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The Best Large Dog Breeds From Canada

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Labrador Retrievers are built to handle the Canadian snow. What other large dog breeds are great in Canada?

Labrador Retrievers are built to handle the Canadian snow. What other large dog breeds are great in Canada?

Canada is not home to many large dog breeds. One of them, however, is the most popular dog in the world. The Labrador Retriever is popular in most European countries, is the most popular dog in the UK, and has been number one in registrations with the AKC (US) since 1991. Labs are more than twice as popular as the next breed listed in the AKC's top ten.

5 Large Dogs From Canada

  1. Labrador Retriever
  2. Newfoundland
  3. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
  4. Canadian Eskimo Dog
  5. Labrador Husky

1. The Labrador Retriever

Labs were originally from Newfoundland and worked with fishermen in the cold waters of that island. Later they became gun dogs when taken to England, and are now popular everywhere and are used as seeing-eye dogs, therapy dogs, assistance dogs, etc. They are also popular pets, of course, both because they are so friendly and also because they are great around kids.

These dogs are friendly with almost everyone and are not considered good guard dogs despite their size (and labs are big!). These dogs weigh around 30-35 kilos (about 65-80 pounds) but dogs heavier than this are usually considered obese.

Labs really like to eat and are prone to “garbage gut” and obesity. Most dogs need to be kept on a restricted-calorie diet, and all dogs need adequate exercise to stay fit. If they are kept in shape they usually live at least 11 years.

Besides obesity, their biggest problem is that they tend to shed a lot, and in warm areas dogs even shed year-round. If they are groomed regularly with a rake-style brush, however, the hair loss around the house can be kept under control.

Since they are so popular, all of their health problems are well known. Some of them are prone to hip dysplasia. Others may have a luxating patella, and dogs may develop arthritis secondary to these problems. Some labs have eye problems, others develop chronic ear infections, and some have muscle diseases. Labrador Retrievers may not be the perfect dog, but there are a lot of lab owners in a lot of countries who will disagree.

Labrador Puppy Training

2. The Newfoundland

The largest dog breed from Canada is not as popular as the Labrador Retriever, but they are one of the best dogs for a lot of reasons. Newfoundlands are strong dogs and incredibly loyal, willing to do what is needed to save a human life.

Newfoundlands are also one of the best dog breeds for kids. They weigh 60-70 kilos (but sometimes up to 90, or 200 pounds), have thick waterproof coats, a powerful breaststroke, webbed paws, and a lung capacity that allows them to jump in the water and save a drowning child.

The best story I have heard in the last few years is that of a Newfoundland in California that saved a drowning man that he noticed when out walking with his owner. The dog had no previous lifesaving experience!

This dog does have some health problems. Some are prone to hip dysplasia, others have problems with elbow dysplasia. Other dogs may die young because of heart disease (subvalvular aortic stenosis, or SAS). The average life expectancy is 9 or 10, but most of them do not make it to their tenth birthday.

Newfoundlands are another great dog from Canada.

Newfoundland Puppies Feeding

3. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

This Canadian dog is a hunter but works a lot differently than other gun dogs. Instead of just pointing or retrieving, they are meant to lure waterfowl within range of the hunter (tolling) before retrieving the ducks and geese.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers (Tollers) are smaller than Labs and Goldens, usually about 20-25 kilos (45-60 pounds).

Hunters say that they are able to attract curious geese and ducks since they look a little like a fox when playing near the water. They have heavy coats and can handle retrieving in the cold lakes of Canada.

Tollers started out with a small gene pool so they do have some genetic problems. Some of them are prone to Collie eye anomaly or retinal atrophy (PRA). Other dogs are prone to autoimmune thyroiditis, and Addison´s Disease, while uncommon, still is seen 10 times more often than in other breeds.

Like Goldens and Labs, Tollers are affectionate and outgoing but need a lot of physical activity to keep from getting bored and destructive. Like most dogs, what they really want (and need) is a job.

4. The Canadian Eskimo Dog

This large Canadian dog is one of the oldest purebreds in North America. Whereas the Siberian Husky was bred by the Chukchi tribe, this dog has been domesticated for thousands of years by another group of Eskimos, the Thule tribe.

The Canadian Eskimo Dog weighs from 30 to 40 kilos (about 65 to 90 pounds) with a thick coat like that of the Siberian Husky. They are powerful, athletic, and look similar to an Alaskan Malamute, and a lot like a wolf.

Like a Siberian, they need a lot of exercises. Walking just won't do it—besides pulling sleds these dogs are good at pulling carts and skijoring. In Canada, they were used as sled dogs and also for hunting polar bears. With their thick coats, Canadian Eskimo Dogs are prone to heatstroke. They usually live for about 12 years.

Like many sled dogs, they have a strong prey drive and are not suited around small animals. There has been a breeding program in place since 1972—if not for that the dogs might already be extinct. Even in Canada, they are considered rare, unlike years ago, before the popularity of the snowmobile.

Canadian Eskimo Dog Training

The Labrador Husky is from the northern part of Canada.

The Labrador Husky is from the northern part of Canada.

5. The Labrador Husky

No, this dog is not a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Siberian Husky. The dog just happens to be a Husky from the province of Labrador. Labrador Huskies are larger than Siberians, ranging from 25 to 50 kilos (about 60 to 100 pounds) but are not as tall and thick as Alaskan Malamutes. They have double coats, like all Huskies, and are usually black and white, grey and white, or even red and white.

Like all sled dogs, the Labrador Husky used to be a working dog. They are not as fast as the Siberian Husky but are better known because of their endurance. Most of those still around are pets. There are not many dogs around and no health problems have been discovered. They live for about 12 or 13 years.

Labrador Huskies do not bark much, but they do howl like their Siberian cousins. If they are kept as pets, they need plenty of brushing when shedding, socialization and obedience training when still young, and a good exercise program to keep them from becoming bored and destructive.

Where to Find a Canadian Dog

Labrador Retrievers are the most popular breed in the US, and purebreds and crosses are the dogs most likely to be found at your local animal shelter. Before you decide to search for your dog elsewhere, take a minute to look at the Labs, Lab crosses, and other breeds at the humane society in your town.

Some dogs, like the Canadian Eskimo and Labrador Husky, are better off where they are. If you want one of these dogs, try to contact a rescue or but do not buy from a pet shop or through an internet puppy wholesaler. You will be supporting a puppy mill and will end up with a dog that is difficult to housebreak, hard to train, and probably unhealthy.


Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on November 30, 2013:

Dr. Mark,

I forgot to tell you that I have few images of CEDs (not CKDs as I was abbreviating the name absent-mindedly in my previous comment) of my own. I had met them at a dog sled race near Toronto about 2 winters ago. If you need them do let me know.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on July 31, 2013:


I have couple of pictures with a female CKD, who we met at dog sled races held near Toronto. Impressive dogs they are. If I remember correctly, my first HupPages profile picture was also with a CKD.

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 31, 2013:

Suhail, if you get one be sure to put up a hub about them! I did not find many images and would like to see more.

Mary, that sounds like a great name for a big female. I was working on a hub last night about why all small male dogs need macho names, and al big female dogs need feminine names. Petunia fits!

Mary Craig from New York on July 31, 2013:

Me too, I want one of each ;) I've always been fascinated by the Newfoundland. A neighbor had one years ago, her name was Petunia...can you imagine that big beautiful dog called Petunia? A true gentle giant.

All of these dogs are beautiful and after reading this I couldn't pick just one!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on July 31, 2013:

The only dog I would like to have from this group is the Canadian Eskimo Dog (CKD) for my winter activities. These dogs almost went into extinction that the people blamed on Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

CKDs were used by Tom Avery and his team to follow in the footsteps of Robert Peary and Matthew Henson and conquer the north pole in record time. He wrote a good book on this adventure -'To the End of the Earth: Our Epic Journey to the North Pole and the Legend of Peary and Henson'.

I have been thinking about it for a year now. A CKD will become a great companion to K2 and me in our winter exploits hahaha.

Rated up, found useful and interesting, and shared.

Bob Bamberg on July 17, 2013:

I saw that video, too. The dogs' owner said the bears return every year and hang out for a few days, and interact peacefully with the dogs. Re: Balto and Muffin, the only thing shorter would be the frog and the fly. Slurrrp.

I'm preparing to leave for a 3-day Dock Dogs event in Maine. I'm one of the vendors. This will be my third one this summer. What a treat. I've seen some of the same competitors at the previous two, so I expect I'll see some of them at this one, as well. Nice people and fun event.

I'd encourage anyone who has a Dock Dogs event coming to their area to plan to attend. It's good family fun. The group that organizes the events I've been working at are raising money for Down Syndrome, so in this case, it's a chance to help out as well. Lots of Labs and Goldens!

Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 17, 2013:

Thanks for the vote and share, Eddy!!

Bob, I did see a video of a Canadian Eskimo Dog playing with a Polar Bear. There probably arent any videos with hamsters, though, since they would be too short to put on Youtube. (Muffin...where´s Muffin? Balto, have you seen Muffin?)

Bob Bamberg on July 17, 2013:

Enjoyable hub...I didn't know about the Canadian Eskimo Dog. What a handsome animal. I don't think I'd want to be the family hamster, though. Voted up and interesting.

Eiddwen from Wales on July 17, 2013:

A wonderful read and voted up/shared as always .

Enjoy your day.


Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 16, 2013:

Sounds like a great daydream!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 16, 2013:

Of course now that I have read this I want one of each :) In my next life when I am able to provide for animals such as these properly I will have an abundance of them in addition to many not mentioned and tons of kitties and my grounds will be filled with chickens, geese, cows, goats, and horses. O my, you sent me into a daydream...and thank you for that.

Angels are on the way this morning. ps