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Exploring Large Dog Breeds: Mighty Giants And Gentle Companions
Dog Care

Exploring Large Dog Breeds: Mighty Giants And Gentle Companions

Big doggos are affectionate, loyal, and make outstanding pets. Despite their size, large dog breeds are usually content to laze around all day and generally have calmer dispositions than smaller animals. As we delve deeper into the variety of large dog breeds it quickly becomes apparent that most possess a gentleness in direct contrast with their huge stature. 

A Comprehensive List of the 20 Largest Dog Breeds

Here is a list of dog breeds and types of large dogs for prospective pet parents who want to live large with a dog to match. If you think bigger is better, read on.  

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are smart and loyal companions. This breed requires a lot of exercise and loves to play. Friendly and outgoing, Golden Retrievers are gentle with children and other dogs.

German Shepherd

German Shepherds are athletic and very intelligent. They were initially bred as herding dogs in Germany, hence the name. 

Labrador Retriever

This attractive breed is as devoted and affectionate as they come, so it is no surprise that Labrador Retrievers are the second most popular breed in the U.S. Because they require loads of strenuous exercise, they're a great choice for active and outdoorsy folks. 

American Bulldog 

American Bulldogs are solid-as-a-rock, and they enjoy hard work almost as much as they love to play. This breed is very energetic, so training and early socialization are crucial.

Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinschers are nimble and brave pets that live to protect their pack (meaning you). This breed is exceptionally affectionate and faithful.


Like the athlete they take their name from, Boxers need regular workouts to stay in tip-top shape. Boxers should begin socializing with people and other dogs as young pups. 

Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhounds are the world's tallest dog breed. This breed is loving and calm, despite its large size. Irish Wolfhounds make wonderful pets, but be sure you have enough space for a gentle giant in your home.

Gordon Setter

Gordon Setters were bred as hunting dogs but make ideal pets as well. Their luxurious coat protected them from the harsh climate of their native Scotland, but now it is more of a fashion statement. 


A cross between a Bulldog and a Mastiff, this breed is a devoted and sweet-natured family pet that also makes outstanding watchdogs. Early socialization and training are a must for Bullmastiffs to live their best lives. 

Bernese Mountain Dog 

This eye-catching pup is a total love bug that adores kids and other doggos. Bernese Mountain Dogs were originally bred as Swiss farm dogs, so they are particularly suited to cold climates.

Great Dane

When standing on their hind legs, Great Danes are taller than most full-grown adults. They are sweet dogs with a lovely disposition and are better suited to an environment with lots of space. 

English Mastiff

English Mastiffs appear imposing, but this breed is obedient and kind-hearted, even a bit shy. To coax this pup out of their shell, early socialization is particularly important.


This breed is also known as the "nanny dog" thanks to their sweet and protective disposition. These brave Canadian natives were once working dogs on fishing ships and adept at water rescues. Newfies are easy dogs to train, and even easier to love. 

St. Bernard 

St. Bernards are lovable giants with hearts as big as their bodies. This breed is family-oriented and especially good with kids. These dogs are laidback and don't need a lot of exercise.

Old English Sheepdogs

This gentle breed is also very social and loves hanging out with their family. Be forewarned that extra grooming time is necessary to properly care for their shaggy, thick coats.

Great Pyrenees 

This breed hails from the Pyrenees Mountains, where they once guarded livestock. Great Pyrenees are relaxed, regal dogs who are sometimes shy around strangers. Their floofy white coat is relatively low-maintenance because it is dirt resistant and does not tangle.


The Borzoi is an attractive and devoted breed that benefits from a consistent training regimen. This breed loves the thrill of the chase so a fenced-in yard is a must to keep your Borzoi from pursuing every squirrel or neighborhood cat.  

Australian Cattle Dog  

The Australian Cattle Dog is an intelligent herding breed that requires strenuous exercise and strict training to keep them out of trouble. Their pet parents' leadership and unwavering direction are crucial because this is a dog capable of outsmarting their owners.

Anatolian Shepherd

This handsome breed is a loyal and protective companion. However, Anatolian Shepherds are not well-suited to first-time dog owners. Anatolian Shepherds require lots of training to compensate for their controlling personality. 

Italian Pointing Dog

The Italian Pointing Dog, also known as the Bracco Italiano, is among the oldest pointing breeds. These hunting dogs are very gentle and easy to train.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Large Breed

Traveling with your giant dog can be challenging. Vacationing becomes more difficult with a giant dog in your family, as most rentals have size/weight specifications for dogs. It's not impossible to find big dog-friendly accommodation, it just requires some planning ahead.

Also, keep in mind that some vet clinics are not equipped to provide services to giant dogs. Similarly, dog care professionals including dog walkers, pet sitters, and dog daycare centers are not always prepared either. When interviewing a new provider, always inquire about their experience handling large breeds.

If you're considering a large breed of dog, you’ll need a living space big enough to fit not only the pup but also their many accessories. Finding an apartment suitable for a large dog can be like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Make sure your housing situation is stable before you commit to the care of a big dog.

a large brown and white dog standing on a sidewalk
a large brown and white dog standing on a sidewalk

How To Care For Your Really Big Dog

Before you decide to adopt a bigger dog breed, the American Kennel Club suggests that prospective owners consider the intensive training essential for many breeds. It is also vital to understand why having a well-behaved big dog (that can weigh as much as an adult human) is so important. 

According to Zoetis, finding the right trainer for your pup is crucial because there is little room for error when it comes to big breeds and manners. It is one thing if a small, or even medium-sized pup excitedly jumps on someone,but if a larger dog were to do this, it could present considerable safety risks. 

Owning a large breed of dog requires a commitment to your pet's daily training to ensure your doggo has impeccable manners. Like all dogs, training large breeds should be fun and based on positive reinforcement.

Depending on the breed you choose, your dog may have extensive grooming needs you'll need to set aside time for.

As large dogs grow, they are at risk for injuries to their still-developing bones and joints. Until your doggo's growth plates fuse after they have reached a year old, you’ll need to avoid strenuous or high-impact activities like long walks or jumping onto furniture. 

Large dogs mentally mature slowly as well and do not reach emotional maturity until they are two or three years old. Keep in mind that bigger breeds of dogs don’t live as long as their smaller counterparts do. This is the hardest part of letting a large pup in your heart.  


Large dogs are loving companions that simply ooze affection for their human pack. As long as you, the pet parent, is prepared and informed, you and your big doggo can look forward to many happy years together.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the biggest dog in the world?

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest dog in the world is a two-year-old American Great Dane named Zeus from Bedford, Texas. Measuring in at 3 ft 5.18 inches, Zeus has been confirmed as the tallest dog living (male) in the world. Zeus' hobbies include lying around the house, napping next to his window, and being the star of his local farmers market. 

What is considered a "large dog?"

To be considered a large dog, the animal must weigh at least 50 pounds (or 70 pounds by some's reckoning) and have a height of at least 24 inches. Most experts agree that Great Danes and English Mastiffs are the biggest dog breeds. 

What happens if a large dog breeds with a small dog? Potentially serious medical complications arise when a small female dog is impregnated by a large male. Because the male is larger, the babies will be, too. This size can cause serious health and safety concerns for the female during pregnancy and birth.