Largest dog breeds – 5 giants you should know

Sometimes, I just can’t believe how big some dogs are! I think to myself “Wow, the food bill for that guy must be enormous!” Let’s take a look at these largest dog breeds. Maybe you’ll even consider having one yourself. But, just remember, large dogs usually don’t live as long as their smaller counterparts and may start having health problems early on. Weigh the facts carefully before making your choice.

Anatolian ShepherdAnatolian Shepherd

This very old dog breed originated in the Anatolia region of central Turkey. They are large, rugged, very strong with a broad head and well-developed muscular shoulders. This intelligent dog also possesses high speed, agility and is largely used for livestock herding

They weigh from 88 to 143 pounds and stand 28 inches to 32 inches. For a large dog, they have a fairly long life-span which averages 10 to 13 years.

2 health conditions that are common with this breed are hip dysplasia and entropian (inward eyelid projection).

This dog was developed to be independent, forceful and able to function without direct human supervision. Thus, they can be challenging and must be trained early on to become an appropriate human companion.

Although loyal, they can be very aloof and not ready to make quick friends. If trained from puppy hood, they can live with other animals and cats. Furthermore, you can rest safe knowing this breed makes an excellent watchdog and will bark as soon as he becomes suspicious.

But, if you live in a small space, this isn’t the dog for you.

Anatolian Shepherds will take some maintenance as they posses a thick, double coat that needs brushing 1 to 2 times per week in warm weather to prevent shedding. Because of this coat, they look heavier than they actually are.

Dogue de Bordeaux AKA French MastiffDogue de Bordeaux

Unfortunately, these big, beautiful dogs have a very short life-span of 5 to 8 years. This is even shorter than breeds of comparable size. They can weigh up to 140 pounds and stand 23 inches to 26 inches. They have a short, richly colored fawn coat. Their head is massive and features a Bulldog like jaw, expressive eyes and deeply furrowed brow. Proportionately, their head is the largest in the canine kingdom. This breed is very powerful and muscular and has even been employed as a cart puller!

If you ever saw the movie Turner and Hooch with Tom Hanks, his wonderful dog was indeed a Dogue.

The origins of this dog go way, way back and it’s difficult to pinpoint their beginnings. However, it’s considered one of the oldest of the French breeds .

Dogues are excellent companions and deeply devoted to their families. They are calm, affectionate and docile but posses a protective instinct. They will therefore protect their family with courage.

However, along with that calm temperament comes stubbornness, self-confidence and a tendency to dominate. So, early training is a must.

One thing you have to watch out for with these dogs is their tendency to drool. You might imagine the amount of that drooling when you consider the size of their head!

Also, because of the breed’s brachycephalic (broad, short skull) head, they can be affected with breathing problems. This can lead to heat and exercise intolerance. Also, due to their head type, the condition ectropion can develop (outward rolling of the lower eyelid). This can lead to conjunctivitis and bacterial infections

Another problem is aortic stenosis (narrowing of the aortic valve). An additional heart problem is dilated cardiomyopathy where the heart is weakened and can’t pump blood efficiently.

Great DaneGreat Dane

The Great Dane is one of the most popular large dog breeds and according to the American Kennel Club, the 14th most popular dog in the US. Again, just like so many other large breeds, Great Danes have a short life-span – 7 to 10 years. They weigh from 110 pounds to 175 pounds and stand 28 inches to 32 inches. At this height they tower over most dogs and when standing on their hind feet, are taller than most humans. As a matter of fact, the tallest dog on record was a Great Dane named “Zeus” who stood at 44″.

The Great Dane has an unmistakable body shape you can see from a mile away. Their short coat comes in several colors and patterns with perhaps the best-known being the black-and-white patchwork pattern known as “Harlequin.”

These large, imposing dogs are known as “gentle giants” because of their friendly nature. Furthermore, they are known for their tendency to seek physical affection with their owners. They even like to sit on or lean against their human loved one and are thus the “world’s biggest lapdog.”

Great Danes tend to get along with other dogs, other pets and familiar humans. In general, they don’t exhibit aggressiveness or a strong prey drive. With proper care and training, this is a great dog with children, especially if they are raised together. However, if they aren’t properly socialized, they can be fearful and aggressive.

Whether you live in the wide open spaces or small urban apartment, the Great Dane adapts nicely and can become the ultimate “couch potato.”

No one really knows where the name “Great Dane” came from since this dog originated in Germany and has no association with Denmark.

Great Danes have health problems that are common to large breeds. One of these is bloat (gastric dilation volvulus). They are also at particular risk for hip dysplasia and many congenital heart diseases.

Great PyreneesGreat Pyrenees

Known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog outside of North America, this breed is primarily employed as a livestock guardian dog (not a herder). Weighing in at 90 to 130 pounds and standing 26 inches to 32 inches, this dog features a weather-resistant double coat that consists of a long, thick outer coat of coarse hair and a fine, woolly undercoat. The long hair on the tail even forms a plume. Additionally, there is feathering along the back of the front legs and along the back of the thighs which gives a “pantaloon” effect. For shepherds, their white color was preferred so they could easily see them chasing wolves away from the flock.

The average life-span of this breed is 10 – 12 years.

The general color of the coat is white and can have varying shades of gray, red or tan around the face. One singular characteristic of the Great Pyrenees is the double dewclaws on each of the hind legs.

They are confident, gentle (especially with children) and affectionate with a demeanor of patience and composure. This is a very independent and strong-willed breed and so can be stubborn and unwilling to obey. Therefore, the Great Pyrenees can be somewhat difficult to train. They can be wary of strangers but will settle down once they are comfortable with the new person.

They need moderate exercise but can become lazy, especially in warm weather. However, they enjoy cold weather and snow. They need regular toenail clipping as well as teeth and ear cleaning.

This is a very old breed and has been used for hundreds of years by shepherds, including those of the Basque people who inhabit the region in and around the Pyrenees Mountains of Northern Spain and Southern France. Dating back as much as 10,000 years, the Great Pyrenees originate from the enormous white dogs of Asia Minor.

This breed can suffer from health problems such as entropion (inward projection of the eyelid), Osteosarcoma, skin problems, cataracts and hip dysplasia.

LeonbergerLeonberger

This breed is characterized by a generous double coat and large, muscular body. They weigh as much as 170 pounds and stand 26 inches to 31 inches so this dog can definitely be classified in the “Giant” category. The Leonberger is agile and is used as a search and rescue dog.

This breed has a relatively short life-span of 8 to 9 years.

Their head features a striking black mask which projects the breed expression of intelligence, pride and kindliness. This dog is sexually dimorphic and therefore it’s easy to discern the sex.

The head is well-balanced in proportion to the size of the body. The eyes are medium-sized, almond shaped and dark brown. The ears are moderately sized and pendant shaped. They have a water-resistant double coat with shorter fine hair on the muzzle and limbs. A mature, masculine Leonberger displays a pronounced mane

They come is a variety of colors that include all combinations of lion-yellow, red, red-brown and sand.

The Leonberger’s temperament is one of their most distinguishing characteristics. If you socialize and train them well, they are self-assured, insensitive to noise, submissive and good with children. They do well in a variety of circumstances and this includes introductions to other dogs. They are also more athletic than most giant breeds and love outdoor activities such as hiking or swimming. Leonbergers are very intelligent and trainable but can likewise be stubborn.

They aren’t known to be aggressive toward humans although they can be reserved around strangers.

The Leonberger first appeared in Leonberg, Germany. The breed was an attempt by Herr Heinrich Essig to create a dog that looked like a lion. During WWI, Leonbergers nearly became extinct with only 5 of breeding quality. But two devotees began a club committed to saving them. Today the breed has a modest but growing following in the US.

Some of the potential health problems with this breed you should be aware of are hip and elbow dysplasia, osteochondritis (cartilage or bone in a joint is inflamed) and various diseases of the eye.

Conclusion

These are 5 of the largest dog breeds on the planet. If you’re thinking about having one as your companion, please consider carefully as their life-spans are generally short.

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