Giant Dog Breeds That Make Great Pets

10 Giant Dog Breeds That Make Great Pets

Saint Bernard lying on a wood floor

Purple Collar Pet Photography / Getty Images

While some people prefer small dogs, others feel there’s nothing better than massive dogs. Giant canines come packed with plenty of pluses. They’re big softies with sweet, gentle temperaments that think they’re lap loungers. They’re loyal and protective of their family pack. And they’re smart and usually easy to train.

There are several factors to consider before adopting a large dog breed. Larger dogs require more of everything, from food to larger-scale supplies to higher veterinary care costs. Also, a bigger dog needs a larger living space to move around comfortably.

Here are 10 of the best giant dog breeds if you’re ready for a massive companion.


If you’re getting a giant dog for a young family, one pill that is hard to swallow (especially for young children) is that massive dogs typically have shorter lifespans than all other dogs. Many only live about six to 10 years, while the average dog lifespan is around 12 to 15 years.


Great Dane

Harlequin Great Dane near a lake
Beanstock Images / Getty Images

One might say this majestic creature more closely resembles a small horse than a dog. Great Danes stand out in a crowd. Appearance, or in this case, size, isn’t what makes it an excellent companion; it is this breed’s temperament. These dogs are generally gentle, playful, friendly, and incredibly loyal. Because of their size, they appear to be goofballs, but it’s their larger limbs and plop-anywhere attitude that makes them fun to be around.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 28 to 32 inches

WEIGHT: 110 to 175 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Short hair in brindle, fawn, blue, black, harlequin (white with black patches), or mantle (black and white)

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 6 to 8 years


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English mastiff lying on floor
 Cappi Thompson / Getty Images

Mastiffs are all brawn on the outside, but they’re softhearted, easygoing companions on the inside. Keep a rag handy to clean up the slobber that drools from their massive heads. Their muscular bodies can knock over people and objects in tight spaces; keep that in mind if you’re living in an apartment or smaller home. These giant dogs need ample living space and obedience training wherever they go.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 28 inches and up

WEIGHT: 120 to 230 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Short coat; colors include apricot, brindle, and fawn with a black mask

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 to 12 years


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Leonberger dog with tongue hanging out
 Marla Rutherford / Getty Images

The Leonberger is a massive working dog that typically has a kind, gentle disposition. This breed is known to bond closely with its family, and it seems to have great intuition when it comes to human emotions. Leonbergers make excellent family pets and superb therapy dogs.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 26 to 32 inches

WEIGHT: 90 to 170 pounds

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Double coat with feathering; colors include red, brown, and sand with a black mask

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 7 to 10 years


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bullmastiff lying on side
 Corey Hochachka / Getty Images

In the mid-19th century, breeders crossed the mastiff and bulldog to get a powerful dog that could stop poachers. Today’s bullmastiff remains a capable guard dog and a treasured companion. Despite its somewhat intimidating appearance, this is a gentle giant that forms a solid bond with its family.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 24 to 27 inches

WEIGHT: 100 to 130 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Short coat; colors include fawn, red, and brindle with a black mask

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 8 to 10 years


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Boy hugging black Newfoundland outdoors
 Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

Newfoundlands are loving companions and outstanding workers. With their webbed feet and waterproof coats, they evolved into ideal water dogs, aiding fishing folk and saving people from drowning. It’s in their nature to assist and protect—especially children—and always with a gentle spirit.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 26 to 28 inches

WEIGHT: 100 to 150 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Flat double coat; colors include black, brown, gray, and back and white

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 9 to 10 years


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Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard lying in grass
 Purple Collar Pet Photography / Getty Images

Commonly used in search-and-rescue and as service animals, Saint Bernards are giant dogs with even bigger hearts. They tend to be gentle, loving family companions, often getting along well with children. Some Saint Bernards don’t always realize how big they are, so training is a must for keeping them under control.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working

HEIGHT: 26 to 30 inches

WEIGHT: 120 to 180 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Dense coat; colors include brown and white, red and white, and more

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 8 to 10 years


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Dogue de Bordeaux

dogue de bordeaux walking on a beach
 Tara Gregg / Getty Images

The Dogue de Bordeaux is a lovable, slobbery hunk of a dog. This massive canine with a giant head looks fierce, but it is mostly all for show; it is an extremely loyal and gentle breed. It’s protective of its family and is a capable guard dog. This breed originated in France and is sometimes called the French mastiff.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working

HEIGHT: 23 to 27 inches

WEIGHT: 100 pounds and up

COAT AND COLOR: Short coat; colors include fawn, mahogany, and red with a black mask



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Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees lying in grass
 Kathryn Schauer / Getty Images

Great Pyrenees dogs are massive in power and sweet dispositions. Among the oldest dog breeds, this working dog has a long history of guarding sheep and protecting homes. It is a very active breed. This canine requires vigorous daily exercise and obedience training to end up with a well-behaved dog.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 25 to 32 inches

WEIGHT: 85 pounds and up

COAT AND COLOR: Thick double coat; colors include white with gray, red, or tan markings

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 10 to 12 years


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Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound outside
 Anke Sauerwein / Getty Images

Historically, Irish wolfhounds were battle and hunting companions, as well as guardians of homes. In modern times, wolfhounds are primarily companion animals, though they have retained some hunting and protective instincts. They need more space and exercise than some of the other giant breeds and generally do not thrive in smaller homes.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Hound (AKC)

HEIGHT: 30 inches and up

WEIGHT: 105 to 120 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Rough coat; colors include black, blue, brindle, cream, gray, and more

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 6 to 8 years


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Neapolitan Mastiff

Neapolitan mastiff outside
 Tim Dawson / Flickr / CC By 2.0

The Neapolitan mastiff is an Italian breed with ancient roots that historians can trace back to the Roman army’s dogs of war. They later became guard dogs. This breed is known for its distinct wrinkles and loose skin, massive bones, and lumbering gait. It tends to be loyal and protective, though generally mellow and gentle.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Working (AKC)

HEIGHT: 24 to 31 inches

WEIGHT: 110 to 150 pounds

COAT AND COLOR: Colors include black, blue, mahogany, and tawny

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 7 to 9 years


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Breeds to Avoid

If massive dogs are your fancy, then it stands to reason that teacup and toy breeds are not your cups of tea. Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Yorkies have big personalities, but the canine world’s smallest dogs don’t top 7 pounds or get much taller than 7 inches when fully grown.

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