Sunday, 17 October 2021
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My spouse sometimes jokes that the tiny dog breeds that have colloquially become known as “purse dogs” aren’t really dogs; to him, they’re cats, or hamsters, or some other small, domesticated pet. In actuality, all dogs are real dogs, of course — but the fact of the matter is that when it comes to puppers, people have all sorts of different thoughts on what the perfect sized dog for them is. Some folks, for example, are into dogs that grow really big — and when I say big, I mean big. Like, dogs you could put a saddle on and ride around your backyard on (provided the dog is cool with it, naturally). Does that sound like exactly the right sized dog for you? Then read on; these 14 breeds might be just what you’re looking for in a pet.

Despite their size, large dogs are often also some of the gentlest of pups around. Indeed, many were bred to take care of livestock, so protectiveness and nurturing are innate qualities of a variety of large breeds. They also don’t always need quite as much exercise as you might think — although obviously they’ll still need plenty of space. (If you live in a small studio apartment, a large breed might not be the best choice.) They’re even terrific with kids.

However, big dogs as canine companions aren’t without their drawbacks — many of which are related to their health. Larger dogs typically have shorter expected life spans than smaller ones, averaging around seven to 10 years against smaller breeds’ 12 to 15, according to pet site Fido Savvy. A serious condition called Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) is also seem much more commonly in large dogs, particularly those with deep chests — think Great Danes and Greyhounds, among others. GDV involves a dog’s stomach suddenly filling with gas and twisting in such a way as to cut the passages off between the stomach and the esophagus and intestines. It’s life-threatening if it isn’t treated immediately; indeed, it’s frequently fatal.

But there are always risks with pet ownership, regardless as to the pet you choose — so if you’re up to the challenge of dealing with the specific set that comes along with having a big dog, you might consider adopting one of these breeds. You couldn’t ask for a more loyal and loving fur-pal.

1Great Dane

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I mean, you can’t have a list of gigantic dog breeds without including the mighty Great Dane, right? They’re essentially the Platonic ideal of gigantic dog breeds. According to Hill’s Pet, male Great Danes are typically around 32 inches, while female Great Danes are around 30 inches; both male and female dogs of this breed average between 100 and 120 pounds. Personality-wise, they’re considered “gentle giants”; they’re also relatively easy to train, although it depends in some respects on the individual dog. (Some can be pretty stubborn.)


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Newfoundlands are absolute sweethearts — and they’re enormous. The American Kennel Club (AKC) pegs their average stats at around 28 inches and 130 to 150 pounds for male dogs and 26 inches and 100 to 120 pounds for female dogs. They’re incredibly trusting, though, and they train well; they’re also great with kids.

3Many Mastiff Breeds

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There are a lot of Mastiff breeds, and pretty much all of them grow to impressive sizes. Regular male Mastiffs average at least 30 inches, while for female dogs, it’s at least 27.5 inches, according to the AKC; weight-wise, they can range between 120 pounds for small females and 230 pounds for large males. They’re all largely loyal, dignified, and intelligent dogs, excellent at guarding their loved ones and keeping them safe.

4Saint Bernard


Saint Bernards may only weigh around 25 pounds as puppies, but as adults, male dogs can grow to 30 inches and between 120 to 180 pounds, according to Vet Street. Female Saint Bernards are a bit smaller, but not by much: The AKC notes that they’re typically around 26 to 28 inches and between 120 and 140 pounds. Surprisingly, though, they’re good indoor dogs; they’re generally pretty quiet and eve-tempered, and although they appreciate outdoor space, they don’t get destructive indoors the way high-energy breeds do.

P.S. If you get a Saint Bernard, please name it Beethoven.


According to Dogtime, the Otterhound is an English dog related to the Bloodhound. Both independent and affectionate, they’re good with other dogs and with kids — perhaps surprisingly so, given that even small female Otterhounds can weigh around 65 pounds. The American Kennel Club’s statistics for Otterhounds place them at an average of 27 inches and 115 pounds for male dogs and 24 inches and 80 pounds for female dogs.

However, it’s worth noting that Otterhounds are quite rare; Dogtime notes that there are currently fewer than 1,000 Otterhounds worldwide, with only 350 to 500 of them in the United States.


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No wonder Leonbergers get so big — the breed is a mix of Newfoundland, long-haired Saint Bernard, and Great Pyrenees, according to Dogtime. They typically grow to sizes ranging from 28 to 31.5 inches and 110 to 170 pounds for male dogs and 25.5 to 29.5 inches and 90 to 140 pounds for female dogs; they’re also pretty high energy, requiring a lot of exercise and attention. They’re still gentle, though, and make fantastic family dogs.

7Alaskan Malamute

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance pup, an Alaskan Malamute is not the right dog for you. If you don’t mind a pet that requires a lot of hands-on care, though — and you don’t live in too hot a climate — this beautiful breed may be exactly what you’re looking for. Dogster lists their stats as between 22 and 26 inches and 70 and 95 pounds; the American Kennel Club is a bit more specific, though, putting male dogs at around 22 inches and 85 pounds and female dogs at 23 inches and 75 pounds. They need a lot of activity — but that also mean they’re quite playful. If you’re outdoorsy, a Malamute might be the perfect companion for you.

8Bernese Mountain Dog

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Per Petfinder, a typical adult male Bernese Mountain Dog is around 25 to 27.5 inches and 90 to 120 pounds, while a typical adult female of the breed measures in at 23 to 26 inches and 70 to 100 pounds. Even-tempered and obedient, they can also be “a little goofy” when they play with their families, as Dogtime puts it. They appreciate outdoor spaces in which they can run around freely.


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Despite their doggedness when it comes to tracking and trailing (that’s what they were bred for, after all), Bloodhounds are also docile and gentle pups — although you’ll need to make sure they know you’re in charge; otherwise, they can be a bit willful and stubborn. According to Dog Breed Info, male Bloodhounds usually grow to around 25 to 27 inches and 90 to 110 pounds, while female Bloodhounds average out at around 23 to 25 inches and 80 to 100 pounds.

10Irish Wolfhound

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According to the Irish Wolfhound Club of America, male Irish Wolfhounds “should be at least 32 inches tall at the shoulder and at least 120 pounds,” while female dogs should measure in at 30 or more inches and at least 105 pounds. They’re big dogs; even smaller Irish Wolfhounds are what the AKC terms “a whole lot of hound.” Average sizes are 34 to 35 inches and 140 to 180 pounds for males and 32 to 34 inches and 115 to 140 pounds for females.

Irish Wolfhounds are built for galloping, so they definitely need a lot of outdoor space to be happy. Like many large breeds, however, they’re also “gentle, noble, sensitive, and easygoing,” per Hill’s Pet.

11Giant Schnauzer

I actually only learned that Schnauzers come in giant sizes recently — but if your only experience with Schnauzers are miniature or standard sized ones, don’t assume you already know everything there is to know about Giant Schnauzers by extension. As the AKC notes, the three sizes of Schnauzers are actually three different breeds.

Giant Schnauzers were bred in Germany as working farm dogs, so their size makes sense: Male dogs grow on average to around 25.5 to 27.5 inches and 65 to 95 pounds, while female dogs measure up at 23.5 to 25.5 inches and 65 to 95 pounds, according to Pet Finder. They’re a little rambunctious for small kids, but they’re also fiercely loyal and protective, making them great family dogs. Make sure you’ve got a lot of outdoor space if you’re planning on getting a Giant Schnauzer — they need to run around and exercise a lot.

12Scottish Deerhound

Scottish Deerhounds aren’t always particularly playful, but if you’re looking for a quiet, thoughtful canine companion who loves to hang out with its humans, a pup of this breed might be up your proverbial alley. Male Scottish Deerhounds are typically 30 to 32 inches and 85 to 110 pounds, while female Scottish Deerhounds are usually at least 28 inches and between 75 and 95 pounds, per the American Kennel Club.

13Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs definitely live up to their names: They tend to “adopt” their human families the same way they would a herd of sheep or cattle. They can be fierce around strangers, but it’s all to protect their “flock”; they’re caring and gentle with their humans. They’re also, predictably, enormous — according to Petful, male dogs are usually around 29 inches and 110 to 150 pounds, with female dogs coming in at 27 inches and 80 to 120 pounds.


Kuvaszes aren’t easy to train — they’re quite independent — but they’re also sweethearts with their humans. Just know that they can be a lot to wrestle with; male dogs are usually around 28 to 30 inches and 100 to 115 pounds. Female dogs aren’t much smaller, typically coming in at 26 to 28 inches and 70 to 90 pounds.


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