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The essentials

  • Owning an extra-large dog can be a rewarding experience — These pups may be large, but they have even bigger hearts. Many of these dogs have affectionate temperaments and make great family pets.
  • The biggest dog breeds come with challenges  — While many of these dogs are considered “gentle giants,” some are quite protective and can be aggressive if not properly trained and socialized.
  • Make sure you’re the right fit — Before you welcome a big dog into your home, or any dog breed for that matter, consider factors such as health issues, budget, space, and training requirements.

Ready to add one of these giant breeds to your family? Prepare for a big adventure!

The following breed list is brought to readers through betterpet’s FidoTabby Alert partnership and the data they provide.

1. Great Dane

A Great Dane in the woods.
Average Height: 28 to 35 inches
Average Weight: 109 to 150 pounds (males), 95 to 125 pounds (females)
Description: Protective and playful “gentle giants”

Great Danes, also known as “the Apollo of the dog world”,” are famous for their big size and friendly nature. These dogs make wonderful family pets and love being around kids. As puppies, they’re full of energy and can be clumsy while growing into their bodies, so keep a close eye on them so they don’t knock any little ones over. The good news is that they learn quickly, and they respond well to training, especially when you use positive reinforcement. Great Danes are people pleasers and really want to make their human companions happy.

While Great Danes are known for their imposing size, they don’t necessarily require an extremely active lifestyle. They need regular exercise and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy, but their activity level is often more moderate compared to smaller dogs. Daily walks, some playtime in a secure yard, and the opportunity to stretch their legs will do them good, but they’re also quite content with lounging and relaxing indoors.

2. Rottweiler

Rottweiler sitting by a lake
Average Height: 24-27 inches (male), 22-25 inches (female)
Average Weight: 82-120 pounds (male), 73-100 pounds (female)
Description: Devoted and confident guard dogs

Rottweilers, sometimes referred to as Rotties, are known for their loyal nature and silly personalities. These dogs are big-hearted and big in size, so they require ample space to move around comfortably. While they have natural guarding instincts, they also have an endearing and playful side that makes them beloved companions.

Rottweilers can be great with children when introduced at a young age, but they tend to be very protective over them, so it’s important to monitor all interactions with kids. They can also get along with other dogs and cats when properly trained and introduced. Ultimately, Rotties need a lot of attention and training, and they’re particularly prone to separation anxiety, so they’re not a great option if you’re not an experienced dog owner.

3. Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees dog in a forest setting.
Average Height: 25-32 inches
Average Weight: 75-110 pounds (male), 68-95 pounds (female)
Description: Patient, gentle, and just the right amount of fluff

Great Pyrenees, affectionately known as Pyrs, have a rich history as shepherds’ guardians. These dogs retain their timeless qualities of patience and protection, making them excellent companions for families and individuals alike. The Pyr’s calm disposition is a defining trait, but they readily spring into action to safeguard their loved ones, a tribute to their heritage as diligent protectors. With their large size and stunning, thick white coat, they make quite the majestic presence.

When it comes to daily activities, Great Pyrenees enjoy taking leisurely walks and engaging in lively play sessions. However, they are built for cold climates and prefer to relax in the shade during the hottest parts of the day. If you’re someone who appreciates both rest and play, a Great Pyrenees could be the perfect pooch for you.

4. Mastiff

Mastiff laying on the grass
Average Height: 27-30 inches
Average Weight: 75-110 pounds (male), 68-95 pounds (female)
Description: XL-sized laid-back working group dogs

Mastiffs, such as the English mastiff, are renowned for their massive size and gentle, family-friendly demeanor. Though their stature is mighty, mastiffs are actually enormous love bugs. They have low to moderate exercise needs and prefer lounging on the couch to chasing squirrels outside. The Tibetan mastiff, on the other hand, is independent, stubborn, and protective, making them a not-so-ideal option for first-time pet parents. The Neapolitan mastiff also pairs well with experienced owners, given their need for early socialization and training. These powerful pups have a distinctive, wrinkled appearance and make excellent guard dogs.

Another mastiff that might appeal to pet parents looking for a large breed is the Dogue de Bordeaux, also known as the French mastiff. These strong dogs have wide shoulders and extra skin. They pack the power of bigger mastiffs in a shorter, tough body designed for protection. French mastiffs are super loving and affectionate with their owners, but be wary of leaving them alone around small kids or animals.

5. Cane corso

Cane corso dog outside
Average Height: 22-29 inches
Average Weight: 90-125 pounds (male), 80-110 pounds (female)
Description: Loyal protectors with boundless love

Cane corsos are enthusiastic and intelligent pups who love to please their owners. These loyal dogs are known for their eagerness to learn, making them highly trainable. Whether it’s fetching a ball or mastering new tricks, cane corsos are always up for a challenge and their intelligence shines through no matter what they’re doing. If you’re thinking about getting a cane corso, make sure you have enough space and lots of energy to give this big pup the exercise they need.

With a rich history as guard dogs, cane corsos have protective instincts and form strong bonds with humans, making them excellent family pets. With the right guidance and early socialization, cane corsos can get along well with other pets, too.

6. Bernese mountain dog

Bernese Mountain Dog outside
Average Height: 20-30 inches
Average Weight: 78-100 pounds (male), 70-90 pounds (female)
Description: Loving giants with heartwarming charm

Bernese mountain dogs, aka Berners, are beloved for their impressive size and friendly nature. These giant dogs thrive in a cold climate, thanks to their thick, weather-resistant coats, and require a home that can keep their active minds and bodies engaged. With their strong work ethic, they enjoy tasks and challenges, making them great candidates for activities that stimulate both their physical and mental abilities.

Berners are renowned for their friendly and good-natured disposition, making them wonderful companions for families with kids and other pets. Their size may be imposing, but their hearts are as big as their stature.

7. Saint Bernard

Average Height: 26 to 35 inches
Average Weight: 99-145 pounds (male), 90-125 pounds (female)
Description: Towering companions with endless affection

A whole lot of love wrapped in slobbery smiles, Saint Bernards are beloved for their big hearts and warm demeanor. They crave attention from their humans and offer an abundance of affection in return, making them the ultimate companions.

Nicknamed “nanny dogs” due to their gentle nature towards children, these pups make the perfect pets for families with children, although they might not be as affectionate with other pets. While they’re up for a good play session, they have only moderate exercise needs and will be equally as excited about snuggling on the couch (if they can fit!).

8. Newfoundland

Newfoundland walking in a park
Average Height: 25-28 inches
Average Weight: 100-140 pounds (male), 90-122 pounds (female)
Description: Water-loving, loyal guardians

Newfoundlands, often referred to as Newfies, are a breed of extra-large pups celebrated for their massive size and even bigger hearts. Patient and sweet-tempered, they’re another breed that gets the coveted  “nanny dog” label. These trustworthy watchdogs have a natural knack for looking after their families, making them excellent companions for households with children.

One of the standout traits of Newfoundlands is their love for water. Their thick double coats and webbed paws allow them to withstand colder temps, which makes them a perfect fit for families living near water, as long as it’s a safe environment for dogs to enjoy. These gentle giants not only excel at swimming but also relish the opportunity to play and frolic in the water, bringing joy and a refreshing spirit to their families.

9. Irish wolfhound

An Irish wolfhound standing outside next to a small dog.
Average Height: 30-32 inches
Average Weight: 80-130 pounds (male), 70-128 pounds (female)
Description: Shaggy-coated companions with a tranquil spirit

Irish wolfhounds, known for their laid-back personalities and shaggy coats, are truly one of a kind. These large pups can reach an astounding 100 pounds by the tender age of just six months and are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as the tallest dog breed. Although they tend to be good with kids due to their gentle nature, their sheer size makes it essential to supervise their interactions, ensuring that everyone stays safe and comfortable.

These gentle giants don’t require long walks, but they do need plenty of outdoor time to let their massive frames romp around freely. Don’t be surprised if they display their natural instinct to chase small animals during their outdoor adventures.

10. Bullmastiff

dog laying in grass
Average Height: 24-27 inches
Average Weight: 80-120 pounds (male), 75-115 pounds (female)
Description: Assertive, devoted guardians

Bullmastiffs, once dubbed “gamekeeper’s dogs,” have a rich history of providing steadfast protection from poachers. Bred for their immense strength and loyalty, these dogs are renowned for their unwavering devotion to their owners. While they’re very gentle and affectionate with their families, bullmastiffs are known to be a bit more difficult when it comes to interacting with other pets. Their protective nature can also make them somewhat wary of strangers, but this quality serves as a testament to their excellent guarding abilities.

These pups tend to fare best with assertive dog owners who can provide consistent and firm leadership. With the right guidance, bullmastiffs thrive in loving and protective homes.

11. Boerboel

Boerboel training by a lake
Average Height: 20 to 28 inches
Average Weight: 87-140 pounds (male), 90-130 pounds (female)
Description: Highly intelligent, active companions

Originating in South Africa, Boerboels are known for their incredible energy and love for physical activity, making them perfect pets for active owners who thrive on running, hiking, and even swimming. With their penchant for the water, they make great partners for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy splashing in lakes and streams. Beyond their physical prowess, Boerbels are highly intelligent and they love any activity that challenges them. Puzzle games and other engaging tasks bring out the best in their problem-solving abilities.

These affectionate giants adore the attention of kids and make wonderful playmates for families. Yet, their natural “guard dog” instincts underline the importance of early training and socialization.

12. Greater Swiss mountain dog

Greater Swiss mountain dog standing in grass.
Average Height: 23-28 inches
Average Weight: 60-110 pounds (male), 66-95 pounds (female)
Description: Big dogs with boundless energy and unwavering loyalty

The Greater Swiss mountain dog, a breed known for its hardworking and fearless nature, has a personality as strong and powerful as its impressive size. Originally bred in Switzerland as an all-purpose farm dog, these canines are true icons of versatility. Their robust build and sturdy frame make them perfectly suited to take on challenging tasks and guard the homestead. However, their strong-willed temperament demands early training and socialization to ensure they grow into well-behaved and well-mannered companions.

This large dog breed thrives in environments that offer them ample space to roam and exercise, as their boundless energy calls for an outlet.

13. Leonberger

A Leonberger standing in the snowy outdoors.
Average Height: 25.5-31.5 inches
Average Weight: 75-126 pounds (male), 70-111 pounds (female)
Description: Graceful giants, and masters of land and water

Leonbergers have a unique set of qualities that make them stand out among large breeds. With webbed feet designed for swimming, they excel as water rescue dogs, demonstrating their natural grace and agility in the water. In addition to their aquatic talents, Leonbergers are often sought after as therapy dogs. Their gentle nature and affectionate disposition make them ideal for providing comfort and companionship.

These big pups are dimorphic, meaning males appear significantly larger and more masculine than females. Their striking appearance turns heads, but their welcoming and friendly demeanor instantly wins hearts. Leonbergers crave attention from humans and thrive on the bonds they form with their families. While they do require moderate exercise, their love for people and their natural sociability make them the ideal companions for those who appreciate both their outer beauty and inner warmth.

14. Kangal

A kangal standing on a mountain.
Average Height: 25-31 inches
Average Weight: 92-141 pounds (male), 82-138 pounds (female)
Description: Steadfast defenders with a knack for play

Kangals can make great pets with their calm temperament and protective nature. These dogs are not overly hyperactive but enjoy playtime, whether through walks or runs. Their balance of playfulness and calmness makes them great for families and owners who appreciate both ends of the energy spectrum.

The kangal’s territorial tendencies and formidable strength demand supervision when around children, and they may not always be as welcoming to strangers or other pets. Early socialization plays a significant role in helping them adapt to different situations and individuals.

Factors to consider with the largest dog breeds

Getting a dog is a big decision, and there are a lot of factors to consider especially if you’re thinking about welcoming one of the largest dog breeds into your home. Here are some key considerations before welcoming a giant pup into your family:

  • Health conditions. Giant dog breeds are unfortunately prone to several common health issues. For example, hip dysplasia, a hereditary condition, affects the hip joints and can lead to pain and reduced mobility. Arthritis, often linked to their size and weight, can cause joint pain and stiffness. Other issues like bloat, heart disease , and obesity are also concerns in these breeds. Regular veterinary visits and proactive health management are essential for these majestic dogs.
  • Maturation. Large dogs, including giant breeds, tend to have a fast rate of physical maturation, but a slow rate of mental maturation compared to smaller dogs. This means they may require more time and patience during their puppyhood and adolescence. Their larger size also places more stress on their growing joints, making them more susceptible to injuries, which underscores the importance of careful exercise and proper nutrition and diet during their development.
  • Cost. These big dogs require more food, large beds (ideally an elevated bed to support their joints), and sometimes, extra care for health conditions. It’s essential to have a pet budget in place or consider investing in pet insurance to provide for all their needs.
  • Space. These dogs need room to move and stretch their legs. Ensuring you have enough space to accommodate them comfortably is essential.
  • Training. Training plays a pivotal role in successfully integrating a giant breed into your family. Their size can make them harder to handle if not properly trained. Investing time and effort into training will make the experience of having one of these large dogs all the more rewarding.

Frequently asked questions

What dog breed is the largest?

The largest dog breed by average weight is the English mastiff. These gentle giants are known for their immense size and can weigh over 200 pounds or more. They have a calm and loving temperament, making them excellent family dogs despite their intimidating size. So, if you’re looking for a big furry friend, the English mastiff might be the one for you! When it comes to the largest dogs by average height, the towering Irish wolfhound tops the charts.

How much does an English mastiff cost?

The cost of an English mastiff can vary depending on several factors. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,200 to $3,000 for a puppy from a reputable breeder. But it’s important to remember that the initial cost is just the beginning — owning a mastiff comes with ongoing expenses for food, grooming, and veterinary care, which can add up. Rescue organizations or shelters may have mastiffs available for adoption at a lower cost, typically ranging from $150 to $500. It’s important to choose a reputable breeder or rescue organization to ensure the health and well-being of your furry friend.

Are English mastiffs good family dogs?

English mastiffs are known for their gentle and affectionate nature, which often makes them great family dogs. They are loyal, protective, and usually get along well with children. Their calm and patient temperament means they can be very tolerant, even with the energy of kids. However, their enormous size should be taken into account, and interactions between mastiffs and young children should be supervised.