Some people prefer small dog breeds that can snuggle up on their lap, while others have a soft spot for big dogs. Bigger isn't always better, but potential pet owners might consider one of these large dog breeds for a variety of reasons. Some may want a great family dog, and it's tough to beat affectionate breeds like Labrador retrievers or standard poodles. Avid hunters often look to man's best friend to accompany them on the trail and some of the best sighthounds fall into the large dog breed category. And of course, big breeds like German shepherds and Doberman Pinschers make the best guard dogs because of their substantial size.
There are so many large dog breeds to choose from, whether you're looking for a gentle giant or an intelligent working dog. If you're new to dog ownership, don't be put off by their magnitude. Some of these big (and big-hearted!) pups are also among the best dog breeds for first-time owners. Just remember: Dogs of all sizes need plenty of socialization, training, and love.
Read on to learn about some of the most popular large dog breeds that people keep as pets.
1. Alaskan Malamute
Average Alaskan Malamute Weight: 75 - 85 pounds
Alaskan malamutes fall into the American Kennel Club's working breed category. A spitz class breed, the Alaskan malamute is one large floof. Like others in the spitz family, malamutes were used to pull sleds in cold arctic climates. These durable pups are working dogs through and through, with strong shoulders, deep chests, and thick coats protecting them from the elements. However, they are not all work and no play. These dogs love a good game of fetch and an ear scratching just as much as the next pup.
Malamutes have strong, dominant personalities. They need structured training from the moment they come home to help them understand that they are not the ones in charge. Their owner must be a strong pack leader, or the malamute will gladly fill the vacant position.
2. Saint Bernard
Average Saint Bernard Weight: 120 - 180 pounds
These massive pups originate from the Swiss Alps. While they are large and powerful, they are incredibly gentle and calm. Saint Bernards were often used as nanny dogs for people's children, much like Nana in the animated version of Peter Pan.
Since Saint Bernards are big, strong dogs, they need consistent training early on. It is much better to teach this breed how to greet strangers properly and walk on a leash before they can knock someone over or pull you down the street. While these pups are large, they do better if they are in the home interacting with their family. Otherwise, a Saint Bernard may develop unwanted behavioral traits.
3. Great Dane
Average Great Dane Weight: 110 - 175 pounds
No list of large dog breeds would be complete without this gentle giant. Great Danes are strong and mighty but known to be very easygoing. Even though they are sweet, they do need training in order to be manageable. Their shoulders stand at 32 inches tall on average. They are also frequent contenders for the world's tallest dog. The current Guinness World record holder is a Great Dane named Zeus, who stands at 44 inches from shoulder to foot. He stands at an impressive 7ft 4 in when he is on his hind legs.
Danes need weekly brushing. As long as they don't go running through puddles, they only need a bath every now and then. Because they are so large, Danes are known for having shorter lifespans. On average, they will live somewhere between 7- 10 years.
4. Great Pyrenees
Average Great Pyrenees Weight: 85 - 100 pounds
While the great Pyrenees' fur may be white, it doesn't always stay that way. These working dogs' main job is hanging out in the fields with their flocks protecting them from predators. Of course, constant time in the fields gives these pups a yellow hue. However, when their fluff is washed, dried, and brushed, they are quite the handsome white floofs. The Pyrenees comes from the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France. Shepherds used them to keep wolves, bears, and thieves away from their livestock.
Since they are protective, they get along with most people but can be selective with other dogs. To get them comfortable with small children, they need to be socialized with them when they are puppies.
5. Neopolitan Mastiff
Average Neopolitan Mastiff Weight: 110 - 150 pounds
Another massive pup, the Neopolitan Mastiff, can trace its roots back to ancient Rome. While mastiffs may not like new people, they love and adore their families. Their size and looks are startling enough to ward off any intruders.
Overall, they are healthy dogs with only a few common health problems in most large breed dogs. However, owners should watch for hip, elbow, heart, and eye problems in their mastiff pups. Since they are deep-chested dogs, they are also prone to bloat, a fatal stomach condition. While they like to play, owners must ensure their furry family members do not get overexerted.
6. Doberman Pinscher
Average Doberman Pinscher Weight: 60 - 100 pounds
Dobies have long been considered the best protection dogs around. Dobermans should be muscular and trim. Their coats vary from black, blue, red, or fawn shades and often have rust markings.
They are easily trainable and deeply loyal. Since they are smart, they will adapt to new training easily. However, Dobies are very strong dogs and need consistent training to be effective family members. If they are not well trained, they can be domineering, hard to control, and very destructive. Therefore, training should start from the moment they come home and continue throughout adulthood. Dobermans are not outside dogs, as they prefer to stay close to their owners.
Average Rottweiler Weight: 80 - 135 pounds
The Rottweiler is another pup that can trace its lineage back to the Romans. Rotties distant ancestors would keep watch over the flocks as the Romans conquered Europe. However, they eventually found their way to the town of Rottweil, protecting pastures from thieves. They were the ultimate herding and protection dog.
Modern-day Rotties are still used as protection dogs, but now they protect their owners. They also work as search and rescue dogs and police K9s. They even assisted in searching the Oklahoma City and World Trade Center sites. To get a well-mannered Rottweiler, they need to be trained as puppies, and the training needs to be consistent. They love to play and think they are giant lap dogs.
8. Black Russian Terrier
Average Black Russian Terrier Weight: 80 - 130 pounds
When most people think of terriers, small little dogs about the size of a Chihuahua come to mind. However, that is not the case with black Russian terriers. Not only are these dogs large, but they are also strong. At most, they generally weigh 140 pounds and measure 30 inches tall.
Interestingly enough, these pups were created by the Soviet government in the 1930s. Scientists and breeders worked together to create a super dog for the army. To create these pups, 17 dog breeds were mixed together. They were trained to be patrol dogs and still make excellent guard dogs. BRTs are also very light on their feet.
Average Bullmastiff Weight: 100 - 130 pounds
The bullmastiff is a cross between a bulldog and a mastiff. Bullmastiffs may be cousins of the mastiff, but they still are a lot of dog. They have large heads with dark eyes. V-shaped ears and a large muzzle accent their features.
These independent pups are smart, confident, and alert. They keep an eye on everything that is going on around their families. The coats have fawn, red and brindle variations. Like with many of the other big dog breeds, training needs to start early when you can manage these pups' strength.
Average Bloodhound Weight: 80 - 110 pounds
Bloodhounds are independent pups. When they are searching for a smell, they won't do anything else. Bloodhounds who aren't searching for people or things make great family pets. They are calm and loving, as long as the cuddles don't interrupt their day job.
Bloodhounds have droopy ears, loving eyes, and love to drool. Their smooth coats come in liver and tan, black and tan, or red. Bloodhounds love to play with other dogs, kids, and people. While they can go with the flow, their nose can get them into trouble. Obedience training can be difficult, and they need plenty of long walks.
11. German Shepherd
Average German Shepherd Weight: 50 - 100
These popular dogs have many strong personality traits and a wide range of sizes and weights. While the AKC has them topping out around 90 pounds, some of the larger German Shepherds can reach over 100 pounds. However, on average, they stand around 26 inches at their shoulders.
German shepherds are very confident and have an eagerness to learn new things. However, they can be just as obstinate as they are loyal. There are six different German shepherd lines, all with slightly different traits. Some make better family pets than others, but all love being around people and children. Other dogs can take some getting used to, however, with early socialization, they can become used to being around other dogs. German shepherds are great herding dogs and love to have a job. They find themselves working with police departments, the military, and in search and rescue.
Average Newfoundland Weight: 100 - 150 pounds
Newfies are another dog breed that was used as nanny dogs for children. Nana in the book version of Peter Pan was a Newfoundland. They absolutely adore children even though they are large, standing 28 inches tall, they are very gentle.
Thankfully, these big pups respond well to training. It's best to tackle training early, and don't forget to teach them how to jump up into the car. Lifting a 150-pound dog into the truck may be challenging.
13. Anatolian Shepherd
Average Anatolian Shepherd Weight: 80 - 150 pounds
Standing 29 inches tall, the Anatolian shepherd is a formidable dog breed. Their ancestry can be traced to some of the oldest dog breeds. Used for guarding livestock, children, and smaller pets. If the only thing to protect is the cat or the family guinea pig, they will.
Since they are such strong leaders, their owners need to establish that they are in control, not the shepherd. Otherwise, they will not be able to control them. These pups need to have a job, so purebred Anatolians may not be happy if they do not have a flock to watch over.
14. Irish Wolfhound
Average Irish Wolfhound Weight: 105 - 120 pounds
Irish wolfhounds stand tall at 36 inches and can weigh up to 180 pounds at their largest. They are not only large, but they can also run very fast. Wolfhounds were once used for hunting after wolves and other big game. However, their purpose has shifted to more of a family dog. They are not ardent guard dogs like some of the other big pups, but the sight of them alone may be enough to deter a burglar.
While they tend to be okay with children, they need supervision around small animals and small children. Wolfhounds are smart and take well to training. They also can be excellent therapy dogs.
Average Leongerger Weight: 90 - 170 pounds
Leonberger's originated in Germany. While they may be large pups, they are very gentle and love to be a valued family member. For their size, they are very elegant and graceful. A male Leonberger stands at 31 inches, and the females are just a bit smaller. However, both genders are pretty big dogs.
These pups sport a waterproof coat with fluffy ears and a bushy tail. Their black face mask gives them a distinct look. Their biggest distinguishing feature, aside from their size, is the mane that surrounds their face and chest, giving them a lion-like appearance.
16. Dogue de Bordeaux
Average Dogue de Bordeaux Weight: 100 - 140 pounds
According to legend, these French dogs ancestors first found themselves with Julius Caesar. Eventually, they worked their way up to guarding the homes of nobility in the 1700s. They shifted their focus to driving cattle.
Dogue de Bordeaux was Hooches breed in the Tom Hanks film Turner & Hooch. While they may drool quite a bit, they make excellent guard dogs. Dogues' are loyal to their owners but need consistent training from the time they come home through adulthood.
Average Akita Weight: 70 - 130 pounds
Akitas are another pup who hails from the spitz dog family. These pups can trace their lines to ancient Japan, where they were family guard dogs. In Japanese culture, they were also a symbol of happiness, good health, and longevity.
Akita has a very muscular frame. They average 24-28 inches at the shoulder and have a broad head with a fluffy, curled tail. A thick full coat tops their look. They adore their humans but can be very shy around strangers. The Akita also makes it their job to protect what is there's, whether it be from other people or dogs. If dog owners want their Akita to play nice with other pups, they need to socialize them from birth.
18. Bernese Mountain Dog
Average Bernese Mountain Dog Weight: 70 - 115 pounds
While Bernese mountain dogs may be large on the outside, they are calm cuddle bugs on the inside. As far as big dogs go, these pups have top marks from the AKC for being good with other dogs, people, and children. Berners originally came from Switzerland and are always up for a play session.
They were used for keeping their family farms safe. Now they just love to spend time with their owners and will generally pick their favorite person. While their large size makes them seem threatening to strangers, they prefer to maintain a safe distance from new people.
19. Old English Sheepdog
Average Old English Sheepdog Weight: 60 - 100 pounds
To say the old English sheepdog has a full head of hair is an understatement. They have fluffy fur all over their bodies and even in their eyes! These smart pups love to play with their owners and children and do their best with regular exercise. However, they are cautiously optimistic regarding other dogs and should interact only with supervision.
Their eyes are blue, and brown, or they will have one of each. Their double coat needs to be fully brushed weekly. They are also good candidates for getting a haircut. Owners often trim this pup's feet to make sure there aren't any issues. Old English sheepdogs should have their hips, thyroid, and eyes checked for any genetic issues. Owners and breeders can also give their dogs a DNA test for cerebellar ataxia and primary ciliary dyskinesia, which are two deadly diseases these pups suffer from.
20. Belgian Laekenois
Average Belgian Laekenois Weight: 55 - 65 pounds
The Belgian Laekenois is native to Belgium and is closely related to the Belgian shepherd, Malinois, and Tervuren. Though out of the four, the Laekenois is the rarest. However, the Laekenois has a rough-textured coat that comes in gray tones, red, or fawn.
Their dark faces give them a serious look. One that comes in handy as they protect their homes and owners. This hard-working, loyal breed loves its owners and anyone who is a part of their pack. However, they are not fans of strangers. Since they are working dogs, they need daily exercise and plenty of mental stimulation. Their coats are fairly low maintenance, needing regular brushing and a bath every now and then.
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