Kyle is an enthusiastic writer and animal researcher who has two pups of his
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but which breeds are the biggest?
Valerie Elash via Unsplash
So You’re Looking for a Big Dog?
Dog breeds come in an astounding range of sizes. It’s almost hard to believe
that a chihuahua and a Great Dane are the same species, but artificial
selection can do some pretty drastic things to an animal breed’s appearance
over a relatively short time. You could argue that dogs have more phenotypic
variety than almost any other species of domestic animal.
Can Dogs Grow as Large as Wolves?
Interestingly, even the largest dogs are at least a little bit smaller than
grey wolves from which they descended. This is especially true of the heads
and skulls of large dogs, which are smaller relative to body size than the
heads of wolves. However, some of the largest dogs do rival wolves in shoulder
height and sometimes in weight. Wolves generally stand around 26 to 32 inches
at the shoulder, and very large dogs like Great Danes can reach about that
But which dog breeds are actually the largest? There are a handful of very
large breeds, several of which are roughly equivalent in size. These six are
arguably the largest overall.
The 6 Largest Domestic Dog Breeds
- Great Dane
- English Mastiff
- Cane Corso
- Great Pyrenees
- Irish Wolfhound
Dog Height and Weight By Breed
| Height (Male)| Height (Female)| Weight (Male)| Weight (Female)
120 lbs +
105 lbs +
Great Danes are not typically aggressive despite their large stature.
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1. Great Dane
This lithe, elegant breed is well-known for its unusually large size. Quite
interestingly, there are depictions of dogs that look very similar to Great
Danes from throughout a very long segment of ancient Greek history that
spanned from the 14th century BCE to the Hellenistic period (323–31 BC).
The Great Dane is descended from hybrids between English Mastiffs and Irish
Wolfhounds. They were used by German nobility for hunting bear, boar, and
deer. The dog’s job was to seize large game animals and hold them in place
until the huntsman was able to kill them. These dogs were also companions and
often served as Kammerhunde (chamber dogs).
According to American Kennel Club breed standards, a male Great Dane should be
at least 30″ at the shoulder, and females must measure at least 28.” The
tallest dog on record was a Great Dane named Zeus.
Despite the fact that Great Danes were bred as hunting dogs, they don’t
generally show a high prey drive and aren’t prone to an aggressive
disposition. They tend to be friendly and loyal, although they may be
aggressive or nervous toward strangers or unfamiliar stimuli if they haven’t
been socialized properly.
- Males: 30″ and above
- Females: 28″ and above
- Male: 120–200 lbs
- Female: 99–130 lbs
Mastiffs are known to love playing fetch.
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2. English Mastiff
The English Mastiff, sometimes simply known as the Mastiff, is a very large
dog breed. Unlike Great Danes, which are lithe and sleek, English Mastiffs are
large, heavy, and broad, with a solid build.
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While they aren’t as tall as some of the other big breeds, like Great Danes
and Irish Wolfhounds, English Mastiffs are more massive and robust. The
heaviest dog on record was an English Mastiff named Aicama Zorba, who weighed
in at 343 pounds.
According to the American Kennel Club breed standards for English Mastiffs,
males should stand at least 30″ at the shoulder, and females should stand at
least 27 ½”. This breed has a docile and good-natured temperament and a
demeanor that brings the word “dignity” to mind. English Mastiffs like a good
amount of exercise, and many enjoy fetching balls. Some dog ball throwers are
made specifically for large breeds like the English Mastiff.
- Male: 30″ and above
- Female: 27.5″ and above
- Male: 160–230 lbs
- Female: 120–170 lbs
Historically, Newfoundlands have been used as fishing aids and water-rescue
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The Newfoundland is a very large working dog that was originally bred to
assist fishermen in Newfoundland on the east coast of Canada. They’re innate
swimmers with naturally webbed feet and a thick, insulating coat, and they
make excellent water rescue dogs. They also have great lung capacity and
strong, robust musculature that helps them fight against strong currents and
ocean waves in open water.
According to American Kennel Club standards, the average height is 28″ for
adult male Newfoundlands and 26″ for adult females. Males tend to weigh
130–150 pounds and females between 100 and 120 pounds.
This breed has a calm temperament and is very good with children. However, be
advised that due to their long coat, they usually require quite a bit of
- Male: 28″ on average
- Female: 26″ on average
- Male: 130–150 lbs
- Female: 99–120 lbs
Cane Corsos can require more training that some other breeds and are usually
kept by experienced dog handlers.
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4. Cane Corso
The Cane Corso (pronounced “kha-neh kor-so”), a variety of Mastiff, is a large
Italian dog breed that serves as a companion, hunting dog, and guard dog.
They’re said to be descended from the canis pugnax, a Roman dog used in
Although they’re quite muscular, Cane Corsos are generally less bulky than
other Mastiffs. According to breed standards from the Fédération Cynologique
Internationale, males should be about 24–28″ at the withers, and females
23–26″. They’re a bit tight-skinned compared to many other Mastiff breeds,
although they often have a bit of a dewlap at the neck.
Unlike many Mastiffs and other large dog breeds, Cane Corsos need strong
leadership, consistent training, and socialization as early as possible when
they’re puppies. They’re not a breed that’s recommended for novice dog owners,
but when socialized and trained correctly, they only react protectively if a
real threat is present. They can be loyal, loving pets, but they’re not the
easiest dog breed to work with. Corsos are pretty aggressive chewers, so you
need to make sure you have some durable dog toys to withstand their powerful
- Male: 24–28″
- Female: 23–26″
- Male: 99–110 lbs
- Female: 88–99 lbs
Pyrenees tend to have good temperaments and are often kept as family pets.
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5. Great Pyrenees
The Great Pyrenees, known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog outside of North
America, is a large working dog that serves as a guardian for herds of
livestock. They range from 27–32″ at the withers and over 100 pounds for a
male, and 25–29″ and over 85 pounds for a female. While they are quite large,
their shaggy coat can give the illusion of a bit more size and mass than is
This breed is quite gentle and affectionate with children, making them an
excellent choice as a family pet. They do have a guardian instinct, as they’re
bred to be shepherd dogs, and they can be protective of their flock or family
if necessary. Interestingly, the Great Pyrenees is actually nocturnal and will
bark at night unless they’re trained not to.
- Male: 27–32″
- Female: 25–29″
- Male: 110–120 lbs
- Female: 80–90 lbs
Irish Wolfhounds are among the oldest breeds of domesticated dog.
Tirwhan, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
6. Irish Wolfhound
Very true to its name, the Irish Wolfhound is a large breed of dog originally
bred in Ireland for the purpose of hunting wolves!
This breed is very old, dating back to 7000 BCE, and has served many purposes
from ranging from hunting to guarding royalty. The American Kennel Club
considers the Irish Wolfhound to be the tallest breed of dog, though they are
more slender than other dogs their size.
Despite their intimidating size, this breed can make a great family dog as
they’re typically calm and reserved in temperament. Due to their large size,
the average lifespan is only 7 years.
- Male: 32″ and above
- Female: 30″ and above
- Male: 120 lbs and above
- Female: 105 lbs and above
Large or small, all domestic dogs descended from wolves.
Is a Large Breed Right for You?
These are just a handful of the largest dog breeds out there, although the top
two are probably Great Danes and English Mastiffs. Large dogs do tend to need
room to roam and run around, so they’re not always well-suited to urban
With that said, most of them are incredibly gentle and sweet despite their
size. They can make excellent and loyal family pets, and very large breeds are
definitely worth considering if you’d like to adopt a purebred puppy.
Dr Mark from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 12, 2017:
Are you familiar with that small dog breed from Ireland called the Irish