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Published: Jan 25, 2024 19 min read

The world's biggest dog breeds can weigh as much as 200 pounds. But despite their imposing demeanor, most are known for being loyal and gentle giants, even towards mischievous children.

Most of these breeds fall in the guarding and working group categories established by the American Kennel Club (AKC). That means these canines were bred to perform all sorts of tasks: water rescues, sled-pulling, hunting, herding and guarding. They are also more than happy to snuggle up next to you on the couch.

Read on to learn more about giant dog breeds and how to best care for them.

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18 Biggest Dog Breeds


Cane Corso

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Height

Weight

Temperament

Life expectancy

23 to 28 inches

88 to 110 pounds

Loyal, assertive, willful, vigilant

Nine to 12 years

A descendant of Roman war dogs, the Cane Corso is large, muscular and intimidating. It's no surprise that its name can be loosely translated to "bodyguard dog." Corsi are very loyal, affectionate and protective of their family. They are also highly intelligent and strong-willed. In the hands of an inexperienced owner, Corsi may take control of situations and do as they please.

Corsi excel in tracking, agility and scent exercises. The key is to train them well, manage their guarding instinct and socialize them early. They won't be social butterflies — they are typically indifferent to other dogs and people. Instead, the goal is to train them well enough so that they follow your lead in most scenarios.


Bernese Mountain Dog

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Height

Weight

Temperament

Life expectancy

25 to 26 inches

80 to 95 pounds

Calm, kind, strong

Seven to 10 years

The Bernese Mountain Dog is the ultimate family dog among the large, working dog breeds. The breed is the ideal combination of strength, beauty and gentle nature. Traditionally used as farm dogs in the Swiss Alps, Bernese Mountain Dogs excel at herding and drafting (pulling a cart or a sled) as well as guarding. They're also known to be exceptionally patient and tolerant with people, dogs and children.

Physically, this dog breed is a sight to see. They have a sturdy, tri-colored coat with distinctive markings of black, rust, and white and thick, silky long fur. Their coat requires daily brushing and grooming at least every two weeks.


Great Pyrenees

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Height

Weight

Temperament

Life expectancy

27 to 32 inches

85 to 110 pounds

Independent, calm, protective

10 to 12 years

Great Pyrenees have a snowy white double-coat with patches of yellow, tan or gray. Bred to guard sheep up in the mountains unsupervised, this dog breed is naturally independent. Fortunately, Great Pyrenees are also instinctively calm, well-mannered and devoted to their family.

Great Pyrenees are ideal pets to keep in suburban or rural areas. Due to their guarding instinct, early socialization is important — they should be exposed to new people, new places, other pets and children as early and frequently as possible.

Obedience training may also pose a challenge. You will need lots of patience and skills to train this breed so that their independence and intelligence don't lead to unwanted behaviors. With the right care, Great Pyrenees make for gentle, hard-working and watchful dogs that will love and protect their family members.


Tibetan Mastiff

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Height

Weight

Temperament

Life expectancy

24 to 26 inches

70 to 150 pounds

Strong-willed, protective, calm

10 to 12 years

An ancient breed originating in the Himalayan region of Tibet, the Tibetan Mastiff was bred to guard livestock and villages. These dogs are large and muscular with a thick, double coat that insulates their body from the cold.

Personality-wise, this breed is deeply loyal to their family but can be reserved and aloof towards strangers due to their innate guarding instincts. Raising a Tibetan Mastiff isn't for beginner dog owners — their intelligence and protective instinct require a skilled handler and dedicated training. They thrive in large homes with lots of space to roam freely and remote areas with few (or no) neighbors.


Great Dane

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Height

Weight

Temperament

Life expectancy

30 to 32 inches

100 to 120 pounds

Affectionate, playful, guarding

Seven to 10 years

Originally bred for hunting and guarding, Great Danes are gentle and affectionate and make a great family dog. They are very friendly with people and patient with kids. Physically, Great Danes have a strong and muscular build that towers over most other dog breeds.

Despite their sweet disposition, Great Danes are also protective and alert, and their demeanor (and bark) will deter any potential intruder. They may be aggressive towards other dogs, though they are able to get along with other animals if they're raised together.


Irish Wolfhound

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Height

Weight

Temperament

Life expectancy

30 to 34 inches

105 pounds or more

Laid-back, loyal, affectionate

Nine to 10 years

Irish Wolfhounds are considered the tallest dog breed. Despite its size, this breed is quick and able to swiftly hunt down large animals. Their sighthound instincts make them a little difficult to call back when they're chasing animals, so they'll need lots of recall training.

Irish Wolfhounds are pretty laid-back when it comes to exercising. After 20 to 40 minutes of activity a day, they're more than happy to hang around the house with family and children. You shouldn't count on this giant dog to guard and protect your property — they weren't bred for guarding and tend to be friendly with most people they meet.

In terms of grooming, Irish Wolfhounds are deceptive. Their shaggy hair doesn't shed as much as you'd expect, but it needs combing multiple times a week to prevent matting.


Bullmastiff

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Height

Weight

Temperament

Life expectancy

25 to 26 inches

100 to 130 pounds

Intelligent, protective, loyal

Eight to 10 years

Originating in England, Bullmastiffs were bred to guard estates and catch intruders. They are protective and suspicious of strangers, but affectionate and devoted to their families.

Bullmastiffs may play well with children in their family, but close supervision is still recommended. It's also best to pair them with older kids who understand and respect the dog's boundaries. Training and socializing from puppyhood is crucial in order to raise a Bullmastiff that behaves well around strangers and other animals.


Anatolian Shepherd

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Height

Weight

Temperament

Life expectancy

27 to 29 inches

80 to 150 pounds

Independent, protective, loyal

11 to 13 years

The Anatolian Shepherd, hailing from Turkey, is recognized for its strong protective instincts and independent nature. Originally bred to guard livestock from predators, these dogs display a calm and composed demeanor with their family, yet are alert and highly protective when the need arises.

Owners of Anatolian Shepherds must be experienced and able to handle the dominant and intelligent temperament of this breed. They are not particularly friendly towards strangers and need early socialization and training to be on their best behavior around people, livestock, children and other dogs.

This noble breed is best suited for countryside properties where they can roam freely and have few or no encounters with unfamiliar people or animals.


English Mastiff

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Height

Weight

Temperament

Life expectancy

27 to 30 inches and up

120 to 230 pounds

Affectionate, protective, calm

Six to 10 years

English Mastiffs are loyal, patient and good-natured towards their family (particularly towards children). That said, they're best kept away from toddlers simply due to the size difference. English Mastiffs should be exposed to as many people, places and situations as possible during puppyhood or their guarding instinct might become a liability.

Owners should also be prepared to live with a dog that drools a lot and is a heavy snorer. However, in terms of grooming, English Mastiffs are easy to care for. Their short coat requires minimal upkeep and you can get away with monthly baths and nail trimming.


Boerboel

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Height

Weight

Temperament

Life expectancy

24 to 25 inches 

150 to 200 pounds

Dominant, protective, very trainable

Nine to 11 years

The Boerboel, also known as the South African Mastiff, makes for an exceptional watchdog and versatile working dog thanks to its confidence, fearlessness and intelligence. This breed is characterized by its powerful build, broad head and short, dense coat. They often have a mask-like facial marking that adds to their imposing appearance.

Described as affectionate and devoted to the people they love, Boerboels form strong bonds with their family. They can get along with other pets and children but firm, structured training is crucial to manage such a dominant and guarding breed.


Saint Bernard

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Height

Weight

Temperament

Life expectancy

26 to 30 inches

120 to 180 pounds

Playful, sweet, curious

Eight to 10 years

With its droopy eyes and naturally floppy ears, the Saint Bernard is one of the most recognizable big dog breeds. They are described as sociable, playful, charming and inquisitive, and make excellent companions for families and children. Saint Bernards may be stubborn to train at times but respond well once they know what's expected of them.

Historically, their background as rescue dogs is admirable. Alpine monks living in the treacherous Saint Bernard Pass used Saint Bernards as rescue dogs since the 18th century, and they are credited with rescuing over 2,000 people in the span of 200 years.


Leonberger

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Height

Weight

Temperament

Life expectancy

25 to 31 inches

80 to 160 pounds

Serene, trainable, loyal

8 to 10 years

The Leonberger was bred in Germany as a companion dog to royalty but it's come back to its roots as a working breed. You can find this breed sledding, cart pulling and backpacking in farms and pastures or swimming effortlessly on the waterfront. They're ideal companions for an outdoor enthusiast eager to take their dog along for adventures.

Leonbergers are great with people but need lots of socialization with animals to avoid any aggressive tendencies.


Newfoundland

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Height

Weight

Temperament

Life expectancy

26 to 28 inches

100 to 150 pounds

Affectionate, playful, easygoing

Eight to 10 years

Bred in the island of Newfoundland, Canada to work with fishermen, the Newfoundland is an excellent swimmer. Newfoundlands have large and heavy waterproof coats, plus webs between their paws that help propel them on water. You can often see Newfies on duty as working lifeguards, where they can carry up to 50 times their body weight during a water rescue.

Newfoundlands are sweet, affectionate and exceptional family pets but won't hesitate to warn or protect their guardians. They're known for alerting people of fires and standing firmly between their guardians and strangers they're suspicious of.


Komondor

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Height

Female weight

Male weight

Life expectancy

26 to 28 inches

70 to 100 pounds

Independent, protective, loving towards handler

10 to 12 years

The Komondor is a striking sight due to their white, tasseled coat that keeps them hidden from predators as they guard and protect sheep flocks. It is a rare breed. By some estimates, there are less than 10,000 in the world, and they're mostly found in their country of origin, Hungary.

Bred to make their own decisions out in the fields, the Komondor is very protective and independent. In the wrong household, their temperament might pose a liability, so they're best raised by an experienced handler.

Obedience classes and early socialization are a must for this breed to interact well with other pets and people. Grooming also requires a dedicated hand. The coat of a Komondor naturally mats and forms thick cords that require lots of cleaning, care and management. Owners are advised to manually break down the cords into thinner tassels and shear the coat two to three times a year.


Black Russian Terrier

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Height

Female weight

Male weight

Life expectancy

27 to 29 inches

80 to 130 pounds

Protective, intelligent, confident

10 to 12 years

The Black Russian Terrier, also known as BRT or the "Black Pearl of Russia '' was developed after World War II by the Soviet Military. This muscular guard dog is tall but surprisingly agile, and its coarse all-black coat allows it to patrol the coldest territories.

A member of the working and guarding breed group, Black Russian Terriers need a firm handler with experience managing dogs of this size and intelligence. They are not friendly with strangers and are best suited for households with older children and without any other pets.


French Mastiff

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Height

Female weight

Male weight

Life expectancy

22 to 27 inches

99 to 110 pounds

Protective, intelligent, confident

10 to 12 years

Much like its Mastiff cousins, the Dogue de Bordeaux is a guardian dog above all else — they were bred to guard vineyards in France and deter intruders. Their large head and furrowed expression are their most distinctive features.

French Mastiffs are protective of their family and can be aggressive towards other people and dogs. Despite their devotion and loyalty to their owners, these dogs aren't easy-going. French Mastiffs can be very stubborn and will dominate handlers who aren't firm and consistent with their training.


Scottish Deerhound

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Height

Female weight

Male weight

Life expectancy

28 to 32 inches

75 to 110 pounds

Laid-back, sensitive, friendly

Eight to 11 years

The Scottish Deerhound is one of the tallest dog breeds. Also known as the "Royal Dog of Scotland", this breed is reminiscent of a Greyhound but is much larger and has a wiry, coarse coat. Deerhounds were bred to hunt giant wild deer in the Scottish Highlands and were unmatched at this job, taking down large game in a matter of seconds.

Nowadays, Scottish Deerhounds are companion dogs with a strong hunting instinct. They need lots of space and access to open fields where they can run to their heart's content. When there isn't something to hunt, Deerhounds prefer to lounge and hang out with their family. They would make poor watchdogs, as they are typically friendly and good-natured towards strangers.


Giant Schnauzer

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Height

Female weight

Male weight

Life expectancy

23 to 28 inches

65 to 85 pounds

Alert, intelligent, territorial

12 to 15 years

High-energy, intelligent and protective are some of the words used to describe the Giant Schnauzer. This breed is ideal for someone who leads an active lifestyle and wants to take their dog along for adventures. Giant Schnauzers thrive with regular exercise and mentally stimulating activities, making them great working dogs for all sorts of tasks.

The Giant Schnauzer is also one of the few giant dog breeds considered to be hypoallergenic. They hardly shed, though their double coat is relatively high-maintenance. Owners must brush and clip the coat frequently in order to keep it healthy.

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What you need to know about the largest dog breeds

All aspects of pet care get super-sized with a large dog breed. They need more space, they eat more food and routine services at the vet cost more.

Here's what you can expect if you bring a giant dog breed home.

Development

Extra-large dogs are slow to mature both physically and emotionally. You'll likely have a giant puppy until it reaches two to three years of age. Physically, prepare to purchase multiple collars, leashes, crates and toys. Big dog breeds grow exponentially and you'll have to replace these items as the pup grows to its adult size.

Giant dogs also have a much shorter lifespan than small and medium-sized dogs. Whereas a small dog breed can live over 15 to 16 years, giant dog breeds sometimes live only up to seven or eight years of age.

Space

Large dogs weigh anywhere from 90 to 200 pounds and need ample space to move in a home. Think about the space where you live and consider whether a big dog can comfortably move around. Can they play and move without hitting things? Does their bed and crate fit next to your furniture?

Spacing concerns also apply to your car. A giant breed should be able to comfortably fit in your vehicle so you can transport them safely and with ease.

Training needs

Early socialization and obedience training are particularly important for large dogs (especially those that were bred as guard dogs). Smaller dogs can get away with getting over-excited and jumping on strangers but an untrained 100-pound dog poses a significant safety concern. Giant dogs can weigh as much as a grown adult, and can easily overtake children and older members of the family.

That being said, training should still be fun and reward-based, even for the most dominant and stubborn breeds. Most importantly, it should be tailored to the dog's personality, temperament and needs.

We encourage you to get in touch with a breeders' club and ask for trainer recommendations. Alternatively, you can use AKC's handy guide on how to find and choose a dog trainer to scout the right trainer for your giant breed.

Cost

There's no two ways about it: big dog breeds are expensive to maintain. They have larger appetites and will go through a lot of food throughout the year. You'll also pay more for services such as pet insurance and grooming, and for items like collars, leashes and crates.

Prepare to pay more at the vet as well. Vet care services are priced according to dosage and dosage is determined by weight. This means that spaying or neutering a dog, vaccinations and medications will cost more simply because the dog weighs more.

Health concerns

Giant dog breeds typically carry a higher risk of developing the following conditions:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia: Many dog breeds are genetically predisposed to joint problems. Large dog breeds are at a higher risk not only due to genetics but also their size. Their joints are put under a lot of stress as they grow and gain weight.
  • Wobbler syndrome: Wobbler syndrome is a neurological condition that affects the dog's spine in the neck area. Dogs with this disability have a wobbly and weak gait that starts in the back legs and may eventually affect all four legs.
  • Gastric dilation volvulus (GDV): Commonly called "bloat," this condition happens when a dog's stomach fills with air and twists, causing damage to other organs as a result. It's fatal without treatment and progresses rapidly. The risk of bloat is higher in giant dog breeds that have deep and narrow chests, such as Great Danes and Saint Bernards.

Another important consideration with giant dog breeds is access to veterinary care. Not all veterinary clinics have the right equipment to fit a giant dog on the surgery table or X-ray machine. Owners should take the time to search for veterinarians who have the space and equipment to care for their pup as it grows into a full-sized adult.

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Biggest dog breeds FAQs

How long do large dogs live?

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Large and giant dogs live, on average, 10 to 12 years. There are a handful of breeds that may live longer than that, despite their size. The Anatolian Shepherd has a lifespan of 11 to 13 years, while Giant Schnauzers can reportedly live up to 15 years of age.

Of course, the lifespan of your canine companion will depend on genetics, the quality of care they receive and any health issues they develop. The best thing you can do to prolong their life is to take them to routine checkups, feed them nutritionally balanced meals and fulfill their exercise needs.

When should you spay or neuter a giant dog breed?

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The standard practice is to neuter or spay a dog at six months of age, but guidelines may be different for giant dog breeds. Although more research is needed, recent studies show there is a significant health risk if you fix a large dog too early, and veterinarians recommend delaying this surgery until your giant dog is around 11 to 12 months old.

Deciding when to spay or neuter also depends on the dog's sex and breed, so we recommend consulting a veterinarian to determine the best timeline for your pup.

What is the best large dog breed for a family?

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The best giant dog breeds for families include Bernese Mountain Dogs, Saint Bernards, Great Danes, Newfoundlands and Great Pyrenees. These breeds tend to be calm, gentle and patient with all members of their family and make great companions.

Summary of Money's Best Big Dog Breeds

The biggest dog breeds come in all shapes and sizes and can weigh anywhere from 80 to 170 pounds. Aptly named "working dogs," these breeds were bred to earn their keep as flock guardians, herders, shepherds and hunters. Nowadays, you can often find them competing in agility and obedience shows, playing around on farms or thriving as a family dog.

Here's a list of the most popular giant dog breeds around the world. Whether you want a calm, kid-friendly dog or an aloof and loyal guardian, there's a giant dog breed for you.