man walking with a great dane next to the sea

Top 10 Large Companion Dog Breed Picks

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Thinking about getting a large companion dog breed as your next family pet? Because of their loyalty, intelligence, and protective instincts, large dogs usually make great family pets. But, having a big dog comes with its own set of challenges and responsibilities. This first of three articles will discuss some of those challenges and showcase the top ten breeds for 2023.

One of the first things you have to think about is do you have enough room in your home and yard for a large dog. Big breed dogs need plenty of room in the home and garden to be comfortable and to exercise.  Apartments, condos, tiny houses, and small or no yards won’t work so don’t get a large breed dog — remember, big breed dogs won’t always be cute little puppies.  Puppies can grow up to become big dogs! 

Secondly, large dogs need more food, bigger beds, more durable toys, more exercise, more training, etc., etc. Plus, big dogs tend to scare or put off visitors, or worse they can hurt someone defensively or accidentally. These things can all mean more cost or more potential liability. Be sure to factor in these higher expenses when considering a large breed dog.

Thirdly, expect to spend more time, effort, and money with a big dog than with a small dog.  The bottom line is you’ve got to be willing to spend more on your dog’s care, training, and socializing. Large breeds are often harder to train than small dogs.  This is likely due to their larger size, greater strength, and more aggressive behaviour.  Make no mistake though, large dogs can be well-behaved and obedient with proper training and socialization.  Be willing to put in the time, money, and large dogs can make fun family pets and great companions.

The Top 10 Large Dog Breeds

If you’re looking for a large breed dog that is a great companion dog, then look further. Here are the top 10 most popular large dog breeds. These are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and friendly dispositions:

Bernese Mountain Dog

This Swiss breed is known for its friendly nature and love for children. Bernese Mountain Dogs are great watchdogs with a thick coat that makes them ideal for cold winters.

Bernese Mountain Dog

Great Dane

Known as the “gentle giant,” the Great Dane is a friendly and family-loving breed that makes a great family pet. Despite their huge size, they are not aggressive and are often referred to as “the world’s biggest lap dog.”

Great Dane

Mastiff

This breed is known for its steadfast loyalty and protective nature. Mastiffs are great with children and are easily trained as family guardians and property watchdogs.

Mastiff dog

Newfoundland

These dogs are known for their loyalty, strength, and love of swimming. The Newfoundland breed is often trained as a rescue dog. They are gentle giants that make great family pets.

Newfoundland dog

Irish Wolfhound

This breed is known for its tall size and great strength. Irish Wolfhounds are kid-friendly gentle giants that make awesome family pets. Take notice though — they have a long, shaggy coat that has to be groomed often.

Irish Wolfhound

Leonberger

These dogs are well known for their compassionate and gentle demeanour. Leonbergers are great family pets.  And, they are frequently trained as therapy dogs. This breed also has a thick coat so regular grooming is needed.

Leonberger dog

Great Pyrenees

This old-world breed is best known for its loyalty and dutiful protection. Great Pyrenees make wonderful family pets but are often trained as livestock watchdogs. Like the Leonberger, Great Pyrenees also have a thick coat that needs regular brushing and adapts them well to cooler mountain weather.

Great Pyrenees dog

Alaskan Malamute

Think Ididarod!  This breed is known for its awesome strength and endurance. Alaskan Malamutes are great family pets but are often recognized for their dog sledding skills as well as other strenuous outdoor activities. They too have a thick coat that requires regular brushing.

Alaskan Malamute dog

Siberian Husky

This breed is known for its intelligence and energy. Siberian Huskies make great family pets and are often used for sledding and other outdoor activities. They have a lustrous thick coat that must be regularly groomed.                                                                                   

Siberian Husky

Saint Bernard

This breed is known for its loyalty and gentle nature. Saint Bernards are great with children and make excellent watchdogs. They also have a thick coat that should be brushed often.

Saint Bernard dog

These large dog breeds make desirable companions that are known for their loyalty, intelligence, trainability, and affectionate natures. Remember to consider the temperament, large size, exercise, and grooming needs to be confident that they are a good fit for you.  And don’t forget, large breed puppies grow up to become large dogs.

Physical Characteristics of Large Companion Dog Breeds

There are physical characteristics that set large breeds apart from smaller breeds. Here are some key features to be aware of:

Dog Height

Large dog breeds are all over the place in height. Some giant breeds, like the Great Dane, can reach up to 32 inches from floor to shoulder; others, like the English Bulldog, may only grow to 14 inches at the shoulder. Most of the adult large dog breeds range from 22 to 27 inches in height.

Dog Weight

Like height, large dog breeds also range greatly in weight. Some breeds, like the Saint Bernard, might weigh a lumbering 200 pounds, while the lithe Greyhound just weighs about 70 pounds. Most large dog breeds range in body weight between 50 and 100 pounds.

Coat Type

Large dog breeds have a variety of different coat types ranging from short haired to very long haired. Some breeds — like the Great Pyrenees — have thick, fluffy coats requiring frequent brushing while others — like the Boxer — have short, smooth coats that need very little grooming. And, some other large dog breeds — like the Standard Poodle — have curly or wavy coats that must be trimmed on a routine basis.

Life Expectancy

Unfortunately, the life expectancy of some popular large dog breeds can be rather short.  St. Bernards, for example, have a life expectancy ranging from just 7 to 10 years.  However, longevity can vary somewhat depending on the breed and the individual dog’s care and environment. Albeit a large spread, most large dog breeds have a life expectancy ranging from 7 to 12 years. 

Overall, large dog breeds can make wonderful pets for those who have the space and time to care for them properly. However, it’s important to do your research and choose a breed that fits you. 

Ready to read more about large-breed dogs? Check out our post on their shared traits and afflictions or dive into what you need to know about feeding and grooming large breeds.

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