Top 16 Large Dog Breeds
I have always been a fan of big dogs. They are beautiful and often surprisingly sweet. They usually make great companions, as they were bred to be working dogs as herders or pulling wagons.
Like big people, big dogs can suffer from some special health issues. Their joints, skeletons, and heart take a beating carrying all that weight around. If you own a big dog, keep your eye out for any signs of wear and tear in your big furry friend! If you're interested in getting a big dog, read on to learn more about several specific breeds:
- Great Dane
- German Shepherd
- Irish Wolfhound
- Scottish Deerhound
- Alaskan Malamute
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Doberman Pincher
- Giant Schnauzer
- Great Pyrenees
- Neopolitan Mastiff
- Saint Bernard
1. Great Dane
Great Danes appear in movies, such as 101 Dalmatians and Oliver and Company. They come in many different colors, including blue, black, black and white spotted, merle pattern, harlequin pattern, silver, fawn, brindle, and tan with black. They can stand anywhere between 30-34 inches high and weigh between 120-200 pounds.
Great Danes are known as the gentle giant of big dogs for many reasons. They are very good with children, they love to be around people, and they do not bark much. They will be aggressive, however, if they believe it is needed. They need to be trained as puppies not to jump or lean on people, because they can do harm as they get older and bigger.
Surprisingly, these big dogs do okay living in apartments as long as they have plenty of space and get lots of exercise. It is not recommended to jog your puppy. Wait until they are about one year old.
Great Danes live to be only about 10 years old. But with a healthy breeder and and healthy diet and lifestyle some can live to be 12 and even 14. They are prone to hip dysplasia, bloat, tail injuries, tumors, and heart disease.
Bullmastiffs are very similar to Mastiffs, but they are also very different in many ways. The Bullmastiff is a massive, powerful dog. They have a short, dense coat that is sometimes slightly rough. They come in fawn or red with black on the face. They never have white on them, but some are brindle.
Bullmastiffs are devoted guard dogs, but will rarely attack.They like to catch an intruder, make them freeze, then hold them there. They are affectionate, docile, and almost always good-natured. They are fearless if they are provoked. At the same time, they are tolerant of children. These dogs are calm, loyal, and very trainable. The thrive on human leadership. They do need a firm master because of their physical strength. They are very bad droolers and they slobber and snore a lot.
They can live well in an apartment, but must be exercised. They don't like to be active indoors, so they at least need a small yard. Bullmastiffs have an instinct to migrate, so they do need new places to go. If they have a schedule and go to the same places year after year, it will result in behavior issues.
A Bullmastiff's height can range from 25 to 27 inches. Their weight will be between 110 and 133 pounds. They do need a lot of space and a lot of food.
Like many big dogs, Bullmastiffs are prone to hip dysplasia. They may contract eyelid problems, cancer, tumors, and boils on their lips. They also are prone to bloat and gain weight really easily.
Sadly, they live under 10 years. They can have up to 13 puppies in a litter, but average eight.
The old English Mastiff is one of the first mastiffs bred for their size and the original dog given the name "Mastiff." Why, you ask? Look at its size! These are massive dogs. They were first used in 3000 BC as arena gladiators and for bull baiting, bear baiting, and dog-on-dog combat. They became more popular in England, where they were used as body guards. Caesar once said, "A lion is to a cat as a Mastiff is to a dog." Today, they are still used as working dogs for the military and police, and as watchdogs, guard dogs, rescue, and weight-pulling dogs.
They come in golden fawn, light fawn, apricot, silver, tiger, or brindle. As their name states, they are powerful and muscular dogs. Like Great Danes, they are known for their "gentle giant" personalities. They will defend their territory to the death. They are silent guards, giving no warning that they are there. Like the Bullmastiff, they will hold the intruder at bay, or trap them in the corner, rather than all-out attack. They are patient and considered excellent with children. All they need is gentle but firm training. They drool very badly and snore extremely loudly.
They can do okay in am apartment, but its not recommended. They don't like to be active indoors, but a free-roaming yard will suit them fine. They should always be leashed when in public.
Mastiffs can grow to about 30 inches in height. They are known to be one of the heaviest breeds, with some exceeding 200 pounds.
They are prone to bloat and hip dysplasia. They can get gastric torsion, ectropion, vagina hyperplasia, elbow dysplasia, and cardiomyopathy. They sadly only live about 10-12 years.
The Rottweiler, or as I like to call them, Rottie, has a massive, powerful mind and body. They descended from the Italian Mastiff, which accompanied the herds that the Romans brought with them when they invaded Europe. They were used as messenger dogs, draught dogs, police, herders, and guards. They almost became extinct in 1800, but made a come-back when breeders in Rottweiler, Germany began producing them. They now are used for tracking, police work, blind guiding, schutzhund, competitive obedience, and as guide dogs and watchdogs. They always come in black with distinct tan markings. They are calm yet courageous. Powerful yet devoted. Protective yet trainable. They will do anything to keep their family and particularly children safe. They seem to be highly immune to pain. They are confident, strong-minded, and massive. They know when it's time to be playful and loving and when to be brave and even-tempered.
Rottweilers are not recommended for apartment life, but they can handle it as long as they have somewhere to free roam safely and are walked frequently. These are great dogs for chucking a ball in the country side. Most of them love to swim, so that's a very good exercise.
Rotties can grow to 24-27 inches high and weigh between 95-130 pounds. Due to their heavy weight and stocky size, they can have hip dysplasia. They are also prone to entropion and can over-eat. They tend to snore loudly.
They live 10-12 years and have very large litters, ranging between 10-12 puppies.
5. German Shepherd
The German Shepherd Dog (GSD), or German Shepherd, is a sturdy animal. They are elegant but solid. The coat is often black with tan, sable, or all-black. They can also come in blue, liver, and white but they will be a fault according to breed standards. White is not acceptable for the German Sheperd, but is being recognized as a separate breed named the American White Shepherd. In Karsruche, Germany, dedicated breeders produced obedient, handsome, and responsive GSDs. In 1889, they had three separate Shepherds: the short-haired, the long-haired, and the wire-haired. The breed got its name from a famous Shepherd, called Deutsche Schaferhunde, which means German Shepherd Dog. This was an all-around show dog, shepherd, family pet, and protector. They are alert, cheerful, serious, keen, and clever. GSDs are very brave and are among the best canine learners. They are very weary of strangers and should be watched around them.
They are not suggested for apartment life, but well-exercised in a large running area once a week they should do fine. They are very active, and love a good challenge in training. They can get anxious if they don't have proper activities.
GSDs reach between 24-26 inches in height and weight around 77-85 pounds. Some GSDs reach around 100 pounds, which is not good for their hips.
They can get bloat, epilepsy, chronic eczema, keratitis, dwarmfism, flea allergies, blood disorders, digestive problems, hip and elbow dysplasia.
6. Irish Wolfhound
The Irish Wolfhound, or IW, is the tallest dog breed in the world. These dogs can grow to the size of a small pony. Their original name was Wolf Hunter and records dating as far back as 391 CE place these dogs in Ancient Rome, working in battle, guarding herds, hunting elk, deer, boar and wolves. After wild boar and wolves became extinct in Ireland, there was a decline in the Irish Wolfhound population. In the second half of the 19th century, Captain George Graham bred IWs. They can come in many colors, including brindle, red, black, pure white, or fawn, but gray was the most common. Irish Wolfhounds are sweet and very intelligent. They are one of the most trusted breeds with children and are very eager to please. They greet everyone as a friend and are not wary of strangers. Unconditionally loyal to their owners and families, they aren't very good guard dogs. They are slow maturing and very clumsy.
As I have said, these dogs grow very tall: up to about 28-35 inches. They weight in at around 95-150 pounds, so they stay very lean. They can reach up to seven feet tall when standing on their hind legs. At this size, they are not suggested for apartment life. They need large yards and a big house. They are very unhappy in kennels. They must be watched, for they chase small animals. After all, they are hounds!
Irish Wolfhounds are prone to cardiomyopathy, bone cancer, and Von Willebrand's disease (a type of hemophilia, or bleeding disease). Like all big dogs, they are also prone to get bloat and hip dysplasia. They only live between 6-8 years.
7. Scottish Deerhound
The Scottish Deerhound is lean and very, very tall. They almost appear to be a rough-coated Greyhound, but they are much larger. They so closely resemble Greyhounds that they used to be called the Scotch Greyhound and Rough-Coated Greyhounds. These dogs were bred for rough climates. Like Irish Wolfhounds, they were known as royal dogs. Queen Victoria owned a variety of Scottish Deerhounds. When the gun was invented, these dogs almost became extinct, because they were no longer needed for hunting. Two brothers named Archibald and Duncan McNeill rescued the breed in the 1800s when they began breeding them. After World Was II, like most breeds, their numbers fell very low. They are now used for hunting, sighting, tracking, racing, agility, and lure coursing. They are dignified, devoted, and loyal dogs. They are quiet and well-mannered. They almost seem polite when they meet new people. They are like the Irish Wolfhounds are great breed for children.
They can reach between 28 and 32 inches in height. Their weight is very light for their height: They like to stay lean and very fit, at around 75-110 pounds. They can live in an apartment, if they get a lot of exercise.
Like all big dogs they are prone to bloat. The Scottish Deerhound rarely lives past 10 years of age.
8. Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan Malamute is the largest arctic dog. They come in many colors, including wolf-gray, black and white, wolf sable, and red. They are one of the closest breeds to the wild wolf. The name comes from the Mahlemuts, an native Alaskan tribe that raised and highly respected these snowy beauties. The dogs were the method of transportation thousands of years ago, hauling people and food for the Arctic people. They have a wonderful sense of smell and direction. They gained popularity after Jack London and Rudyard Kipling wrote appreciatively about them. They were bred to help with sledding, carting, search and rescue, racing, and weight-pulling. They are very intelligent, affectionate, loyal, and sweet dogs and do well with older children. Typically a mellow dog, they are very friendly and not good watchdogs. They love living outdoors, but not to to be tied up or placed in a kennel. They need mental and physical exercise or they can become destructive.
Malamutes do not make good apartment pets. They need a large yard and are active inside. They are diggers, so reguarly check your fence. They need daily walks.
Growing between 24-26 inches, they can weigh between 80-95 pounds. Like all big dogs, bloat and hip dysplasia are common. Dwarfism is not a rare condition among Malamutes.
They have a long life spans than most big dogs, between 12-15 years. The average litter is six puppies.
One thing you notice about an Akita is their beautiful colors: white, brindle, and pinto. The colors are very rich, clear, and balanced on the dog's coat. White Akita's have no mask, while Pintos have some patches. Each dog's undercoat can be different colors. The Akita came from the island of Honshu in the Akita region of Japan. It is the national dog of Japan and is one of the seven breeds designated as a Natural Monument. These dogs have been used for many things including sleddding, bear and deer hunting, police and military work, guarding, and fighting. They are intelligent and fearless. You must be a firm leader with an Akita, as they can become aggressive towards other dogs and animals. They should be definitely be watched around children of all ages and any other household pets. They need a lot of mental and physical exercise. They do make many weird sounds, but they are not big barkers. Training these dogs requires patience as they get bored very quickly. Akitas don't act well under pressure or when being teased, so they need to be watched around children. In order for a child to gain the dog's respect, the child just be taught to behave as an owner or master.
Akitas can live in apartments, if they have the proper exercise. They growing to between 26-28 inches in height and can weigh between 75-120 pounds. They live an average of 10-12 years and can have up to 12 puppies in one litter, though the average litter size is between 7 and 8 puppies.
Like other big dogs, Akitas are prone to hip dysplasia. They can also get thyroid thyroiditis, immune diseases, and skin and eye problems.
10. Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese is a huge, sturdy, agile, and strong dog. Originally from the Swiss Alps, these dogs were bred to work. They pulled carts carefully to the markets, drove cattle, and watched over farms. In the 19th century, many other working breeds were imported and BMD numbers dropped. Professor Albert Heim and Franz Schertenleib preserved the breed. They found some of the last of the top Bernese and bred them to become the wonderful companions they are today. These dogs are very good at tracking, herding, guarding, search and rescue, carting, and competitive obedience. They are a child's best friend. They are very intelligent, self-confident, alert, good-natured, and easy to train. They are natural watchdogs but not overly dominant. They are rather friendly with stangers and good with other pets and dogs. They demand to be with people and not in a backyard or kennel.
The Bernese can grow to between 24-28 inches in height and weigh between 85-110 pounds. BMDs are prone to bloat, cancer, eyelid problems, and hip and elbow dysplasia. They gain weight very easily, so be careful about over-feeding.
They are not very good dogs for apartment life and need a large fenced-in yard. They like the cold weather due to their coats. Bernese life spans have fallen recent years, from 10-12 years to 6-8 years, due to a growing number of cancer-related deaths in the breed.
11. Doberman Pinscher
Doberman Pinschers, also known as Dobies, are built tough in a compact body. The breed originated from Germany, when Louis Dobermann developed the breed for watchdogs and body guards. He crossed German Pinschers, Rottweilers, Beaucerins, and Greyhounds. The dogs became a big success in the late-1870s. They can be used for tracking, guarding, police and military work, search and rescue, therapy, schutzhund (or competitive dog sports), and competitive obedience. The Dobie has amazing stamina and tremendous strength. These dogs do not settle for the backyard or kennel life; they need to be part of the family. They only come in black with tan markings and brown or red with tan markings. Some have been found all white, but are called albino. The ears are usually cropped to stand straight up and tails are almost always docked. They are very smart and trainable and thrive on mental and physical stimulation. They will never need protection training; it comes naturally. They are one of the most loyal and dedicated breeds known to man.
Dobies are not outside dogs, but they do love to be outside in good weather. They can make do in an apartment, but its not recommended. They grow up to 28 inches in height and weight between 66-88 pounds.
They can experience numerous health problems, including Cervical spondylitis, Von Willebrands disease, obesity, bloat, skin issues, albinism, deafness, blindness, and unstable minds. They can live up to 13 years of age.
12. Giant Schnauzer
The Giant Schnauzer, or GS, is the largest breed of Schnauzer. GSs originated in the Wurttenberg section of Germany in the 17th century. Standard Schnauzers were crossed with black Great Dane and Bouvier des Flandres to create the Giant Schnauzer. Their name came from the German word schnauze which means "muzzle" though in Germany the breed is called Riesenschnauzer, which means "the Giant." Once used as cattle driving dog, they now mostly serve as guard, police, military, and schutzhund dogs. The GS is one of the most intelligent working dogs. They have a positive attitude, are very loyal, reliable, and bold. GSs tend to be on the dominant side, and firm handling is needed from puppyhood. Without firm training they become seriously protective and hard-headed. They only come in black. Among the best guard dog breeds, they will alert you of anything out the ordinary they see or hear.
Reaching 26-28 inches in height and between 60-80 pounds in weight, GSs live between 12 and 15 years. They are more prone to cancer than most breeds, especially toe cancer, which is fatal even when caught early. Like all big dogs, they can have problems with bloat, hip dylpasia and epilepsy. The GS is not for apartment life.
The Newfoundland dog, or Newfie, is an excellent swimmer. These dogs are brave fisher-dogs originating from the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. Newfies are outstanding, sweet-tempered, courageous, generous, intelligent, and gentle giants. They are huge, but devoted and loyal. They rarely bark but have no problem showing their teeth when someone in the family needs protection. They are not all-out attack dogs, but they will trap or hold intruders at bay. They can be very social and have a strong sense of who is welcome and who is not. They are very good with strangers, children, animals, and other dogs so long as there are no bad intentions. They are very good with children, they know how to play gently and are very patient. A Newfie litter size can include between 6-11 puppies.
Newfie are rather tall, reaching between 27 and 29 inches in height. They can weigh between 130-150 pounds. Becoming overweight can cause many health problems for them, including heart disease, hip dysplasia, and bloat. The Newfie is not an apartment dog. They like to be outside in cool or cold weather, but never in hot climates because of their coats. They love to frolic and swim, so plenty of exercise is useful. They can live for up to 15 years.
14. Great Pyrenees
Great Pyrenees, or Pyrenean Mountain Dog, may originate from Central Asia or Siberia. They were once known for guarding sheep. In the Middle Ages they gained popularity with the French Nobility. By the late 17th Century, almost every French Noble had one, or wanted to own one. They are brave, sometimes standing up to bears and wolves. The expression, "Over my dead body" comes from the Great Pyrenees breed trait. If a farmer's sheep were ever harmed, the GP dog was usually found dead too, killed while trying to protect the flock. Today these dogs are used for avalanche rescue, cart pulling, sleddding, flock guarding, battle, companionship, and guarding. Their personalities are calm, well-mannered, somewhat serious, loyal, gentle, affectionate, and devoted. They love children, as long as they are familiar with them. They will bark at any unusual sound. They can sometimes wander off and should not be left alone outside alone for long periods of time. They slobber a lot.
Great Pyrenees dogs reach between 27-32 inches in height and can weight between 85 and 120 pounds. Like all big dogs they are prone to bloat and hip dysplasia. They can also get bone cancer, skin problems (in hot weather), and luxated patellas.
They will not be able to adapt to apartment life. They will be very happy with a medium-sized yard or free range. They love cooler climates, so in hot weather will not be able to stay outside very long. The GP lives an average of 10 years.
15. Neopolitan Mastiff
This serious yet powerful ball of hanging wrinkles is more than meets the eye. The Neopolitan Mastiff, or Neo, is a European Mastiff. Descended from Tibetan Mastiffs, these dogs are among the most ancient members of the canine specices. Brought to Greece by Alexander the Great, they came to the attention of ancient Romans. They were not offically recognized as a Mastiff breed until 1946 and their standards were not in place until 1949. They were once used as police dogs in Italy. They are still quite rare in the United States, where the AKC only recognized the breed in 2004. They may look dangerous and daring, but are calm, peacful lovers. They do not do well in hot weather and drool gallons a day. They are smart, protective, serious, and mild-mannered. They are very quiet though will bark when needed. They can be reserved with strangers and do well in changing enviroments. They are good with children, mostly when they have grown up together or with other kids around.
Growing to between 26 and 30 inches in height and weighing about 165-200 pounds, Neopolitan Mastiffs have alot of health issues related to their joints. They also can experience cherry eye, hip dysplasia, bloat, and panostiosis.
They are not the best dogs for apartment life. They love to romp and play, but most of the time are lazy. They usually live around 10 years.
16. St. Bernard
The St. Bernard, or St. B., was bred by monks in the Swiss Alps. They are a cross between the Tibetan Mastiff, Great Dane, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, and Great Pyrenees. Their coats can be short- or long-haired. In the middle of the 17th century, St. B's became popular in Switzerland as rescue dogs and saved millions of people from avalanches every year. They have the ability to smell an avalanche victim even if they are buried under six feet of snow. They are search and rescue dogs, guard dogs, watch dogs, and carting dogs to this day. If you want a large dog for children, this is one of the best you could ever get. They a slow-moving, tolerant, loyal, and eager to please. They are highly intelligent and very easy to train.
Not the best dogs for an apartment, these dogs love their exercise. They can live outdoors but love to be with the family. They do not do well in hot weather and can snore quite loudly.
They grow to between 25 and 27 inches in height and weighing between 110 and 200 pounds. They are prone to the "wobbler" syndrome (malformed cervical vertebra), hip dysplasia, tumors, skin problems, bloat, and eyelid problems.
For a big dog, they can live long lives of between 8 and 10 years.