5 of the Largest Dog Breeds

The world’s largest dog breeds include the Anatolian Shepherd, Great Dane, Irish Wolfhound, and the St. Bernard.

Mar 16, 2024By Tanya Taylor
largest dog breeds

I’ll be honest with you. My opinion about big dogs has changed over the years. I adored large breeds until I worked with them, and suddenly realized how hairy, drooly, and heavy they are. Big dogs take up more space and are more expensive to keep, so you must think carefully before choosing one. That said, you can't beat big dog cuddles. So, if you’re looking for a larger-than-life four-legged friend, take a look at my list of 5 of the largest dog breeds.

1. Anatolian Shepherd

Turkish shepherd
Photo Credit: Jon Mountjoy on Flickr

Height: 27 - 29 inches

Weight: 80 - 150 pounds

Exercise Level: Moderate

Lifespan: 11 -13 years

Origin: Turkey

I’ll kick off our list of large dog breeds with the Anatolian Shepherd, also known as the Turkish Mountain dog. These humongous hounds originate in Turkey, where they work as livestock-protecting dogs. They originated from the ancient Tibetan Mastiff and are powerful enough to fend off large predators such as wolves.

Anatolian Shepherds have a thick, short, double coat, which keeps them warm in harsh, wintery mountain conditions. They come in many colors, including brindle and fawn, but the most common is biscuit, and they often have a distinctive black mask. These dogs are patient and loyal but protective and territorial, so they need strong leadership.

Like all large dog breeds, Anatolian Shepherds need early socialization and training and are best suited to experienced owners. They need lots of space to roam and are not apartment or city dogs. They aren’t the easiest to train - and you must use positive reinforcement training and not aggressive methods. The Anatolian shepherd is an excellent family dog, but you must closely supervise them with small children due to their size.

2. Great Dane

great dane
Photo Credit:George Pagan III on Unsplash

Height: 28 - 32 inches

Weight: 110 - 175 pounds

Exercise Level: Moderate

Lifespan: 7 - 10 years

Origin: Germany

The Great Dane is the next entry on our list of giant dogs. Its name is deceiving because, rather than being Danish, the breed originates in Germany - and is also known as the German Mastiff or Deutsche Dogge. Great Danes have been around since the Middle Ages, but they were heavier and more mastiff-like then. They were guard dogs for large estates, used for hunting wild boar, and were associated with nobility and royalty.

In addition to being huge, Great Danes are graceful and elegant. They have a large rectangular head and short, sleek coats, which come in almost every color you can imagine with various markings. The most famous color is the Harlequin, with black and white patches.

Great Danes are incredibly loyal and are fantastic family dogs, but like with all large breeds, you must supervise them with small children. These dogs are people pleasers and generally easy to train. Surprisingly, Great Danes can be service dogs because of their kind, gentle, affectionate nature. These dogs need lots of space and suit active families, and due to their size, early training and socializing are essential.

3. Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound
Photo Credit:Natalia Gusakova on Unsplash

Height: 30 - 32 inches

Weight: 105 - 120 pounds

Exercise Level: Moderate

Lifespan: 6 - 8 years

Origin: Ireland

The Irish Wolfhound is next on this list of large dog breeds and is often called the world's tallest dog. These huge hounds come from Ireland and are big game hunters. As the name suggests, their primary target was wolves. The Wolfhound is an old breed related to the ancient sighthound and mastiff.

The Irish Wolfhound is tall and slender with a Greyhound build. They come in many colors, and have a unique double coat, which is rough and wiry on the outside but soft and fluffy underneath. These creatures are fast, agile, and elegant and enjoy regular exercise, games and agility, but are also happy to sit on the couch all day.

The Irish Wolfhound is incredibly friendly with people and patient with children, making them excellent family dogs. Wolfhounds are highly intelligent and sensitive but can be destructive if you leave them alone for long periods, especially puppies. Wolfhounds are generally friendly with other dogs, but early training and socializing are essential.

4. Newfoundland

Photo Credit: Farzan Lelinwalla on Unsplash

Height: 26 - 28 inches

Weight: 100 - 150 pounds

Exercise Level: Moderate

Lifespan: 9 - 10 years

Origin: Newfoundland Canada

The Newfoundland is native to Canada, where the locals call it a Newfie. These giant hounds often appear on lists of dog breeds that love the water because they traditionally lived on ships. These brave canines rescued people from the sea and helped to guide boats to land.

Newfoundlands are distinctive because of their impressive size and thick, fluffy coat, which come in gray, brown, black, or white. Their dense coat keeps them warm in freezing water, and they have webbed feet and huge lungs, making them incredible swimmers.

Newfoundlands are trustworthy, dependable and gentle, with a similar personality to a Labrador. They’re excellent with other dogs and are known as nanny dogs because they’re so good with children. These dogs are loving, affectionate, eager to please and easy to train, but there are some things you should know about the Newfoundland before getting one. They need lots of space and tend to drool, for example.

5. St. Bernard

St.Bernard dog
Photo Credit: JJ Shev on Unsplash

Height: 26 - 30 inches

Weight: 120 - 180 pounds

Exercise Level: Moderate

Lifespan: 8 - 10 years

Origin: Switzerland

The final entry on our list is probably one of the most distinctive large dog breeds - the sturdy and loyal St. Bernard. This giant canine is also one of the most famous working canines because they have saved thousands of lives over the centuries. Swiss monks developed the breed in the 1600s to rescue people from avalanches, and it’s probably a descendant of the mastiff.

St Bernards are large and powerful, and there are short and long-haired varieties. They are usually white with red, brown, or brindle markings and usually a dark mask. These dogs have a substantial head, huge sentimental eyes, and floppy ears. St. Bernards are famous for their drool and are one of the dog breeds with the largest jowls.

The St.Bernard is a fantastic family dog and incredibly gentle with small children. They are watchful, calm, and sensible and love getting involved in family activities. These massive hounds are eager to please and easy to train but don't like being alone for long periods. They are content with a few short daily walks but are also willing to go on long hikes.

Tanya Taylor
By Tanya Taylor

Tanya is a trusted animal care professional and has devoted her life to animals. In her 25-year career, she’s worked with all kinds of creatures in many environments, including three years caring for small animals as a veterinary nursing assistant and five years birthing down racehorses.

She is an expert farm and dog sitter - and has spent many hours volunteering at her local pony sanctuary. Tanya is originally from Liverpool in the UK, but now she lives in Ibiza, Spain, with her cheeky red terrier Leo and three Leopard tortoise hatchlings, Ninja, Tiny, and Orwell.