Five Giant Dog Breeds That You Will Love

The Great Pyrenees is one of the giant dog breeds easy to love.
The Great Pyrenees is one of the giant dog breeds easy to love. | Source
A Newfoundland puppy at 8 weeks.
A Newfoundland puppy at 8 weeks. | Source
A Newfoundland enjoying the snow.
A Newfoundland enjoying the snow. | Source
This Newfoundland weighs over 200 pounds.
This Newfoundland weighs over 200 pounds. | Source

What is not to love about a big dog? They slobber a lot, shed in great masses since they have so much hair, eat more than the kids, and take up so much space that they need their own rooms. (Actually giant dogs usually like to be around company, so all they really need are their own sofas and beds.)

Giant dogs can also break your heart. They suffer devastating health problems, cost a fortune to take care of, and live short lives.

Of course, they wouldn´t break your heart if they weren´t so great.

All giant dogs are great choices, but which five are the best?


Newfies are number one, and there aren´t many dog owners that would disagree. (Well, actually there are. Almost everyone thinks that their favorite dog breed is the best.)

I don´t think they are number one because they are the biggest. They usually only get up to 70 or 80 kilos (150-175 pounds) but there are plenty out there who are heavier. It isn´t just because they are champion droolers, although they are. It isn´t just because they are champion shedders, although they are.

So why are Newfies number one? Part of it has to do with their willingness to jump into the water and save a life. They have excellent lung capacity, a coat that is almost waterproof with webbed paws that allow them to swim faster, a powerful breastroke, and of course a big heart.

They´re so good at swimming and so likely to jump in and save a kid that many mothers are willing to trust their children to a Newfie. They have even been used in crossbreeding programs that hope to spread this great characteristic to other breeds.

Newfoundlands do have some serious health problems, like hip dysplasia and heart disease. Only about 38% of them even make it their tenth birthday.

During that time, of course, you will have one of the best giant dog breeds.

A Newfoundland diving to the rescue.
A Newfoundland diving to the rescue. | Source
A close up of a Newfoundland dog.
A close up of a Newfoundland dog.
Click thumbnail to view full-size
A St. Bernard puppy.The profile of a handsome St. Bernard.St. Bernards are good with kids.
A St. Bernard puppy.
A St. Bernard puppy. | Source
The profile of a handsome St. Bernard.
The profile of a handsome St. Bernard. | Source
St. Bernards are good with kids.
St. Bernards are good with kids. | Source

St Bernard

St. Bernards are probably the most well known of all the giant dogs, and they are giant, around 70-120 kilos (150-250 pounds).

Everyone pictures them trudging through the snow with a flask of brandy tied to their neck, but they haven´t been involved in that type of rescue work for many years; they never really carried flasks and the last recorded case of a rescue in the snow was in 1897.

They are a lot more likely to participate in weight pulling sports now, or do their duty as great companion dogs.

Or maybe do their duty as guard dogs. They have a deep bark, and almost everyone remembers Cujo. They are great with kids but if not socialized are a lot of work to handle.

Like a lot of giant dogs, St. Bernards are prone to hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Some of them have eyelid problems, epilepsy, and heart disease. St. Bernards are even affected by an inherited form of bone cancer.

They probably live about 8 to 10 years, but only about 26% of them live until 10. They do drool, of course, but that is just because they haven´t figured out how to open the flasks and get to the brandy.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A Great Pyrenees outside.A Great Pyrenees at work.A Great Pyrenees puppy.
A Great Pyrenees outside.
A Great Pyrenees outside. | Source
A Great Pyrenees at work.
A Great Pyrenees at work. | Source
A Great Pyrenees puppy.
A Great Pyrenees puppy. | Source

Great Pyrenees

One of my favorite giant dogs is a working breed, not really bred to be kept as a companion, not really meant to be confined to a house. These giants (over 50 kilos, or 110 pounds) have been running around on the slopes of the Pyrenees mountains guarding sheep for hundreds of years. So why is the Great Pyrenees so great?

The Great Pyrenees does his job, just like all the other livestock guard dogs. A litter can be born in a barn, raised with the lambs, and then turn into a low maintenance dog that provides a special ambiance to the farm.

They can be great with kids on the farm, great with the stock they protect and other animals on the farm, and great with the farmer.

But they can also be trained as companion dogs, if you really must!

I like Great Pyrenees because of the dog´s resistant attitude to obedience training. Dr. Coren rated them number 64 out of 69 breeds tested for his book The Intelligence of Dogs. They are not stupid—they know their job is to guard livestock and commands like “sit” and “stay” are frivolous.

Yes, they drool, but when they slobber on the field it is not much of a problem. Yes, they do bark at night when performing their “rounds”. And yes, they need to be brushed and groomed if kept around the house. Their coats are thick, and if you force them to do something (instead of fulfilling their chosen occupation, which is lie around and do nothing) they can overheat.

They also have some problems like hip dysplasia and bloat. Most of their health problems are less serious, like ear infections and skin problems, and they usually live to be about 10 or 11 years old.

They are usually Great the whole time.

A dog watching the sheep.
A dog watching the sheep.
A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy.
A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy. | Source
A Bernese Mountain Dog out for a hike.
A Bernese Mountain Dog out for a hike. | Source

Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dogs are great farm dogs. They are large enough to pull a cart, smart enough to bring the cows home, and docile enough to look after the kids.

(They do need to be socialized, like any breed of dog. Training a dog this big is also a good idea.)

They are giant, but not as big as a St. Bernard. Males usually weigh up to 50 kilos (110 pounds) and females just a little less. They do look just as solid, however, just like all the dogs on this list.

Bernese Mountain Dogs have a lot of health problems, especially for farm dogs. Almost half of them die from cancers like bone cancer, lymphosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, and mast cell tumors. They also have problems like hip dysplasia, cruciate ligament ruptures, and arthritis. The breed also has several inherited eye diseases.

They only live to about 7, and only about 28% even make it to 10. Part of that may be due to the fact that they can become lame when quite young. If they were a small dog, the owners would be able to handle it.

A giant dog is a lot to move around. Berners are worth it.

A Bernese Mountain Dog in the snow.
A Bernese Mountain Dog in the snow.
A Bernese Mountain Dog having breakfast.
A Bernese Mountain Dog having breakfast.
Click thumbnail to view full-size
The English Mastiff is an easy dog to love.
The English Mastiff is an easy dog to love.
The English Mastiff is an easy dog to love. | Source

English Mastiff

This calm giant is almost as famous as the St. Bernard. He is famous for his huge build (anywhere from 70-110 kilos, or 150-240 pounds), his massive head, his good nature, and his black mask.

The Mastiff may not be the tallest giant breed, but he is definitely the biggest.

One English Mastiff holds the record for heaviest dog. He weighed 156 kilos (343 pounds) as an adult in 1989,and was well over 2 meters long! (8 ¼ feet). Before that time the Mastiff almost died out, but they are now an almost popular dog breed. (Well, at least considering their size!)

Like most big dogs, the Mastiff has some serious health problems. They are prone to hip dysplasia, bloat (twisted stomach), thyroid problems, and some eye diseases. Fast growth is normal so they need only mild exercise when young.

Some Mastiffs also tend to become obese. They need a soft dog bed so as not to get hard calluses and fluid pockets (hygromas) on the elbows.

Mastiffs live about 7 years, but sometimes make it to 10 or 11. If you want to read about some suggestions that might help you keep your dog around longer, read Dog Breeds with Short Lifespans.

Most of these dogs have similar ancestry and act a lot alike. They are probably all descended from the Tibetan Mastiff, and have been brought in to cross with each other when their numbers have been threatened.

If you like what you hear about these dogs and are interested in finding one be sure to call your local animal shelter first. Some people obtain one of these giants without being aware of how much extra it is going to cost in food and medical bills. They end up surrendering the dog to the humane society so a few are always available.

You can also check They will give you an idea of the giants available in the states closest to you. If you are willing to get an adult you should search for a breed rescue, and if you want a puppy you can try to go to a dog show and chatting with some of the breeders that have the type of dog you like.

Do not order a puppy off of the internet. You will end up supporting a puppy mill and a puppy shipping and warehouse operations.

Are you ready to have your heart broken?

An Irish Wolfhound, giant even as a puppy.
An Irish Wolfhound, giant even as a puppy. | Source

Coming up with a list of the five best is not easy. There are a lot of great dogs that aren´t on here, like the Great Dane, a popular dog among my German neighbors, and the Irish Wolfhound, one of my favorites.

I would really like all of these dogs to live longer and stay healthy. I do not have any secrets to tell you, but for some advice to help your dog live longer read this article and follow the tips.

© 2013 DrMark1961

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Comments 8 comments

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

I would love a Newfie if they could handle the heat! A 200 pound lap dog-sound fun?

epbooks profile image

epbooks 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

As I was reading this, I was nodding my head as I love the newfie. But then I forgot about the pyranees and the bernese mountain dog. All dogs I wish I had the room for! Although, I'm sure like any big dog, they turn into lap dogs the moment they get adopted! Great hub- voted up!

DebbieAgustin2013 profile image

DebbieAgustin2013 3 years ago from Philippines

How I wish I could have a Newfound dog someday! Great pics. I love them!

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

Thanks for commenting, tirelesstraveler. I would love to have one of those dogs. I have written about them in "Five Best German Dog Breeds". Unfortunately, they are not built for the tropics; there are a lot of advantages living here but there are some things that have to be given up.

tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 3 years ago from California

Friends just got a (Leonburger?) He is a mix of Newfoundland,Great Pyrenees and St. Bernard. His paws at 1 year are bigger than my size 9 feet. He is an absolute love. Great hub.

Bob Bamberg profile image

Bob Bamberg 3 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

Another interesting hub, Doc. Voted up, useful and interesting. I think I told you about a business associate who breeds Great Pyrenees and would often bring them to the store. He'd leave them in the back of the truck and they would stop traffic. People would pull in to get a closer look. I've always loved their eyeliner. Unfortunately, he lost his favorite male (and best buddy) to bloat last year.

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi Dr.Mark. What a great selection of Giant Breeds. I really love the photos and video. The term gentle giants certainly comes to mind with these breeds. Great job.

wetnosedogs profile image

wetnosedogs 3 years ago from Alabama

You know by now what I'm going to say- love the mastiff!

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