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8 Cute Dogs That Look Just Like Lions

Looking for a dog who's brave, loyal, and a little ruff? Look no further than these dogs that look like lions.

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Fluffy dog compared to a lion
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In the dog park, the mighty dog park…

Whether by a careful haircut or genetic blessing, there are some dogs that naturally resemble the most famous big cats of all. That’s right, it is possible to meet dogs that look like lions. Despite the fact that dogs and cats last common ancestor lived 42 million years ago, some modern dog breeds have the thick manes, fierce temperament, or golden fur of their distant lion cousins—not unlike how there are dogs that look like wolves and dogs that look like foxes. These leonine pooches aren’t all enormous, either; some will fit in your apartment! Whether you want a lion dog who will defend your home, play with your kids, or snuggle with you on the couch, there’s a dog that looks like a lion out there for you. Looking for a pup that’s a little snugglier? Then you’ll want to see these dogs that look like teddy bears or dogs that look like mops.

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Chow chows, Canis familiaris
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Chow Chow

We’ll start with the most famous lion-dog of all: the Chow Chow. An ancient breed from China, it’s easy to see why this fluffy fellow tops the list of dogs that look like lions. Chows thick fur and small, rounded ears give them a distinctly leonine appearance. They are known for their fastidious cleanliness (like cats!), aloofness, and blue tongues. Chows are also recognizable by their snobby expressions; these dogs were companions to emperors and nobles, so they are not easily impressed. However, once you have their love, they are loyal for life. Chow chows are also one of the lazy dog breeds that are expert nappers.

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Little Lion Dog looks aside.
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This dog’s name is actually German for “little lion,” named for both their flowing mane and their lion-like bravery. This breed has been popular in Europe for centuries because of its lively and affectionate nature and non-shedding coat, traditionally kept in a “lion clip” with close-cropped hindquarters and a plumed tail. For the apartment-dwelling lion-lover, a Löwchen is a great choice. Check out some of the cutest dog breeds as puppies. 

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It’s easy to see why these gorgeous giants made the list of dogs that look like lions. Standing around three feet tall, and weighing as much as a human, the Leonberger is friendly, playful, and surprisingly gentle for their size. Their long coat extends into a beautiful leonine mane around the neck and chest. They require a lot of brushing, but like other double-coated dogs should never be shaved, as it actually helps them cool off. Leons wouldn’t stand for any funny business if they lived with one of these dogs that get stolen most often.

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A beautiful fawn pekingese
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There is a Chinese legend detailing the origins of this little lion dog. Long ago, a lion fell in love with a marmoset monkey. The lion begged the Buddha to shrink him so that he could be with his much smaller love, and the Buddha obliged. Thus we have the Pekingese, a small dog breed that looks like both a lion and a monkey! It’s the neck ruff that most makes these dogs look like lions. Pekingese are known for their waddling walk and immense dignity. They usually attach themselves to one person in the household, so if you want a devoted lion companion, this cutie might be a good choice.

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Tibetan Mastiff
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Tibetan Mastiff

Sporting an extremely dense coat to cope with the harsh winters of their mountain home, the Tibetan Mastiff is one of the ultimate guard dog breeds. Massive yet agile, these intelligent giants are friendly and affectionate with their families. Their thick coats that give them their lion-like appearance actually don’t require much brushing except for their annual summer molt. When it comes to having a pet lion, you could do a lot worse than one of these sweeties.

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Portrait of Chinese Crested Dog
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Chinese Crested

Now, you may not immediately think “lion!” when you see the eight-pound Chinese Crested trotting sweetly along, but take a look at that mane and tail. This breed comes in two varieties: hairless, and powderpuff, or completely covered with long, thick hair. Both of them have that fluffy mane and tail tuft that got them onto the list of dogs that look like lions. Cresteds are playful, loving, and loyal, making them great family dogs. Do you recognize any of these rare dog breeds?

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Newfoundland dog
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If lions came in brown or black, they would look like Newfoundlands. Newfies are known for being the sweetest dogs around, often called the “nanny dog” because they are so good with children. Their large size and thick fur, however, earns them a place on the list of dogs that look like lions. Like their big cat cousins, Newfies love water—in fact, they are natural swimmers, born with partially webbed feet. Newfies have taken part in many a water rescue, working as shipboard dogs for Canadian fisherman. If you’ve got kids and live near a lake, definitely consider making a Newfoundland part of your family! These are the best dog breeds for kids.

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Pomeranian Looking At Camera
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This little guy is only six inches tall weighs only three to seven pounds, but Poms cannot be left off any list of dogs that look like lions. Their expansive orange ruffs and absolute self-confidence mean that they carry themselves like a much bigger dog—like a dog the size of a lion, perhaps? Intelligent and lively, these little lions are loyal and easily trained. As Queen Elizabeth II is to corgis, so Queen Victoria was to Pomeranians, owning dozens of Poms over her lifetime and spreading their popularity. It makes sense, though; the lion is the national animal of England! Next, learn which are the smartest dog breeds around.


Chloë Nannestad
Chloë Nannestad is a lifestyle writer covering crafts, holidays, beauty and amazing products for RD.com. When she's not scouring the internet or reading product reviews, she's planning her next backpacking trip and thinking about getting a dog.