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Biggest dog breeds

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Grigorita Ko // Shutterstock

Biggest dog breeds

It’s a cliche to refer to dogs as “man’s best friend,” but the four-legged furballs have earned the distinction. According to archeologists, dogs were the first domesticated animal, with some scientists estimating that dogs began accompanying humans as early as 30,000 years ago. Since then, dogs have changed, shifting from their wolf ancestry slowly, and then rapidly, as breeding has become more and more refined. Today, there are dogs so small they can hide behind a dollar bill and weigh the same as an apple.

But there are also the big dogs, bred to hunt and guard and rescue drowning fishermen. They’re giants, usually fiercely loyal and a nightmare for intruders. They herd sheep, fight off lions, and chase bears up trees. They also enjoy belly rubs and cuddling with their humans. They’re mascots, movie stars, and official state dogs. The big dog is a symbol of loyalty, bravery, toughness, and strength.

Stacker analyzed 193 dog breeds based on American Kennel Club data, sifting through statistics on Akitas to Zuchons. What lies ahead is a ranking of the top 50 biggest dog breeds, based on a size index, which incorporates the typical max height and weight of each breed.

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Mary Swift // Shutterstock

#50. Treeing walker coonhound

- Size index: 57.9
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

This American hound dog was bred in Kentucky to hunt small game, like racoons, bobcats, or squirrels. The floppy-eared tricolored dogs have a loud, distinctive bark. In a pack, they’ve also been known to hunt bears.

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dmdir84 // Wikimedia Commons

#49. Redbone coonhound

- Size index: 57.9
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

Another American hound dog from the South, the redbone coonhound is distinctive for its fully red coat, save for a small patch of white on the chest. Just as vocal as any other hound dog, the redbone coonhound is also an exceptional swimmer, with water skills to rival a retriever.

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Mr_Incognito_ // Pixabay

#48. Irish setter

- Size index: 57.9
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

This brown-red long-haired dog from Ireland is an expert hunting companion and fantastic with kids. Both Harry Truman and Richard Nixon had Irish setters, and Stephen King wrote one into “The Stand.”

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r. // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Saluki

- Size index: 58.3
- Typical max height: 28 inches
- Typical max weight: 65 pounds

This tall, skinny dog is also known as the Arabian greyhound, because of its origins in Arabian Peninsula (possibly in the ancient town Saluq, in Yemen). While greyhounds are considered the fastest dogs, the 1996 Guinness Book of World Records credited a Saluki as the world record holder for the fastest dog—that speedy pup reached a pace of 42.75 mph.

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Keith Rousseau // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Chesapeake Bay retriever

- Size index: 58.7
- Typical max height: 26 inches
- Typical max weight: 80 pounds

These energetic water dogs trace their routes to the Chesapeake Bay region in the 1800s, when they were bred as hunting companions for duck hunts. Both Teddy Roosevelt and General Custer had Chesapeake Bay retrievers, and the dog was named the official breed of Maryland in 1964.

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Eudyptula // Shutterstock

#45. Belgian Malinois

- Size index: 58.7
- Typical max height: 26 inches
- Typical max weight: 80 pounds

Sometimes referred to as a Belgian shepherd, this intelligent working dog is known for its sense of smell and high energy. The Malinois is used by police forces and militaries throughout the world because of its incredible ability to sniff out explosives and help with search and rescue. The dogs help the Secret Service guard the White House, and also have been used to combat poachers in South Africa.

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Carina Wicke Photographer // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Alaskan Malamute

- Size index: 59.9
- Typical max height: 26 inches
- Typical max weight: 85 pounds

These snow dogs, which look similar to a Siberian husky, are used to haul freight through the snow and drag sleds. Like huskies, these dogs have double coats and have been bred to survive in harsh conditions. They are friendly and rarely bark, but will sometimes howl. In 2010, they were named the state dog of Alaska.  

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Nordic-Gordon-Hunters // Wikipedia

#43. Gordon setter

- Size index: 60.3
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 80 pounds

This large gun dog was bred in Scotland to assist on bird hunts. The breed has long, slightly wavy hair that is black and tan, and is energetic and intelligent, if a bit immature at times. The Gordon setter is part of the setter family (along with the English and Irish setters), which appear in English writing dating at least as far back as the 17th-century English poet William Somerville.

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Ricantimages // Shutterstock

#42. English Setter

- Size index: 60.3
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 80 pounds

Another of the Setter family, the English setter is distinctive for its mainly white coat, speckled with bits of color (either black or brown). The dogs are intelligent, expertly aiding bird hunters by creeping up on the prey and then freezing, to alert the hunter to the location rather than chasing down the birds. The dogs need a good amount of exercise, but have become popular pets because they’re people-oriented and great with kids.  

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Mark Riordan // Wikimedia Commons

#41. Bluetick coonhound

- Size index: 60.3
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 80 pounds

The Bluetick coonhound is a Louisiana dog that is muscular and is named for the way the black flecks on its white fur gives it a blue-ish appearance. The dog is usually used to hunt raccoons, but also are kept as pets. They are quite vocal, which is difficult to train out, but are smart, sweet dogs when properly trained. Their southern roots mean they have made regular appearances in country songs (by Emmylou Harris, Charlie Daniels, and more).  

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everydoghasastory // Shutterstock

#40. Old English sheepdog

- Size index: 60.3
- Typical max height: 24 inches
- Typical max weight: 100 pounds

These big poofy herding dogs originated hundreds of years ago in the English countryside. The breed is a great family pet, because they are sociable, easy-going, and great with kids (who they’ve been known to try to gently herd), but are definitely lazy around the house. They’re favorites for the silver screen, appearing in “Serpico,” “Hook,” and many more films.

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Johami // Wikipedia

#39. Pointer

- Size index: 60.6
- Typical max height: 28 inches
- Typical max weight: 75 pounds

These strong, short-haired hunting dogs are usually white with marks of light brown or black, but can vary in color. For a long time, setters were considered the premier bird dogs, but by the 1950s, pointers had become the best bird hunting companions. A pointer won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show for the first time in 1925.

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Pexels

#38. German shepherd

- Size index: 61.1
- Typical max height: 26 inches
- Typical max weight: 90 pounds

The German shepherd is a large work dog initially bred in Germany to herd sheep. Eventually, because of its intelligence and strength, it became much more well known for its work as a guide dog and with police and military. 

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jude // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Chinook

- Size index: 61.1
- Typical max height: 26 inches
- Typical max weight: 90 pounds

The first Chinook was bred by a New Hampshire man in the early-20th century and is a mix of mastiffs, huskies, and some other large sheepdogs. The large friendly dogs with a brown coat and a black muzzle is sometimes used for dog-sledding, but mainly kept as a pet. The Chinook is New Hampshire’s official state dog.

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Max Pixel

#36. Rhodesian ridgeback

- Size index: 61.4
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 85 pounds

The Rhodesian ridgeback’s alternate name, the African lion hound, should give a good idea of this large dog’s strength and ferocity. Known for its distinctive ridged back, actually a result of its hair growing the opposite direction along its spine, this southern African dog is known for keeping lions at bay. It’s important to be an experienced dog owner when raising a Rhodesian ridgeback, as they can be strong-willed and fierce if not correctly socialized.

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Caroline Granycome // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Spinone Italiano

- Size index: 61.7
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 86 pounds

This wiry-coated, big-eared, bearded dog was initially bred for hunting and has remained incredibly intelligent and loyal. The Italian pointer moves a bit slower than other high-energy bird dogs. The breed nearly went extinct during World War II.

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Paul Kounine // Wikimedia Commons

#34. Giant schnauzer

- Size index: 62.2
- Typical max height: 27.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 85 pounds

The largest of the Schnauzer breeds, this German working dog, with its distinctive beard and (usually) cropped ears, is a great work dog and guard dog. Initially bred on farms, the giant schnauzer began to guard businesses in German cities and then became a military dog during the First and Second World Wars. The dogs are smart and loyal, but are wary of strangers.

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AngMoKio // BY-SA 3.0

#33. Greyhound

- Size index: 62.5
- Typical max height: 30 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

The most famous of racing dogs, the greyhound is a skinny, powerful, and, of course, exceptionally fast breed. The greyhound is known to max out at an incredible 43 mph, but is also distinctive for its ability to reach its top-speed so quickly, in under 100 feet. The breed is a mascot for many colleges, and is the namesake and logo for the Greyhound Bus Line.

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Pixabay

#32. Weimaraner

- Size index: 62.6
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 90 pounds

This German hunting dog was originally bred to accompany royals on boar, bear, and deer hunts in the 1800s. The breed is usually short-haired and gray or amber, and is hugely loyal (to the point that it struggles to be away from its owner). Be wary of leaving a weimaraner around a cat—they were bred to hunt smaller animals as well, and their prey drive could kick in.

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otsphoto // Shutterstock

#31. Curly coated retriever

- Size index: 63.8
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 95 pounds

This English retriever was bred to hunt waterfowl and is best known for its distinctive tight curls. So long as the retrievers get enough exercise, they can be excellent pets, as they will be loyal, friendly, and relaxed within the house. The breed is nicknamed "curlies."

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Dardeche // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Briard

- Size index: 64.9
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 100 pounds

This French sheepdog is a shaggy herding dog with a distinctive beard and bangs that cover their eyes. The large dogs come in either black or tawny, and were used as a war dog by the French during World War I, but have since become pets and service dogs. Briards have made appearances on the TV shows “Married...with Children,” “Get Smart,” and in the movie “Dennis the Menace”—and though George Lucas claims Chewbacca was based on his Alaskan Malamute, Han Solo’s friend is a dead ringer for a tawny Briard.

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YamaBSM // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Doberman pinscher

- Size index: 66.5
- Typical max height: 28 inches
- Typical max weight: 100 pounds

This large black and tan German dog is known by its distinctive cropped ears and docked tail. The breed is intelligent, alert, and strong, bred to be aggressive because of their history as police and war dogs. During World War II, Dobermans became the official dog of the Marine Corps, and served throughout the South Pacific.

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John Leslie // Flickr

#28. Bloodhound

- Size index: 67.3
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 110 pounds

One of the most recognizable and well-known breeds, the bloodhound has distinctive large ears, saggy skin, and bloodshot eyes. Because of an incredible sense of smell, bloodhounds are used to track human scents over long distances. Hundreds of years after the breed came to prominence, the Pennsylvania-based satirical rap-rock group the Bloodhound Gang defiled the noble name with its smash-hit “The Bad Touch.”

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everydoghasastory // Shutterstock

#27. Black and tan coonhound

- Size index: 67.3
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 110 pounds

This large American hound dog, with a black body and tan marking above the eyes, on the muzzle, and on the feet, is bred to hunt large prey, like bears, deer, and wolves, but is mainly used for raccoon hunting today. The dog has a fantastic sense of smell, and while it’s relaxed inside, its hunting instincts may take over if it catches a scent outdoors.

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Pleple2000 // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Borzoi

- Size index: 67.7
- Typical max height: 28 inches
- Typical max weight: 105 pounds

The word “borzói” was used in late-19th-century Russian to mean “swift.” This dog, also referred to as the Russian wolfhound, has the body of a greyhound, but with longer hair—like the greyhound, it’s incredibly fast. Borzois were bred to hunt wolves. The dog is the symbol for the publishing house Alfred A. Knopf.  

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Kumarrrr // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Cane Corso

- Size index: 68.1
- Typical max height: 27.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 110 pounds

This muscular dog, also known as the Italian mastiff, is most recognizable by its large, square head that looks like a mix of that of a pitbull and a boxer. The Cane Corso traces its roots back to the Roman Empire, and was bred on farms in Southern Italy to work with cattle and swine and to guard the property.

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Vera Zinkova // Shutterstock

#24. Bouvier Des Flandres

- Size index: 68.1
- Typical max height: 27.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 110 pounds

In French, the name for work dogs from Belgium translates to “the cow herders from Flanders.” The black rough-coated dogs with long bangs and a shaggy beard resemble another European farm dog, the Briard. This breed traces its roots to the monks at a monastery in Flanders. The Reagans owned a Bouvier Des Flandres named Lucky.  

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KekeK9 // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Beauceron

- Size index: 68.1
- Typical max height: 27.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 110 pounds

This French breed has a similar coloration to a Doberman: black with tan markings above the eyes, on the muzzle and below the knees. The dog was bred in northern France and was used to herd sheep and as a guard dog—they were known to take on wolves. The breed is a great family dog because it is loyal, gentle, and intelligent.  

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Two Otterhounds // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Otterhound

- Size index: 68.5
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 115 pounds

This English breed was bred to hunt otters, an activity now illegal in Britain. The otterhound is a large shaggy hound, with an acute sense of smell like other hound dogs. But its distinctive features are webbed feet and a rough double coat, both bred in to make the dog a great hunter in the water. It is considered the most endangered native British breed, with only 24 registered puppies born in 2017 in the U.K.

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AnetaAp // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Bernese mountain dog

- Size index: 68.8
- Typical max height: 28 inches
- Typical max weight: 110 pounds

Tracing their routes to the canton of Bern in Switzerland, these giant mountain dogs were bred to live on family farms in the region. The breed is beautiful, with a long-haired coat that is black with tan markings like a Doberman, but with a white shock of chest hair and a white line down the nose. They are exceptionally friendly and love to bound about, sticking close to people.

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Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Rottweiler

- Size index: 72.0
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 130 pounds

These German behemoths were bred as butcher’s assistants, herding cattle but also dragging carts filled with meat to the market. Rottweilers are intelligent and dependable dogs, but because of their history of use as police and military animals (and their sheer power), they are regularly regarded as violent creatures. They have a similar coloration to Dobermans.

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Rasevelger

#19. Kuvasz

- Size index: 73.1
- Typical max height: 30 inches
- Typical max weight: 115 pounds

This large white herding dog has deep routes in Hungary, appearing in ancient lore and serving as a guard dog for the old kings. The breed is extremely loyal, but is a difficult dog to train—and because of its massive size, training and socialization is of paramount importance. The breed was nearly extinct during World War II, with both Soviet and German troops actively hunting the dogs who were known to protect their owners. Since then, through active breeding, Kuvasz have been brought back in Hungary.

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Spalf // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Akita

- Size index: 73.5
- Typical max height: 28 inches
- Typical max weight: 130 pounds

The Akita traces its roots to the oldest of the Japanese dogs, the Matagi dog, who used to hunt large prey like bear and deer in ancient Japan. These large cold-weather dogs have thick coats and a floppy tail that sits upon their backs—they are difficult to train because they are both territorial and dominant, and have been described as “feline” in nature. Russian leader Vladimir Putin has an Akita named Yume.

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daveynin // Flickr

#17. Dogue De Bordeaux

- Size index: 74.3
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 140 pounds

Also known as a French Mastiff, the Dogue De Bordeaux is a giant brown dog from the France’s famous southwestern wine region. This breed’s most distinctive feature is its heavy square face that hangs loose off the sides of its giant mouth. Some males will have a head circumference of 27 to 30 inches, which is equal to the dog’s height.

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Corpusdigitalis // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Bullmastiff

- Size index: 74.3
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 140 pounds

This British behemoth was bred in the 1800s as an estate guard dog, specifically designed to ward off poachers and intruders. A mix of the English mastiff and the now-extinct (and famously aggressive) Old English Bulldog, the Bullmastiff—brown, with a black muzzle—is powerful, but incredibly sensitive. 

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Andrea Arden // Flickr

#15. Scottish deerhound

- Size index: 75.0
- Typical max height: 32 inches
- Typical max weight: 110 pounds

These tall, lanky hound dogs were bred as sighthounds, fast dogs that chased down prey, which is tracked by sight, rather than smell. The Scottish deerhound is similar to the greyhound, though heavier—its closest relative is the Irish wolfhound. They have a shaggy, rough coat, and are friendly despite their size.

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Wikimedia Commons

#14. Komondor

- Size index: 76.6
- Typical max height: 30 inches
- Typical max weight: 130 pounds

Also known as the Hungarian sheepdog, this breed has a corded coat that looks like long white dreadlocks. Bred to protect and herd sheep, Komondors are calm and friendly with owners, but are fierce guard dogs that like to patrol at night and attack intruders. The classic Beck album cover for “Odelay” features a Komondor jumping over a hurdle.

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Carlyleshl // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Black Russian terrier

- Size index: 76.6
- Typical max height: 30 inches
- Typical max weight: 130 pounds

Created in the Soviet Union during the 1940s or 1950s, the black Russian terrier closely resembles a giant schnauzer, though it’s much larger. The breed is intelligent and well behaved, with a drive to work—it was used as a military dog in the 1950s.

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Pixabay

#12. Greater Swiss mountain dog

- Size index: 76.6
- Typical max height: 28.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 140 pounds

The Greater Swiss mountain dog has a similar coloring to the Bernese mountain dog, but is short-haired compared to its shaggy relative. The Swiss giants were farm dogs and like to work, but are also happy to laze around the house. They are friendly with kids and are good family pets.

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Alicja // Flickr

#11. Newfoundland

- Size index: 78.2
- Typical max height: 28 inches
- Typical max weight: 150 pounds

These giant dogs from Canada were bred by the fisherman of Newfoundland (then a part of Britain) as companion animals. The 150-pound, long-haired dogs have webbed feet and a thick double coat, allowing them to be expert swimmers even in the frigid northern water. Newfoundlands are legendary for their water rescues—reportedly, a member of the breed saved Napoleon Bonaparte after he fell overboard in 1815.  

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HeartSpoon // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Great Pyrenees

- Size index: 79.7
- Typical max height: 32 inches
- Typical max weight: 130 pounds

These dogs with thick white coats were bred to protect livestock for European farmers. They are gentle with small animals, children, and their owners, but can be good guard dogs. The breed is a favorite in films, appearing in “Dumb and Dumber” and in many anime series.

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Franck Balzar // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Anatolian shepherd

- Size index: 79.7
- Typical max height: 29 inches
- Typical max weight: 150 pounds

These giant Turkish mountain dogs were bred to protect livestock for farmers in the countryside. The short-haired dogs are usually a cream color with a black muzzle, and are hugely self-sufficient, which makes them hard to train. They have appeared in a few films (“Road Trip” and “Shooter” to name two), and are used by conservations in an effort to protect cheetahs from poachers.

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Tim Dawson // Flickr

#8. Neapolitan mastiff

- Size index: 82.8
- Typical max height: 31 inches
- Typical max weight: 150 pounds

These Italian giants are fearsome guard dogs, extremely intelligent, and protective of its owners. The short-haired black dogs have saggy skin, and have a face like a pitbull with skin two sizes too big. Many believe the dog is a close descendant of the Molossus, an ancient European guard dog mentioned by both Virgil and Aristotle.  

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Kjunstorm

#7. Tibetan mastiff

- Size index: 83.6
- Typical max height: 30 inches
- Typical max weight: 160 pounds

This Tibetan behemoth was bred to protect the sheep of the nomadic tribes of Asia from large predators. The black and brown dogs are distinctive for their puff of hair around their shoulders that makes it look like their wearing a fur parka. Trained to guard livestock, the breed is mainly nocturnal, intelligent, and stubborn, and distrustful of strangers.

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Tanais Fox // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Leonberger

- Size index: 88.3
- Typical max height: 31.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 170 pounds

This German dog is a beauty, bred to resemble a lion (it’s been nicknamed “the gentle lion”). With a thick, lighter brown coat and a black muzzle, the giant dog, true to its genteel monicker, is a fantastic family pet. The dog was used on farms, and for water rescue by the Canadian government in the early 1900s. A Leonberger played the main character in a 1997 Canadian film version of Jack London’s classic novel “Call of the Wild.”

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vlaaitje//Pixabay

#5. Saint Bernard

- Size index: 88.3
- Typical max height: 30 inches
- Typical max weight: 180 pounds

These giant mountain dogs were bred by monks at Swiss monasteries to aid with daring alpine rescues—the dogs have become legendary for their rescue talents. Humongous, gentle, slobbery, and affectionate, the breed makes wonderful pets. An 1895 New York Times article reported an 8-foot, 6-inch Saint Bernard, which would be the longest dog ever recorded. The breed is a favorite among fiction writers and directors, and for kids of the 1980s, “Beethoven” is an especially important Saint Bernard.

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Max Pixel

#4. Boerboel

- Size index: 88.4
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 200 pounds

These dogs from South Africa have been bred as guard dogs for large farm properties, which means they must be prepared to encounter lions and other large African predators. While loyal and intelligent while well trained, this breed is ridiculously powerful—the ownership of Boerboels is banned in a handful of countries around the world

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Airwolfhound // Flickr

#3. Irish wolfhound

- Size index: 96.0
- Typical max height: 35 inches
- Typical max weight: 180 pounds

These tall, rough-coated giants have a build like a greyhound, but much heavier. They are lean, introverted, and highly devoted to their owners. Because of their history as hunters of wolves and ancient war dogs, they have been historically mythologized and feared—Julius Caesar wrote about encountering them during his Gallic Wars.  

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Public Domain Pictures

#2. Great Dane

- Size index: 99.1
- Typical max height: 34 inches
- Typical max weight: 200 pounds

These German giants were bred to work and to hunt boars. The short-haired dogs are exceptionally tall with floppy ears. One Great Dane, named Zeus, held the impressive distinction of world’s tallest dog, standing 44 inches from foot to withers before passing away in 2014. Because of their huge size and classic dog look, Great Danes are a favorite for cartoonists and directors.   

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Kachalkina Veronika // Shutterstock

#1. Mastiff

- Size index: 100.0
- Typical max height: 30 inches
- Typical max weight: 230 pounds

The mastiff, also known as the English mastiff, is big all around, with a broad head, a thick chest, and a massive body. The short-haired giants can either be light fawn or dark brittle, but always have a black muzzle. Mastiff-type dogs have been around since antiquity and have always been written of in mythological terms. And for good reason. In the 1989 Guinness Book of World Records, Zorba, an English mastiff, measured an incredible 8 feet, 3 inches from nose to tail and weighed a record-breaking 343 pounds.

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