In the past, big size and strength were often desirable factors to breed into dogs, making them feared protectors and efficient hunters. Consequently, there have been many giant dog breeds created in the world over the centuries. There is no universal height or weight at which a breed is officially classified as a giant dog breed but some groups define giant breeds as those heavier than 100 pounds (45 kg). Their height and weight can vary greatly though, some breeds are stout and heavy while others are tall and lean. The heaviest dog ever recorded was a St. Bernard named Benedictine who weighed an incredible 366 pounds (166 kg). However, despite their threatening body proportions, most of the biggest dog breeds often tend to be mildly tempered, relaxed animals and make excellent family pets. If you are thinking about becoming the owner of such a dog, check out these 25 of the world’s largest dog breeds you’d wish you own.
Caucasian shepherd dog
Popular in Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Northern Caucasian area, the Caucasian shepherds are strongly-boned, muscular dogs referred to as molossers. Measuring about 70 centimeters (28 inches) for females and 75 centimeters (30 inches) for males, these dogs are definitely not lap dogs.
The English mastiff is one of the largest dog breeds in the world, especially in terms of body mass. The first mentions of these massive dogs date back to as early as the 6th century BC. During the Roman conquest of England, the loyalty and strength of mastiff impressed even Caesar. A typical male can weigh up to 250 pounds (113 kg), but the heaviest mastiff ever recorded was a jaw-dropping 343-pound (156 kg) dog called Zorba who was the world´s heaviest and longest dog during its time.
Originally bred and used as a work dog for fishermen, the Newfoundland is a huge, intelligent dog famous for his excellent swimming abilities. Newfoundlands are usually black but can also be brown, white or grey. Some Newfoundland males have been known to weigh over 90 kg (200 lb.) with the largest on record weighed 120 kg (260 lbs).
Sometimes referred to as ‘mop dog,’ the Komondor is a long-established powerful dog breed that has been used to guard livestock and other property. Easily recognizable thanks to its distinctive long and corded coat, Komondor comes from Hungary where it has been declared one of its national treasures, to be preserved and protected from modification. Females usually reach a height of about 28 inches (70 cm) and weigh in up to 110 pounds (50 kg), males are slightly larger, averaging at 31.5 inches (80 cm) high and weighing up to 130 pounds (60 kg).
The Scottish Deerhound, or simply the Deerhound, is a tall breed of hound once bred to hunt the red deer. Its antecedents were kept by the Scots and Picts (tribal people living in today U.K.), and used to help in the hunt for hoofed game. Males can be over 32 inches (80 cm) tall, and weigh up to 110 pounds (50 kg). Females´ height is usually about 28 inches (70 cm), weight ranges from 75 to 95 pounds (35–43 kg).
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Neapolitan mastiff is another popular breed of mastiff. Although it’s not as gigantic as the English mastiff, the proportions of this dog are still very impressive – males weigh 130–155 pounds (60-70 kg) and females about 110–130 pounds (50–60 kg). The Neapolitan mastiff is fearless and extremely protective of its home and family. They are unusually intelligent dogs with a tendency to be independent thinkers.
Originally bred for mountain rescue, the St. Bernard is a giant dog breed popular in Italian and Swiss Alps. Its proportions are enormous – the dogs can be up to 36 inches (90 cm) tall and weigh as much as 265 pounds (120 kg). The heaviest St. Bernard ever recorded though was called Benedictine and weighed an incredible 366 pounds (166 kg). Another St. Bernard, Barry, was famous for saving somewhere between 40 and 100 human lives in the mountains.
The Irish wolfhound
Originally developed from war hounds, Irish wolfhounds have been used for hunting and guarding. The breed is very old; there are suggestions it may have been brought to Ireland as early as 7000 BC. Standing at least 34 inches (86 cm) tall, they are one of the tallest of all dog breeds. Their weight, however, is not that enormous, averaging about 120 pounds (55 kg) for males and 105 pounds (48 kg) for females. Unlike many other breeds, Irish wolfhounds have a varied range of personalities and are most often noted for their personal quirks and individualism but they are rarely mindless or aggressive.
Russian black terrier
A breed created in USSR during the late 1940s and the early 1950s for use as a military/working dog, the Russian black terrier is believed to be a cross of about 17 different breeds. Males stand 72 to 78 cm (28 – 30 inches) at the withers and weigh up to 60 kg (130 pounds), females are slightly smaller and lighter. The Russian black terrier is a calm, confident, courageous and self-assured dog. He is highly intelligent and adapts well to training. His average lifespan is quite long – up to 14 years, and it is a generally healthy dog but they are sometimes prone to certain hereditary diseases such as hip or elbow dysplasia.
The Great Dane is a German breed notable for its giant size. Their height often reaches well over 30 inches (76 cm) and there have been many Great Danes who have held the record for being the world´s tallest living dog. For example, a Great Dane called Zeus (which died September 2014 at the age of 5), stood 112 cm (44 inches) tall. They are generally friendly toward other dogs, other non-canine pets, and familiar humans. Their average life span is 6 to 8 years but some Great Danes have been known to reach 10 years or even more.
Sometimes dubbed “gentle lion“, Leonberger is a giant dog breed whose name derives from the city of Leonberg in Germany. As for the body proportions, males average at 29.5 inches (75 cm) tall at withers and 140–150 pounds (64–68 kg) weight, females usually stand about 27.5 inches (70 cm) tall and weigh approximately 115 pounds (52 kg). The Leonberger is easily recognizable thanks to his generous, water resistant, double coat. These robust dogs are normally very loyal, intelligent, playful, and kind, which makes them ideal family pets. Unfortunately, their average life expectancy is about 7 years.
Originally bred in Tosa (former Japanese province) as a fighting dog, the Tosa Inu is a rare, robust breed. These dogs vary considerably in size. The Japanese breed generally weighs between 80 and 135 pounds (36 and 61 kg), while the non-Japanese breeders have focused on dogs that weigh from 130 to 200 pounds (60 to 100 kg) and stand up to 32 inches (82 cm) at the withers. The breed started from the native Shikoku-Inu, an indigenous dog weighing just about 25 kilograms (45 pounds) These dogs were crossed with large European dog breeds, such as mastiff, St. Bernard, Great Dane and bull terriers with the aim to breed a larger, more powerful dog.
Bernese mountain dog
Originally kept as a general farm dog that accompanied herders in the Bern region, Switzerland, the Bernese mountain dog is a large, heavy breed with a distinctive tri-colored coat, black with white chest and rust colored markings. The height at the withers is 25–27.5 inches (64–70 cm) and weighs up to 125 pounds (57 kg) for males, females are just slightly smaller. The temperament of individual dogs may vary but generally, Berneses are calm, self-assured and docile dogs, friendly to children as well as to other pets.
Bred as a guard dog, the Boerboel is a large, sturdy dog breed from South Africa. Their proportions are formidable – these dogs can be over 27 inches (70 cm) tall and weigh up to 220 pounds (100 kg). Boerboels are very obedient and intelligent dogs with strong territorial instincts. They are loyal, particularly great with kids and tend to be protective of their family and territory.
Anatolian shepherd dog is a breed which originated in Anatolia (Turkey) and was further developed in America. The breed could be as old as 6,000 years. Anatolian shepherds can stand over 31 inches (80cm) tall and weigh 150 pounds (68 kg). However, due to their thick coat, they look even larger and heavier than they actually are. The breed was developed to be independent and forceful, responsible for guarding its master’s flocks without human assistance over vast areas, therefore, socializing the dog as a puppy is necessary. They often live up to 11 years, which is 3-4 years longer than other breeds of their size.
Originally bred by nomadic cultures of Tibet, China, Nepal, and Central Asia, the Tibetan mastiff is an ancient breed of a large, muscular dog with thick, usually dark coat. Its name is misleading though – it’s not a mastiff. A better name for the dog would be Tibetan mountain dog. Males can reach heights of up to 83 cm (33 inches) and weigh between 45–72 kg (100-160 pounds) but overweighed dogs are quite common. As a flock guardian dog in Tibet, it is capable of confronting predators the size of wolves and leopards.
Developed in Argentina primarily for the purpose of big-game hunting, Dogo Argentino is a huge, muscular dog with a white, very short coat. Males can be up to 30 inches (76 cm) long and weigh over 120 pounds (55 kg).
Greater Swiss mountain
The Greater Swiss mountain dog is another large dog breed which was developed in the Swiss Alps. The dog is robust and heavy-boned with great physical strength, but is still agile enough to perform the all-purpose farm duties it was originally used for. Among all the Swiss mountain dogs, this breed is considered the oldest and largest with males often weighing well over 150 pounds (72 kg) and reaching heights of almost 30 inches (76 cm). The Greater Swiss is a happy, intelligent and sociable dog with an enthusiastic nature and strong affinity to people and children.
Also known as Pakistani Mastiff, the Bully Kutta is a descendant of the extinct Alaunt, an ancient dog breed that originated in present day Pakistan. The Bully Kutta is predominantly white in color, however fawn, brindle, brown, black and various bi-colors are also common. These dogs are usually about 35 inches (90 cm) tall and can weigh as much as 210 pounds (95 kg). The breed is generally docile, friendly, and very trainable.
Dogue de Bordeaux
Also referred to as Bordeaux mastiff or French mastiff, the Dogue de Bordeaux is one of the most ancient French dog breeds. It is a very powerful and muscular dog that has been put to work in many different capacities, from pulling carts and hauling heavy objects, to guarding flocks and even the castles of the European elite. Dogue de Bordeaux is not as tall as some other breeds on this list but is massive with a powerful build with males weighing in well over 150 pounds (68 kg). One of the distinctive features of the breed is a wide, massive head, claimed to be the largest head in the canine world, in proportion to the rest of the body. Unfortunately, these dogs are prone to numerous diseases and their average lifespan is one the shortest among all breeds, usually ranging around 5 to 6 years.
The Kangal is another livestock guardian breed that originated in Turkey. Though measurements standards for the breed differ, the U.S. standard is a height of 30 to 32 inches (76 to 81 cm) and a weight of up to 145 pounds (66 kg) for males and 28 to 30 inches (71 to 76 cm) with a weight of up to 120 pounds (54 kg) for females. The dog is not as heavy as some other mastiff breeds, making it faster and more agile than other larger dogs. Kangals can reach speeds of up to 50 km (30 miles) per hour. It is a calm, controlled, independent, powerful and protective dog, who – when properly socialized – is very friendly with visitors, especially children.
The Landseer is remarkably similar to Newfoundlands and some kennel clubs even consider the breed to be simply a black-and-white variant, but the international federation of kennel clubs recognizes it as a separate breed. Not surprising, its body proportions are also very similar to those of the Newfoundland with males reaching heights of 32 inches (80 cm) and weighing in at about 180 pounds (over 80 kg). The Landseer is known for its unusually sweet disposition, gentleness, and serenity. They enjoy swimming and have been known to rescue drowning people. The Landseer is also quicker and more responsive than the Newfoundland, which makes it easier to train.
Native to western Turkey, the Akbash was bred primarily as a livestock guardian dog and a shepherd dog. It weighs from 75 to 140 pounds (34 to 64 kg) and ranges from about 27 to 34 inches (69 to 86 cm) tall. The Akbash is leaner and sometimes taller than other Turkish livestock guardian dog breeds. They have a smooth-short to medium-full white double coat, sometimes with some light markings on the ears. As for their temperament, the Akbashes tend to be calm but aware. When protecting their charges, they appear to have tremendous power, focus, endurance and perseverance. Their life span is usually between 10 and 11 years.
Closely related to the Neapolitan mastiff, the Cane Corso is another Italian breed valued as a great hunter and guardian. It is well muscled but less bulky than most other mastiff breeds. It’s also slightly smaller than the Neapolitan mastiff, reaching a height of about 70 cm (28 inches) at the withers and weighing anywhere from 40 to 50 kg (88 to 110 pounds). The average life expectancy of the breed is 10 to 12 years.
The Kuvasz is a breed of ancient Hungarian dog that was originally used for guarding livestock. It is a large dog with a dense double coat which is white in color and can range from wavy to straight in texture. It is not as robust and bulky as the Swiss mountain dogs but still large and agile enough to help the shepherds protect their herds. Kuvasz is a smart and intelligent dog and is often described as even having a clownish sense of humor.