Woman feeding Irish Wolfhound in kitchen

9 Popular Giant Dog Breeds

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Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum — Giant dog breeds are an impressive sight by gum! From the gentle giant Great Dane to the massively massive Mastiff, these canine giants are surely a special pet for anyone who loves big dogs. All wannabe giant dog owners need to be aware, though, that it’s really important to know and respect the needs and characteristics of these giant dog breeds.  

You must consider the size of these dogs. True to their group name, healthy giant breeds will weigh well over 100 pounds and stand over two feet tall. This means they need a lot of room to move around, grow, play, sleep, and exercise. It’s very important that everyone knows that, when it comes to giant dogs, size really matters in home and health.  

Some major health problems like bad joints, obesity, heart conditions, and certain cancers are pretty common among giant breed dogs. Some of these issues are avoidable with good management, and some not so much. Also, you need to understand that, as a rule, giant dogs have a shorter lifespan than smaller dogs. As a responsible big dog owner, you’ll need to give proper care and attention to keep your giant dog healthy and injury-free. A good diet and plenty of suitable exercise will go a long way! 

Albeit they often intimidate some folks, giant dog breeds are usually gentle and affectionate in nature. They really are gentle giants and often make great family pets. Giant breed dogs are usually very good with people and pets — especially with little kids. However, as you’ll see, some of the rare breeds are superior guard dogs but are not great family dogs.

Because of their huge size and massive strength all giant dog breeds need proper training and socialization to enable them to behave appropriately and safely. With ample patience, consistent training, and lots of love, you can raise a well-mannered and obedient giant breed dog.

Mega Giant Dog Breeds

There are several breeds that easily weigh over 100 pounds at maturity and stand over two feet tall at the shoulders. 

Here are a few of the largest and gentlest giant dog breeds:

The Great Dane

Great dane

Great Danes are really huge, really obedient, and really gentle — despite their bigness. They often weigh more than 200 pounds and stand more than 30 inches tall at the shoulder.  Don’t be put off by their ginormous size — they are very friendly and affectionate by nature. One word of warning — they can easily, but unintentionally, knock a person down, so be careful at all times.

Great Danes need lots of exercise and space to move around, so you have to have a large yard or close access to a big dog park. They can be like a bull in a china shop (clumsy) so keep your expensive breakables out of harm’s way. And, because they can frighten some people and smaller dogs, always keep them under control on a leash when out and about.  

The Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound dog

Irish Wolfhounds are one of the tallest dog breeds in the world. Typically, they weigh up to 180 pounds and stand 32 inches tall or more ground to shoulder. Originally bred for hunting wolves and other big game, today they are mainly big and gentle family dogs. Gentle, friendly, obedient,  and loyal, Irish Wolfhounds have a great need for plenty of exercise and room to run.

The Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard Dog

Saint Bernards are readily recognized for their role as rescue dogs saving lost mountaineers in the Swiss Alps. On average, they can tip the scales at 180 pounds and they are over 30 inches tall. Extremely friendly and patient, Saint Bernards are droolers that love to lick anything that won’t move. 

These dogs need lots of exercise and moving around room. They need lots of exercise or they’ll get fat, so be prepared to walk them every day.  Saint Bernards are attention lovers and they enjoy getting lots of loving hugs making them great family playmates for kids.

Remember that all giant dogs need lots of food, water, exercise, and space. They often have a shorter lifespan than smaller breeds, but they are great pets and companions.

Popular & Rare Giant Dog Breeds

Here are three popular giant dog breeds that you may like:

Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a gentle giant noted for its loyalty and affection. They are fantastic with children and are favoured as big, fun-loving family pets. Here are some quick facts about Bernese Mountain Dogs:

  • Height: 23-28 inches
  • Weight: 70-115 pounds
  • Lifespan: 6-8 years
  • Coat: Thick and long, needs frequent grooming
  • Temperament: Friendly, calm, and affectionate

Newfoundland

Newfoundland dog

The Newfoundland is a huge dog breed that is known for its strength and swimming skills. These dogs are frequently trained as water rescue dogs and they are usually wonderful with children. These dogs, like most dog breeds, may need some rehabbing and retraining before being placed into a family situation if they have been rescued from an abuse situation.

Here are some quick facts about Newfoundlands:

  • Height: 26-28 inches
  • Weight: 100-150 pounds
  • Lifespan: 8-10 years
  • Coat: Thick and long, needs daily grooming
  • Temperament: Sweet, patient, friendly, and loyal

Mastiff

English Mastiff dog

The Mastiff is a giant dog breed that is noted for its guardian nature. They are often used as fantastic property and livestock guard dogs but also make excellent family pets. 

Here are some quick facts about Mastiffs:

  • Height: 27-30 inches
  • Weight: 120-230 pounds
  • Lifespan: 6-10 years
  • Coat: Short and dense hair that needs very little grooming
  • Temperament: Calm, loyal, and protective

Remember, if you’re thinking about getting a giant dog breed, then keep in mind that these dogs require more space, exercise, food, and water than smaller dogs. You also need to realize that they often have a shorter lifespan than smaller breeds. 

Rarest Giant Breeds

If you’re looking for a really rare giant dog breed that stands out from the crowd, you should consider one of the following rare breeds. They may not be as well-known as Great Danes or Mastiffs, but they are equally impressive in hugeness and hugability.

Leonberger

Leonberger dog

The Leonberger is a giant breed that first appeared in Germany. They weigh as much as 170 pounds and they’re 30 inches tall at the shoulder. They have a thick, waterproof coat that comes in shades of gold, red, and brown — beautiful!  Leonbergers are normally gentle and friendly by nature so they are great family pets. They are also very smart and trainable, especially in activities like obedience, agility, and therapy work.

Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff dog in the park

The Tibetan Mastiff is a relatively unknown giant breed in the west with origins in….you guessed it….Tibet. They normally weigh up to 160 pounds and they’re about 26 inches tall at the shoulder. They have a long, thick coat that comes in a variety of colours, including black, brown, and gold. 

Note: Tibetan Mastiffs are not ideal family pets and they are especially ill-suited for kids.

Tibetan Mastiffs are very loyal and protective by their nature.  Because of this, they are excellent guard and companion dogs. They are very independent and strong-willed, so they aren’t ideal family pets and they are especially ill-suited for kids.  This giant breed is more suitable for the experienced owner or breeder who can provide safe, proper training and socialization.

Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Caucasian Shepherd Dog running in the snow

The Caucasian Shepherd Dog, a.k.a. the Caucasian Ovcharka, is a giant dog breed that comes from the Russian steppes. They often weigh up to 200 pounds and typically stand 30 inches tall at the shoulder. They are known for their thick, dense coat that comes in various shades of grey, fawn, and white. Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are loved and deeply respected by their owners for their courage and loyalty. They are noticeably independent and stubborn so they require an experienced owner who can provide firm and consistent training.

Like the Tibetan Mastiff, these are not good family pets, especially for kids. 

Conclusion

The rare breeds may need more disciplined training and socialization than many of the more popular and gentle giant breeds, but their unique personalities and impressive size make the rare breeds well worth the effort. 

Whether you’re looking for a rare, unique but trainable giant dog breed that stands out, or a more lovable, gentle giant family dog we want you to find the breed that fits your unique needs. 

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