Whether it's the biggest dog breeds in the world or the smallest dog breeds, most dog lovers will admit a preference over one or the other if pressed. While there are many stereotypes and assumptions for both, such as small dogs are yappy and large dogs are aggressive, these are not necessarily true.
There are plenty of gentle giants in the dog world, with some of the largest dog breeds in the world actually being the friendliest and most loyal. They also tend to have big personalities to go with their size.
Larger dog breeds do need walking more, so are best suited to active owners who have the time to spend with them. They’ll also require larger accessories such as large dog beds and are likely to eat more of the best dog food, which is something to bear in mind if you’re thinking of adopting a large dog breed.
We’ve rounded up seven of the largest dog breeds in the world and delved a little into their characters so you can get to know them a bit better. Whether you’re a fan of big dogs or not, we’re sure you’ll love these friendly giants.
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PetsRadar's guide to the biggest dog breeds in the world
1. English Mastiff
The English Mastiff, often simply known as a Mastiff, is one of the world’s largest dog breeds, standing at a height of up to 35 inches! They can weigh around 200-230 pounds depending on whether they’re male or female, making them incredibly hefty doggos. They often have wrinkled faces which some find cute and others intimidating, but while they may be almost the size of a wild bear, the Mastiff couldn’t be more friendly. They are known to be kind-hearted and affectionate and while they make great protection dogs (partly due to their reputation), they are incredibly calm.
2. Irish Wolfhound
The Irish Wolfhound is one of the tallest dog breeds in the world, with most being at least 32 inches tall. Some Irish Wolfhounds are even equal in size to a small donkey! They weigh around 180 pounds and were originally bred as hunting dogs, like many dog breeds. They are truly one of the world’s gentle giants, making great family dogs with a very sweet and patient character that’s suited to living with children. They’re very playful and always look happy, but you’ll need to give them lots of attention and walks to wear them out.
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The Newfoundland looks like a giant cuddly bear, weighing in at around 130-150 pounds. They’re super fluffy and very muscular and were originally bred as fishermen’s dogs. This is because they amazingly have webbed feet, which makes them great in the water and strong swimmers. Newfoundland’s stand about 30 inches tall and as with most of the biggest dog breeds, they have a heart of gold, plus they’re very easy to train.
4. Great Dane
The Great Dane is probably one of the more widely known big dog breeds and is one that is very elegant. They were originally bred in Germany as hunting dogs, and are a cross between the English Mastiff and Irish Wolfhound. As the years have gone on they have grown even taller than their ancestors and now the Great Dane stands at around 28-30 inches tall, but its average weight is 100 pounds, around half that of the English Mastiff. Great Danes are often portrayed as intimidating guard dogs, however, they are actually rather reserved and make great family dogs due to their loyalty and playful character.
5. St Bernard
Originally bred in Switzerland, the St Bernard truly is a saint, bred as a rescue dog for the hospice of St Bernard Pass on the Italian-Swiss border. Similar to the English Mastiff, they are very hefty in size and height, standing between 28 and 30 inches tall and weighing around 140-180 pounds. They have adorable happy faces and are incredibly loyal to their owners, making wonderful family dogs and very friendly to children. Kindness is in their nature so they’re also generally very good with other animals too.
6. Anatolian Shepherd
Arguably a lesser-known breed, the Anatolian Shepherd makes up for its relative obscurity by being a truly formidable-looking pooch. Coming in at a height of anywhere between 27.5 and 32 inches, and weighing between 120 and 150 pounds at maturity, as their name suggests, they were originally bred as guardians for livestock (a role they still serve in modern-day Turkey), with their light hue allowing them to blend in with the sheep they were guarding, thus making them particularly adept at attacking predators. Nowadays, Anatolian Shepherds make for fiercely loyal pets, but be warned: they are stubborn, and require strong, consistent trainers. With their origins going all the way back to 2000 BCE, they've been going a long time, and remain popular with those seeking lovable but protective guard dogs today. They may be feisty, but put in the hours and they will definitely be worth the effort.
7. Great Pyrenees
Another gentle giant, the Great Pyrenees weighs an average of 100-160 pounds for a male, and 85-115 pounds for a female, and stands somewhere between 25 and 32 inches tall. Also known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog in the UK and parts of Europe, this breed had a humble history as a shepherd dog, before being greatly elevated in status in 1675, when the Dauphin the court of Louis XIV in France declared him to be the royal dog of the country, prompting its extensive use as a guard dog. Later on, the breed was exported to the US, where it remains popular to this day. Possessing a calm and reassuring demeanor, the Great Pyrenees is frequently used as a therapy dog, aided in this by a patient and well-meaning temperment that belies their huge stature. Like other breeds that began their lives as shepherds, they also make for excellent guard dogs.
Those are the top seven biggest dog breeds in the world. Other include variations of the Mastiff including the French Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, and the Dogue de Bordeuax. Which one is your favorite? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.
Sarah is a freelance writer and marketer, covering a variety of topics from lifestyle and fitness to sustainability and travel. When she’s not writing for PetsRadar or other websites, she can be found looking after her pet chickens or relaxing with a cuppa and a cute doggo snoozing on her lap!