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Big dog breeds offer owners a lot of animal—and a lot of love. Many of the largest breeds out there are affectionate canines who live to serve their family members. In fact, several are known for being calm dog breeds suitable as therapy dogs or childhood companions. Others, who were bred to be tireless guard dogs or hunters, are more reserved. Since large dogs can be intimidating, it’s important to train and socialize them when they’re very young. Even if your dog wouldn’t hurt a fly, they need to respond to commands like “down” and “drop it,” as many don’t know their own strength.

Big dogs are also, unfortunately, predisposed to certain health issues. For instance, arthritis and hip dysplasia are common joint issues that can develop in canines with gigantic frames. Since big dog breeds also have larger chest cavities, they’re more likely than smaller breeds to suffer from bloat. Bloat is a condition that can cause your dog’s stomach to twist around itself. It’s bad news and requires immediate medical attention. One way to prevent this from happening is to slow down how quickly your dog consumes food and to avoid elevated bowls.

Finally, be honest with yourself about how much space you can provide a big dog. Though they may not need a giant field right out back, many will be unhappy in cramped quarters.

RELATED: The 19 Best Small Dogs for Kids (Because…Double the Cute, Right?)

Big Dog Breeds Akita
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1. Akita

Height: 24-28 inches

Weight: 70-130 pounds

Temperament: Loyal, Protective

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-13 years

These fluffy dogs are considered “National Monuments” in Japan, where they were bred to hunt. The Akita Club of America also notes these dignified dogs are symbols of good health. If you’re in the market for a loyal watchdog, go with an Akita. They’re obsessed with their family members and incredibly affectionate at home. Just be sure to socialize early and train firmly. Akitas have independent and protective tendencies that make them wary of new people and unfamiliar dogs.

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Big Dog Breeds Alaskan Malamute
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2. Alaskan Malamute

Height: 23-25 inches

Weight: 75-85 pounds

Temperament: Playful, Obedient

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-14 years

Another giant ball of fluff bred to protect its pack. Alaskan Malamutes are energetic sled dogs who thrive living and working alongside family members. The American Kennel Club recommends establishing pack hierarchy early—aka, you’re the boss. Instill commands and reinforce them regularly. A Malamute’s waterproof double coat is thick, comes in shades of grey, black and red, and ideally gets a daily brushing.

Big Dog Breeds Anatolian Shepherd Dog
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3. Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Height: 27-29 inches

Weight: 80-150 pounds

Temperament: Independent, Patient

Shedding Factor: Seasonal

Life Expectancy: 11-13 years

The Anatolian Shepherd Dog has been guarding flocks and corralling livestock for thousands of years. Their long, thick double coats shield them from intense heat and bitter cold, so get ready for lots of shedding as the seasons change. Overall, these dogs are driven to protect. This makes Anatolian Shepherds fairly serious canines who aren’t friendly to strangers. Unlike other loyal watch dogs, they aren’t big on affection. They love kids and other animals, but they show it by vigilantly protecting them from anything unfamiliar.

Big Dog Breeds Belgian Sheepdog
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4. Belgian Sheepdog

Height: 22-26 inches

Weight: 45-75 pounds

Temperament: Sensitive, Intelligent

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Funnily enough, these are the smallest breed on our list, and they can still weigh upwards of 75 pounds. This isn’t your average shaggy sheepdog—though they do give off a distinctly happy-go-lucky vibe. Belgian Sheepdogs are intelligent canines who enjoy learning and performing tasks. In fact, the Belgian Sheepdog Club of America says their diligence has gotten them work with European police forces, border patrol and even the Red Cross over the years. They’re sweet animals whose feelings will be hurt if left alone too long.

Big Dog Breeds Bernese Mountain Dog
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5. Bernese Mountain Dog

Height: 23-28 inches

Weight: 70-115 pounds

Temperament: Calm, Friendly

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 7-10 years

One of the biggest sweethearts in the canine world is the Bernese Mountain Dog. These pups make excellent companion dogs thanks to their calm demeanor, affectionate nature and ability to adapt to just about any situation. Incredibly responsive to commands, these dogs have stunning coats of black, white and tan. Sure, they shed like maniacs, but it’s worth it for a dignified BFF.

Big Dog Breeds Boerboel
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6. Boerboel

Height: 22-27 inches

Weight: 150-200 pounds

Temperament: Affectionate, Confident

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 9-11 years

Boerboels will protect you like there’s no tomorrow. Which makes sense since they were bred to guard homes and families in South Africa from wild predators (hello, lions). Warm and intelligent, they love nothing more than being with their people and having a job to do. The American Boerboel Club says this dedication can lead to destruction if left alone too long. Boerboel coats are short and soft and can be brown, tan, cream, red or brindle.

Big Dog Breeds Broholmer
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7. Broholmer

Height: 27-30 inches

Weight: 90-150 pounds

Temperament: Loving, Dedicated

Shedding Factor: Low to Moderate

Life Expectancy: 8-10 years

Talk about an enormous canine who genuinely sees itself as a lap dog. Broholmers are lovey-dovey, can’t get enough of you and devoted beyond belief. So much so that they’ll try to sit on your lap, forgetting they can weigh up to 150 pounds. Overall, this is a low-maintenance breed who sheds minimally, is easy-going and gets along with just about any type of human. They hail from Denmark, where they earned a stellar reputation as guard dogs.

Big Dog Breeds Bull Mastiff
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8. Bull Mastiff

Height: 24-27 inches

Weight: 100-130 pounds

Temperament: Affectionate, Obedient

Shedding Factor: Low to Moderate

Life Expectancy: 7-9 years

We chose the Bull Mastiff for our list, but Mastiffs of all types are generally considered some of the biggest canines around. Not only are Bull Mastiffs obedient and ready to make their owners as happy as possible, they don’t need much living space. This makes them great for first-time dog owners and anyone living in an apartment who wants a big dog. If you’re in the market for a humongous dog, check out Mastiffs, Tibetan Mastiffs, Spanish Mastiffs, Neapolitan Mastiffs and Pyrenean Mastiffs.

Big Dog Breeds Doberman
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9. Doberman

Height: 24-28 inches

Weight: 60-100 pounds

Temperament: Brave, Alert

Shedding Factor: Moderate to High

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Dobermans could brag about their intelligence, bravery, obedience and athleticism if they wanted, but they much prefer loving and protecting their family members drama-free. Easy to train and willing to go the extra mile, Dobermans are loyal yet playful dogs. Though they shed, their sleek black coats require very little grooming. Get ready for an energetic, devoted family member if you adopt a Doberman.

Big Dog Breeds German Shepherd
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10. German Shepherd

Average Height: 22-26 inches

Average Weight: 50-90 pounds

Temperament: Loyal, Confident

Shedding Factor: Moderate to High

Life Expectancy: 7-10 years

Known for their hard work on police forces, German Shepherds are diligent workers. They learn quickly and are extremely obedient—as long as they’re trained and socialized early. While they can be aggressive, German Shepherds also love to play and can adapt to more relaxing lifestyles if exposed as puppies. It’s also hard to ignore their striking black and tan coats, tall ears and severe expressions.

Big Dog Breeds Great Dane
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11. Great Dane

Height: 28-32 inches

Weight: 110-175 pounds

Temperament: Patient, Friendly

Shedding Factor: Low

Life Expectancy: 7-10 years

One of the most identifiable dog breeds is the Great Dane. They’re just… huge. Tall and lanky, their pointy ears accentuate their stature. You can find them in many colors, including the stunning Harlequin, a black and white spotted pattern. Protective and adaptable creatures, The Great Dane Club of America says these pups enjoy playtime with their family members and mentally stimulating activities. The biggest challenge is ensuring they maintain healthy joints. Intense exercise isn’t wise until at least two years old.

Big Dog Breeds Great Pyrenees
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12. Great Pyrenees

Height: 25-32 inches

Weight: 85-110 pounds

Temperament: Calm, Sweet

Shedding Factor: Seasonal

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

With shaggy white coats and calm demeanors, Great Pyrenees make sweet, cuddly family pets. They’re quiet canines who live well with other animals and kids due to their low prey drive. Great Pyrenees’ coats are actually tangle- and dirt-resistant and only shed seasonally—but given the dog’s square footage, expect plenty of fur. For centuries, these large dogs helped shepherds control their sheep in the mountains of France and Spain, according to the Great Pyrenees Club of America.

Big Dog Breeds Greyhound
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13. Greyhound

Average Height: 27-30 inches

Average Weight: 60-70 pounds

Temperament: Independent, Gentle

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-13 years

Greyhounds are unique dogs with independent mindsets, especially if raised to race. Though much lighter than other breeds on our list due to their trim frames, these dogs are tall athletes who love to run. Though they can be a bit aloof when it comes to following commands, they’re incredibly sweet animals who can adapt to their families’ routines. Greyhounds also come in just about any color you can imagine.

Big Dog Breeds Irish Wolfhound
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14. Irish Wolfhound

Height: 30-35 inches

Weight: 115-180 pounds

Temperament: Mellow, Loving

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 6-8 years

Okay, if you thought Great Danes and Great Pyrenees were tall, get a load of the Irish Wolfhound. Fully grown, these dogs can reach 35 inches (that’s almost three feet)! They’re as sweet as they are tall, preferring to be part of the action than left alone. Their size definitely means they require ample space in which to live and grow. Another tricky part of owning an Irish Wolfhound? They don’t live as long as most dog breeds. But while you have them, they will calmly follow you anywhere.

Big Dog Breeds Leonberger
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15. Leonberger

Height: 25-32 inches

Weight: 90-170 pounds

Temperament: Social, Obedient

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 7 years

Never had a big dog but always wanted one? Go for a Leonberger. These dogs are great for first-time dog owners because of their outgoing and obedient personalities. Leonbergers love to meet new people and play with the humans in their own homes. Their luxurious coats can be reddish brown or yellow with black fur around their noses and eyes.

Big Dog Breeds Newfoundland
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16. Newfoundland

Height: 26-28 inches

Weight: 100-150 pounds

Temperament: Friendly, Loving

Shedding Factor: Moderate to High

Life Expectancy: 9-10 years

Newfoundlands will shower anyone they can with affection. These big dogs are sweet souls who are patient with kids and playful with animals. Newfies don’t need tons of exercise, just enough to keep their weight in check. The American Kennel Club says these dogs are also known for being excellent swimmers—one even tagged along with Lewis and Clark on their expedition across the United States back in 1802.

Big Dog Breeds Old English Sheepdog
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17. Old English Sheepdog

Height: 21-23 inches

Weight: 60-100 pounds

Temperament: Adaptable, Social

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Whether you let their grey and white coats grow long or trim them short, Old English Sheepdogs require frequent brushing to keep their fur free from knots. These fluffballs equally enjoy playing outdoors and lounging indoors. Old English Sheepdogs are kind canines who love people, playmates and protecting their homes. Don’t be afraid to take them on an adventure. They’ll be up for it.

Big Dog Breeds Rhodesian Ridgeback
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18. Rhodesian Ridgeback

Height: 24-27 inches

Weight: 70-85 pounds

Temperament: Smart, Affectionate

Shedding Factor: Low

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Bred in South Central Africa, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are powerful canines who live to protect. Imagine one of these beautiful, red-hued dogs tracking lions in the brush of Africa. Affectionate with their families and more than happy to learn and perform commands, these regal dogs make excellent family pets. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are intelligent and athletic, so it’s important to give them plenty of mental and physical exercise.

Big Dog Breeds St. Bernard
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19. St. Bernard

Height: 26-30 inches

Weight: 120-180 pounds

Temperament: Charming, Watchful

Shedding Factor: Seasonal

Life Expectancy: 8-10 years

In addition to a shedding factor, Saint Bernards have a drooling factor. These big, cuddly oafs drool a lot, but make up for it with their incredibly sweet, calm presence. Saint Bernards are easily recognizable by their white, tan and black coats. Tall and thick, they love people-pleasing and are especially great pets for kids. After working as rescue dogs in the Alps for decades, it’s no wonder they have steady watchdog tendencies.

Big Dog Breeds Tosa
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20. Tosa

Height: 21-24 inches

Weight: 100-200 pounds

Temperament: Easy-going, Loving

Shedding Factor: Low

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Tosas are gentle giants. In fact, they are the largest breed to come from Japan. Affection practically oozes out of them, as long as they know you. As vigilant defenders of their family members, Tosas aren’t keen on strangers or other dogs. Their short coats can be reddish brown, fawn and apricot, with dark brown or black noses.

RELATED: 13 Australian Dog Breeds That Work Hard and Play Harder

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