There are dozens of sport activities for dogs that include demonstrations of strength, skill, speed, agility and endurance. Agility competitions, dock diving competitions and herding competitions are three well-sponsored dog sports that feature dog high jump events and draw large crowds.
High Jumping Dog Breeds
While many small dog breeds excel in their ability to jump to heights greater than their body size, the world record-holders for the highest jumps by dogs belong to medium- to large-size breeds. Herding dogs such as border collies, Australian cattle dogs and kelpies are extremely agile and have proven themselves in high jump competitions that allow them to scale walls. Protection dogs such as German shepherds and rottweilers are also able to scale obstacles set at great heights through a combination of their strength and agility. Long, tall, slender dogs such as greyhounds, wolfhounds, borzois and Ibizans, however, are the breeds that can clear hurdles set at nearly 6 feet with ease without the need to pull themselves up or over the obstacles. In one of the newest dock diving events, extreme vertical, Belgian Malinois, greyhounds and border collie mixes have set the records.
There are many dog agility competitions every year and most include hurdle high jumping contests. In this competition, dogs jump over hurdles that are raised in 2-inch increments. There must be a mat for the dogs to land on when events take place on hard surfaces. Dogs are given two opportunities to clear the hurdle and are out of the competition once they can no longer clear the hurdle without knocking off the bar. Three Guinness record-holders have come from this type of dog competition. In 2006, a greyhound named Cinderella May cleared a hurdle set at 5 feet, 8 inches. The previous Guinness record-holder was a borzois named Wolf who cleared a 5 feet, 2 inch hurdle. Olive Oyl, a Russian wolfhound, held the Guinness record for a while with her 4 feet, 11 inch jump. An Ibizan hound named Leap jumped 5 feet, 4 inches at a Superdog competition in 2005. His jump was not recognized by Guinness World Book officials, however.
In 1999, ESPN wanted to develop a dog sport for the Great Outdoor games, and that is how dock diving got its start. There are now regional, national and international dock diving events that use a common set of rules. As the sport has grown, new events have been added. The original events measured the distance dogs could leap from a dock into a pool of water. The pool has measurements marked on the sides to determine which dogs jumped the farthest. The three main competitions now include big air, which is what the distance competition is called, speed retrieve and extreme vertical. The object of extreme vertical is for the dog to knock down a bumper that dangles 8 feet from the dog at ever-increasing heights. Top dogs in this event include Yeager, a Belgian Malinois who holds the record at 8 feet, 4 inches; Brox, a Belgian Malinois, who has a personal best of 8 feet, 1 inch; and Country, a greyhound, who won a competition with a 7 feet, 10 inch jump in 2005.
Herding High Jumps
Herding competitions, such as the Kelpie Muster held every year in Casterton, Australia, take place around the world. The object of the high jump competition at these events is to clear a wooden barrier. The barrier is raised throughout the competition. The dogs run to the barrier and grasp the top with their front paws before clambering over the boards on to a stack of hay bales. The top dog for the Kelpie Muster is a rescued kelpie named Riley. He jumped a record-breaking 9 1/2 feet at the 2007 competition. A brother and sister pair of border collies were nipping at his heels to take the record in 2009. Zoro jumped 9 feet, 4 inches, and his sister Girl jumped 9 feet, 3 inches in a high jump event in Singleton, New South Wales, Australia, prior to the Kelpie Muster.
- Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images