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25 Large Dog Breeds That Make Great Pets

Updated: Apr. 17, 2024

These lovable and adorable large dog breeds tip the scales at 100 pounds or more. That's a whole lotta love!

Young girl with huge dog breed Newfoundland
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The largest dog breeds are big on love

You’re probably familiar with many of the largest dog breeds—they’re some of the most popular dogs in the world, after all. But while they may be ginormous and intimidating, they’re just big ole teddy bears when it comes to their humans. Many of these large dog breeds fall into the American Kennel Club’s working group, which means they could be guard dogs or protect and serve their human family in some way. Given that mindset, they tend to be loyal and lovey-dovey with their humans but often aloof with strangers. Sounds about perfect, but there are matters to mull over before getting one of the biggest dog breeds.

“They require a lot more food to eat [and therefore expense] than smaller dogs. They also require a larger yard or outdoor exercise to keep them healthy and fit,” says Jerold Bell, DVM, a veterinarian and professor at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Dog training is essential no matter the size of your pet, but when your dog weighs as much as an adult human, it can be challenging to maintain control, especially if you need to rein in your leashed pooch or coax it along if it decides to do things its own way.

We chatted with three veterinarians to get the skinny on some big and stately breeds that weigh in at 100 pounds or more. (Keep in mind that the lower weight range is for females, and the higher end is for males.) Ahead, discover the 25 largest dog breeds, plus key info to know before you make one of these pups your newest family member.

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About the experts

  • Jerold Bell, DVM, is a veterinarian and adjunct professor of clinical genetics at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton, Massachusetts. He is also the lead author of the Veterinary Medical Guide to Dog and Cat Breeds.
  • Sara Ochoa, DVM, earned her doctorate in veterinary medicine from St. George’s University and has nine years of professional experience. She works as a veterinarian at the Animal Hospital of West Monroe in West Monroe, Louisiana, and is a senior writer for HoundGames.
  • Lyndsey Larson, VMD, ABVP, is a veterinarian at the VCA Firehouse Animal Hospital in Denver. She has volunteered annually with International Veterinary Consultants and the Humane Society, traveling to El Salvador, Mexico and the Dominican Republic to create sustainable teaching spay-and-neuter clinics.

Reviewed for accuracy by: Caroline Coile, PhD, an award-winning journalist specializing in canine breeds, health and science. She’s the author of 34 books, including Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds.

Two large great dane dogs laying on sidewalk
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Biggest dog breed in the world: Great Dane

This statuesque pup is the biggest dog breed of the bunch. And by biggest, we mean the tallest. Great Danes are the high-rises of the canine world. A Great Dane named Zeus towered over 7 feet while standing on his hind legs when he was named the World’s Tallest Dog by Guinness World Records in 2012. That’s about as tall as a brown bear standing on its feet!

Unlike bears, Great Danes are hardly ferocious. They’re known for being patient and easygoing, and they’re one of the few dog breeds that don’t bark much. Sadly, they have a relatively short life span, averaging seven to 10 years or fewer. “It’s so unfair, but their massive size leads to health troubles and shorter life spans,” says Sara Ochoa, DVM, a veterinarian at the Animal Hospital of West Monroe in Louisiana. Pet parents should talk to their vet for guidance on how to prevent bloat, a very dangerous condition in which a dog’s stomach gets twisted and cuts off the blood supply, and cardiomyopathy, which can result in an enlarged heart.

Breed overview
Height: 28 to 32 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 110 to 175 pounds
Life expectancy: 7 to 10 years

large English Mastiff portrait
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Pound per pound, the mastiff is one of the biggest dog breeds you’ll ever encounter. Massive and mellow with a huge helping of affection and loyalty, mastiffs are capable guard dogs that are fiercely protective of their human family, announcing “intruders” with a thunderous bark. But pet parents know they’re big softies—just look at that adorably broad face and those soulful eyes! “Mastiffs tend to be calm dogs, but as with all dogs bred to be guardians and protectors, their behavior needs to be properly trained so that their vigilance does not turn into aggression or fearfulness,” says Dr. Bell. 

Breed overview
Height: 27.5 to 30 inches (or more) at the shoulder
Weight: 120 to 230 pounds
Life expectancy: 6 to 10 years

large St. Bernard dog in a field
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Saint Bernard

Almost everyone can identify the Saint Bernard, one of the most loyal and loving large dog breeds. Our familiarity is likely due to the popular folkloric image of this mountain dog wearing a brandy cask around its neck to rescue stranded travelers on a snowy Swiss mountainside. (These hardworking dogs didn’t carry booze, though they did accompany monks on mountain rescues, helping save an estimated 2,000 people in 300 years of rescue work.) Before you bring home one of these playful pups, know that Saint Bernards grow big quickly. In fact, according to the American Film Institute, over 100 Saint Bernard puppies portrayed the four little pups that starred in the 1993 film Beethoven’s 2nd—the puppies grew too fast for the film schedule!

Breed overview
Height: 26 to 30 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 120 to 180 pounds
Life expectancy: 8 to 10 years

South African Boerboel on the grass
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Known as the “farmer’s dog,” this broad and blocky breed has roots stretching back to the 1600s. At the time, the boerboel’s intimidating size was ideal for protecting farmland and family. Yet these aren’t hyper dogs running back and forth at the slightest provocation; rather, they are a remarkably calm dog breed. Boerboels are territorial and protective of their family, love being close to their humans and even have a soft spot for children. But they generally don’t have much patience for dogs that challenge them, so dog parks might not be a good place to take your boerboel.

Breed overview
Height: 22 to 27 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 150 to 200 pounds
Life expectancy: 9 to 11 years

large newfoundland dog standing outside
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You can’t talk about giant dog breeds without mentioning this gentle beast. Affectionately dubbed the “Newfie,” the Newfoundland is also known as a child’s beloved nanny. Underneath the voluminous hair that gives the breed its leonine look is a big-boned canine that is gentle and sweet-tempered yet highly protective of its family. These dogs take the prize for being the best babysitters, as they are exceptionally patient and fond of children. And since they’re top-notch swimmers, you’ll always have someone to take a dip with. Their built-in swimsuit consists of a water-resistant top coat with a softer, dense coat and webbed feet to help them paddle.

Breed overview
Height: 26 to 28 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 100 to 150 pounds
Life expectancy: 9 to 10 years

large Leonberger Dog Sitting In Forest, Giant Breed
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Massive and majestic, the Leonberger was bred as a companion for European royalty. These dogs commanded attention because of their immense size … and probably because they’re one of the few dogs that look like a lion. It’s no wonder they held court alongside Napoleon III, Tsar Alexander II and King Edward VII. These days, the Leonberger is more likely to take a dip in the lake than hold court. Its waterproof coat and nimbleness make it a skillful swimmer, but that luxurious fur needs daily brushing, and its nails need clipping every other week. 

Breed overview
Height: 25.5 to 31.5 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 90 to 170 pounds
Life expectancy: 7 years

Anatolian shepherd dog sitting in grass
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Anatolian shepherd

If the Anatolian shepherd had a LinkedIn profile, the skills would state “highly observant livestock defender,” “attentive family protector” and “watchful family pet bodyguard.” Yes, it’ll even defend a cat. In fact, these dogs are well known for protecting all kinds of species, which is why the Endangered Species Act of 1973 put Anatolian shepherds to work protecting ranch animals from wolves. They intimidated their wild cousins instead of killing them, thus preserving the endangered wolf population while keeping the animals on the ranch safe. One of the biggest dog breeds you’ll have the pleasure of meeting, Anatolian shepherds are still used as ranch dogs today. 

Breed overview
Height: 27 to 29 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 80 to 150 pounds
Life expectancy: 11 to 13 years

two Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs running outside
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Greater Swiss mountain dog

If this cuddle monster of the large dog breeds group looks familiar, that’s because it’s behind two well-known breeds: Saint Bernard and Rottweiler. The “Swissie” is an alert, faithful and big-hearted sweetheart. Some may even say these gentle giants are “velcro dogs” because they love to be close by, keep a watchful eye on their humans and rarely go off on their own, even when off leash. Their clingy nature may stem from the days they worked side by side with their owners, pulling carts of meat and dairy to the market in their native country, Switzerland. Today, they are more likely to use their well-built muscles for pulling kids on carts or sleds through the snow.

Breed overview
Height: 23.7 to 28.5 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 85 to 140 pounds
Life expectancy: 8 to 11 years

large Irish Wolfhound On Field
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Irish wolfhound

If giant dog breeds had an award for the fastest-growing puppy, the wire-haired Irish wolfhound would be a strong contender. The leggy breed’s growth is astounding; pups pack on nearly a pound a day until they are around 6 months old.

Hunting for your new BFF among the biggest dog breeds? You couldn’t ask for a better temperament than this pooch’s. “Irish wolfhounds are total sweethearts. They’re very calm, gentle and affectionate,” says Dr. Ochoa. As with just about any hound, hunting and chasing prey runs in this breed’s blood, so your Irish wolfhound will need daily exercise. Other than that, these pups would love a peaceful, comfortable environment with people who can be devoted to them.

Breed overview
Height: 30 to 32 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 105 to 120 pounds
Life expectancy: 6 to 8 years

American Akita in the park
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If you’re looking for large dog breeds that carry a greater meaning, the Akita may be for you. This Japanese breed symbolizes health, happiness and long life in its native country. Japan reveres the Akita so much that the country dedicated a national monument to it, and new parents there often receive a statute of an Akita.

This smiling pup is a spitz-type breed. “Spitz dogs, like Akitas, [have] thick double coats, perky ears and curly tails. They were originally bred for hunting and pulling sleds in cold climates, so they’re super sturdy and have great endurance,” says Dr. Ochoa. On the fence about adopting an Akita? You should know that they like to be clean and are virtually odorless, which is great if you plan to share your sofa with one of the biggest dog breeds.

Breed overview
Height: 24 to 28 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 70 to 130 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 13 years

large bullmastiff dog sitting on trail outside
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Bull mastiff

If you guessed that the bull mastiff is a cross between the mastiff and bulldog, you’re right on the money. These flat-faced dog breeds are related. Historically, bull mastiffs are 60% mastiff and 40% bulldog, but Dr. Bell says we shouldn’t get hung up on the numbers. “The exact percentages over generations of breed formation cannot be determined,” he says. “Overall, there was more mastiff influence than bulldog.”

This big dog breed boasts a robust and powerful physique. Intimidating size aside, the bull mastiff is a lover, not a fighter. Its gentle and affectionate nature is never-ending, much like its penchant for drooling. But you’ll happily overlook the slobber, seeing it as a tradeoff for the stellar protection service the bull mastiff provides for the family. 

Breed overview
Height: 24 to 27 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 100 to 130 pounds
Life expectancy: 7 to 9 years

Dogues de Bordeaux dog standing outside
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Dogue de Bordeaux

You can call the dogue de Bordeaux by its moniker, mastiff of Bordeaux, but you won’t downplay its Frenchness much. Like the vineyards of Bordeaux, this dog has a long history in France. In fact, it wasn’t until fairly recently that the pup became popular on an international scale. That was thanks to the 1989 Tom Hanks movie Turner and Hooch. Hooch lived up to the traits of the breed: slobbering drool, stubborn and sensitive, and still undeniably lovable.

Interestingly, though this isn’t the biggest dog breed in the world, its head, proportionately speaking, ranks as one of the largest. The same goes for most of the mastiff breeds, including the Neapolitan mastiff, Dr. Bell says.

Breed overview
Height: 23 to 27 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 99 to 100 pounds
Life expectancy: 5 to 8 years

Otterhound lying down in shade
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When you think of the biggest dog breeds, stocky and robust physiques often come to mind, but that’s not always the case. The otterhound is large and leggy with an animated and rambunctious personality. Widely known for its superior swimming skills, its webbed feet and its waterproof coat, this breed can power through a day in the water. Yet you would be hard-pressed to spot an otterhound at the beach these days. They are one of the most endangered and rare dog breeds. According to Dr. Bell, the breed significantly diminished once otter hunting was banned. “In addition, the breed’s size and high-maintenance coat do not make it an easy breed to own,” he says. “All of this has contributed to its current small breed population.” 

Breed overview
Height: 24 to 27 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 80 to 115 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 13 years

Bloodhound dog on the Grass
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Bloodhounds are low-key, mild-mannered and lackadaisical pups—that is, until an intriguing sight or scent piques their interest. Then all bets are off, and the stubborn, tenacious traits appear in a baying, howling and barking medley of the bloodhound’s greatest hits. Like other long-nosed dog breeds, this supersized pup is driven by scent. Bloodhounds are a bit slower to mature than other breeds, which may present a challenge, as they tend to be boisterous and clumsy once they get a whiff of something irresistible. But if you commit to training, this floppy-eared, saggy-faced, totally wrinkled dog will become your best friend.

Breed overview
Height: 23 to 27 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 80 to 110 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Kuvasz lying in the sun
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The kuvasz shares a striking resemblance to the Great Pyrenees—it’s tough to tell the difference between these nearly identical large dog breeds. Side by side, though, it’s clear the Kuvasz is more refined and elegant, with a narrower head, smaller bones and more form-fitting fur. It may be hard to fathom, but this large and fluffy white dog breed is quick on the go, nimble and agile. That’s probably due to genes passed down from ancestors that guarded sheep.

Ready to bring this loyal dog home? It’s vital to socialize and train kuvaszok early on so they will be gentle with small children and other pets while they are doing their “job” of guarding and protecting them. 

Breed overview
Height: 26 to 30 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 70 to 115 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Puli in profile.
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Heads will turn when you walk down the street with a komondor—it’s one of those adorable dogs that look like mopsIt has its thick, white, corded hair (which protected it from the weather and predators back when it guarded sheep) to thank for its characteristic mop-like appearance. Dr. Ochoa says komondor puppies have a fluffy coat that begins to mat and cord when they’re between 8 and 12 months old. But those gorgeous locks don’t happen without regular maintenance. “To get those unique thick, rope-like cords, you have to brush and separate and twist sections of their long, curly fur so they don’t get tangled and matted,” she says. Another reason to bring home a komondor: Their loyalty lies with their humans, to whom they are fiercely devoted.

Breed overview
Height: 25.5 to 27.5 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 80 to 100 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Eric Metz/Getty Images


Meet a Beauceron at the dog park, and you might think it’s a mixed-breed dog. Could it be a cross between a Doberman and a Rottweiler? Good guesses, but the Beauceron is actually a purebred French shepherd dog named for an agricultural region southwest of Paris. Beaucerons are exceptionally quick learners, and as natural safeguarders, they excel as police dogs, rescue dogs and companion dogs that offer personal protection. “The Beauceron is certainly a likable breed but has the same behavioral and exercise issues to address as with any herding breed,” says Dr. Bell. In a nutshell, they need training and socialization while they’re puppies and daily exercise and mental stimulation throughout their lives.

Breed overview
Height: 24 to 27.5 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 70 to 110 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

bernese mountain dog sitting in the woods
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Bernese mountain dog

“Berners” are native to Switzerland and were used by farmers who couldn’t afford horses to pull carts of produce and cheese to market. Though they have plenty of brains and brawn, they take their time to reach mental and physical maturity, so be patient as you train yours. And speaking of training, these pups are super sweet but tenderhearted and don’t respond well to harsh training. Positive reinforcement is the way to go. 

Berners are great family dogs and aware of a child’s small size, remaining gentle with kiddos. But before you bring one home, consider whether your environment is ideal for this giant breed. Given their size and luscious coat, Berners prefer winters over hot summers, and apart from keeping them toasty warm, that thick double coat sheds … a lot. Expect to do a good deal of grooming and cleaning.

Breed overview
Height: 23 to 27.5 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 70 to 115 pounds
Life expectancy: 7 to 10 years

Russian Black Terrier dog standing on grass outside
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Black Russian terrier

Can one of the biggest dog breeds really be from the smaller terrier family? Yes! The black Russian terrier was developed by crossing dogs from 17 different breeds, and two subtypes emerged: “the first, a terrier type; and the second, a more massive ‘bear’ dog with coarse build and strong influence from giant schnauzers and Rottweilers,” says Dr. Bell. The latter became the breed standard. While it does have some terrier genes, mainly from the Airedale terrier, those are a small portion of the breed’s makeup.

“Blackies,” as they are affectionately known in Russia, were initially bred to patrol Russia’s borders and hold down political prisoners. Courageous, calm and confident, this black dog breed is hard-wired to guard you. Black Russian terriers are 100% committed to their human family, so if you bring one home, it’ll serve as your shadow all day, every day.

Breed overview
Height: 26 to 30 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 80 to 130 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

close up of Briard dog outside
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There’s nothing bashful about the briard. This breed loves hard and plays hard. Its seemingly endless energy makes it fearless and confident—the ideal outdoor adventure partner. “Briards need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation daily,” says Dr. Ochoa. “They love activities like hiking, running and playing fetch. Keeping them active keeps them happy.”

As a loving companion, the briard is gentle, faithful and easily trained. These pups preserve much of their ancestral aptitude for guarding their home and family, so they might be slow to warm up to other dogs and people. But if properly socialized, they can follow your lead and open their hearts to new friends. 

Breed overview
Height: 22 to 27 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 55 to 100 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Rottweiler sitting outside with tongue out
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If you haven’t been around Rottweilers much, you might assume this muscle-bound German dog breed is vicious. In reality, Rottweilers are immensely affectionate and gentle playmates with their human family. Because of that, they might seem standoffish or unfriendly when you meet them, but they are just cautious. If left to entertain themselves, these large dogs can create big messes, chewing your furniture or digging holes in the yard. Rotties need early, extensive, continuous socialization and training to be good family members. 

Breed overview
Height: 22 to 27 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 80 to 135 pounds
Life expectancy: 9 to 10 years

estrela mountain dog close up portrait
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Estrela mountain dog

With its imposing size, mounds of fur and big face, the Estrela mountain dog easily earns its place on the list of dogs that look like bears. Hailing from the Estrela Mountains in Portugal, it is one of the oldest breeds of the region, known for its superior skills as a livestock guardian. Its strong protective instincts remain today, but now the Estrela’s “job” is to protect its human family.

Don’t let the Estrela fool you into thinking it’s all business, though. These dogs are exceptionally gentle and patient with young children. Their love runs deep, and luckily, you could be sharing your life with a long-living Estrela for many wonderful years.

Breed overview
Height: 24.5 to 29 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 77 to 132 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 14 years

tosa dog standing outside in a field
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Meet the Tosa, one of the biggest dog breeds from Japan. These animals were formerly bred for fighting, but thankfully, those days are gone. Now, the Tosa basks in the family life. It’s far from a lazy dog breed, though. It takes its role as the stately and vigilant guardian of the family seriously. A properly trained and socialized Tosa is calm and affectionate with its family but naturally suspicious and aloof with strangers.

Remember, the breed was created for dogfighting, so your Tosa might not take too kindly to other animals or humans visiting your home. “They will show increased predator/prey behavior with cats and other small pets and may readily chase small children running around with possibly disastrous consequences due to their strength and large size,” says Dr. Bell. In other words, Tosas prefer to be your one and only pet, and it pays to properly train them, especially if you have young kids.

Breed overview
Height: 12.5 to 23.5 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 100 to 200 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Two Tibetan Mastiffs sitting outside in the woods
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Tibetan mastiff

Are you inviting a lion or a dog to share your home? It’s hard to tell with the Tibetan mastiff’s formidable size and mane of thick, dense fur. As a member of the working group, it veers on the side of being a large-and-in-charge guardian and independent thinker. It has a strong sense of self and confidently assumes it is an equal, not a pet. Yet the Tibetan mastiff is also mellow and very affectionate with its human family, dependent on their companionship to be happy and to avoid mischief. If these dogs are apart from you and alone for too long, they’ll find ways to entertain themselves that aren’t constructive. (Read: Huge dog, huge mess.)

Breed overview
Height: 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 70 to 150 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Portrait of saint bernard sitting on field against sky
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Things to know before adopting a large dog breed

You’ve probably already thought about whether you have enough space for a huge dog, but there are a few more details to consider before adopting one of these large dog breeds. For starters, giant dogs wolf down a lot of food. “A dog who weighs 100 pounds eats almost five cups a day of commercial dog kibble; then add about one-third cup more for every 10 pounds over 100 pounds,” says Lyndsey Larson, VMD, ABVP, a veterinarian at VCA Firehouse Animal Hospital in Denver.

Because of their size, the biggest dog breeds also require more medicine, including flea and tick preventatives. And big dogs make bigger messes with their fur, slobber and paws. All in all, you may need a bigger car, bigger poop bags or scoops, bigger crates, bigger dog beds and bigger muscles to deal with your extra-large pet. These are just a few weighty factors to consider when thinking about how much it will cost to own a dog of this size.

The largest dog breeds’ puppy stage

Smaller dogs generally reach their full size at around 12 months. The largest dog breeds take their time reaching their adult weight, hitting maturity between 18 and 24 months old.

Behavior and training challenges are magnified when you have a huge dog, so training during the impressionable puppy stage is essential. “A good rule of thumb is to get a large-breed pet into a training program and support those good habits at home between the ages of 16 weeks and one year,” says Dr. Larson.

The largest dog breeds’ life span

Although the reasons aren’t entirely clear, most giant dog breeds have shorter life spans. They age more quickly, thus developing age-related diseases, such as osteoarthritis, earlier. This can make it difficult for them to get around or climb stairs. You may eventually need a ramp or a special lifting harness to help them up and down stairs or into a car. And with big dogs, knowing how to pick up a dog safely without hurting them or yourself is vital.

Why trust us

At Reader’s Digest, we’re committed to producing high-quality content by writers with expertise and experience in their field in consultation with relevant, qualified experts. For this piece on large dog breeds, Lisa Marie Conklin tapped her experience as a reporter who has covered dogs and pets for seven years, and then Caroline Coile, PhD, an award-winning journalist specializing in canine breeds, health and science, gave it a rigorous review to ensure that all information is accurate and offers the best possible advice to readers. For this piece, we relied on reputable primary sources and experts, including practicing veterinarians. We verified all facts and data and backed them with credible sourcing, and we will revisit them over time to ensure they remain accurate and up to date. Read more about our team, our contributors and our editorial policies.