Some people live by the motto “bigger is better,” and it extends to their dogs too. There are many large dog breeds, each with different care and training needs.
Most large dog breeds were bred for a purpose or function. Some breeds were meant to be hunters, others guard dogs. Dogs with great endurance brought livestock or produce to market or protected the farmer's animals. Knowing the dog's original purpose can be very important in determining the amount of exercise a dog will need. Large dog breeds that were bred to work all day will need daily activity to work off their energy.
Where and how you live are important factors in considering a large dog breed. City dwellers have different considerations than rural residents, and many apartment complexes, while permitting dogs, can limit their size by weight. The best dogs for people in apartments are smaller breeds such as a Boston Terriers or French Bulldogs.
While a four-pound Pomeranian can't reach the chicken on the counter, a 100-plus pound Great Dane easily can! Without proper training, the cutest puppy can grow up into a terror. Large dog breed owners should teach their dogs good manners at home and in the community by going to a training class or taking them through the Canine Good Citizen® program.
In general, costs can grow along with a dog’s size, since many veterinary procedures, medicines and boarding are dependent on the dog's weight. Not to mention, large dogs tend to eat quite a bit more than small dogs.
The largest dog breeds
- Great Dane: They may be extremely large and strong, but the Great Dane is known as a “gentle giant” because of its calm and loving disposition. They make excellent family pets, needing minimal grooming and daily exercise.
- Mastiff: Though one of the biggest dogs recognized by the AKC, the powerful Mastiff is a gentle and loyal companion. Mastiffs love being around people and bond closely with their family. They need light exercise and minimal grooming.
- Neapolitan Mastiff: The Neapolitan Mastiff is a massive dog with its trademark loose, wrinkly skin. They are strong, peaceful dogs that are very loyal to their families, but can be protective around strangers. They have an easy to care for coat, but tend to drool a lot. They need moderate daily exercise.
- Bullmastiff: While strong and powerfully built, the Bullmastiff is docile and sweet-natured at home with its family. They’re natural guardians that don’t bark too much and don’t require a lot of exercise or grooming.
- Saint Bernard: The Saint Bernard is powerful and muscular, but has a mellow temperament. They do really well with children, making great family pets. Saint Bernards shed twice a year and owners should be prepared for drool.
- Newfoundland: A large dog and hard worker, the Newfoundland has a very sweet disposition and is a devoted companion. The breed needs daily brushing and exercise.
- Cane Corso: The Cane Corso is muscular, large-boned, and powerful in appearance. The breed originally hunted wild boar and guarded property in its native Italy. These affectionate dogs are intelligent, athletic, and need lots of exercise. Their short, light-shedding coat only needs an occasional brushing.
- Dogue de Bordeaux: A natural guardian, the Dogue de Bordeaux is affectionate, calm, and patient. The breed is powerful and muscular, needing moderate exercise. Their short coat is easy to care for, and new owners should be prepared to deal with drool.
- Great Pyrenees: Originally used as a guardian of sheep, the Great Pyrenees has a natural instinct to protect. They’re independent thinkers and need daily exercise. Their thick, weather resistant coat needs brushing once a week.
- Bernese Mountain Dog: The Bernese Mountain Dog is a hardy dog that does well in cold weather. The breed is strong, smart, and needs a moderate amount of exercise. They’re also known for being gentle and easygoing. Their long, silky double coat sheds and requires regular brushing.
- Tibetan Mastiff: Tibetan Mastiffs are impressively large, extremely independent and intelligent. They tend to be highly protective of their family and property. They have an immense double coat that sheds once a year and needs regular brushing.
- Black Russian Terrier: The Black Russian Terrier is large, robust, and powerful. They were originally used as guard dogs, so they have a natural instinct to protect. The breed is loving towards its family and reserved with strangers. They need daily exercise and regular brushing.
- Leonberger: While they resemble a lion and are large in size, Leonbergers are very calm, gentle, and sweet dogs. They make excellent family pets and love children. Their profuse coat sheds a lot and needs daily brushing. The breed also needs moderate daily exercise.
- Irish Wolfhound: Large, muscular, and the tallest of dogs, the Irish Wolfhound has a loving temperament. Though they were originally bred to hunt wolves and elk, they are primarily family pets today. Their harsh coat requires regular brushing.
- Scottish Deerhound: This large sight hound is one of the oldest breeds recognized by the AKC and is an excellent hunter. The Scottish Deerhound is a quiet, dignified companion with a tendency to chase small animals that run past it. Their easy to care for coat requires brushing and occasional bathing.
All dogs need love and attention. Read our 101 ways to be a responsible large breed dog owner.