17 Biggest Dog Breeds and How to Care for Them

Emily Sanders
By Emily Sanders. Reviewed by Jennifer Coates, DVM on Aug. 15, 2023
black and white great dane licking a woman's face

There’s nothing that fills your heart—or your home—quite like a big dog. But while there are a lot of benefits to a large dog joining your family, there are some considerations pet parents need to keep in mind, too.

Caring for a Big Dog

Pet parents considering big breeds of dogs should know what they’re getting into before bringing one home.

Size

Dogs that are big start out as (relatively) little puppies, but that doesn’t last long! Giant breeds typically take 18–24 months to reach their full size, but most of that growth occurs before they are a year old. Be sure you have enough room for their big “teenage” bodies. Families with children should also be mindful—while many large dog breeds are gentle giants, they can accidentally knock over young kids. 

Budget

Big dogs need more food than their smaller cousins. Also, veterinarians prescribe medicine based on a pet’s weight, so bigger dogs need larger doses. That all means bigger dogs will generally cost more than small dog breeds, because they need more of just about everything.

Health

Big dog breeds are especially prone to certain health conditions. Common concerns that pet parents should be aware of include bloat and gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), hip dysplasia, wobbler syndrome, and hypothyroidism. In general, big dogs also tend to have shorter lifespans than smaller breeds.

Training

All dogs need to be socialized and trained starting in puppyhood, but it is especially important for big dogs. Considering that some breeds can reach weights of 230 pounds or more in adulthood, early training allows pet parents to ensure their dog learns good manners and polite interactions while they’re a more manageable size. It’s one thing to have a 20-pound Beagle jump up on you—it’s another thing entirely if a 140-pound Newfoundland does the same.

Big Dog Breeds

So, what are the largest breeds of dog? Let’s look at some that have a lot to love (literally).

1. Irish Wolfhound

gray irish wolfhound standing outside
Photo credit: iStock/Ashva

Weight: 105–120 pounds

Height: 30+ inches

Irish Wolfhounds are often cited as the tallest dog breed in the world, with some reaching up to 3 feet in height (measured at the shoulder when standing on all four legs!). However, Irish Wolfhounds are prone to health problems such as hip dysplasia and life-threatening GDV, and they have a lifespan of only 6–8 years. These dogs tend to have sensitive personalities and, like all other dogs, respond best to training that uses positive reinforcement.

2. Great Dane

black and white great dane looking at the camera
Photo credit: iStock/Earl-Wilkerson

Weight: 110–175 pounds

Height: 28–32 inches

It’s not hard to see how Great Danes earned their title—the big dogs are truly great in size. But how they got the “Dane” part of their name is a little hazy, as the breed has no connection to Denmark. Instead, these giant dogs were bred in Germany to work as hunters and guardians. Great Danes, which are one of the biggest dogs in the world, tend to be quiet and gentle. But they do need plenty of space to get enough exercise.

3. Bernese Mountain Dog

woman petting a bernese mountain dog whose tongue is flopping out
Photo credit: iStock/Jasmina007

Weight: 70–115 pounds

Height: 23–27.5 inches

Bernese Mountain Dogs are big dogs with even bigger hearts. Originally bred in Switzerland and brought to the US as farm dogs, these affectionate pups are now mostly family pets. But that doesn’t mean they’ve lost their love for the outdoors—this breed loves to hike with their favorite people, so early leash training and recall are important to teach in puppyhood.

4. Saint Bernard

saint bernard outside among trees
Photo credit: iStock/Massonstock

Weight: 120–180 pounds

Height: 26–30 inches

Originally trained by monks for avalanche search-and-rescue missions, Saint Bernards are now great family dogs that are great companions for children. These big dogs are affectionate, loyal, and have a low prey drive. However, due to their history as rescue dogs, they enjoy digging, so keep an eye on them when they’re outdoors.

5. Mastiff

close-up portrait of an english mastiff's face
Photo credit: Adobe/Casey

Weight: 120–230 pounds

Height: 27.5+ inches

A giant among giants, Mastiffs are one of the biggest dogs in the world. Also known as Old English Mastiffs, their low energy levels mean they are content with staying home with you all day—and that’s perfectly fine with them, as this big dog can be wary of strangers at first. But with early and consistent socialization, they’ll learn to befriend new people.

6. Neapolitan Mastiff

big neapolitan mastiff standing to the side
Photo credit: iStock/Salima Senyavskaya

Weight: 110–150 pounds

Height: 24–31 inches tall

Neapolitan Mastiffs are the Mastiff’s Italian, (slightly) smaller cousins. But while they may only reach half the weight of their English relatives, they’re still one of the biggest dog breeds. These giant couch potatoes are content with naps in the sun and need their pet parents to take them on walks so they get enough exercise. But take note: Their wrinkly skin and copious amount of drool mean pet parents must pay extra attention to grooming this giant dog.

7. Newfoundland

close-up portrait of a black newfoundland dog staring at the camera
Photo credit: Adobe/noemie

Weight: 100–150 pounds

Height: 26–28 inches

Newfoundlands are massive, friendly dogs that often charm their families with their sweet temperament. Newfies, as they’re affectionately called, were bred to pull carts and haul nets for fishermen, and they also served as water rescue dogs in Newfoundland and Labrador. They still love to swim and splash around today—as long as their swimming session is followed by a long nap.

8. Scottish Deerhound

close-up portrait of a scottish deerhound head
Photo credit: Adobe/Kim

Weight: 75–110 pounds

Height: 28–32 inches

The Scottish Deerhound is a rare breed that looks like a scruffy, big-boned Greyhound. An easygoing dog, the Deerhound enjoys both the great outdoors as well as staying cozy inside with their family. This big dog has a life expectancy of 7–9 years and may be prone to neck pain and hypothyroidism.

9. Leonberger

little boy hugging a big leonberger dog
Photo credit: iStock/kaisphoto

Weight: 90­–170 pounds

Height: 25.5–31.5 inches

The majestic Leonberger is a muscular working dog that likes having a job to focus on. However, this big breed is also affectionate and often happy just snuggling with their family (while taking up most of the couch). The breed is sexually dimorphic, meaning male Leonbergers look different than females (males have a lion-like mane around their neck, for example). Whether male or female, Leonbergers are prone to joint problems and heart disease, and they have a life expectancy of around 7 years.

10. Anatolian Shepherd

big tan anatolian shepherd dog sitting on a road
Photo credit: Adobe/CharlitoCZ

Weight: 80–150 pounds

Height: 27–32 inches

Anatolian Shepherds are a large breed of dog that tends to be independent and reserved. Bred to be guardians, they can be wary of strangers and often bark to warn their family of potential threats. This breed needs patient pet parents who can properly socialize them as puppies.

11. Black Russian Terrier 

black russian terrier sitting on a bridge and looking at the camera
Photo credit: Adobe/Andreas

Weight: 80–130 pounds

Height: 26–30 inches

The “terrier” name may make you think of a much smaller dog, but the Black Russian Terrier is far from a Yorkie. A powerful and courageous breed, these large dogs are loyal to their family and can be standoffish toward new people. However, they are gentle with children and can be sociable and affectionate when they learn strangers aren’t something to be suspicious of.

12. Bullmastiff

bullmstiff dog standing outside
Photo credit: Adobe/Ryhor Zasinets

Weight: 100–130 pounds

Height: 24–27 inches

Bullmastiffs are a cross between a Bulldog and a Mastiff. They can be laidback and affectionate with loved ones, but also have a history as guardians. Bullmastiffs may be prone to conditions like hip dysplasia and subaortic valvular stenosis, a genetic heart defect that can be avoided with responsible breeding.

13. Dogue de Bordeaux

red-brown dogue de bordeaux running outside with his tongue flopping
Photo credit: iStock/Bigandt_Photography

Weight: 99+ pounds

Height: 23–27 inches

The Dogue de Bordeaux, also known as the French Mastiff, is an affectionate and highly loyal dog. This sweet breed can come with an independent streak, so pet parents must be patient and consistent when training. Don’t get this big dog if you’re squeamish about slobber; Dogues tend produce lots of drool, which can get trapped in their wrinkly skin and cause an infection if not regularly cleaned.

14. Cane Corso

black cane corso sitting with his pet parent
Photo credit: iStock/Predrag Vuckovic

Weight: 90–110 pounds

Height: 23.5–27.5 inches

Cani Corsi, or Italian Mastiffs, are working dogs with a drive to please their pet parents. Their strong sense of loyalty makes them good family dogs, but as with all large dog breeds, supervision around kids is strongly encouraged because they can accidentally knock small children over.

15. Great Pyrenees

close up of a big white great pyrenees dog
Photo credit: Adobe/Beatrice

Weight: 85+ pounds

Height: 25–32 inches

The Great Pyrenees enjoys relaxing at home with family. But don’t let their placid demeanor fool you: This breed is quite strong, and a fast runner due to its history as a livestock guardian. Great Pyrenees have a strong will and benefit from early training and socialization. They’re good with children and will happily join you on a long walk or hike.

16. Tibetan Mastiff

red tibetan mastiff standing out in the snow with fur blowing in the wind
Photo credit: iStock/Oleksandr Hryvul

Weight: 70–150 pounds

Height: 24–29 inches

While the massive Tibetan Mastiff can reach up to 150 pounds, they have a thick double coat that makes them look even larger. This means that while they can thrive in the snow, Tibetan Mastiffs can be prone to overheating in warmer weather. They are an intelligent dog originally bred to guard, and they still enjoy having a job to fulfill today.

17. Bloodhound

big bloodhound dog standing outside among plants
Photo credit: iStock/Evgenia Glinskaia

Weight: 80–110 pounds

Height: 23–27 inches

Famous for their keen nose, droopy face, and deep howl, Bloodhounds benefit from mentally stimulating activities to keep them occupied and out of trouble. Their patient nature helps them deal well with children—as long as the kids don’t pull on their long, floppy ears.

Featured Image: iStock/andresr


Emily Sanders

WRITTEN BY

Emily Sanders

Freelance Writer


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