Stepping into the world of our four-legged buddies, we find dogs of every size, from pocket-sized pooches to grand giants. This article shines a spotlight on the biggest dog breeds out there. But before you fall head over heels for these colossal canines, you should know that they need extra attention, considering their growth, living area, upkeep costs, and the necessary training to be friendly and well-behaved.
We’re about to dive into the top 12 largest dog breeds and what you should be prepared for when considering one as a pet.
1. Saint Bernard
Saint Bernards, famous for their Swiss Alps rescue dog portrayal, is on top of the list of large breeds. They are fully grown, weigh 140 to 180 pounds, and stand about 27 to 30 inches tall. Their friendly, gentle nature makes them perfect for families, but remember that their size means they’ll need plenty of room to move around.
On the downside, these giants can eat a lot and might have health issues like hip problems, leading to significant vet bills. Training Saint Bernard can be tricky, as they’re smart and love to please but can sometimes be stubborn, so you need to be consistent.
2. Great Dane
Great Danes may look scary due to their size, but they’re known as gentle giants. They are incredibly tall dogs, some even standing as high as 32 inches, and can weigh up to 175 pounds. Despite their size, they’re friendly and reliable buddies.
However, having a Great Dane means higher food bills, bigger dog beds, and potentially heftier vet costs. Training them can be challenging due to their independent streak, but they’ll learn quickly with patience and consistency. Also, they don’t fully grow until they’re two or three years old, so be prepared for a playful, giant puppy.
3. English Mastiff
English Mastiffs, often just called Mastiffs, are some of the heaviest dogs out there, typically weighing between 120 and 230 pounds. Despite their intimidating size, they’re gentle, loving dogs that also make excellent watchdogs.
Yet, be prepared for the costs. Their large appetite and possible health issues, like heart conditions and joint problems, might require deep pockets. Remember that these dogs also need lots of space and patience in training due to their size and slightly stubborn nature.
Newfoundlands, or “Newfies,” are known for their amazing swimming skills and protective instincts. These gentle giants usually weigh between 100 and 150 pounds and stand 26 to 28 inches tall. They’re perfect for families due to their patient and loving temperament.
However, owning a Newfoundland can get costly, as they require lots of food and may have health issues like hip problems and heart conditions. They also need lots of space and consistent, positive training, as they can be somewhat sensitive.
Leonbergers are named after the German city of Leonberg and can weigh between 90 and 170 pounds. These dogs are known for being friendly and playful, making them ideal family pets.
However, they can be quite costly to maintain due to their dietary needs and possible health issues, like hip problems and some types of cancer. They need plenty of indoor and outdoor space and are relatively easy to train, thanks to their intelligence and eagerness to learn.
6. Irish Wolfhound
Irish Wolfhounds are among the world’s tallest dogs, standing at least 32 inches tall and weighing between 105 and 120 pounds. Despite their size, they’re calm and friendly.
Their large size means high food and healthcare costs, as they’re prone to health issues like heart disease and bone cancer. They need plenty of room to move around, and as for training, they’re smart and respond well to consistent, positive reinforcement methods.
7. Anatolian Shepherd
The Anatolian Shepherd, native to Turkey, was bred for harsh climates and to guard livestock. They usually weigh between 80 and 150 pounds. These dogs are known for their intelligence and protective nature.
They’re not cheap to keep, given their size and the potential for health problems like hip issues. They also need lots of space. Training an Anatolian Shepherd can be challenging due to their independent nature, but they make excellent companions with firm, consistent training.
8. Neapolitan Mastiff
The Neapolitan Mastiff, a breed dating back to ancient Rome, is known for its distinctive wrinkled face and protective nature. These dogs weigh between 110 and 150 pounds and stand 24 to 31 inches tall. Despite their tough looks, they’re loyal, calm, and gentle with their families.
However, they can be expensive to keep due to their food requirements and the potential for health problems like joint issues and heart disease. They need a lot of space and can be quite inactive indoors. Early socialization and consistent training are key to managing their protective nature.
9. Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for their tricolor coat and friendly nature. They usually weigh between 70 and 115 pounds and stand 23 to 27.5 inches tall. They’re great with families and other pets.
However, they can be expensive to keep due to potential health problems like hip and elbow problems and certain types of cancer. They also need lots of space due to their size and love of play. Training a Bernese Mountain Dog is usually fun, as they are eager to please and respond well to consistent, positive reinforcement methods.
10. Scottish Deerhound
The Scottish Deerhound is one of the tallest sighthounds, standing 28 to 32 inches tall and weighing between 75 and 110 pounds. They have a noble look and gentle nature.
However, owning a Scottish Deerhound can be costly due to its food needs and potential health problems, including heart disease and bloat. They need lots of space, ideally a large, fenced yard where they can run. Deerhounds are intelligent and can learn quickly with positive, consistent training.
11. Cane Corso
Cane Corsos are muscular, athletic dogs from Italy known for being protective. They typically stand 23.5 to 27.5 inches tall and weigh between 90 and 120 pounds. They’re loyal and great protectors but can be cautious around strangers.
Owning a Cane Corso can be expensive due to their food needs and potential health problems like hip issues and stomach conditions. They also need lots of exercise and room to move around. They are intelligent dogs that respond well to positive, firm, and consistent training.
Rottweilers are sturdy and robust dogs known for their distinct black and rust coat. They usually weigh between 80 and 135 pounds and stand 22 to 27 inches tall. They’re protective and brave, making great guard dogs, and affectionate and loyal to their families.
However, owning a Rottweiler can be pricey. Besides needing lots of food, they might have health problems like hip issues, eye diseases, and certain types of cancer, leading to significant vet bills. They also need plenty of space for exercise. Regarding training, Rottweilers are smart and love to work, making them relatively easy to train. But remember, due to their protective nature, they need early and extensive socialization.
Important to Know About Large Dogs
Different breeds of dogs grow and mature at their own pace. The largest dog breeds typically take longer to grow up compared to the little ones. For example, a small breed like a Chihuahua could be fully grown by six to nine months, but a large breed like a Mastiff or Great Dane might not stop growing until they’re 18 months to two years old.
During this longer growth phase, these big dogs need extra attention to ensure they grow healthy. If they grow too quickly, puppies of large breeds can run into health problems, like hip or joint problems. They’ll need the right food designed for their breed and regular visits to the vet to keep an eye on their health and growth.
The need for space is another big consideration when thinking about owning a large dog breed. Large dogs can easily weigh over 100 pounds and be taller than 30 inches. With their size, they need more room to move around comfortably, both inside and outside.
If you’re considering a large dog, look at your living environment. Apartments and small houses without a backyard may not fit these giant breeds best. These dogs also need lots of exercise to keep a healthy weight and burn off energy, so access to open spaces like parks or a big yard is essential.
The cost of owning a large dog is another thing to keep in mind. It makes sense that bigger dogs mean bigger expenses. Large dogs eat more, need larger beds and toys, and can add up over time.
In addition, large dog breeds often have higher healthcare costs. They’re more likely to get health problems like hip, heart, and bloat. These health problems often need expensive treatments or surgeries. Ensure you can afford these potential costs and meet a large dog’s needs.
Finally, training is super important. Because of their size, large dogs can be a hazard if they’re not properly trained. A big, untrained dog could accidentally cause damage or injury simply because it’s so big and strong. So, owners must put in time and resources to ensure their dog is well-trained.
It’s a good idea to start training early, as puppies of large breeds can quickly get bigger than their owners. The best training methods are consistent and based on positive reinforcement. Some large breeds may be more stubborn or like to do their own thing, so you’ll need more patience and persistence in training them.
To wrap it up, having one of the largest dog breeds can be a great experience. They often have big, loving hearts that match their size. However, people considering getting these breeds should understand their unique needs and challenges, from their longer growth period and the required space to the costs of their care and the importance of their training. Understanding these factors allows you to create a loving and healthy environment for these gentle giants.
How do I ensure my large breed dog’s healthy growth?
Provide a balanced diet tailored to their breed, regular vet check-ups, and controlled exercise to avoid potential health issues during their longer growth phase.
Are there space-saving alternatives for large dog breeds in apartments?
While apartments can be challenging, consider nearby dog parks or daycare options for ample exercise, and invest in interactive toys to keep your large dog mentally stimulated indoors.
How can I handle the stubbornness of some large dog breeds during training?
Positive reinforcement and patience are key; try using high-value treats and breaking training into short sessions to keep them engaged. Professional trainers can also be invaluable.
Can large breeds be good with kids and small pets?
Yes, but early socialization is crucial. Supervised interactions and teaching kids proper handling will foster a harmonious relationship between large dogs, children, and small pets.
Are there low-impact exercise options for large breeds prone to joint issues?
Swimming is an excellent low-impact exercise for large dogs, promoting muscle strength and cardiovascular health without putting excessive strain on their joints.
How can I create a dog-friendly living space for my large breed?
Utilize sturdy furniture, designated play areas, and pet-friendly flooring to accommodate your large dog’s size and ensure a comfortable living environment for you and your furry companion.
Can I train my large dog to be a therapy or service dog?
Absolutely! With proper training and certification, large breeds can excel in therapy or service roles. Seek guidance from professional trainers experienced in this field.