Nothing beats cuddling up with your dog, and it’s especially sweet when they’re a big breed—there’s just more to love! As for which dogs are considered truly giant dog breeds, the standard is open to interpretation, but we do know that the following breeds are considered some of the biggest in the world. Here’s the list—read more about them and see photos below!
- Dogue de Bordeaux
- Scottish Deerhound
- Irish Wolfhound
- Anatolian Shepherd
- Saint Bernard
- English Mastiff
- Kangal Dog
- Great Dane
- Great Pyrenees
- Cane Corso
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
- Black Russian Terrier
- Caucasian Shepherd Dog (Ovcharka)
Giant Dog Breeds as Family Pets
Though their sheer size can give an intimidating first impression, many of these canines are known to be good-tempered, loyal, and loving. These giant dog breeds are typically more relaxed than their smaller counterparts and fairly calm at home, with short bursts of energy. That’s why big dog breeds are often called “great apartment dogs,” despite their size! That said, daily exercise is as important for these beautiful beasts as it is for any dog.
Many of these extra-large dogs were bred for work and for protection, such as mastiffs and shepherds, and need good training and socialization to harness those instincts.
Other factors to consider before adding any of the giant dog breeds to your household include regular vet checkups for common joint issues, extra slobber, extra-large waste deposits (giant poop bags, coming right up), and their shorter-than-average lifespan.
Whether or not you’re looking for an extra-large dog, there’s nothing better than admiring these gentle giants. Take a look and get to know some of the world’s biggest dog breeds.
Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff)
The Dogue de Bordeaux breed is incredibly powerful and can weigh in at almost 110 pounds. Though their heads are huge (in fact, they’re the largest in the canine kingdom), their kind eyes and furrowed brows make them seem approachable and sweet. They are indeed loyal and loving to their family, but they definitely require training to tame their stubbornness.
This super rare breed goes way back, and is often called the “Royal Dog of Scotland”. Scottish Deerhounds are one of the tallest breeds, and though their size can be intimidating, they’re actually friendly and sweet—which (aside from their size) doesn’t make them the best guard dogs. Deerhounds are super active puppies, but they tend to mellow out as they grow older. Just don’t forget to keep up with their daily walks to ensure they stay healthy.
Leonbergers were developed in Germany to be companions—in fact, Napolean III, Tsar Alendar II, and the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) all welcomed this breed into their homes. And with their gentle nature, patience and elegance, it’s clear why they’re popular additions to many families. But don’t let their friendliness fool you, Leonbergers make excellent watchdogs and are hard workers—whether they’re working on farms or romping around.
Though one of the tallest dog breeds (if not the tallest), Irish Wolfhound make some of the sweetest, most amiable companions around. You would never guess that they were once bred to be ferocious war dogs, considering their gentle manner with children and other animals. Make sure to walk them regularly though—it will keep them in tip-top shape.
An ancient breed, Anatolians (or some variation of them) are believed to be referenced in some of the earliest books of the Bible. This breed is smart and insanely protective of the people they love—which means they need a leader who can handle a strong and dominating personality. Weighing up to 150 pounds, many of these dogs are still working ranch dogs.
When you picture giant dog breeds, you may very well be picturing a shaggy Saint Bernard! Everyone can appreciate the charming and playful nature of the Saint Bernard. Endlessly patient, they’re considered “nanny dogs” for children, and they adore every moment they spend with their loved ones. This breed was originally used to seek out and rescue lost travelers in the Swiss Alps, which makes sense considering their strength and size—anywhere from 120 to 180 pounds. Always make sure to keep these dogs in cool or air-conditioned spaces because they’re sensitive to heat.
The Newfoundland is both sweet-tempered and powerful—and special enough that even Senator and Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy trusted their Newfoundland, Brumus, to help look after their 11 children. They are among the world’s biggest dogs and are born swimmers (especially with the help of their partially webbed feet). These gentle giants respond well to kind guidance and deserve every accolade they receive for their compassionate nature. They’re among the most popular giant dog breeds for family pets.
Male Mastiffs can stand up to 30 inches at the shoulder, and can weigh as much as a full-grown human! They’re also super hard to miss, with that recognizable black face and fawn, apricot, or brindle striped coat. The British mastiff type (called just the Mastiff by the AKC) is an ancient breed that was used in medieval England as big-game hunters, guardians, and war dogs. Mastiffs have since become more of a family dog, though they remain alert to what’s going on around them (with only a little slobber on the side).
Other Mastiffs among the giant dog breeds of the world include the Neopolitan, the Tibetan, and the Bullmastiff.
Hailing from the Sivas region of Turkey, Kangal dogs have long been bred to protect livestock from large predators including wolves and bears. This means that though they’re gentle with children, they can be aggressive when it comes to predators who may cause a threat. Reliable and sweet—what more can you ask for!
Always the perfect picture of elegance, Great Danes are one of the most well-known of the giant dog breeds. They tend to tower over most other dogs, and even some people—growing up to 32 inches at the shoulder. Their coats come in a variety of colors, with the most recognizable being the black and white harlequin pattern. Though they make friends easily, they can also be protective of the people they love when strangers are around.
These dogs are strong and boast a long double coat that’s waterproof, making them well-suited for the rough conditions they endured as sheep guardians in the Pyrenees Mountains. Known to be mellow (except when jumping into action to defend their flock), Great Pyrenees are often described as “majestic” and can weigh up to 100 pounds.
Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff)
With a lineage that goes back to ancient Roman times, this giant dog breed is known for their excellence as guardians. Always alert and confident, Cane Corsos are very loyal to their humans. And the fact that they weigh over 100 pounds and have lots of muscles makes them intimidating to any would-be intruders.
Bernese Mountain Dog
So sweet and affectionate, the Bernese Mountain Dog is often considered one of the most beautiful breeds around. These dogs have thick and silky coats that are colored black, white and rust—but those coats aren’t just for looks, they’re also perfect for keeping them cozy in cold weather. Though they enjoy getting outside for exercise, they also relish opportunities to hang out with the family.
Black Russian Terrier
Interestingly enough, the Black Russian Terrier was created by the Russian military in the 1930s—using a combination of breeds like the Giant Schnauzer, Airedale Terrier, and Newfoundland. Weighing in at up to 140 pounds, this giant dog breed is known for being smart and dominating, which means they need a strong and experienced owner. They’re also a little messy, so be prepared to clean up the inevitable mess they’ll drag inside.
Caucasian Shepherd Dog
One of the most striking of the giant dog breeds, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog is known to be an incredible guardian—which means they require an experienced owner to balance out that stubbornness and intensity. They were bred to hunt bears (!) in the mountains of Russia, and you know what? They resemble a bear, just a bit. This breed has been around nearly 600 years and can weigh up to 200 pounds. They’re active and hardworking and need plenty of activity and training.
It’s hard not to notice this breed, with the signature white coils of their coats that offer them protection in extreme weather. Long used as guardians for sheep, these dogs sport dreadlocks to keep them well-hidden among the herd, so they can surprise any unexpected visitors. Males can weigh over 100 pounds, but they move quickly and with purpose. Loving and loyal to family members, these canines are very independent and need a firm, consistent person to train and care for them.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Known as “Swissies” to their admirers, these dogs were originally bred to herd cattle and serve as watchdogs—and they still love jobs. It’s best to not keep them cooped up in an apartment since they need some room to wander. They also have a deep bark (which close neighbors may not love), but at heart, they’re gentle and loving. Just be sure to train and socialize them early, and prepare yourself for a puppyhood that lasts for a while as this breed is a little slow to mature.
As giant dog breeds go, Akitas are on the smaller end, though still quite large. Akitas are of ancient Japanese lineage and for centuries have occupied a special place in Japanese culture—in fact, Hachiko, an Akita from the 1920s, is among Japan’s most cherished symbols. Though they tend to be wary of strangers, this breed is loyal and affectionate when it comes to their loved ones and are celebrated for their courage and loyalty. Just make sure to socialize them from an early age to keep their stubbornness in check.
For those who are ready to bring a big dog into their home, any of these beautiful giant breeds would make an incredible addition to the family.