Franco-Czech writer, Milan Kundera once echoed what every dog lover feels, “Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring — it was peace.” Big, or small, this line holds true for each and every dog that walks into our lives. However, in the past and even now, people have had their preferences, and hence, big dogs were bred for specific purposes. These could range from protecting cattle and livestock to hunting down wild animals for sport. Down the line however, these once-so-ferocious dogs have transformed into benign animals who consider themselves our babies till they fade away from the earth. Most large breeds are often the best choices for a house pet, since they are loving and protective. Though officially there is no lower limit to classify a dog as large, one that weighs more than 100-pounds and grows as tall as 25-26 inches is considered a big breed. So, if you are planning on getting yourself one of these tender-hearted giants as a furry friend, here are 10 largest dog breeds in the world.
1. Irish Wolfhound
The Irish wolfhound dates back to 7000 BC with its origin in Ireland, as the name suggests. These dogs were bred to chase and hunt down wolves, and are the tallest breed in the world. A typical Irish wolfhound can grow up to 7-feet tall, if standing on all four paws, which of course means they surpass the average human height by a far margin. An average dog of this breed can weigh anywhere between 90 to 150 pounds. Though initially their purpose was to defeat their aggressive counterparts, the wolves, today’s Irish wolfhounds prove the old adage, “Do not judge a book by its cover’. Despite their size and stature, they have a sweet temperament, are easy to train, and they are extremely intelligent. Irish Wolfhounds may be the most towering among all breeds, but there is a dog from a slightly shorter family that currently holds the record as the tallest one ever.
2. Great Dane
If you have grown up adoring Scooby Doo, the dog who was terrified of ghosts, then you know it’s the Great Dane, one of the largest dog breeds in the world. Though it is the second tallest after the Irish wolfhound, the Guinness Book of World Records for height is held by Giant George, a Great Dane. George needs a queen size bed to sleep on since standing on hind legs he measures a towering 7 feet, 3 inches, with a weight of 250 pounds. The Great Dane is from Germany, with its original name being Deutsche Dogge (German Mastiff). On an average they aren’t too heavy, weighing anywhere between 100-120 lbs. As for their height, these lanky dogs can grow up to 30-inches. These gentle giants, whose life expectancy is only 6-8 years, are temperamentally friendly and loving. They are typical couch potatoes and are considered the largest lap dogs.
3. Saint Bernard
The Saint Bernard is famous for being a rescue dog, especially in the mountains. This Swiss dog is courageous, but not one bit aggressive, loyal, protective of their owners, and makes for excellent family companions. The Saint Bernard usually weighs between 140 to 220 pounds and grows up to a height of 35½ inches. Benedictine, a St. Bernard, holds the record for being the heaviest dog, weighing a whopping 357-pounds. The earlier record was held by an English Mastiff named Zorba. Apart from being extremely gentle around children, they are also quite friendly with kittens.
4. English Mastiff
There are dogs that are friendly, playful, little kids, who will shower you with sloppy kisses and won’t let you go out of their sight for even a minute. All this is true for an English Mastiff, except that these “little kids” aren’t exactly “little”. Twice in history, members of this breed have clinched the record for the World’s heaviest dog—Zorba and Hercules. Though they aren’t as gangling as a Great Dane, they are definitely amongst the heaviest. The English Mastiff can grow up to a height of 36-inches, and weigh more than 300-pounds. They were initially bred for the purpose of sports such as hunting wild, dangerous animals like lions and bears. Over time, as these sports have died out, these dogs have transformed into easy-going Brobdingnagians.
5. Neapolitan Mastiff
The Neapolitan Mastiff is another large breed that makes for wonderful pets at home. They are courageous and extremely protective, while being quite benign. They could grow up to a height of 26 to 31 inches, while weighing an average of 170-pounds. This Mastiff was first bred as a guard dog in southern Italy. Though they are brilliant guards owing to their vigilant nature, they aren’t that great at warning us of eminent danger. That is because they are quiet and do not usually bark. Though they are quite gentle as a family dog, they hate visitors and intruders, and as a pet owner it is important that they are trained in socialization.
6. Newfoundland Dog
All dog lovers know how popular the Labrador retriever is, but are you aware that these popular family pets were are smaller versions of a breed called Newfoundland? Newfoundlands are considered to be the strongest breed of all large dogs. Some members of this family may even be as heavy as 200-pounds and as long as 6-feet, measuring from nose to tail. Their thick double coats add to their gigantic appearance. As the name suggests, they originated in Newfoundland, where they were bred as working dogs, who helped fishermen catch fish. Hence, they are brilliant swimmers, with an athletic, muscular physical structure, much like their smaller counterparts, the Labradors. They are also compassionate, unassuming animals, quite unlike their ogre-like demeanor.
The Leonberger originated in Germany, as a hybrid from the St. Bernard and the Newfoundland. In the 19th century, Heinrich Essig of Leonberg, Germany bred these two dogs and gradually bred the mix with another giant, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog. After several years of such breeding, the Leonberger evolved. Thus, it has physical characteristics of both these large breeds, weighing as much as 170-pounds and growing as tall as 31.5 inches. They might be a leviathan in size, but they are most docile at heart. They socialize well in large families with children, and their intelligence makes them trainable as a versatile dog that can achieve a variety of tasks.
8. Anatolian Shepherd Dog
The Anatolian Shepherd has a distinctive broad head with a muscular neck that makes it suitable for protecting flocks from predators such as bears, cheetahs, wolves and jackals. After the Newfoundland, the Anatolian Shepherd is considered to be the strongest amongst the large breeds. An adult dog can acquire a height of about 29 to 36 inches, being as heavy as 150-pounds. These dogs are best bred as guardians in the mountains, and do not make for suitable house pets.
9. Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff)
Do you know which dog has the largest head ever, when compared to its body? Dear dog lover, you guessed it right! It’s the Dogue de Bordeaux, more commonly known as the French Mastiff. This mastiff can grow to a height of 30 inches, and weigh around 140-pounds. Members of this breed are brilliant working dogs as well as endearing family pets, but they need a large space to run about. Lack of exercise and regular, optimum quantities of food can cause serious health complications to your fur baby. They are susceptible to bloating, hip dysplasia, arthritis, and increase in weight.
10. Tibetan Mastiff
The Tibetan Mastiff’s origin can be traced to countries like China, Tibet, and Nepal, but it has since gained popularity in other parts of the world. Though named a mastiff, this huge, muscular dog isn’t quite so. It is in fact a Tibetan mountain dog, which can weigh colossal 160-pounds, and can grow up to 33-inches. Its fearsome appearance is an advantageous, since it can guard flocks and drive away leopards and wolves. However, despite the ferocious look it can sometimes have, the Tibetan Mastiff is not a hunting dog, and is in reality a sweet-tempered animal.
These wonderful sayings about dogs will not only leave you teary eyed but also stir the dog lover in you!