Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and people are drawn to a certain breed for many different reasons. Some families prefer a pooch with a coat that sheds very little while others are looking for a hiking buddy in their next canine companion. Considering the essential qualities your new canine family member should have is an excellent way for you to determine which breed is the best fit for your home. If you like living large, a bigger dog might be just what you are looking for. There are many different large and extra large breeds for you to choose from; some with lots of coat to care for and others with not much at all, leaving you spoiled for choice with all of the great options available for you. If you’re looking for a dog breed with a heart to match his immense size, a large breed pooch might be the perfect fit for you.
Important Considerations for Large Breed Dogs
Regardless of the dog breed you select for your home, it is important to understand up front what you can expect to pay for your dog’s care as well as what type of commitment you will need to make for activity and training requirements among other factors. There is no question that owning a large or extra large breed of dog is dramatically different from owning a breed that is smaller in size and stature.
Here are a few key things that you will need to keep in mind when considering a large breed dog:
- Large breed dogs require a large fenced space for activity or frequent walks.
Large breed dogs need room to stretch their legs, making them not well-suited to apartment living or confined spaces. Though a spacious fenced in yard is not an absolute must to keep a giant breed dog happy, it does help. If you are determined a large breed dog is the only pooch for you and you do not have access to a suitable fenced play area, you will need to commit to regular walks to meet your dog’s exercise needs.
- Large breed dogs require a firm commitment to obedience training.
All dogs should be trained regardless of size, age, or breed. However, since an overexuberant large breed dog could knock over a toddler or elderly person and cause them serious injury, it is even more important that large breed dogs learn appropriate canine manners. Many giant dogs are unfairly stereotyped as dangerous or aggressive by mere virtue of their size. To set your dog up for success, you will want to commit to teaching him basic obedience commands to help him become a good canine citizen who is a joy to be around.
- Large breeds have different care requirements to keep them healthy.
Large breeds often have a predisposition to certain ailments such as joint, hip, and heart issues. Many of them have very short life expectancies and are considered heartbreak breeds. When researching breeds, be sure to speak to reputable breeders to understand the common health conditions which can affect that type of dog. Ask to see health clearances showing that the parents of any puppy you are considering are free from any potential hereditary health conditions and seek the breeder’s advice as well as your vet’s as to what you can do to help your large breed dog to enjoy excellent health throughout his life.
- Large breeds require high quality nutrition that is formulated to meet their needs.
Large breed puppies who are fed too much food can begin to grow at a rate that is not healthy for them, leading to joint pain and developmental problems. It is important that you discuss with your veterinarian the amount and type of food that is best suited to your dog and that you not deviate from that. Your veterinarian may also recommend supplements to support joint health.
- Large dogs require special consideration for grooming.
Many groomers are not equipped to deal with grooming large breed dogs, making it difficult to source a professional groomer able to keep up with the needs of your dog’s coat. Ask your breeder for recommendations as to groomers who regularly work with dogs of your breed.
The Largest Dog Breeds – Our Top 15
With so many large dog breeds to choose from, it can be difficult to pinpoint the right one for your family. Here is our list of the top 15 largest dog breeds:
The noble Great Dane is truly a gentle giant. A breed that traces its origins to Germany, the Great Dane is a considered to be a type of mastiff. It is believed that the Dane of today is the result of hundreds of years of selective breeding between the English Mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound.
The Great Dane is one of the tallest breeds on our list, but he is not the heaviest. This dog breed typically weighs in between 100-120 lbs when fully grown. Due to their massive size and predisposition to a number of serious health conditions, Great Danes do top the list of heartbreak breeds, typically only living between 6-10 years.
A lesser known breed, the Caucasian Shepherd is considered one of the largest dog breeds in the world. A dog whose origins are in the molosser family of dogs, the Caucasian Shepherd is characterized by his strength and muscular body.
The average weight of a Caucasian Shepherd is between 99-110 pounds, making him slightly lighter than the Great Dane though his coat makes him appear more substantial.
The Caucasian Shepherd is not as tall as the Great Dane, measuring only 25-28” at the shoulder. He has life expectancy of between 10-12 years, an excellent longevity for a large breed dog.
The Caucasian Shepherd is a dog of fierce independence who is naturally suspicious of strangers, making him an excellent guard dog.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is easily recognizable by his handsome, jowly face. A dog breed developed along the southern coast of Italy, the Neapolitan Mastiff enjoyed his role as a guard dog.
A breed known best for his muscular frame and heft, the typical Neapolitan Mastiff is 26”-31” at the shoulder, making him taller than either the Dane or the Causasian Shepherd. He also outweighs both breeds with an average weight between 110-155 lbs.
As is common with mastiff breeds, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a quiet dog who is loyal to his family and who will defend them fearlessly if called upon to do so.
The Bullmastiff, another large dog breed of molosser origins, is a dog breed that was developed as a guard dog to provide protection for the estates of his masters. This dog breed was selectively bred by combining the English Mastiff and the Old English Bulldog to create the purebred type we know of today. The breed found acceptance in the English Kennel Club in the year 1924.
Though there is no question that the Bullmastiff is a dog of immense size and power, he is a dog that is known for his sensitive heart. As with all mastiffs, the Bullmastiff bonds deeply to his family, is deeply loyal, and will protect his home and hearth fiercely.
The typical Bullmastiff measures 25”-27” at the shoulders and weighs 110-130 lbs.
The lovable Saint Bernard is best known for the little barrel of brandy he carried around his neck to aid those in need of rescue in the Swiss Alps. It is believed that the breed was founded by a group of monks at the Saint Bernard Hospice.
The average Saint Bernard stands between 25”-30” and is 140-180 lbs. Though one of the largest dog breeds on this list, the Saint Bernard is also one of the gentlest, making him an excellent family companion.
The Newfoundland was originally developed as a working breed to assist fishermen in his home in the Canadian province for which he was named. A breed known for his size, strength, and muscular appearance, the Newfoundland was put to use helping fishermen to retrieve heavy equipment such as lines nets, and carts from the water. Newfoundlands also possess the physical power to rescue people who fell overboard from ships. As such, they excel in water.
Newfoundlands are 27”-30” in height and weigh up to 150 lbs. Their coat which is thick and comprised of both an undercoat and a top coat gives the appearance of an even larger dog.
The Dogo Argentino bears a large resemblance to the Great Dane, a dog breed which is a part of his heritage. The Dogo is an extra large dog who is completely white though occasionally he is seen with small patches of black or brindle markings confined to his head alone. His original purpose was to assist his owners with the hunting of big game with wild boar being a particular favorite.
According to the breed standard, a Dogo Argentino should stand between 24”-27” and weighs a maximum of between 88-99 lbs. The breed enjoys good longevity for a large breed, living between 10-12 years.
The Dogo Argentino is intelligent and fiercely brave.
Dogue de Bordeaux
The Dogue de Bordeaux, also known as a French Mastiff, originated in France where he is celebrated as one of their oldest breeds. The Dogue de Bordeaux measures 23”-27” and rings in at a whopping 125-150 lbs. His most distinguishing feature is the size of his head which is the largest of any breed when considered in relation to the rest of his body size.
As with other mastiff breeds, the Dogue de Bordeaux was intended as a guard dog to protect his family and his home, a job at which he continues to excel today.
This large dog breed is also sometimes referred to as a Pyrenean Mountain Dog and found his purpose as a livestock guardian. The Great Pyrenees possesses a thick double coat, making him well-suited to his role as a herding dog in the great outdoors year-round.
The Great Pyrenees prefers to work at night and will display overt aggression when a threat is perceived against his flock.
In size, the Great Pyrenees measures between 26”-31” at the shoulder and weighs in between 90-130 lbs. This dog breed enjoys an average life expectancy of 10-11 years.
Bernese Mountain Dog
A dog breed that descends from the Swiss Alps, the Bernese Mountain Dog is considered a large breed of dog though he is somewhat smaller than some of the other breeds topping this list. The Bernese Mountain Dog was produced as a result of crossbreeding Mastiffs to other dog breeds intended to function as guardians. They are an old breed that was believed to have been brought to Switzerland by the Romans.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a happy natured dog that is somewhat aloof to strangers. He stands between 23”-27” and should weigh up to a maximum of 120 lbs.
The Tibetan Mastiff is a dog breed that was developed in Tibet amongst nomadic peoples. His thick double coat enables him to survive in the harshest of climates. A dog bred as a livestock guardian, the Tibetan Mastiff possesses the bravery to defend his flock against such hardy predators as wolves, bears, leopards, and tigers.
A dog breed that can reach as high as 33”, the Tibetan Mastiff most typically weighs as much as 198 lbs though some have been recorded to ring in as high as 254 lbs.
Black Russian Terrier
The Black Russian Terrier is a recently developed breed that traces his origins to the USSR in the 1940’s. This type of dog was developed for use in the military. In appearance, he resembles the Giant Schnauzer, and though his name does include “terrier,” he bears little resemblance to one. Though there is some terrier heritage in his pedigree, the Black Russian Terrier is a mix of many different breeds including the Airedale Terrier, the Giant Schnauzer, the Rottweiler, the Newfoundland, and the Caucasian Shepherd.
The tallest a Black Russian Terrier should be is 31”. In weight, this dog tips the scales at a maximum of 132 lbs.
The Black Russian Terriers is a very confident dog with a nature of pure courage.
The Leonberger is essentially a dog breed that was formed by mixing the beloved Newfoundland with the noble Saint Bernard. Heinrich Essig is credited with developing the breed in the 1840’s in the town of Leonberg, Germany. It took four generations then the addition of the Pyrenean Mountain Dog into the pedigree to create the Leonberger we know today.
The Leonberger typically stands between 27”-31” and often weights up to 170 lbs. inches tall and can weigh as much as 170 pounds. The Leonberger excels as a family companion but is also highly intelligent and enjoys performance sports and working alongside his people.
The Irish Wolfound, a noble and gentle creature, is a hound whose original purpose was to chase off wolves. This breed was developed from a type of hound used during the time of war to hunt prey and provide protection for the soldiers, the Irish Wolfhound enjoys his heritage as one of the world’s oldest breeds, tracing his roots back to Ireland in 7000 BC.
The Irish Wolfhound is believed to the world’s tallest breed, standing up to 35”. In weight, this dog breed tips the scales at 140 lbs. For a size comparison, many liken the size of the Irish Wolfhound to that of a donkey.
Somewhat similar in appearance to the Irish Wolfhound is the distinctive Scottish Deerhound. Another breed known for his long legs, the Scottish Deerhound did indeed originate in Scotland and was known as a courser intended to hunt red deer. Shorter in stature than the Irish Wolfhound, this dog breeds stands up to 32” in height and weighs up to 110 lbs.
Determined a large dog breed is the one for you?
Maybe one of our top 15 is your perfect fit. Contact a reputable breeder to learn more about your breed of choice.