The range of size, shape, color, personality and purpose for which dogs are bred is jaw-dropping. Over centuries, different dogs in different geographic locations have been honed by humans to play certain roles, from hunter to guardian, from herder to companion.
For some of these breeds, size has been a significant player in the search for perfection, whether that was to hunt bigger or faster game or guard a home with more intimidation, or even just to have the mass to survive in freezing locations. Of the hundreds of dog breeds around the world, here are nine of the largest.
Some people live by the motto “bigger is better,” and it extends to their dogs, too. Despite their massive size, they’re actually wonderful to live with as most prefer to relax all day and are relatively calm inside the house. Large does are well suited to suburban or country living because that means more space for them to sprawl. But apartment dwellers need not worry: Many large dogs are more than happy to sleep all day as long as you give them daily exercise to work off their energy. Since they were originally bred to be hunters and have a natural instinct to guard and protect, regular activity is a must.
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If you're a family that loves to play and exercise outdoors, or wants to grow their clan without having another child, then you might want to consider taking in a larger dog. Big dogs love nothing more than bonding with their owners, tossing around a ball outside, and protecting their house. They’re perfect for snuggling up on the couch with when you’re not outside taking on hikes and playing catch, and they’re often intuitive to your emotions and will be there to brighten your day. There’s nothing quite like coming home after a long day and having a big furry friend run to the door to greet you.
Larger dog breeds typically weigh more than 55 pounds, so they are considered an investment due to the cost of food and care. But is there a better feeling than coming home from a long day and seeing your giant best bud waiting at the door? No, there is not.
The Great Dane is widely recognized as the largest dog breed by the American Kennel Club, at least in terms of height. The Great Dane is a breed of German origin and its German name of Deutsche Dogge means German mastiff. However, before setting down official roots in Germany, the dogs that eventually became the Great Dane breed came from a crossbreed between English mastiffs and Irish wolfhounds.
Here's a video look at the Great Dane:
Though they aren't the heaviest dogs, reaching around 100-120 pounds, they are among the tallest. The average Great Dane stands around 28-30 inches tall but often they can be taller. The world record holder for tallest dog was a Great Dane named Zeus who stood an astounding 44 inches tall. However, these big dogs trade longevity for their size, and live only to be between 6 to 8 years old. Zeus died of old age at just 5 years old.
Though the Great Dane is typically considered the largest of all dog breeds, we're going to look at a few other breeds that give this one a run for its money, including one breed that is actually even taller.
The Cane Corso is of Italian origin; a medium to large-sized dog with a muscular, strong and athletic appearance, the distinguished Cane Corso is an ancient dog of Roman decent. Like others of its type, the Cane Corso has a particularly short coat. They come in a variety of colours, including: black, brindle, grey and black.
The Cane Corso is a very energetic dog, inquisitive and highly independent. They are known for their fierce loyalty and suitability as a guard dog, minding persons and property.
Cane Corsos are large muscular dogs that belong to the Molosser family and is very closely related to and outdates the Neapolitan Mastiff. The breed dates back to Roman times where it was developed and employed as a guard dog, working dog and war dog. The breed is still very popular in Italy and has found some popularity in Australia in recent years. The modern Italians have bred the Cane Corso for a number of roles including hunting dog guard dog and companion animal for the family home.
The breed was nearly lost in the mid-1900s. With the wide-spread availability of firearms for hunting and the onset of the Second World War the breed was almost entirely abandoned. While the traditional hunting role of the Cane Corso has almost diminished to nothing, it has been revived in recent times and remains a popular animal in Europe and is now gaining recognition internationally.
The Cane Corso is a very energetic, strong and heavy-set dog, eager to please but tough to handle for an inexperienced owner. Early training is essential to maintain a firm grip on this stubborn breed and socialisation as a puppy is a must curb aggression.
The average Cano Corso is quite large, measuring between 64 to 68cm and weighing in at between 45 to 50 kgs. A healthy Cane Corso will live for between 10 and 11 years of age.
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This first large dog on our list is quite unique. Unlike other large breeds, the Newfoundland was never bred to be a guard dog. In fact, they were specifically bred to help fishermen. These big, muscular dogs are perfectly comfortable on land as well as in water. They possess incredible strength and are able to haul nets and lines from boats, pull carts and, most importantly, fetch anything that falls overboard into the water, including people.
The Newfoundland is an exceptional water dog and a very strong swimmer. Think of them as the K9 version of David Hasselhoff in Baywatch. There have been many rescues of people out at sea credited to these gentle natured dogs.
Newfoundland dogs stand between 27 to 30 inches tall and weigh as much as 150 pounds.
They look even bigger because of their thick double coat which keeps them warm even in icy water. People have found them to be perfect companions and are even great around children.
The downside is, large breeds like these eat quite a lot and can eat you out of house and home.
Number 9. The Irish Wolfhound
The Irish wolfhound, as its name implies, was bred to chase down wolves. They were developed from war hounds into a dog that was used for hunting and guarding. One of the most ancient of dog breeds, the Irish wolfhound may have been brought to Ireland as far back as 7000 B.C.
Although they were originally bred to be expert hunters, today’s Irish Wolfhounds make excellent human companions. They are quiet, reserved, intelligent and easy-going.
Irish wolfhounds aren’t big and muscular like the Newfoundland; they are actually pretty slim compared to other breeds on this list. The reason why they made it to number 9 on our list is because of their sheer height. This breed is the tallest of all dogs, even taller than the Great
Dane. Males often stand as tall as 34 to 35 inches from foot to shoulder blade and stand over 7 feet tall on their hind legs. They can weigh upwards of 140 pounds, and while standing on all fours, the Irish Wolfhounds size can be easily comparable to a donkey’s.
Number 8. The Leonberger
The Leonberger is what you get when you mix the Newfoundland and the Saint Bernard, both quite large breeds already. In the mid-1840s, Heinrich Essig of Leonberg, Germany, crossed a Newfoundland with a Saint Bernard for four generations, then, just to make things a little bit more interesting, added in a Pyrenean Mountain Dog to the mix. The result of these several generations of breeding is a breed that stands between 27 to 31 inches tall and can weigh as much as 170 pounds.
Quite unlike all the other large dog breeds that are on this list, the Leonberger wasn’t actually bred for one specific purpose. Think of them as being jack of all trades; they do quite well in everything from water rescue, to tracking, to hunting. If it is an activity that requires both strength and smarts, the Leonberger is probably going to be good at it. This breeds primary purpose in life is to be a companion dog, and despite its massive size, they are quite the teddy bears. To put it simply, they are perfect family dogs, a family dog that can easily occupy an entire living room couch all by itself.
Number 7. The Caucasian Shepherd
This big dog is quite the specialist and was bred to do one thing and one thing only, and that is to protect sheep from wolves, and any other predator that dares attack a shepherd’s flock.
However, even if these dogs are expert sheep bodyguards, they can and have been used to protect other livestock.
The Caucasian Shepherd is extremely popular in Georgia which has always been the place to go if you are looking for the purest of these breeds. Also known as Caucasian Ovcharka,Caucasian Sheepdog, Kawkasky Owtscharka, or Kaukasische Schaferhund, Caucasian Shepherd dogs are strongly boned, extremely muscular and, when well trained, quite even- tempered.Of course, this breed makes it to this list because of its enormous size. They are big enough to intimidate even a pack of wolves. Wolves most of the time will dare not attack the flock they are guarding.
On the downside, Caucasian Shepherds are very territorial and have been known to attack other strange dogs or even their same breed. Extreme caution should be exercised if you choose this breed to be your family pet.
Now, at this point in time, we will stop looking at dog breeds in general, but rather look at specific dogs who have become very famous for their size, starting with this very big dog with an even bigger heart.
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