Some dogs just aren’t built for apartment life. Their size makes these mostly gentle giants crave the open space of the good old outdoors. But a bigger dog gives a bigger hug. Here are some of the breeds that tower over the rest.
Even though they aren’t the heaviest dogs, these scruffy looking pooches can stand at seven feet tall on their hind legs. They’ve been around for a long, long time, and were even referenced by Julius Caesar. They were used to hunt game in Ireland and were so good at it that they drove a lot of their prey off the island. But nowadays they’re great family pets who only hunt a nice chew toy.
Great Danes make every list of the largest breeds in the world, but despite their name, they’re not actually Danish. They were originally bred in Germany. They’re very loyal and sweet, sometimes to a fault, as they love to try to sit on their humans’ laps all the time. They’re the world’s largest lap dogs.
These guys were made for the water. Literally. Fishermen in Canada prized them for their webbed feet and thick coats, which made them perfect for taking dips into the cold ocean waters and helping to haul in nets. Some Newfoundlands can get up to 200 pounds and six feet from the top of their nose to the tip of their tail, but their gentle nature and fluffy fur will make you never want to stop hugging them.
“Mastiff” might make you think “massive,” and you’d be right. These dogs are certainly the heaviest, as it’s not uncommon for them to be over 200 pounds. They’re the slowpokes of the dog world and prefer to spend a lot of time just lounging around. But be aware that if you get this pup a doggy bed, you might just want to get him a full-sized human bed so he can fit.
Bred to hunt stags in the Scottish highlands, these tall pups are sweet-tempered and energetic. Their small heads might look out of place on their lanky bodies, but they were once only allowed to be owned by nobility, so show a little respect. Those long legs need to run, so you’d better have lots of space if you’re looking to bring one of these regal canines into your life.
Unlike the Scottish Deerhound, this breed is known for its large head. It’s one of the largest heads of any breed. They’re very sturdy and were used to pull carts and heavy objects. They were also used to guard livestock and protect castles, which is great if you’re a feudal lord looking for a companion. They’ll need a castle, as they have a lot of energy and crave room to run around.
These shaggy giants have earned the title of “Saint,” being used in the Swiss Alps to save stranded travelers for centuries. The largest St. Bernard was a massive 336 pounds! They naturally like to snuggle up and keep hikers warm, so be prepared for a massive cuddle buddy if you come across one, but like in the movie Beethoven, they can be a handful.
Was that thunder? Nope, it was this pup’s deep, booming bark. These muscular hounds are the great great grandpas of a lot of dogs on this list. They were used by nomads to protect their flocks, so they’re very territorial. Though they’re great family dogs, they don’t take too kindly to strangers. But with a bark like that, no one will be trying to enter your home too quickly.
That’s not a lion, but it was bred to look like one. Leonbergers love people, and are used on search-and-rescue teams in Italy and Germany. Like the Newfoundland, they have webbed feet perfect for swimming. Their lion-like coat needs lots of care, and they shed enough to make another dog out of leftover fur. They’re very sensitive, so be sure to have a big smile to match this big pooch.
Bred as a farming dog in South Africa, this breed had to be tough to survive harsh conditions and predators. But these thick-necked protectors are generally calm, so long as they can get some exercise. They are known for being great with kids and families, but you should have a dominant personality or they may be taking you for a walk instead of the other way around.
Which of your favorite big breeds did we miss? Which dogs give you the best monster hugs? Let us know in the comments or Tweet us @dogtimedotcom!