Big Dog Breeds: The Biggest Breeds & Largest Dogs

Behavior & training
A Great Dane enjoying the vast view beyond him while waiting for his owner behind the view, who is chatting with other dog owners on how to properly take care of big dogs and their possible vet costs.

Big Dog Breeds: The Biggest Breeds & Largest Dogs 

Despite their impressive stature, many big dogs hold a surprising dream: to become the ultimate lapdog. While most people think of toy dog breeds when they think of snuggly dogs, some big dog breeds are known for being top-tier cuddlers despite their massive size. 

Big Dogs Have Big Hearts 

Besides being oversized babies, huge dogs also provide exceptional security for your home. One look at your burly canine and uninvited visitors will run the other way! Big dogs can also make fantastic companions for kids because they can keep up with their roughhousing, unlike more delicate toy breeds. 

Can’t decide which type of dog is the best for you? We can help. Let's look at the top 10 big dog breeds. We’ll share what makes each breed special and dispel some of those myths about large dogs. 

Common Characteristics of Big Dogs 

No two dogs have the exact same personality, even if they come from the same litter. However, dogs from the same breed do tend to share certain traits thanks to their similar genetic backgrounds. 

For instance, many of the biggest dogs originated as working breeds. The Mastiff started as a guard dog while the Newfoundland was trained to haul fishing nets and save people from drowning. Today, most large dogs are no longer used for working, but their ancestors’ spirits live on, a fact demonstrated by some breeds’ high energy levels. Modern large dogs often need lots of exercise and mental stimulation to thrive. 

Daily walks are a must, but consider jogging, swimming, or dog park playtime to keep them happy. While sprawling estates aren't essential, ample space to move comfortably is key – a tiny studio isn't ideal for a giant breed. Grooming needs vary by breed, but brushing a 150-pound dog takes longer than a small pup! Big shedders might require daily vacuuming. Remember, larger breeds tend to have shorter lifespans, so cherish every playful moment. 

A fluffy Saint Bernard with its droopy eyes looking lovingly at its owner who recently bought pet insurance just for him.

Top Big Dog Breeds for Pet Lovers 

The top 10 big dog breeds have earned their places for a reason! Whether it’s their undying loyalty to their owners or their love for going on adventures, these canines have traits that can make them the perfect fit for your family. 


Imagine a furry shadow following you around, always eager to offer a giant head nudge or a slobbery kiss. That's life with a Mastiff! These gentle giants, known for being the heaviest dog breed, are truly impressive figures. Their massive size, often exceeding 200 pounds, is wrapped in a brindle, fawn, or apricot coat, making them undeniably handsome. 

Despite their size, Mastiffs are renowned for their docile and loving nature. Early socialization helps ensure they interact politely with everyone, even those much smaller than them. These loyal companions are fiercely protective of their families, making them wonderful watchdogs. However, proper training from a young age is key to channeling their protective instincts in a positive way.  


After the Mastiff, the next biggest dog breed is typically considered the Boerboel, gorgeous canines who come from a line of diamond mine guards. These tough dogs can weigh anywhere from about 150 to 200 pounds. 

With proper training and socialization from an early age, Boerboels can become wonderful companions for families with children. Their loyalty and protectiveness make them ideal watchdogs, offering peace of mind to their owners. However, it's important to remember that Boerboels require experienced owners who can provide them with firm but gentle training to ensure their strength is channeled appropriately.  

Tosa Inus 

Tosa Inu, bred for fighting in Japan, require experienced owners due to their potential for aggression. Proper training and socialization are crucial for these intelligent, loyal companions. Their intelligence and alertness make them excellent watchdogs, ever-vigilant protectors of their families. 

Beware that these dogs are notorious chewers! Keep them occupied with chew toys and plenty of exercise to protect your belongings. Their short coats only need a quick brushing about once a week. To minimize the risk of infection, also be sure to wash the folds (wrinkles) on their faces. 

Saint Bernards 

Saint Bernards are as lovable as they are fluffy. Their droopy eyes and ears give away their sweet dispositions (which make up for the fact these guys are extremely heavy shedders!). Massive canines, these gentle giants weigh from 120 to 180 pounds when fully grown.  

While Saint Bernards may not be the perfect hiking companions for every climate, they excel in cooler environments. Bred for Alpine rescues, they have a natural instinct to protect and care for others. These gentle giants are known for their patience and tolerance with children, making them fantastic family dogs. Because they’re one of the bigger canines around, unfortunately, Saint Bernards have life spans that range from 7 to 10 years. 

Great Danes 

While the Mastiff claims the title of heaviest dog in the world, a Great Dane was recently recognized as the biggest dog in the world in terms of height. These titans are all muscle with shiny black, blue, or fawn coats. Other coat appearances include a harlequin pattern, which is white covered with black patches, and mantle, referring to a white coat with large amounts of black. 

Great Danes are known for their gentle and affectionate nature, earning them the nickname "gentle giants." They thrive on companionship and love being included in family activities. These loyal companions are eager to please and relatively easy to train, making them wonderful additions to families with children. While Great Danes are happy to join you on walks and playtime, they're also known for their love of lounging. They made the list of laziest dog breeds, content to spend hours curled up by your side 


With their namesake luxurious, lion-like manes, Leonbergers practically beg to be snuggled. These gorgeous pups have thick coats that are often golden-colored or reddish-brown. Growing up to 30 inches high, these big dogs are highly active and will need lots of exercise every day. 

If you’re not willing to spend at least an hour playing with them, you’ll need to rethink adopting a Leonberger. Think long walks, playtime at the park, or even jogging sessions – Leonbergers need an outlet for their athletic spirit. A bored, antsy dog this size can quickly wreak havoc in your home. You’ll also need to socialize your Leonberger from the moment you adopt him. Training your dog early on can keep them from jumping on people (not a minor annoyance when your dog weighs 130 pounds!) as well as keep other behaviors (such as nipping) in check. For those seeking an active, loving, and undeniably majestic companion, a Leonberger can be a truly rewarding choice. 

Neapolitan Mastiffs 

With ancestors that were traditional Italian guard dogs, Neapolitan Mastiffs still look like they could protect the most important government buildings thanks to their impressive builds. Their signature feature is undeniably their exceptionally loose skin, forming deep wrinkles that create a perpetually frowning expression. Neapolitan Mastiffs can be wary of strangers and may show aggression towards other dogs, so consistent training and supervision are essential. 

This kind of Mastiff is great for many low-energy dog owners because they don’t need tons of exercise. Some running around in the backyard is usually plenty of activity, but make sure you have a high fence since they can jump over lower ones without an issue. 

Neapolitan Mastiffs are not for everyone. Their size and potential for wariness towards strangers require experienced owners who can provide proper training and socialization. However, for those seeking a loyal protector with a gentle soul, a Neapolitan Mastiff can be a rewarding companion. 


Our list of the biggest dogs out there includes the mighty (but kind) Newfoundland. Newfoundlands are a dream come true for active families with children. Their love for kids is legendary, and their playful nature ensures endless hours of fun. Newfoundlands love just about all types of exercise, whether it’s swimming or sledding. 

Limit their activity to cooler days, however, as these giants don’t tolerate excessive heat well. Their lush coat will need regular brushing to prevent matted fur. Another hygiene issue is their drool, which can be easily taken care of with a quick wipe of a hand towel. 

They're eager to please and relatively easy to train, making them wonderful additions to active families. Their loyalty, playful spirit, and gentle nature are just a few reasons why Newfoundlands have earned a place in the hearts of many dog lovers. 

Anatolian Shepherds 

When you think of curly-tailed dogs, tiny pups like Pugs and Pomeranians are often the first that come to mind. But the Anatolian Shepherd is a majestic breed known for their distinctive tail, which curls gracefully over their back. Their fawn-colored coat, while requiring regular brushing, contributes to their regal appearance. 

Anatolian Shepherds have a long history as working dogs, bred to guard livestock in their native Turkey. This protective instinct translates to a fierce loyalty towards their human families. However, their wariness of strangers can sometimes manifest as overprotectiveness around unfamiliar people and dogs. Early socialization and consistent training are crucial for channeling their guarding instincts into a positive way. 

These Anatolian giants are not your typical lapdogs. They thrive in environments with ample space to roam and expend their energy. While not necessarily high-energy, they do require daily walks and opportunities to exercise their guarding instincts through activities like patrolling their own yard. 

Tibetan Mastiffs 

Adopting a Tibetan Mastiff is better left to the experienced dog owner. Like other large breeds, the Tibetan Mastiff quickly outgrows that tiny puppy cuteness and becomes a huge adult dog that can potentially weight more than 150 pounds. 

These colossal canines are believed to be one of the most ancient dog breeds, guarding Tibetan nomads for thousands of years. Their size and impressive guarding instincts made them invaluable companions, facing down wolves and snow leopards in the harsh Himalayan environment. 

These dogs need lots of training in part due to their protective instincts. They love their families so much that when friends come over to play, they sometimes mistake playtime for fighting and step in to play moderator. For this reason, it’s especially important to keep an eye on your Tibetan Mastiff when they’re around little ones. While Tibetan Mastiffs require experienced handling and training, their loyalty and devotion are unmatched. For those seeking a majestic companion with a rich history, a Tibetan Mastiff can become a cherished family member, offering unwavering protection and a touch of ancient history to your home. 

A big dog breed specifically a Rottweiler holding its toy basket while wearing a sunglasses oblivious of how majestically looking it is and its possible vet trips.

Other Big Dog Breeds to Consider 

The biggest dog breeds aren’t limited to those above. There are many more types of large dogs out there, but these typically require very experienced dog owners.  

  • Rottweilers: With consistent training and frequent socialization from a young age, these intelligent canines can be gentle and a great addition to the family. 

  • Bullmastiffs: These husky dogs are fairly lowkey when they have supportive and responsible owners. They require minimal brushing and exercise but lots of training and attention. 

  • Akitas: Another dog originally from Japan, the Akita is a beautiful breed known for protecting the public as police dogs. They can be aggressive toward other dogs, so novice dog owners should choose a different breed. 

  • Black Russian Terriers: With their all-black coat and expressive eyes, these dogs look like teddy bears but have intelligent personalities with strong protective instincts. 

  • Irish Wolfhounds: Irish Wolfhounds really do look like wolves with their coarse, shaggy coats, but these dogs aren’t usually aggressive. They do have a tendency to chase cats and other small animals, so keep a close watch on them. 

  • Great Pyrenees: These angelic-looking dogs tend to guard their owners’ homes from strangers. While this can be a good trait to ward off intruders, they need firm training to be safe around other visitors. 

  • Scottish Deerhounds: These pups were originally used for deer hunting, and today, they still have a deep-rooted need to be around their owners. They need lots of attention as well as exercise. 

  • Bernese Mountain Dogs: Hailing from Switzerland, this breed is moderately energetic thanks to their history as working dogs. They require frequent brushing and are prone to many health problems like elbow dysplasia and aseptic meningitis

  • Dogues de Bordeaux: Their striking hazel color makes members of this breed stand out. These dogs also have stubborn streaks that can make training difficult. 

  • Cane Corsos: These large dogs are not good choices for people who have lots visitors. They’re guard dogs that aren’t quite as outwardly loving to their owners but will fiercely defend them when they feel it’s necessary. 

Caring for Big Dogs 

Keep in mind that big dogs have big vet bills. Don’t forego dog insurance because your giant furry friend is almost certainly going to have many trips to the vet in the future. Specifically, large breeds are prone to joint issues, making proper nutrition incredibly important. Some big breeds are also more susceptible to heart problems. Regular visits to the vet can identify any health issues before they get worse.  An optional pet wellness plan can help you budget for these preventative trips to the vet, as well as grooming and training. This comprehensive approach ensures your giant pup stays well cared for, well behaved, and hopefully avoids any major health concerns. Even the most well-cared-for big dog might face a serious health issue down the road. Pet insurance can help reimburse a significant portion of the costs associated with these unexpected events. This financial safety net allows you to focus entirely on your dog's recovery, giving them the best possible care without the added stress of vet bills. Pet insurance ensures you can make decisions based on your furry friend's needs, not financial limitations, letting you focus on what matters most: your big dog's happy and healthy life. 

Common Misconceptions About Big Dogs 

Myth: Big dogs are lazy: Many big breeds are energetic, needing daily walks and playtime. 

Myth: Big dogs can't live in apartments: With enough exercise and mental stimulation, even large dogs can thrive in apartments. 

Myth: Size equals aggression: Training, not size, determines temperament. Many large breeds are gentle giants. 

Myth: Predictable size: Genetics can surprise you! Prepare for your pup to grow bigger (or smaller) than expected. 

Big Dogs Require the Right Owners 

There's no denying the unique charm of big dogs. Their gentle nature, playful spirit, and impressive size can make them fantastic companions. However, it's important to remember that owning a large dog comes with significant responsibility. 

If you’re not equipped to deal with the needs of a big breed, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. While big dogs are often goofy and loving, their sheer size requires proper training and handling. Even a playful pup can accidentally knock someone over with their enthusiasm. Investing in positive reinforcement training from a young age ensures your furry friend learns good manners and becomes a well-behaved companion. Animal lovers that aren’t strong trainers yet should consider picking a pup from the best small dog breeds or opting for a mid-sized dog. Untrained big dogs can be dangerous, even if they don’t intend to be! 

For those prepared to handle the responsibility, owning a large dog can be an incredibly rewarding experience. The bond you develop with your gentle giant is unmatched. Their loyalty, playful spirit, and protective nature can bring immense joy to your life. So, if you're up for the challenge and can provide a loving and stimulating environment, a big dog might just be your perfect furry soulmate.