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The German Shorthaired Pointer

A great way to get fit and bond with your dog, canicross has been officially recognised by the Kennel Club.

By Charlotte-Louise Page

Canicross was first introduced to the UK in 2000. Since first being launched, the activity has seen thousands of owners and handlers taking to the great outdoors to participate in events across the world.

As of 1st July 2016, the Kennel Club recognised the discipline and launched it as one of its activities. Since then, clubs have been encouraged to sign up as Listed Status Clubs or Registered Clubs. Clubs have also been provided with the opportunity to have their events licensed under Kennel Club regulations for the first time.

The name canicross comes from a mix of the two words canine and cross country. It is a unique discipline which fits in with the modern day society’s wish to be fitter and healthier. It combines running, man’s best friend and the great outdoors all in one. Doing canicross on a regular basis can become a way of life for both owners and their dogs and within weeks can help both get much fitter.

Another benefit of canicross is that it is a learning process for both the owner and dog, starting with interval training and gradually building up into running. It does not matter what fitness level both start with improvements can be noticed after a matter of days and, of course, it also has other benefits such as making new friends and providing the extra time for people to spend with their dog, helping to create a special bond.

There are formal requirements for competing in a Kennel Club licensed canicross competition which are quite simple:

  • The dog must be registered with the Kennel Club (on either the Breed Register or the Activity Register)
  • Competitors taking part in any Kennel Club licensed event must familiarise themselves with Kennel Club regulations beforehand. Canicross regulations are available to download from the Kennel Club website
  • Dogs can only start competing after the age of 12 months


Handlers must be aged at least eight years on the day of the competition to take part in a canicross race

  • Handlers below 14 years of age on the day of the competition are not eligible to enter races of more than 5km (3 miles) in length, and must be accompanied throughout the race by a responsible adult (who may run or use a bicycle)
  • Handlers below 17 years of age on the day of the competition are not eligible to enter races of more than 8km (5 miles) in length
  • Handlers below 18 years of age on the day of the competition are not eligible to enter races of more than 21km (13 miles) in length
  • Handlers entering a race of more than 16km (10 miles) must have successfully completed at least one race of at least 10km (6 miles) with the same dog in the six months prior to the day of the race. Proof will be required Leads, harnesses and other equipment


To enjoy canicross to the fullest, the right equipment is key for both human and canine participants. Here are some things to watch out for when considering leads and harnesses:

  • Leads which are attached to a competitor’s waist should have a bungee or elasticated section or be made from elasticated material
  • Leads should be between 1.7m and 2m in length depending on whether they are held in the hand or attached at the waist
  • Harnesses worn by dogs must be well fitted, must not constrict breathing and must have the lead attachment on the upper back
  • You must not use harnesses that are designed to stop a dog from pulling
  • You must not wear footwear with spikes, hard studs or similar projections on the soles as these may injure the dog


Information on registered clubs running canicross can be found on the Kennel Club website, as well as more information on the rules and regulations.

The Kennel Club website provides up-to-date information on canicross along with all the licensed events.

If you would like to take part, please visit canicross/ or alternatively email

Copyright The Kennel Club Limited.  Reproduced with their permission.



In May this year Charlotte-