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25 Giant Dog Breeds That Make the Best Pets

These lovable and adorable giant dogs breeds tip the scales at 100 pounds! That's a whole lotta love!

Young girl with huge dog breed Newfoundland
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Ginormous dogs!

Giant dogs or extra large dog breeds are large and in charge—of your heart. Despite their ginormous and intimidating size, they are teddy bears on the inside with their human families. Many giant dog breeds are in the working group, meaning they guard, protect or serve in some way. Given that mindset, they tend to be remarkably loyal and affectionate with their humans, but often aloof with strangers—at least until proper introductions are made. Giant dog breeds take up a lot of square footage at home or in the car and it can be challenging to maintain control of the leash if you need to reign them in or coax them along if they decide to do things their own way. The gorgeous and stately breeds featured below are 100 pounds or more. Keep in mind the lower weight range is for females and the higher end is males.

Two large great dane dogs laying on sidewalk
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Biggest dog breed in the world: Great Dane

Great Dane’s will hog the whole sofa, but you won’t care because they are so patient, easy-going, and don’t bark much. And as far as tall dog breeds go, they’re the high-rise of canines, especially when they are on their hind legs. A Great Dane named Zeus was an astonishing 44 inches tall at the shoulder when he was named the World’s Tallest Dog by Guinness World Records in 2012. On his hind legs, he towered over 7 feet! Great Danes (which are also a brindle dog breed) have big appetites and big hearts, but those big hearts are predisposed to heart conditions.

Breed Overview
Height: 28 to 32 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 110 to 175 pounds
Life expectancy: 7 to 10 years

large English Mastiff portrait
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Massive and mellow with a huge helping of affection and loyalty, these big guard dogs are fiercely protective of their human family and announce “intruders” with a thunderous bark. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), mastiffs are adept at reading human body language and expressions and can communicate with their big, soulful eyes.

Breed Overview
Height: 27.5 to 30 inches and up, at the shoulder
Weight: 120 to 230 pounds
Life expectancy: 6 to 10 years

large St. Bernard dog in a field
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St. Bernard

Almost anyone can identify a St. Bernard—one of the most loyal dog breeds around. It’s likely due to the popular folklore image of this mountain dog wearing a brandy cask around its neck to rescue stranded travelers on a snowy mountainside (they actually carried food and water on the packs for rescue). Fun fact: St. Bernard puppies grow big quickly. According to Animal Planet, it took around 100 St. Bernard puppies to star as the canine child in Beethoven’s 2nd, because the pups grew too fast for the film schedule.

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

South African Boerboel on the grass
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Also known as the “farmer’s dog,” this broad and blocky giant dog breed has roots dating back to the 1600s. Back then, the Boerboel’s intimidating size was ideal for protecting farmland and family. Yet, they aren’t hyper dogs running back and forth at the slightest provocation, rather they are remarkably calm and confident. Because Boerboels are territorial and protective of their family and love to be close to their family, they even have a soft spot for children. However, they generally don’t have much patience for dogs that challenge them, so dog parks might not be a good place to take your Boerboel.

Breed Overview
Height: 22 to 27 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 150 to 200 pounds
Life expectancy: 9 to 11 years

large newfoundland dog standing outside
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Affectionately dubbed “Newfie,” the Newfoundland is also known as a child’s beloved “nanny.” Underneath the voluminous hair that gives the breed its leonine look is a big-boned canine that is gentle and sweet-tempered yet highly protective of its family. They take the prize for best babysitter as they are exceptionally patient and fond of children. And since they’re top-notch swimmers, you’ll always have someone to take a dip with.

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

large Leonberger Dog Sitting In Forest, Giant Breed
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Massive and majestic is the Leonberger. Bred as companions for European royalty, according to the AKC, Leonbergers commanded attention sheerly because of their immense size, holding court alongside Napoleon III, Tsar Alexander II, and King Edward VII. The Leonberger is more likely to take a dip in the lake than hold court these days. Their waterproof coat and nimbleness make them skillful swimmers, but that luxurious coat needs daily brushing, and their nails need clipping every other week. If you’re looking for a pup that will be totally devoted to your comfort, read up on the best emotional support dogs that will stand by you.

Breed Overview
Height: 25.5 to 31.5 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 90 to 170 pounds
Life expectancy: 7 years

Anatolian shepherd dog sitting in grass
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Anatolian shepherd

If the Anatolian shepherd had a LinkedIn profile, the skills would state “highly observant livestock protector,” “attentive family protector,” and “watchful family pet bodyguard.” Yes, even a cat. It’s one of those dogs that get along with cats. Though devoted, patient, and calm, it can be dominating and demanding, so it’s essential to start training early.

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

two Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs running outside
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Greater Swiss mountain dog

Right away, you can see the striking resemblance to the St. Bernard and Rotweiller, component breeds of the “Swissie.” The alert, faithful, and vigilant “Swissie” is a real sweetie. Back in the day, these mountain dog breeds pulled carts of meat and dairy to the market. Today, they are more likely to use their well-built muscles for pulling kids on carts or sleds through the snow.

Breed Overview
Height: 23.7 to 28.5 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 85 to 140 pounds
Life expectancy: 8 to 11 years

large Irish Wolfhound On Field
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Irish wolfhound

If giant dog breeds had an award for the fastest-growing puppy, the Irish wolfhound, a wire-haired dog, would be a strong contender. The leggy breed’s growth is astounding, packing on nearly a pound a day until they are around six months old. As with just about any hound, hunting and chasing prey runs in their blood, so they’ll need daily exercise. Speaking of the wolf—do you know about these wolf dog breeds?

Breed Overview
Height: 30 to 32 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 105 to 120 pounds
Life expectancy: 6 to 8 years

Close-Up Of Japanese Akita Panting While Standing On Field
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If you’re looking for a dog with a spiritual connection, this Japanese breed is the symbol of health, happiness, and long life in its native country. New parents often receive a statute of an Akita; in fact, Japan reveres the Akita so much that they dedicated a national monument to it. An interesting fact about Akitas: they like to be clean and are virtually odorless, which is great if you plan on sharing your sofa with a huge dog breed. What’s not so great is the Akita price tag—it’s one of the most expensive biggest dog breeds in the world.

Breed Overview
Height: 24 to 28 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 70 to 130 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 13 years

large bullmastiff dog sitting on trail outside
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Bull mastiff

If you guessed the bull mastiff looks very similar to the mastiff and bulldog, you’re right on the money. The Bull Mastiff is 60 percent mastiff and 40 percent bulldog, so it’s no shocker it shares the same robust and powerful physique. Intimidating size aside, the Bull Mastiff is actually a lover, not a fighter. Its gentle and affectionate nature is never-ending, much like its penchant for drooling. But you’ll happily overlook that and see it as a tradeoff for Bull Mastiff’s stellar guard dog protection service it provides for the family. For even more adorable pups, check out these flat-faced dogs that are just too precious.

Breed Overview
Height: 24 to 27 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 100 to 130 pounds
Life expectancy: 7 to 9 years

Dogues de Bordeaux dog standing outside
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Dogues de Bordeaux

You can call the Dogues de Bordeaux by its moniker “Mastiff of Bordeaux,” but you probably won’t find this huge dog breed nosing around in the vineyards as its head, proportionately speaking, is the largest of the dog breeds, reports the AKC. But you probably did spot a Dogues de Bordeaux if you saw the Tom Hanks movie, Turner and Hooch. Hooch lived up to the traits of the breed—slobbering drool, stubborn and sensitive, and still undeniably lovable. Getting a new pup soon? Check out these popular names for dogs.

Breed Overview
Height: 23 to 27 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 99 to 100 pounds
Life expectancy: 5 to 8 years

Otterhound lying down in shade
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When you think of the biggest dog breeds, stocky and robust physiques often come to mind, but that’s not always the case. The Otterhound is large and leggy. Widely known for their superior swimming skills, the Otterhound is the Michael Phelps of canine swimmers. It has strong shoulders and a broad chest, with webbed feet and a waterproof coat that can power through a day of swimming. Yet you would be hard-pressed to spot an Otterhound at the beach. They are one of the most endangered and rare dog breeds, according to the AKC.

Breed Overview
Height: 24 to 27 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 80 to 115 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 13 years

Bloodhound dog on the Grass
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Bloodhounds are low-key, mild-mannered, and lackadaisical —that is until an intriguing sight or scent piques its interest. Then all bets are off, and the stubborn, tenacious traits appear in a baying, howling, and barking medley of the Bloodhound’s greatest hits. Like some long-nosed dog breeds, this giant dog breed is scent-driven. They’re a bit slower to mature than other breeds, which may present a challenge, as Bloodhounds tend to be a bit boisterous and clumsy once they get a whiff of something irresistible. If tiny dogs are more your speed, check out these toy dog breeds that will stay puppy-sized forever.

Breed Overview
Height: 23 to 27 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 80 to 110 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Kuvasz Dog standing outside
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The Kuvasz shares a striking resemblance to the Great Pyrenees—it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between these nearly identical dog breeds. With their striking size and tons of white fluff, you wouldn’t think they would be too quick on the go, but they are actually quite nimble and agile. That’s probably due to the genes their ancestors passed down from guarding sheep. It’s vital to socialize and train the Kuvasz early on so they will be gentle with small children and other pets while they are doing their “job” of guarding and protecting them. Fun fact: this breed is also one of the best mountain dog breeds that love adventure!

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

large komondor dog sitting in the park
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Heads will turn when you walk down the street with a Komondor—it’s one of the adorable dog breeds that look like mops. The mop’s appearance is due to copious amounts of white corded hair meant to protect it from weather and predators when it guarded sheep. Komondor puppies have a fluffy coat that begins to mat and cord when they’re between 8 to 12 months old, says the AKC. “Koms” aren’t herding dogs but guarding dogs who are fiercely devoted and loyal to their family and his charges and will literally leap to defend them against any attack.

Breed Overview
Height: 25.5 to 27.5 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 80 to 100 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

large Beauceron Dog standing outside
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Meet a Beauceron at the dog park, and you might think it is a mixed dog breed. Maybe a cross between a Doberman and Rotweiller? There might be a shepherd in there too. Good guesses, but the Beauceron is a French shepherd dog named for the agricultural region southwest of Paris. Beaucerons are exceptionally quick learners and, as natural safeguarders, excel in police work, rescue work, or companion dogs that offer personal protection. They’re not a breed for the beginner dog owner as they can be a dominating presence if not appropriately trained. However, when they are, they are level-headed watchdogs and guardians of all ages and abilities.

Breed Overview
Height: 24 to 27.5 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 70 to 110 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

bernese mountain dog sitting in the woods
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Bernese mountain dog

Though they have plenty of brains and brawn, “Berners” take their time to reach mental and physical maturity. They’re super sweet but tender-hearted and don’t respond well to harsh training. One thing you won’t have to be concerned about is excessive barking. Berners are great family dogs and super gentle and aware of a child’s small size. Given their size and luscious coat, they prefer winters over hot summers, and with all a thick, double coat, expect a lot of shedding and grooming. They’re also one of the best mountain dog breeds that love adventures!

Breed Overview
Height: 23 to 27.5 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 70 to 115 pounds
Life expectancy: 7 to 10 years

Russian Black Terrier dog standing on grass outside
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Black Russian terrier

Did we make a mistake here? Giant dog breeds can’t be terriers, right? Granted, terriers are usually small dog breeds. But as a matter of fact, the Black Russian terrier is no more than 30 percent terrier via the breed standard and is actually a working group member. “Blackies” as they are affectionately known in Russia, were initially bred to patrol Russia’s borders and hold down political prisoners. Courageous, calm, and confident, Blackies are hard-wired to guard you, not outside, alone pacing in the front yard. They are 100 percent committed to you and will literally be your black shadow all day, every day. Check out these black and white dog breeds that are just too cute to ignore.

Breed Overview
Height: 26 to 30 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 80 to 130 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

close up of Briard dog outside
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There’s nothing bashful about the Briard. He loves hard and plays hard. Giant dogs don’t always require lots of exercise, but the Briard does. With its seemingly endless energy, it is fearless and confident and is the ideal outdoor adventure partner. As a loving companion, the Briard is gentle, faithful, and easily trained. They preserve much of their ancestral aptitude to guard their home and family, so they might be slow to warm up to other dogs and people, but if properly socialized, they can follow your lead and open their hearts to new friends. Don’t miss these dogs with floppy ears that are irresistibly cute.

Breed Overview
Height: 22 to 27 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 55 to 100 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Rottweiler sitting outside with tongue out
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If you haven’t been around Rottweiler’s much, you might feel that these muscle-bound guard dogs are vicious. In reality, they are immensely affectionate and gentle playmates with their own human family. Because of that, they might seem standoffish or unfriendly when you meet them, but in reality, they are just cautious. Rotties need early, extensive and continuous socialization and training to be good family members. Rotties love to do what you’re doing and if left to entertain themselves, and with their size, they are capable of creating a big mess chewing or digging.

Breed Overview
Height: 22 to 27 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 80 to 135 pounds
Life expectancy: 9 to 10 years

estrela mountain dog close up portrait
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Estrela mountain dog

With its imposing size, loads of fur, and lovable, big round face, you see why the Estrela mountain dog could be on the list of dogs that look like bears. Hailing from the Estrela Mountains in Portugal, it is one of the oldest breeds of the region, known for its superior skills as a livestock guardian. Those strong bloodlines of guardianship hold today, but now the Estrela’s “job” is to protect their human family. Yet, the Estrela is far from being “all business.” They are exceptionally gentle and patient with young children. Their love runs deep, and like other dog breeds that live a long time, you could be sharing your life with an Estrela for many wonderful years.

Breed Overview
Height: 24.5 to 29 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 77 to 132 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 14 years

tosa dog standing outside in a field
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Meet the Tosa, the largest Japanese dog breed, according to the AKC. They were formerly bred for fighting, but thankfully those days are gone. These days the Tosa basks in family life. It’s no lazy slacker, though. The Tosa takes its role as the stately and vigilant guardian of the family seriously, yet, it is calm, collected, and peaceful. A properly trained and socialized Tosu is very affectionate with its family but naturally suspicious and aloof with strangers. Due to their unfortunate history of dogfighting, they might not take too kindly to another dog they meet on the street or one that visits your home. Tosa’s prefer to be your one and only pet. No cats or other small pets, please. However, if a Tosa is raised with another family dog, there’s a better chance of living peacefully.

Breed Overview
Height: 12.5 to 23.5 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 100 to 200 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Two Tibetan Mastiffs sitting outside in the woods
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Tibetan mastiff

Are you inviting a lion or a dog to share your home with? It’s hard to tell with the Tibetan mastiff’s formidable size and mane of thick, dense fur. As a working group member, it veers on the side of being a large-and-in-charge independent thinker and guardian. It has a strong sense of self and confidently assumes it is an equal, not a pet. Yet, the Tibetan Mastiff is mellow, calm, and very affectionate with his human family and depends on their companionship to be happy and stay out of mischief. If they’re apart and alone from you for too long, they’ll find ways to entertain themselves that aren’t constructive. (Think huge dog, huge mess.)

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

Portrait Of Saint Bernard Puppy Relaxing On Sofa
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Things to know before adopting a giant dog breed

You’ve probably already thought about if you have enough space for a huge dog breed, but there are a few more essential things you should consider before adopting a giant dog breed. For starters, they whoof down a lot of food. “A dog who weighs 100 pounds eats almost five cups a day of commercial dog kibble; then add about 1/3 cup more for every 10 pounds over 100 pounds,” says veterinarian Lyndsey Larson, VMD, ABVP, VCA Firehouse Animal Hospital in Denver. And because of their size, they’ll also require more medicine, including flea and tick preventatives. These are just two weighty factors to consider when thinking about how much it will cost to own a dog.

Giant dog breed puppy stage

Smaller dogs generally reach their full growth at around 12 months. Giant dog breeds take their time reaching their adult weight, reaching maturity between 18 to 24 months old. Behavior and training challenges are magnified when you have a huge dog, so training during the impressionable puppy stage is essential. “A good rule of thumb is to get a large breed pet into a training program and support those good habits at home between the ages of 16 weeks to one year,” advises Dr. Larson.

Giant dog breed lifespan

Although the reasons aren’t entirely clear, most giant dog breeds have shorter life spans. They age more quickly, thus developing age-related diseases earlier, such as osteoarthritis, makings it difficult for them to get around or climb stairs. “Plan ahead to help your pet, as some giant breeds require assistance with harnesses and some lifting and assistance to get around as they age or if they become injured,” says Dr. Larson.

Now that you know a thing or two about large dogs, check out what the best large breed dog food is and why you should get it for your pup.

Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, Family Handyman and Taste of Home, among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center.