Large dog breeds: common features, rating, selection and care

Large breed dogs exude nobility, dignity and confidence. Their size and impressive dimensions cannot but arouse admiration among others. On a walk, the owner of such an animal invariably receives exceptionally enthusiastic and respectful glances.

What breeds of dogs are among the largest, which representatives of the canine family have especially impressive sizes – we will consider in our article.


In accordance with the classification adopted by the International Cynological Federation, all existing dog breeds are divided into several separate groups. Despite the fact that there is no official distribution of breeds by size, it is customary to distinguish between giant, large, medium, small and dwarf dogs.

Giant breed dogs include animals whose height at the withers exceeds 70-75 centimeters, and whose weight in adulthood is at least 50 kilograms. Large breeds, in turn, include dogs whose height at the withers is more than 55-60 centimeters, and their weight in adulthood exceeds 25 kilograms.

Large and giant dog breeds have their own specific characteristics. Usually such animals are characterized by phlegm, calm and even good-natured disposition, stable psyche. Attacks of aggression are not characteristic of most large dogs and are most often due to incorrect upbringing.

According to cynologists, for dogs of large breeds it is inherent athletic or powerful physique. Dogs of athletic build have a dry constitution, refined and strong bones, and a narrow chest. They are more characterized by mobility, activity, increased nervous excitability. Typical representatives of dog athletes are shepherd dogs, Dobermans, Great Danes, Dalmatians.

Dogs of powerful physique, in turn, have a loose constitution, massive and heavy bones, barrel-shaped chest. They are characterized by phlegm, poise, slowness. Bright representatives of this category are Molossians (Rottweilers, Mastiffs, St. Bernards).

Giant dogs are characterized by intensive growth and active physical development in the first year of life. However, their puberty occurs somewhat later than in small breed dogs. More puppies are born in the litter of females of large breeds than of dwarf individuals.

The impressive size and large weight determine the predisposition of these animals to a number of congenital and acquired diseases. So, for example, giant dogs more often than representatives of medium and small breeds suffer from diseases of the joints and the musculoskeletal system, pathologies of the cardiovascular system, oncology and skin diseases.

In addition, large dogs are more prone to volvulus than others, a pathological condition in which there is a twisting of the internal organs.

Given the incredible power and strength of such animals, great attention should be paid to their socialization, competent and proper education. You can not neglect the training, which must be done from the very first days of the appearance of a pet in the house. It is not allowed to spoil the animal, to neglect its physical and intellectual development.

When getting a large breed dog, the owner must take into account that he will have to pay enough attention to his four-legged friend.

Such pets cannot be left alone for a long time, deprived of communication and educated by the use of brute physical force. However, you can not allow the dog to dominate the owner and members of his family.

Top rocks

The list of the largest dog breeds includes more than a dozen items. It includes not only the largest in the world, but also unusually beautiful, powerful and strong representatives of the canine family.

english mastiff

The breed of dogs of the molossoid type, considered one of the largest in the world. The height at the withers in adults is at least 75 centimeters, weight – at least 70 kilograms.

These are large, powerful and well-built animals with a wide long body and relief muscles. Color can be deer, fawn, brindle, apricot. The coat is short and thick. A characteristic feature of this breed is a recognizable black mask on the muzzle.

In the old days, the ancestors of modern English mastiffs were used for protection, as well as for hunting and baiting bears. The power and strength of mastiffs allowed them to easily defeat wild animals. Modern English mastiffs are bred most often as companion dogs.

Distinctive features of their character are poise, equanimity, calmness, phlegm. They are able to make an excellent company for people of mature and old age.

The disadvantages of this breed include predisposition to many serious diseases. Thus, English mastiffs are prone to severe joint diseases, ophthalmic, dermatological and nervous diseases. Often, representatives of this breed develop oncological diseases, dangerous pathologies from the cardiovascular and endocrine systems are detected. Typically, the life expectancy of English mastiffs does not exceed 10 years.

German dog

Another well-known breed of giant dogs, bred in Germany in the 19th century. The average height of males is about 85 centimeters at the withers, females – about 75 centimeters. The weight of these giants can vary between 30-50 kilograms.

These amazingly graceful and imposing dogs are bred mainly as bodyguards, companions, and reliable watchmen. Their main character traits are balance, self-confidence, calmness, devotion, distrust of strangers. With a competent approach to education and training, Great Danes puppies grow into first-class and reliable companions, kind towards their owner, children and other members of the master’s family.

Great Danes are tall and harmoniously built dogs with a strong body, strong muscular limbs, an elongated and narrow head. The gait is smooth, confident, slightly measured, with an accurate and measured step.

The following types of colors of Great Danes are accepted as standard – blue (light bluish-gray with a silvery sheen), deep black, marble (white or gray with black spots), brindle, fawn. The coat is short, plentiful, smooth and shiny.

Specific diseases of dogs of this breed can be both congenital and acquired. Most often Great Danes suffer from joint problems (dysplasia, dislocations), diseases of the digestive system. They are prone to intestinal volvulus, hypothyroidism, impaired immune system functions. The organs of vision are one of the most vulnerable places of Great Danes. Observations show that these dogs suffer from eversion of the eyelids (entropion), microphthalmos, cataracts and glaucoma more often than their counterparts.

Often, Great Danes have serious diseases and malformations of the cardiovascular system.

Many representatives of this breed suffer from cystitis, infertility, enuresis, allergies and obesity. The life expectancy of these giants is the lowest among dogs of various breeds. Usually it is about 6.5 years.

Irish wolfhound

A breed of very large hunting dogs, considered a legacy of the Celtic culture. The height of males at the withers is not less than 80 centimeters, females – not less than 70 centimeters. The minimum weight of these graceful and beautifully built animals is from 40 kilograms for females and from 55 kilograms for males.

Irish wolfhounds are characterized not only by impressive growth, but also by a spectacular exterior. Despite their solid weight, these dogs do not look massive and heavy. On the contrary, their muscular body looks harmonious, toned and strong. The gait of Irish wolfhounds is light, swift, flying.

A characteristic feature of the Irish wolfhound exterior is a harsh, moderately long coat, giving the dog a somewhat disheveled, yet charming appearance. Longer on the superciliary arches and lower jaw, six forms a kind of bangs and beard on the dog’s muzzle. It is important to note that the coat of Irish wolfhounds requires specific care.

The nature of these graceful and strong animals is good-natured, calm, benevolent. It is noticed that dogs of this breed are distinguished by special equanimity, patience, self-confidence. Initially, this breed was bred as a hunting dog, but these days, Irish wolfhounds are increasingly raised as family companion dogs.

The good-natured disposition of Irish wolfhounds will allow them to easily get along with pets – other dogs and cats. In addition, they easily find a common language with children.

The protective and protective qualities of the Irish wolfhounds are poorly expressed, but they will not give offense either to themselves or their master. The training of these dogs should be done from a very young age, paying enough attention to the physical and intellectual development of animals.

Practice shows that these dogs are prone to digestive problems (bloating, disorders of the gastrointestinal tract), diseases of the joints and the musculoskeletal system, diseases of the endocrine, cardiovascular system. Like other representatives of large breeds, Irish wolfhounds often suffer from diseases of the organs of vision – cataracts, glaucoma, retinal dysplasia. The life expectancy of these animals is 6-8 years. With proper care, dogs of this breed live up to 10 years.

st bernard

A popular breed of large dogs, the history of which dates back to the 17th century. The average height of males of this breed ranges from 80 centimeters, for females – within 70 centimeters. The minimum weight starts at 70 kilograms.

Throughout the history of the breed, St. Bernards have been used as rescue dogs, guide dogs, bodyguards, watchmen and guides. In the old days, they were also used as beasts of burden, transporting food and medicine on difficult and winding mountain routes.

Currently, St. Bernards are raised mainly as guard dogs and guide dogs. In addition, the gentle disposition and impressive patience make it easy for St. Bernards to find a common language with children, acting as a caring nanny for them.

St. Bernards are large majestic dogs with a powerful massive body, an impressive head. The coat can be either long or short. It is noteworthy that the hair of the St. Bernards does not fall off and does not stray into tangles, so it is enough to comb the dog only 1-2 times a week. In addition, the coat of dogs of this breed has the ability to repel water, which allows the animal to feel good even on the most rainy and dank day.

However, these giants do not differ in good health. Observations show that St. Bernards often suffer from joint dysplasia, obesity, endocrine disorders, heart and vascular diseases.

Often these dogs have serious ophthalmic problems. The average life expectancy of St. Bernards is 6-8 years, less often – about 10 years.


A very spectacular breed of giant dogs, whose homeland is the island of the same name. In Russia, these dogs are otherwise called “divers” – for their special love for bathing and swimming. The average height of males of this breed is about 70 centimeters, females – 65-66 centimeters. Depending on gender and individual characteristics, the weight of Newfoundlands can vary from 55 to 68 kilograms.

Despite the fearsome and menacing appearance, these dogs are distinguished by a soft and friendly character, complaisance, obedience, and sociability. Experienced cynologists claim that in critical situations, the inventive mind of the Newfoundlands allows them to make decisions independently and correctly.

These are very powerful and strong animals with a massive body, large and wide head, strong and muscular legs. A characteristic feature of this breed is the presence of a special film between the toes.

Just like the St. Bernards, the coat of the Newfoundland repels water and does not get wet. According to the breed standard, a slight waviness of the coat is allowed. The classic color of this breed is a rich jet black color. Brown (brown-chocolate, bronze) and black-and-white color is allowed. The coat of dogs of this breed is thick, long, soft and shiny.

Initially, these dogs were used as sled dogs, as well as as lifeguards on the water. Newfoundlands are excellent swimmers and are not at all afraid of water. Of all the existing breeds, they are perhaps the best swimmers.

Newfoundlands lend themselves well to training and education. They easily find a common language with children, show increased attention to them, take care of them and protect them.

With a trained dog, you can fearlessly leave the child to swim in shallow water – the Newfoundland will not allow the small owner to be at a dangerous depth under any circumstances.

Among the diseases and problematic conditions that this breed is prone to include the following:

  • heat stroke (due to the dark coat color, overheating is terrible for Newfoundlands);
  • eversion of the eyelids and cataracts;
  • joint problems (dysplasia);
  • diseases of the cardiovascular system;
  • volvulus;
  • endocrine disorders.

The average lifespan of this breed of dog is 8 to 10 years. This factor is greatly influenced by the heredity of the animal, its general state of health, conditions of detention and care.


A breed of very large and elegant dogs, bred in Germany. The growth of males is at least 72 centimeters, females – at least 65 centimeters. The average weight of these giants varies between 45-50 kilograms.

According to cynologists, Leonbergers have absorbed only the best features that they inherited from the ancestors of the original breeds – St. Bernards, Pyrenean mountain dogs, Newfoundlands. The natural strength, endurance, patience and obedience of the representatives of this breed led to their use as draft and guard dogs. Today they are in demand as companion dogs, nanny dogs and guide dogs.

Typical features of this breed are equanimity, calmness, self-confidence, sociability, the ability to quickly learn and memorize new things. The Leonberger is an amazing combination of a calm disposition and a friendly playful character. They are not characterized by a manifestation of aggression, but such dogs will not give offense to themselves and their master.

Leonbergers are large, powerful and harmoniously built dogs with a powerful body, with a wide elongated head, a relatively long, but not sharp muzzle. Very expressive is the look of dogs of this breed, which radiates confidence, dignity and nobility.

The paws are strong, powerful and muscular, the back is wide and even, with well-defined withers.

Gait – confident, measured, with a spacious free step. The gait is even and consistent.

The coat of Leonbergers is very plentiful, dense, dense. The coat is long, soft and smooth. Around the neck, the coat forms a voluminous collar resembling a lion’s mane. Color – sand, fawn, red, red-bronze. A mandatory condition for the exterior is the presence of a characteristic black mask on the muzzle.

Like other large and heavy dogs, Leonbergers are vulnerable to the development of joint diseases (hip dysplasia) and diseases of the musculoskeletal system.

In addition, they often have eversion of the eyelids and a rather rare disease of the hormonal system – Addison’s disease. Dogs of mature and advanced age are often diagnosed with osteosarcoma. The average life expectancy of Leonbergers is 9-12 years.

Caucasian Shepherd Dog

A common breed of large guard and guard dogs, bred back in the Soviet Union. It is a very ancient breed, the history of which has about 2 thousand years. The minimum height for males of this breed is 68-70 centimeters, for females – 64-65 centimeters. The average weight varies between 45-50 kilograms.

Dogs of this breed They do an excellent job of guarding and shepherding tasks. They can be entrusted with the protection of any property – be it a home or livestock. These animals are characterized by fearlessness, determination, fidelity, sensitivity, good memory, learning ability and intelligence. They tolerate loneliness well, they can watch the protected area for hours without requiring increased attention from the owner.

Caucasian Shepherd Dogs tend to be suspicious of strangers. They have great intuition, but a very difficult character. Many males of this breed are characterized by outbursts of aggression and anger, during which animals are able to smash everything around them to smithereens.

Anger is one of the characteristics of this breed.Therefore, the upbringing and training of puppies should be dealt with from a very young age. If this is not done or if the proper upbringing of the dog is neglected, then in the future it will be impossible to influence the dog.

Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are powerful and massive dogs of the molossoid type. Distinctive features of their exterior are a large, slightly elongated and taut body, a deep and wide chest, a wedge-shaped powerful head with a flat forehead and a wide muzzle.

The appearance of Caucasian Shepherd Dogs makes a strong impression on others.

In many ways, this is facilitated by their lush and very thick coat, because of which the animals seem even larger and more powerful. The density of the coat of the Caucasian Shepherd Dogs allows them to easily survive bad weather and significant temperature drops.

The traditional color of the Caucasian Shepherd Dogs is gray wolf, chocolate brown, fawn, reddish brown. Variegated color is also allowed, as well as the presence of a specific dark mask on the muzzle.

Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are in good health, however, this breed is not immune from diseases that are typical for large dogs. So, very often in animals of this breed, inversions and eversion of the eyelids, joint dysplasia, bursitis, myopathies are found.

Caucasian Shepherds are also prone to obesity, which often leads to the development of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The average life expectancy of dogs of this breed is about 10, less often – 12 years.

Broholmer, or broholmer

A breed of large molossoid type dogs, bred in Denmark. The height of males at the withers is 75 centimeters, females – 70 centimeters. The weight of individuals of mature age can reach 60 or more kilograms.

In the old days, representatives of this breed were used as hunting, pickling and watchdogs. Fantastic strength and endurance allowed the Broholmers to easily cope with the protection and grazing of livestock, the corral of wild boars, bears and deer.

After the Second World War, the breed was on the verge of extinction, but this was avoided by the efforts of foreign cynologists. But the number of Broholmers today remains low, as a result of which puppies of this breed are impressively expensive.

Currently, Broholmer dogs are found mainly in Denmark, Finland, and the Netherlands.

Danish Broholmers are powerful, athletically built dogs with a strong toned body, large head, long and strong paws. The coat is short, dense and hard. The traditional color is light beige, bronze-red, dark red. A dark mask on the muzzle is allowed.

Broholmers are perfectly trainable, they are smart, intelligent, obedient. Their distinguishing features are calm disposition, devotion, goodwill. These dogs are wary of strangers, but without reason they do not show aggression.

Typical diseases of this breed are the same as those of other dogs of the molossoid type. Their average life expectancy is about 12 years.

Pyrenean Mastiff

A rather old breed of very large corpulent dogs, bred in Spain. Males of the Pyrenean Mastiffs reach about 80 centimeters at the withers, females – about 73 centimeters. The weight of adults is at least 70 kilograms.

The original purpose of the dogs of this breed was grazing and protection of livestock. To date, Pyrenean Mastiffs are used primarily as bodyguard dogs.

Representatives of this breed are very large powerful dogs with a harmoniously built, proportional body, strong bones, a wide massive head and strong paws.

Despite their impressive size, the Pyrenean Mastiff does not look clumsy or heavy. The gait of these dogs is sweeping, smooth, with a beautiful consistent step.

The coat is bristly, moderately long, but not fluffy. The standard color is white with spots of pale gray, brown-red, black, marble or sand. A characteristic feature of the breed is the mask on the muzzle.

Pyrenean mastiffs are very smart, loyal and adequate animals. Dogs treat their owner with great love and respect, but they are able to obey other family members. These luxurious giants treat children very carefully, patiently perceive their pranks.

Despite the fact that the Pyrenean Mastiff loves to spend time with the owner, they will never aggressively demand his attention. These dogs tolerate loneliness well, so they can be fearlessly left unattended for a long time.

Pyrenean Mastiffs are highly trainable, thanks to their unique memory. Most often, a general training course is enough for them, since protective and guarding skills in dogs of this breed are innate. In some cases, only minor adjustments to existing abilities may be required.

Considering that this breed goes back to the Molossian type, its representatives are characterized by a predisposition to a number of specific diseases.

The most common here are joint dysplasia, ophthalmic diseases and disorders of the organs of vision (eyelid eversion, conjunctivitis), intestinal volvulus. The average life expectancy of the Pyrenean Mastiff is about 12 years.

Anatolian Shepherd (Kangal)

The oldest breed of powerful and powerful dogs, bred in Turkey. The growth of males and females of this breed can reach 80 centimeters. Weight indicators on average vary from 40 to 65 kilograms.

In ancient times, dogs of this breed were used to hunt lions and protect livestock from predatory animals. To date, Kangals are used as guards protecting farm herds. Cynologists say that these dogs have no competitors in the ability to reliably guard and protect livestock. Despite their impressive size and visual corpulence, kangals are able to develop impressive speed in pursuit of predators.

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are powerful dogs with a rectangular proportional body, a large wide head, and muscular limbs. The coat may be short or moderately long. Traditional colors are sand, white, brindle, fawn, white with biscuit markings. A dark mask is preferred.

Kangals are perfectly trainable, easy to train. They are characterized by a subtle mind, lightning-fast reaction, distrust of strangers. Kangal children are treated with great care, so they can be fearlessly entrusted with the role of an attentive nanny.

Typical for representatives of this breed are joint pathologies and ophthalmic diseases (entropion). With proper care, the life expectancy of kangals is on average 10 to 12 years.

How to choose?

When planning to get a large or giant breed dog, a potential owner must take into account many nuances associated with the selection, maintenance, care and upbringing of these animals. It is important to take into account that such dogs require an owner with a certain temperament, able to assume a dominant position and possessing the skills to properly handle large dogs.

At the very beginning, you should decide on the purpose of acquiring a large breed dog. Most often, such pets are brought to protect the home, protect the family and property. Often, large dogs are acquired as companions that can brighten up the leisure of the owner and his family members.

The choice of its breed depends on what goal the potential owner of a large dog pursues.

Some giant dogs are designed exclusively for protection and hunting, others perfectly cope with the role of nannies and companions. To acquire this or that breed in the hope of instilling qualities that are not typical for it is at least unreasonable.

It is important to familiarize yourself in advance with the standards of the breed you like and the requirements for its exterior. If a puppy is purchased for the purpose of further participation in exhibition events, it is necessary to carefully study its pedigree, inquire about the achievements and awards of its parents. In this case, even at the stage of choosing a puppy, it is required to completely exclude possible disqualifying defects from him.

If the potential owner plans to have an animal exclusively for himself, then a puppy’s compliance with breed standards may play a secondary role.

However, both in the first and in the second case, great attention should be paid to the health status of the future pet. It is necessary to make sure that the puppy does not have congenital or acquired diseases and any developmental pathologies.

Special attention should be paid to the behavior of the puppy. He should be mobile, cheerful, active, cheerful, but not aggressive or cowardly. A healthy puppy shows curiosity and interest in strangers, willingly plays with his fellows. When moving, the puppy should not limp or fall to the side. Such gait defects often indicate problems with the joints and impaired coordination.

Content specifics

Despite the fact that many dogs of large breeds are able to take root in urban apartments, it is best to keep them in a private home – in an aviary that has a sufficient area. It is strongly not recommended to keep such dogs on a chain.

Large dogs require not only enough free space, but also regular physical activity. Almost all dogs of large breeds are prone to obesity, which, in turn, often leads to diabetes, the development of diseases of the joints and the musculoskeletal system.

These animals also require an appropriate diet enriched with vitamins and minerals.

It is also important to take into account the fact that large dogs consume significantly more food daily than their counterparts of small and medium breeds. Naturally, the maintenance of such animals is much more expensive.

On the features of the largest dog breeds, see below.