Where some may find them overwhelming due to their large size, giant dog breeds actually make perfect family pets. Discover 10 of our favourite big dog breeds.
Tiny teacup pups aren't for everyone - while their teeny paws may delight some dog lovers, there are those out there looking for a little more dog to love. Giant dog breeds can be intimidating, and of course they'll require more upkeep and a lot more space than a Chihuahua or a Shih Tzu, but their large size makes them the best cuddle companions and when well socialised, they can become amazing family members.
If you've got room in your home and on your sofa, a giant dog breed can be the perfect match for you. Keep reading about our top 10 big dog breeds.
1. English Mastiff
Standing between 27-35 inches tall and weighing around 200-230 pounds, the English Mastiff is among the biggest dog breeds alive today - in both height and weight. Known throughout history for its fearsome beginnings, this breed is descended from ancient war dogs and now warms sofas around the world and makes a loving family member. When they're not snuggled up with their favourite humans, this giant dog breed is also used for security, police and military work thanks to their high intelligence.
2. Irish Wolfhound
Like the English Mastiff, the Irish Wolfhound also stems from formidable roots. Previously used for wolf hunting (hence the name), this giant dog breed was used in wars to drag men off of horses and chariots!
As you can expect, Irish Wolfhounds are very strong and they can be up to 32 inches tall, yet they're actually big softies at heart. With a shaggy appearance and gentle eyes, this big dog breed is great with children and other dogs, but they're quite high energy so you'll need to ensure they get plenty of exercise!
3. Saint Bernard
Many often wonder about the reason behind the name of the 'Saint' Bernard and it's usually thought to be attributed to their angelic temperaments, but did you know that they were actually bred by a Swiss monastery? Their large size (usually between 28-30 inches), meant they were perfect for protecting the sacred land. However, it was soon discovered that they made incredible search and rescue dogs in the Swiss Alps, and their kind face and soft eyes meant they were a very welcome sight to lost travellers. To this day, they're still used in search and rescue operations throughout the world and are now one of the most loved big dog breeds, thanks to their loving and docile temperament.
If you've heard of this giant dog breed, it's probably due to their love of swimming! Known for being excellent lifeguards and fantastic at water sports, the Newfoundland even has webbed feet to give them an edge in the water. Usually standing between 27-29 inches tall, they're highly intelligent dogs and their lifeguard history is so deeply ingrained that they're known to try and 'save' their family members if they spot them swimming. Newfoundlands have incredibly loving natures and their big and fluffy looks make them ideal for snuggling up with.
5. Dogue de Bordeaux
Also referred to as a French Mastiff, this big dog breed is usually 24-26 inches tall and has an unusual wrinkled appearance. Considered to be a descendent of the ancient livestock guardian breed Molossus, the Dogue de Bordeaux has had many different uses over the years. From hunting large game on French estates in the 12th century, to cattle driving and even being a fearsome war dog, this giant dog breed has been there and done it all.
Did you know? If you're considering getting a Dogue de Bordeaux, it's worth knowing that due to their excessive skin folds they're at high risk for dermatitis, so do plenty of research on the breed.
A cross between a Saint Bernard, a Newfoundland and a Pyrenean Mountain Dog, the Leonberger looks like a big adorable fluffball. Commonly around the 30-inch mark, this big dog breed is strong and smart and is most commonly used for tracking and herding. They're best suited to more seasoned owners with knowledge of training, as without obedience training they can become destructive. When well trained and socialised, the Leonberger makes an excellent family dog, but they can be sensitive so they're not always suited to very young children.
7. Anatolian Shepherd
According to the American Kennel Club, the Anatolian Shepherd is an ancient Turkish breed that dates back to around 2000 B.C.! Originally bred to protect flocks and property, this giant dog breed is actually still used for that purpose today in its homeland of Turkey. Standing at about 32 inches tall, the Anatolian Shepherd has quite a long lifespan when compared to other big dog breeds with an average of 13 to 15 years.
Did you know? The Anatolian Shepherd has been used to protect cheetahs in Namibia since 1994. Previously, cattle ranchers in the area were killing cheetahs in order to protect their herd, but once conservationists brought in Anatolian Shepherds to stand guard, this significantly reduced the number of cheetah deaths.
8. Neapolitan Mastiff
The Neapolitan Mastiff is an intelligent and quiet giant dog breed that was originally bred for guarding homes in Southern Italy. They have an unusual appearance with heavy, loose skin, designed to protect them in case of an attack. These oversized lapdogs are usually around 31 inches tall at the shoulder, and thrive off human contact, so they're best suited to family life. You'll have to be able to handle a lot of drool though as their huge, droopy jowls mean that they're prone to slobbering!
9. Great Dane
Created as a result of a cross between the English Mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound, it should come as no surprise that the Great Dane is among the tallest of dogs.
Did you know? The tallest dog ever was a Great Dane called Zeus and he was a whopping 44 inches tall!
10. Caucasian Shepherd
The Caucasian Shepherd is an Eastern-European dog breed bred for protecting and herding livestock. This big dog breed can be over 30 inches at the shoulder and its large size meant that it was great at protecting flocks and herds against predators in the Caucasus mountain region. Best suited to experienced owners due to their stubborn nature, they can also be quite territorial of their home and dislike other dogs or strangers near their property. However, with proper training and socialisation, the Caucasian Shepherd can make a kind and friendly family dog.
So that's our list of top 10 big dog breeds! Want to find out more about different dog types? Read our article on 11 English and British Dog Breeds.