Giant Dog Breeds

The Biggest Dog Breeds

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Table of Contents

What is a Giant Dog Breed?

The largest of all dog breeds are often referred to as giant dog breeds.

Giant dogs are dogs who grow into massive sizes and weights, often weighing over 45 kg (100 lbs).

As time goes on, these breeds are only growing larger and larger as a result of selective breeding.

These are the giant dog breeds’ representative breeds:

List of Giant Dog Breeds

A giant Anatolian Shepherd Dog breed.

Anatolian Shepherd Dog

A giant dog breed, the Black Russian Terrier, after playing in the snow.

Black Russian Terrier

A giant Bullmastiff dog standing in grass.


A giant black Cane Corso breed dog.

Cane Corso

A Dogue de Bordeaux of giant size standing in the snow.

Dogue de Bordeaux

A giant dog breed, the Great Dane.

Great Dane

The giant dog breed of Great Pyrenees slightly resembles a Polar Bear in the snow.

Great Pyrenees

A giant dog of the Irish Wolfhound breed lying down in grass.

Irish Wolfhound

A brown giant breed Leonberger dog.


A giant Mastiff dog against a white background.


A giant Neapolitan Mastiff dog on a leash.

Neapolitan Mastiff

A giant Saint Bernard dog lying down.

Saint Bernard

A giant Scottish Deerhound standing against a coastal landscape.

Scottish Deerhound

A large Tibetan Mastiff dog standing outside a gate.

Tibetan Mastiff

What Makes a Dog a Giant Dog?

Giant dogs are usually classified by weight, weighing in at over 45 kg (100 lbs).

Their bones and muscles are larger and heavier than that of other dogs, and they often present as “gentle giants” having overall sweet and friendly temperaments.

How are Giant Dogs Different

From Other Large Dogs?

Not only are they the biggest dog breeds of all, towering even over other large dogs giant dogs have different needs, issues, and even different lifespans than most other dogs.

These extra large dogs require more training, more space, and generally more patience than other dogs, including other large dogs.

Special Needs of Giant Dog Breeds

In general, giant dogs need everything to be bigger.

Be prepared to spend more on larger dog beds, larger dog toys, and bigger bags of food with high levels of protein to fuel these giants.

• Food

A big dog needs a big portion at meal time, and food for large dogs tends to be more expensive than food for smaller dogs. A giant dog’s food will run out faster as they need to eat more of it at a time.

Giant dogs usually need a greater amount of protein from animal sources in their diet, so pay attention to the nutritional value of what you feed your giant dog.

• Training

Though most giant dogs are expected to have a gentle and sweet temperament, their huge size often causes accidents. Giant dogs are prone to accidentally knocking over small children, or accidentally lying on top of things like smaller pets.

Leash-pulling, furniture-chewing, or other such behaviors can prove more troublesome from a giant dog. Their bigger size comes with more strength, and things around the house may be more easily torn by an untrained dog who didn’t mean any harm. Teach your dog to use a chewing toy meant for extra-large dogs, such as an XL Kong.

Very large dogs must also be taught to stay down or to get “down” on command to avoid accidentally knocking people and furniture over.

Train gently — most giant dogs are emotionally sensitive and respond well to positive reinforcement only. Ignore mistakes and give them treats and praise when they do something right.

• More Vet Visits

Giant dog breeds have the shortest lifespans of all dog breeds. Their life expectancy varies from breed to breed, but ranges from only 6 years to 14 years.

As such, they are considered senior dogs earlier than other dogs. Giant dogs develop health issues more quickly, and need to see a veterinarian more regularly to keep up with their health.

These huge breeds are naturally more prone to certain health issues than other dogs.

Giant Dog Breeds Common Health Issues

The following health problems and conditions commonly affect the biggest dog breeds:

• Puppy Joint Damage

The joints of giant dog breeds are sensitive during the puppy stage, and are more easily injured.

For this reason, it is highly recommended to avoid going up and down stairs and avoid over-exercising your puppy.

Walks are OK, but wait until adulthood to try running, hiking, or other activities with your giant breed.

Always carry your puppy when using a staircase until they reach adulthood.

• Degenerative Joint Disease

DJD is a condition that often affects giant dogs, in which the protective cartilage around their joints wears down. This condition is also known as osteoarthritis.

If you notice that your dog doesn’t jump as much as they used to or seems bothered or discouraged while lying down, standing up, or using stairs contact your vet to help manage your dog’s discomfort.

• Canine Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a fairly common condition that causes a dog’s hips to slightly dislocate.

Sometimes, this condition may be treated with gentle and professional physical therapy.

If you notice your dog limping, it is best to contact your vet.

Other Things to Consider

• Space / Limitations

    • Home:
      A big house and / or yard may be necessary for a giant dog.

Some giant dog breeds, such as the low-energy Bernese Mountain Dog, can be content living in medium-sized apartments with daily walks and regular access to large spaces to run and play freely. Other giant dog breeds will need a large, fenced-in yard to play in.

    • Public, Vet, and Groomer:
      Outside of the house, it may be more difficult to take a giant dog breed to a dog training class, a groomer, or a veterinarian.

Before adopting a giant dog breed, it is recommended to call nearby vets and groomers to ask if their offices and equipment can accommodate the size of a giant dog.

It may also be more difficult to take a giant dog into public buildings or onto an airplane.

• Hair / Shedding

Bernese Mountain Dogs and Newfoundland dogs are two examples of long-haired giant dogs who shed all year long.

Daily grooming is often required to keep loose hair levels under control.

A giant dog has more hair to shed and will need to be brushed out regularly.

• Emotional Sensitivity

As they say: “The bigger the dog, the bigger the baby.” The largest dog breeds are quite often gentle and emotionally sensitive.

Most giant breeds make excellent family companions, affectionate with all of their loved ones.

These same breeds must be socialized very well while young to prevent shyness with strangers.

Giant dogs have increased chance to become sad or fearful in a negative environment. Training them must be a fun and positive experience for the dog with lots of treats and verbal praise. Keep training sessions short: 10 – 15 minutes at a time is recommended to keep a dog happy and engaged.

How To Take Care of Giant Dog Breeds

Common Characteristics of a Giant Dog

Giant Dog Breeds Pros and Cons

  • Most giant dogs are great family dogs
  • Very loving and / or protective of family
  • Good watchdogs
  • Can keep strangers away
  • Many giant dogs are good-looking dogs
  • Shorter expected lifespans
  • Need more food and bigger toys
  • Need more space
  • May be difficult to find suitable groomer
  • May be difficult to take in public spaces
A giant breed Leonberger dog.