If you like your pets super-sized, then a large breed dog is the ideal companion for you! With big paws, big personalities, and a big heart to match, giant breeds come with a whole hunk of love. This love makes big dog breeds valued from all around the world.
While their giant size can be a little intimidating, many large breeds make wonderful family pets. Most of them have been bred to do a specific job, which is why choosing the right pup for you and your family is key to a happy home.
Torn between more than one gentle giant? We’ll help you choose! Here’s our guide to some of the best, and biggest, dog breeds in the world.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Height: 23-28 inches Weight: 85-140 pounds Life Expectancy: 9 years
Originally bred to herd cattle, the “Swissie” is a hardworking dog that has often been used as a watchdog. They like their space, so you’ll need to make sure they have enough room to wander. This gorgeous giant possesses a distinctive bark and is also be quite vocal. Hopefully you have understanding neighbors!
Despite their size, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a loving softie. These cuddly bears tend to be playful and excel at agility-type sports. They require plenty of exercise and benefit from early socialization, as this breed is slow to mature. Intelligent and eager to please, this dog would suit an experienced and active home.
Black Russian Terrier
Height: 27-30 inches Weight: 80-130 pounds Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
With its totally adorable face, the Black Russian Terrier is certainly a shaggy and bearded looker! While they may look over-sized cute, these dogs are powerhouses, with a muscular build and stamina to match. Bred in 1950s Russia as a military dog, the Black Russian Terrier has many desirable qualities. Some of these include their high level of trainability, agility, intelligence, and their resistance to extreme cold. They are also known to be dominant and can get destructive if left untrained.
With Giant Schnauzer, Airedale Terrier, and Newfoundland in its genes, the Black Russian Terrier is totally qualified to be with our world’s biggest breeds. They’ll need an experienced and confident owner to bring out their best qualities.
Height: 32 inches Weight: 88-140 pounds Life Expectancy: 13 – 15 years
An ancient Turkish breed, the Anatolian Shepherd is thought to date back to 2000BC. Initially, they were bred to guard livestock and property. This dog is still used as a working dog in its homeland, as well as other parts of the world. In Namibia, they work as protectors to cheetahs on wildlife reserves.
This handsome canine is a true giant. Despite its size, this dog has one of the longest lifespans amongst big breeds. They are clearly bred for survival, which means they foster an independent spirit. Don’t worry, they’re certain to be protective of their human pack, too! Recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1999, the Anatolian Shepherd is best suited to a confident owner who is comfortable handling dominant dogs.
Height: 27-32 inches Weight: 110-120 pounds Life Expectancy: 10 – 12 years
The Great Pyrenees is another ancient dog breed, with his ancestors’ remains dating back to 1800BC Europe. Originally from Central Asia, this breed became a highly valued shepherd’s companion. This is probably due to its keen senses of smell and sight. Typically, the Great Pyrenees lives an isolated life with its human in the Pyrenean mountains.
Mountain life means this version of the Great Pyrenees is one tough pooch. Their long and waterproof double-coat properly prepares them to endure harsh climate conditions. The shepherd instinct means this handsome giant is intelligent and clearly devoted to their human companion. These pups are also quite fearless and strong-willed. In the right hands, they can become a truly loyal and gentle dog.
Height: 25-30 inches Weight: 99-160 pounds Life Expectancy: 12 – 15 years
While not the tallest dog in our guide, the Tibetan Mastiff is certainly a heavyweight. Some adult males can top 160 pounds! A thick double coat covers their muscular frame, giving them a teddy-bear like appearance. Be careful hugging this dog, though; their weight could topple you right over!
The true origins of this breed are not totally known, though researchers say they are originally from the Himalayan Mountains and the plains of Central Asia. It’s believed they were once used as guard dogs for livestock and property. They are thought to be the founding genetic stock for many other mastiff and mountain dog breeds. Temperament wise, the Tibetan Mastiff is a sure protector mixed with a loyal and gentle companion. This combination certainly appeals to many families!
Height: 32-35 inches Weight: 99-150 pounds Life Expectancy: 8-10 years
Typically measuring up to 35 inches at the shoulder, the Irish Wolfhound is widely considered the world’s tallest dog breed. It certainly has the speed and stamina to match!
Originally, the Irish Wolfhound was bred as a courser and used to hunt wolves. They were even used in wars, dragging men from their horses in the middle of the battle! Don’t mess with this dog. Despite this formidable reputation, this beautiful, shaggy dog has quite a gentle heart. Looks like we got another softie in a giant’s disguise! With their easy-going temperament, kind eyes, and loads of playtime energy, Irish Wolfhounds make wonderful family pets. They are incredibly great with children and other dogs. They are courageous without being aggressive. On the flip side, the Irish Wolfhound does need a lot of exercise to keep it stimulated and happy. Keep this in mind!
Height: 25-30 inches Weight: 140-180 pounds Life Expectancy: 8-10 years
When you think of extra large dog breeds, chances are the Saint Bernard comes to mind! Famously known as a mountain rescue dog, the Saint Bernard also has saintly connections. They were originally bred in a Swiss Alps monastery. Hence the name! Their popularity grew after people found they made awesome search and rescue dogs. In fact, it was not just their physical abilities that made them so successful. It was also their kind and gentle face, which was always a welcome sight for people waiting to be rescued!
This gorgeous animal is another softie, with a loving and docile temperament that makes them great family dogs. If there’s space in the home for them, that is! The only downside is that their lifespan is not the longest. Most Saint Bernards only live up to 10 years.
Height: 27-29 inches Weight: 120-150 pounds Life Expectancy: 10 years
Believe it or not, the Newfoundland is a total water baby. They love nothing more than to take a refreshing plunge into a deep and cold lake. Funny, right? Well, as they were originally used by fishermen to haul nets, lines, and even people from the water, then it all makes sense. This breed’s reputation started in Newfoundland, Canada, where they get their love of water and their name. These dogs actually have webbed feet!
With a waterproof, double coat, the Newfoundland’s luxurious fur makes them look even larger than they actually are. Their thick coat certainly hides their strong and muscular body beneath! They possess excellent “people skills”, and which have led them to be used as water rescue dogs – in other words, a canine lifeguard! Back on dry land, the Newfoundland makes for a great family pet. These dogs are loyal and intelligent, making them one of the most popular giant dog breeds for any home.
Dogue de Bordeaux
Height: 23-27 inches Weight: 125-150 pounds Life Expectancy: 5-8 years
Often called the French Mastiff, the Dogue de Bordeaux is a stocky and well-built dog. The breed has an aristocratic look that has attracted owners for centuries. Today’s most famous Dogue de Bordeaux was the leading, and rather slobbery, canine star in the 1989 Tom Hanks film, Turner and Hooch.
Used as a hunter, guard dog, and baiter, the Dogue de Bordeaux breed combines strength and courage with loyalty and energy. They are best known as active working dogs. Though take them inside and they’ll certainly find it easy to hunker down with their favorite human!
Their head is the largest in relation to their body size of any canine breed. So they can certainly be strong-willed! The Dogue de Bordeaux is also pretty stubborn, so needs early socialization. This dog will need consistent handling to fully function in a family setting.
Height: 27-31 inches Weight: 90-160 pounds Life Expectancy: 8-9 years
Even though this giant dog breed is not widely known, the Leonberger is not easily forgotten. A cross between a Pyrenean Mountain Dog, a Saint Bernard, and a Newfoundland, the Leonberger looks like an oversized fluffball. Don’t be fooled by their cuteness! They can reach over 30 inches once fully grown. Bred for herding and tracking, these large and confident dogs have energy to spare, and an intelligence to match.
Their desire for company makes the Leonberger fun and considerate pets. Although their strength and need for stimulation means they may get destructive if left alone. They’re not really suitable for families with very young children, although with early training and consistent handling, a Leonberger can make a rewarding and much-loved family pooch.
Height: 26-31 inches Weight: 110-130 pounds Life Expectancy: 8-10 years
Bred to guard homes in the Italian south, the Neapolitan Mastiff has unusual layers of heavy skin that hang loosely off their neck. We believe it is meant to protect them from potential attack. Even though they are one of the largest dog breeds, the Neapolitan Mastiff displays a quiet soul. Many lovers of the breed call them “over-sized lapdogs”. Fitting, as these mastiffs adore human company and thrive in an active, fun-loving home. Bear in mind that these giants can drool! Thanks to their floppy skinfolds, this dog has constant, slobbery jowls. Pack a towel! Early socialization and training is also essential if you are to manage their overprotective nature.
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Height: 30-34 inches Weight: 75-150 pounds Life Expectancy: 6-8 years
Leggy and energetic, the Great Dane is an iconic gentle giant. Certainly fits on our list! A cross between the Irish Wolfhound and the English Mastiff, the Great Dane was bred by German nobility for hunting boar, as well as protecting their vast estates. A contender for the title of tallest dog, the Great Dane falls just short of its ancestor, the Irish Wolfhound. They certainly come close! The world’s largest dog on record was a Great Dane named Zeus. He measured a whopping 44 inches tall at the shoulder!
Great Danes are elegant dogs known for their kind and playful natures. They make excellent pets for homes with older children. You can find out more about the Great Dane and other stunning large dog breeds in Treehugger.
Bernese Mountain Dog
Height: 23-28 inches Weight: 70-115 pounds Life Expectancy: 8 years
The Bernese Mountain Dog is certainly beautiful, with its silky black, white, and tan coat that enables it to thrive in the coldest of climates. Long used as a farm dog in the mountains of Switzerland, the Bernese Mountain Dog is accustomed to being a working dog and a loyal family pet. These dogs are extremely hardy, with energy to spare. This is one of the gentle giants of the canine world that loves the company of his human pack. The Bernese Mountain Dog has a super-affectionate personality. They are also eager to please, and will “turn their paw” to a host of tasks. The breed is often commended for its high intelligence and ability to learn quickly.
Known for its work ethic as well as its sociability, the Bernese Mountain Dog also makes a loving family pet. They were recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1937.
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Height: 28-32 inches Weight: 85-110 pounds Life Expectancy: 8-11 years
Dating back to 16th century Europe, the Scottish Deerhound quickly became desirable for its speed, elegance, and hunting capabilities. With its long legs, lean body, and athletic build, the Scottish Deerhound was so desired, it became an exclusive breed. Fast-forward to the present and the Scottish Deerhound is relatively rare. Even still, it remains an essential part of our list for the biggest dogs in the world. We can’t exclude the Scottish Deerhound!
While the breed makes a highly honed hunter, it makes a quiet and composed domestic dog. They have a dignified presence that remains intelligent and alert. They are a good choice of pet, but need confident and tenacious handling. Their ability to run far, and fast, means you will need to train them to respond to you. Otherwise, you could be running after them quite a bit!
Height: 27-35 inches Weight: 160-230 pounds Life Expectancy: 6-12 years
The final breed on our list of the biggest (and bestest) dog breeds of the world is yet another mastiff. Who would’ve thought! This time, it is the brave and loving English Mastiff. The English Mastiff gets a special mention as the world’s heaviest dog breed. There’s no denying the size of this gorgeous giant. With a short and soft coat, its solid, muscular frame is easy to see. Definitely don’t try to lift this guy! When you consider that the English Mastiff was originally bred for bear baiting and other blood sports, it is easy to appreciate the breed’s strength and physical scale.
What is impressive about the statuesque English Mastiff is just how gentle it truly is. Especially when away from its working mode! Its easy-going nature, coupled with its loyalty and playful tendencies, make it a calm and loving giant. Perfect for any family household!
You can read more about the English Mastiff, as well as our other giant breeds, in Purina’s guide to 10 of the world’s giant dog breeds. Otherwise, we hope you enjoyed our guide!
- Laura Cross, 10 Large Dog Breeds That Are Gentle Giants, Vetstreet
- Largest Dog Breeds, The American Kennel Club