15 Rugged Mountain Dog Breeds That Love Adventures

From massive and mighty to small and agile, mountain dog breeds come in a variety of packages.

While some do end up on the list of the biggest dog breeds, mountain dog breeds come in all shapes, sizes, and colorings. They also come from different parts of the world—you’ll find Russian dog breeds and German dog breeds on our list. Some make excellent family companions or guard dogs while others are known for their athletic prowess and herding abilities. What they do have in common, however, is that their history can be traced back to a mountainous region, and many also continue to serve as working dogs in mountainous locales.

While it’s true that all dogs—no matter the breed—have their own distinct personality, because these dogs were bred to thrive in the great outdoors, many mountain dog breeds do benefit from purposeful socialization. In addition, some breeds can be more difficult to train and therefore do require an experienced human owner or behavior training classes to ensure they are living their best life.

greater swiss mountain dog walking in the woodsMichal Kwiecinski "SlicaR"/Getty Images

1. Greater Swiss mountain dog

The Greater Swiss mountain dog is a high-energy, majestic breed built for herding sheep on the Swiss Alps, hence its name. This hardworking breed is especially known for its steadfast loyalty and deep affection for its family. The fact that they’re so eager-to-please makes them easier to train compared to some of the other mountain dog breeds on our list. Note that the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is one of the four types of Swiss Mountain Dogs. The other three include the Bernese mountain dog, Appenzeller Sennenhund, and Entlebucher Sennenhund, which we’ve also detailed below.

Breed Overview
Height: 25 to 27 inches
Weight: 85 to 140 pounds
Life expectancy: 8 to 11 years

Leonberger dog posing in front of a beautiful mountain viewAngelaBuserPhoto/Getty Images

2. Leonberger

The Leonberger is a mighty mountain dog breed that looks like a lion and can weigh in at an impressive 170 pounds. While a bit intimidating, this breed is known for its majestic grace and unwavering kindness and is also noted for being extremely patient with humans and other animals. Still, they are not easily fooled! This breed’s intelligence, vigilance, and impressive sense of judgment makes them exceptional guard dogs.

Breed Overview
Height: 25 to 32 inches
Weight: 90 to 170 pounds
Life expectancy: 7 years

Bernese Mountain Dog standing gracefully near some flowersMaya Karkalicheva/Getty Images

3. Bernese mountain dog

Bernese mountain dogs are strong, yet gentle giants who hail from the beautiful Swiss farmlands. Medium to large in size, they are beloved for their soft, sweet disposition as well as their intelligence and keen desire to learn during training. The American Kennel Club (AKC) also says they are known for their patience with children and their love for their own family. They are quite adorable looking with their thick coats, floppy ears, and large pink tongues. Not surprisingly, they’re considered one of the best dogs for first-time owners.

Breed Overview
Height: 23 to 28 inches
Weight: 70 to 115 pounds
Life expectancy: 7 to 10 years

Appenzeller Sennenhund outside in natureVincent Scherer/Getty Images

4. Appenzeller Sennenhund

Also known as the Appenzell cattle dog or Appenzeller mountain dog, the charming, medium-sized Appenzeller Sennenhund is known for its agility, sprite, and lean muscular build. This breed is another that tends to thrive during training thanks to their intelligence, adaptability, and eagerness to obey their owners. Given that, Appenzeller Sennenhunds can serve as fantastic watchdogs, driving dogs, farm dogs, or house dogs. They’re mainly black with a white chest and red, copper-like markings around the face and paws. If tiny dogs are more your speed, check out these toy dog breeds that will stay puppy-sized forever.

Breed Overview
Height: 19 to 22 inches
Weight: 48 to 70 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years

A saint bernard dog sitting on a meadow in the mountainsRoland Epting/Getty Images

5. St. Bernard

Famous for its sizable build and gentle disposition, St. Bernard is one of the more popular of the Swiss mountain dog breeds. They are an amiable, go-with-the-flow sort of pooch with a muscular build that makes them excellent workers. This breed comes in two coat lengths—long and short. Both coats share the same characteristics, including red or yellow patches across the back and body and black patches in the face and ears.

Breed Overview
Height: 26 to 30 inches
Weight: 120 to 180 pounds
Life expectancy: 8 to 10 years

Anatolian Shepherd DogLyndsey Sumpton/Getty Images

6. Anatolian shepherd

The Anatolian shepherd is the descendent of an ancient herding breed from Turkey. They’re quite unique looking with their short, golden-hued coats and black facial markings. While this mountain dog breed is described as loyal, independent, patient, and intelligent, they aren’t quite as affectionate as the other breeds on this list. Still, the Anatolian is still loving and gentle. They are also protective of everyone living under their roof, including other family pets.

Breed Overview
Height: 27 to 29 inches
Weight: 80 to 150 pounds
Life expectancy: 11 to 13 years

Newfoundland dog sitting in the woodstayfoon/Getty Images

7. Newfoundland

Delightfully oversized, the Newfoundland is a lovey-dovey, patient, big ol’ softie of a pooch. This mountain dog breed is known for being one of the best dogs for kids and is particularly affectionate with its own family members. As one of the world’s largest dog breeds you might feel intimidated by its presence. However, the AKC notes that Newfoundlands are unfailingly sweet in nature, responding better to gentle guidance as opposed to aggressive or direct commands.

Breed Overview
Height: 26 to 28 inches
Weight: 100 to 150 pounds
Life expectancy: 9 to 10 years

caucasian shepherd dog sitting outsideslowmotiongli/Getty Images

8. Caucasian shepherd dog

Bred to deal with wolves among sheep, the Caucasian shepherd dog has been praised for centuries as a fearless, bold, and ever-loving watchdog eager to protect its family and herds. Though quick to come to the rescue against enemies, they are very friendly and protective towards their own family members. While traditionally kept as working dogs, the Caucasian shepherd dog has become a perfect family companion for many.

Breed Overview
Height: 23 to 30 inches
Weight: 99 to 170 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Kuvasz dog sitting in the sun overlooking the mountainssusanna cesareo/Getty Images

9. Kuvasz

The kingly Kuvasz is a famed mountain dog from Hungary. Their beautiful, all-white coat is among their most distinct features along with their muscular frame and gentle eyes. Despite their large size, they’re surprisingly agile and quick—especially when dealing with predators. While the Kuvasz breed has long thrived in the great outdoors, it is slowly becoming a loving house companion. Still, they require a lot of exercise and will need thorough training under the gentle hand of an experienced owner.

Breed Overview
Height: 26 to 30 inches
Weight: 70 to 115 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Great Pyrenees mountain dog in the mountainscreativex/Getty Images

10. Great Pyrenees Mountain Dog

Topping out at about 150 pounds, the Great Pyrenees Mountain Dog is a modestly large dog that looks even bigger thanks to its all-white fluffy coat. This beautiful mountain dog breed is noted for being exceptionally calm and patient, making them a good choice for families. Though they love a good cuddle session, these dogs are also intelligent, independent thinkers who don’t mind being on their own.

Breed Overview
Height: 25 to 32 inches
Weight: 85 to 150 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

siberian husky standing on rock overlooking mountainsVera Dimovska/Getty Images

11. Siberian Husky

As compact and powerful sled dogs, Siberian huskies are strong, fast, and high-energy friends. Because they’re pack dogs, huskies also tend to get along equally well with other animals as they do with people. They’re also playful and adventurous—there’s a good chance you’ll see them chasing after small animals in the back yard or going ham on their favorite dog toy. Their thick winter coat is usually odorless, and owners agree that their natural cleanliness is a major bonus. They’re also one of the few dog breeds with blue eyes.

Breed Overview
Height: 20 to 24 inches
Weight: 35 to 60 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 14 years

Two Tibetan Mastiff dogs sitting outsideDevidDO/Getty Images

12. Tibetan Mastiff

The so-big-it’s-adorable Tibetan Mastiff was originally bred as a protector of livestock and property in Tibet, hence its name. Today, this large mountain dog breed that looks like a bear makes for a great watchdog. And sure any intruder that crosses this imposing giant’s path will surely think twice before entering! While massive, this breed still makes for an ideal family companion that deeply loves its humans; the AKC notes they are great with kids.

Breed Overview
Height: 24 to 26 inches
Weight: 70 to 150 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

two Colorado Mountain Dogs walking outsidevia Colorado Mountain Dog Registry/Facebook

13. Colorado mountain dog

The Colorado mountain dog is a newer breed, created in 2005, and was raised to guard livestock on small acreage farms. They were specifically bred for their size and temperament towards mountain lions, wolves, and any other predators of small livestock. Along with this temperament, they were also bred to be extremely friendly with humans and can keep both humans and livestock feeling at ease on the farm.

Breed Overview
Height: 26 to 29 inches
Weight: 80 to 120 pounds
Life expectancy: unknown

An Icelandic sheepdog outside on a farmGrumpy Cow Studios/Getty Images

14. Icelandic sheepdog

The playful and friendly Icelandic sheepdog is one of the smaller breeds on our list. What they lack in size, however, they make up for in curiosity and cuteness! The AKC says this mountain dog breed is a faithful friend that loves its humans—to the point of wanting almost nothing more than to spend time with you. They’re quite good with children and even do well with other animals in the house. As for their looks, they have a unique, fox-like appearance, complete with pointy ears, a curly bushy tail, and a nimble, petite frame.

Breed Overview
Height: 16 to 18 inches
Weight: 25 to 30 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 14 years

Entlebucher mountain dog outside playinghappyborder/Getty Images

15. Entlebucher mountain dog

Known for its loyalty, enthusiasm, and intelligence, the Entlebucher mountain dog is a cattle herding dog that originated in the Swiss Alps. Their name translates to “laughing dog,” which was given because of their happy-go-lucky personality that’s quite contagious! This mountain dog breed is very affectionate with adult family members, and they are also very good with other canines. To keep them laughing, make sure to give this breed plenty of exercise and lots of mental stimulation.

Breed Overview
Height: 16 to 21 inches
Weight: 40 to 65 pounds
Life expectancy: 11 to 13 years

Wendy Rose Gould
Wendy Rose Gould is a Phoenix-based veteran lifestyle reporter covering home and garden, pets, wellness and travel for outlets such as Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple, Insider and Reader's Digest. She received her bachelor's degree from Franklin College of Indiana's Pulliam School of Journalism, graduating magna cum laude. She has a second bachelor's degree in Philosophy.