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If you love extra large dogs, there are many giant breeds to choose from. And these dogs can be great, loveable, loyal companions.
You’ll certainly stand out from the crowd walking your dog. But just be sure that, because of their size, they don’t walk you.
In this blog post, I’ve listed some of the best extra large dog breeds and their attributes to help make your decision. So let’s get started.
Are you ready for the higher costs?
Just about everything for an extra large dog costs more. Prescriptions, flea and tick products, bedding, crates, food, and treats can all eat into a budget when considering a giant breed.
Are you active? Can you meet the dog’s exercise needs?
Giant breeds have been bred for many purposes: to hunt, herd, pull a cart (draft work), and guard. So they have energy to spare. If it’s not properly expelled, behavior problems can emerge.
So if you’re active and take long walks, hikes, and swim, you can probably accommodate your pup’s needs.
Do you have enough room?
In addition to your living quarters, you have to consider whether you have room in your vehicle to transport your extra large canine companion.
After all, you will need to take him places like pet shops to socialize him and for vet visits.
Do you have a fenced yard?
Many extra large dog breeds need to run freely to burn off excess energy. And some, such as sight hounds, can’t be trusted to run free because of their prey drive.
Or you may also have access to another self-contained, safe area like a friend’s yard.
Do you have children? What are their ages?
All dogs should be supervised with children. But because of the massive size of extra large breeds, they may inadvertently injure a young child.
Even though some gentle giants may tolerate some rough housing, all children should respect the dog as a living being.
An extra large breed may appear as a pony to the youngster, but he’s not. So no YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram videos of the child riding his pooch.
I was called in to train a Saint Bernard puppy. He was a sweet dog and easy to train.
But I had to convince the owners not to ride on or use the pup as a rug. I told them that, even though the puppy tolerated it, eventually he might not.
And he could nip–or worse–to show his displeasure. And it’s not fair to the dog who can be injured.
Are you willing to train and socialize the dog?
Extra large dogs can be a liability if not properly trained and socialized. In addition to the risk of knocking people over like bowling pins, many of the giant breeds have a tendency to be protective.
So if not properly trained and socialized, they may become aggressive to their family and strangers alike.
And even friendly breeds like an Otterhound can pull down someone walking him in his efforts to greet everyone.
So giant breeds need more than basic manners training and early and life-long socialization.
Does everyone who will be living with the dog want a giant breed?
I believe that everyone who’s living and interacting with the dog should want him.
Dogs can sense whether or not we accept them. After all, no one living or interacting with your massive pup should be afraid of him.
And, with a giant breed, it’s crucial that those individuals help train and socialize him. He needs to respect them so that there aren’t behavioral problems.
Are you able to groom him? Or face the expense of a professional groomer?
Some giant breeds just need a quick weekly brushing whereas others require more intensive care.
Part of their training requires you getting your dog used to grooming. You don’t want it to be a wrestling session when attempting to groom him.
And, if you don’t have the know-how or facility to professionally groom him, you will need to hire a professional, which is costly.
Some grooming tools that you might need, depending on the dog’s coat are:
Are you willing to face the clean-up involved?
I’ll give you the straight poop: cleaning up after a massive canine requires dedication. A giant poop scooper will help with the clean-up.
After all, he eats more than his smaller relatives. And what goes in must come out.
And don’t forget that these gentle giants shed. Often a lot. So, if you want to keep an immaculate home, it’s an uphill battle (but worth it, of course, if you love a certain breed).
Do you want a puppy or older dog?
If getting a puppy, go to a reputable breeder who performs recommended health tests on breeding stock and socializes the puppies.
You can also get a young adult or older dog from a breed rescue that can help you find the right dog.
Can you face a shorter-than-average lifespan, slow maturation, and certain health problems?
Let’s face it: we all wish that our dogs could live forever.
Unfortunately many of the giant breeds have shorter-than-average lifespans. But that just means you need to value each precious moment with your canine companion.
The giant breeds are slow maturing, often not being fully mentally or physically until two or three years old.
And giant breeds generally have certain health problems such as hip dysplasia, musculo-skeletal issues, and bloat.
So I recommend to my clients to get pet health insurance and make sure it covers inherited as well as other problems that are likely to occur.
So if you’ve decided that an extra large breed is for you, let’s explore some contenders for your household. They are listed in no preferential order.
11 Of The Best Extra Large Dog Breeds
So if you’ve decided that an extra large breed is for you, let’s explore some contenders for your household. They are listed in no preferential order.
They’re all great dogs for the right owner
These fluffy majestic white dogs originally from Hungary served as royal dogs who guard livestock.
They’re classified by the AKC in the Working Breed category. Despite their massive size, they’re nimble-footed. And they’re loyal protectors of their families.
They don’t do well when left alone for long periods and are not meant for apartments.
These massive dogs need an experienced owner who can socialize and train them so that they don’t become overly protective.
And they need a lot of daily exercise, including free running in an enclosed area.
They’re naturally suspicious of strangers. So they need to be socialized to kids–and everyone–from puppyhood.
But they can be great family dogs for the right owner.
A friend of mine has had the breed for years. She shows her dogs in obedience and rally. And her sweet dogs are even therapy dogs at a childrens’ hospital.
Males stand 28” to 30” at the shoulder and weigh between 100 and 115 pounds. Females stand between 26” and 28” at the shoulder and 70 to 90 pounds.
These gentle giants have a longer lifespan than many other extra large breeds of 10 to 12 years.
The Leonberger is another dog from the AKC working group. These large, muscular dogs originating from Germany are all-around workers. They excel as farm dogs, swimmers, and pulling carts.
Leonbergers need a long daily walk, And most would love swimming, hiking, and learning to pull carts and sleds.
They’re active indoors as well as outdoors. So they’re not recommended for apartment-type living and do best with a fenced yard to burn off some steam.
Despite their massive size, they are truly gentle giants and playful with their people.
When well-bred, trained, and socialized, Leonbergers are friendly with people and great with children. And they can make great therapy dogs.
I’ve known a few Leonbergers, and they have (fortunately) been dogs who came from good breeders and who were properly socialized and trained. They were very friendly and even solicited petting and attention.
The long, waterproof coat of the Leonberger sheds, especially heavily twice a year. And they need regular grooming, preferably a few times a week to remove excess hair as well as leaves and other items their coat picks up.
Males stand at 28” to 31.5” at the shoulder and weigh between 110 and 170 pounds. Females stand at 25.5” to 29.5” at the shoulder and weigh between 90 and 140 pounds.
One of the few negative facts about the Leonberger is that the breed has a life expectancy of only seven years.
3. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Another dog from the AKC working group, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog ( aka “Swissy”) is considered the oldest of the Swiss breeds. Strong, muscular, and agile, they are draft and drover dogs.
They are all-around family dogs who are affectionate with family, good with children, sociable with people, and very playful. But they can be dog aggressive, especially with the same sex.
Swissies need room to stretch–whether inside or outdoors.
They have a stable temperament and aren’t phased by new situations or novel noises. But they can be protective and will alert you to unwelcome strangers.
Though they are reluctant to bite, their alarm barking and massive size usually is sufficient to intimidate those with less than honorable intentions.
They do require a confident, experienced pet parent who will socialize them and train them so that they don’t become dominant.
They are intelligent and quick learners who need mental and physical stimulation to fulfill their potential.
So if you want to make your Swissy happy, have him participate in hiking, carting, obedience trials, herding, weight pulling, or backpacking with you. Then he should be able to settle down while inside.
Be prepared for tumbleweeds of hair: they are year-round shedders, with heavy periods once or twice a year. Weekly brushing of their short coat is needed–and more for heavy shedders.
Male Swissies stand at 25.5” to 28.5” at the shoulder and weigh 115 to 140 pounds. Females stand from 23.5” to 27” at the shoulder and weigh 85 to 110 pounds.
They have a life expectancy of eight to 11 years.
4. Anatolian Shepherd
Another dog from the working group, Anatolian Shepherds are natives of Asia Minor and were bred as protectors of livestock.
They are naturally suspicious of strangers. Though friendly and loyal with his people, he’s naturally reserved and independent. They can be dog aggressive.
They have a very protective nature and need early and ongoing training and socialization so that they don’t become aggressive.
Although intelligent, this is an independent dog who will make his own decision. So they need a strong leader who makes sure through consistent training that the dog must obey obedience cues.
A moderate-exercise breed, Anatolian Shepherds require at least an hour of exercise a day. This can be achieved by walks, fetching, and free running in a safely enclosed area.
They are year-round shedders with a yearly massive shedding season. Their short coat needs weekly brushing.
Males stand 29” at the shoulder and weigh between 110 and 150 pounds. Females stand 27” at the shoulder and weigh between 80 and 120 pounds.
Originally otterhounds were bred in England to hunt otters (which is now forbidden).
Otterhounds are friendly, even-tempered dogs who are great with children and strangers alike.
Although they’re not watch dogs, they are barkers who sound the alert if something’s amiss.
Playful and affectionate, they are often called the “class clown” of dogs.
Because of their strength, they are not ideal companions for very young children or frail adults.
They have a rough double coat that repels water.
Otterhounds have webbed feet and love to swim. In fact, they have great endurance and can swim all day if given the chance.
If you have a swimming pool, an otterhound would be in heaven. Just make sure that he doesn’t over-exert himself.
They require space to exercise. Because of their high energy level, otterhounds don’t do well in apartments.
Like other hounds, their nose is amazingly sensitive. They can track an animal’s scent even under water.
So, when training an otterhound, be sure to work with an attention cue such as “look” so that you get his attention away from potential prey.
Independent but sensitive, they need short, fun training sessions.
They shed and should be brushed at least weekly to avoid matting.
Despite their great personality, the breed is relatively rare. So finding a great dog will probably mean getting on a breeder’s wait list.
Males stand 27” at the shoulder and weigh 115 pounds. Females stand 24” at the shoulder and weigh 80 pounds. They have an expected lifespan of 10 to 13 years.
Originating in Western Europe, bloodhounds have a distinctive appearance.
Their long, wrinkled face with loose skin and drooping ears give them a dignified hound-dog appearance.
Because of this structure, they’re massive droolers. So, if you’re fastidious, a bloodhound isn’t for you.
Their short coat sheds and requires weekly grooming.
Friendly and sensitive, they are good with children and newcomers.
Bloodhounds are serious workers who are relentless when pursuing a scent.
Used by the police, they are tireless workers who will track down who they are assigned to locate, such as missing children or even criminals.
Bloodhounds will work over hills and dales and through swamps and will follow the trail to the end.
So they need a fenced yard and shouldn’t be trusted off-lead. Their single-mindedness will cause them to take off and follow a scent.
So they need to be taught to pay attention and to come reliably. But their nose can easily take over, causing the dog to take off following a scent trail.
This is why they are thought to be “stubborn” when learning new obedience cues, especially recalls and loose leash walking.
And you need to be extremely strong and persistent when teaching a bloodhound not to pull on a leash. They can easily pull someone down.
And make sure that his training equipment is exceptionally sturdy too.
They need an exceptional amount of exercise, at least a couple of hours a day. So if you like to go on long, fast-paced walks or hikes, a bloodhound may be in your future.
Males stand 25” to 27” at the shoulder and weigh between 90 and 110 pounds. Females stand 23” to 25” at the shoulder and weigh between 80 and 100 pounds.
They have a life expectancy of between 10 and 12 years.
7. Bouvier des Flandres
Originating in Flanders, Belgium, Bouviers are versatile dogs in the AKC herding group. They are used for cattle droving, sheep herding, cart pulling, tracking, and protection work (including Schutzhund).
Independent and reserved towards strangers, Bouviers are fine with respectful children. But be aware that they will tend to herd them.
Because of their herding-dog heritage, Bouviers are extremely energetic. So they need long, brisk, daily walks or jogs. And vigorous play sessions.
And if you can have your Bouvier participate in one or more canine activities, including agility, so much the better.
These are powerful dogs with a distinctive head with a long beard and mustache. Though they look intimidating, they are calm, good-natured dogs. But they are loyal to and protective of their families.
They aren’t for first-time owners and need a strong leader. A Bouvier needs early and ongoing socialization and training to help avoid being aggressive.
They also have a high prey drive, so a fenced area to run freely is important.
Although they are not big shedders, their thick, rough, waterproof double coat requires at least weekly brushing and combing to avoid matting. Their coat also should be trimmed and stripped by a groomer every two months or so.
Males stand 24.5” to 27.5” at the shoulder and females between 23.5” to 26.5.” Bouviers weigh between 70 to 110 pounds.
They have a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years.
8. Dogue de Bordeaux
This ancient French breed became famous because of the 1989 movie Turner and Hooch starring Tom Hanks. Who could resist the stocky, headstrong, drooling canine who Tom Hank’s character unwillingly takes in?
Members of the working group, the Dogue de Bordeaux breed are excessive droolers who are stubborn and can be destructive if their exercise and training needs aren’t met.
And they shed. Their short coat requires weekly grooming. So if you want a spotless home, this breed probably isn’t for you.
And if you’re a light sleeper, be aware that they snore. LOUDLY!
They can be great family dogs and good for older children.
Despite their formidable appearance because of their size and massive head with a deeply furrowed brow and undershot jaw like a bulldog, they are sweet, even-tempered, gentle giants.
But they do have a protective nature. So early and ongoing training and socialization are required so that they don’t become aggressive. They aren’t for first-time owners.
Although they are rambunctious as puppies, they can be couch potatoes as adults if taken on a couple of long daily walks.
Males stand at 23.27” at the shoulder and weigh 110 pounds and up. Females stand between 23” and 26” at the shoulder and weigh 99 pounds and up.
They have an expected lifespan of only five to eight years.
Originating in Hungary, the Komondor is a protector of sheep and cattle. They’re members of the working group.
His distinctive appearance as a living mop due to his corded coat makes him stand out wherever he goes.
But don’t mistake Komondors for soft-tempered dogs. These are tough dogs who will defend their family with their lives.
Fearless, they are confident enough to run off wolves, coyotes, cougars, bears, and other predators.
He is naturally protective of his family but is also friendly and gentle with family, children, and familial friends. He is naturally aloof with strangers.
But, if he senses a threat, he will knock down the stranger and pin him until the owner arrives.
Although he can be friendly towards dogs he is raised with, a Komondor has a tendency to be aggressive towards strange dogs.
Because of his natural aloofness and distrust of strangers and dog aggression, he doesn’t do well as a dog who lives in an apartment or attached housing.
He needs a tough owner (who uses positive reinforcement) who will train and socialize him from puppyhood throughout his life so that he won’t become aggressive.
The Komondor’s dreadlocks are more than just attractive. They also shield the dog from weather extremes and predators’ teeth.
Although he’s happiest when he has a job, if you just take him on a few walks a day and play sessions in a securely fenced yard, he should do fine.
But their coat requires a lot of care. Even though it doesn’t require brushing like most breeds do, they need a dedicated owner who will regularly separate the cords so that mats don’t form.
The cords usually start forming when the dog is eight months old. And bathing consumes a day–between bathing and drying the dog.
You can have the coat cut into a puppy cut for ease of grooming. But doing so takes away from the protectiveness of its coat and distinctive appearance of the Komondor.
Males stand at 27.5” at the shoulder and weigh 100 or more pounds. Females stand at 25.5” at the shoulder and weigh 80 or more pounds.
They have an expected lifespan of 10 to 12 years’
10. Scottish Deerhound
Known as the “Royal Dog of Scotland,” the Scottish Deerhound is a truly majestic dog. These large, courageous hounds were bred in Scotland to hunt swift, 400-pound wild deer.
As a sight hound, he has a high prey drive to small animals. So even though he’s usually friendly to other large dogs, he may have a prey drive towards smaller dogs, cats, rabbits, and squirrels.
Despite his imposing size, these are gentle giants who are friendly and docile. He’s fine with respectful, older children.
But, because of his enormous size, care must be taken that he doesn’t inadvertently injure toddlers.
He requires a lot of regular exercise to not be destructive. Long daily walks and play with another friendly compatible dog can meet his exercise needs.
He would love participating in lure coursing for exercise. And just for fun!
As long as he has enough outdoor exercise, he can be calm indoors.
But even though running free can help expend that energy, he shouldn’t be let off-lead in an unfenced area. Otherwise, his sight-hound genes will take over and he will take off after prey.
Because he’s so friendly, he doesn’t make a good watch dog. But his appearance alone would probably act as a deterrent to people with bad intentions.
Not the easiest breed to train, you can be successful if you’re consistent and provide regular training.
He’s very responsive to positive reinforcement with treats and praise. After all, he loves being with and interacting with his people.
The thick, harsh, wiry coat of the Scottish Deerhound sheds year-round. Brush and comb (ironically with a “greyhound comb”) his hair twice a week to remove dead hair. He needs baths a few times a year and more if he’s dirty.
Males stand 30” to 32” at the shoulder and weigh 85 to 110 pounds. Females stand 28” and up and weigh between 75 to 95 pounds.
They have an expected lifespan of eight to 11 years.
Bullmastiffs were originally bred in England to be protectors of people and property. So this working breed dog is brave with an imposing stature.
Even though he’s a brachycephalic breed, his short muzzle doesn’t affect his breathing.
Although not a high-energy breed, he does need a few short walks and play sessions a day. Then, he can be mellow inside and even comfortably live in an apartment.
Although his short coat is easy to groom, it does shed regularly. And be ready to clean up a lot of drool.
They can be fine with older, respectful children. And they will tend to be protective of them. But they aren’t great with toddlers or young children because of their massive size.
Although great with and protective of his family, a Bullmastiff is aloof with strangers.
Bullmastiffs can be aggressive to strange dogs. They can do fine if raised with another dog of the opposite sex.
In fact, someone I knew who had one put a bib-type towel hanging from the dog’s neck so that the spittle could be wiped off before reaching the furniture below. And washable chair and sofa covers will help living with a Bullmastiff.
Early and ongoing socialization and training aren’t optional. They are essential so that the dog’s natural protectiveness doesn’t become aggression.
Males stand from 25” to 27” at the shoulder and weigh between 110 and 130 pounds. Females stand between 24” and 26” at the shoulder and weigh between 100 and 120 pounds.
They have a life expectancy between seven and nine years.
I’m an experienced dog owner and know how to train and socialize dogs. But all my dogs in the past required a lot of grooming. I want an extra large breed with very short hair that’s easy to groom. What breeds do you recommend?
Bloodhounds, Dogues de Bordeaux, and Bullmastiffs may be a good fit. Check out their descriptions above.
I love giant breeds. Our family loves to swim. Can you suggest breeds who would be a good fit?
Otterhounds (who have webbed feet!) and Leonbergers love to swim and are friendly, companionable dogs.
I want a protective breed who isn’t aggressive. I live in an apartment. Can you suggest a breed?
The Bullmastiff is protective and, if bred, socialized, and trained correctly, should not be aggressive. If he’s given enough outdoor exercise, he can settle down and live in an apartment.
Depending on your needs and preferences, there are many great giant breeds to choose from.
Just be sure you research the breeds you’re considering to determine whether you can meet their needs and that they will be a good fit for your lifestyle.
If you want a large dog breed, but find the giant breeds to be too much, check out our blog post on great large dog breeds for families.
Do you have a giant breed?
Have you considered getting one?
Please tell us about it in the comments section below.
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