feel like 280 miles per hour. See how it would feel to travel at the top speeds of another animals with the fun online tool.
Check out OMSI’s Science at Home videos and experiments.