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Discover These Top 10 Large Dog Breeds

Saint Bernard large dog

While to some they may seem intimidating, many large dogs are gentle and very mild tempered, but because of their impressive size they are often misunderstood by those that haven't had a chance to get to know them.  In fact, the world of big dog breeds is littered with misconceptions by the general public! This post is here to break a few of those misconceptions down and hopefully bridge the gap between these exceptionally large, very commonly gentle creatures, and you - potential large-fur-baby parents! (If you already have one of these beautiful dogs, there may be some things below that even you may find surprising 😉)

Many large dog breeds are misjudged by their exceptionally brawny appearance and unfortunately, because of this, rumors about why people shouldn't get large dog breeds have spread like wildfire in the past. When asking around about big dog breeds, you may have come across the occasional, "Aren't they really mean?" or "That's a lot of dog fur to take care of!" or even, "Don't they get sick really easily?"

Never fear, we're covering all of those concerns in this list, from temperament, to big dog illnesses, to large dog breeds that don't shed! Well, don't shed as much.

Read on to discover the wonders of large dogs and learn about some famous ones.

Is your dog on the list?

1. Peruvian Inca Orchid

  • Size - 9-55 lbs
  • Temperament - Intelligent, Affectionate, Anxious
  • Coat colors - black, brown, gray, pink, tan and white
  • Lifespan - 11-12 years
  • Origin - Peru

Are you seeking out a large dog that doesn't shed at all? Look no further, because not only does a Peruvian Inca Orchid not shed, but this breed doesn't have any fur whatsoever! Also known as "naked dog" the Peruvian Inca Orchid hails from Peru and it is said that many Peruvian's use the pups as their personal heating pads at night because the bald skin of the breed radiates so much heat!

These dogs are so intelligent that games that revolve around repetition bore them easily and because of this, they can be seen as highly active. The Peruvian Inca Orchids need to be well socialized and should primarily be kept in the house rather than left outdoors. They don't like to be alone as they are lively and always alert. They are highly intelligent and can be a challenge to train. Still, they are known for being friendly with other dogs!

The Peruvian Inca Orchid is generally a healthy breed but things like eye disorders, ear infections and hearing loss, should be monitored. As this dog is practically hairless they don't do well with extreme weather, but it is noted that if dressed warmly, they'll play in the snow!

Did you know that Peruvian Inca Orchids are an ancient breed of dogs? They are depicted on pre-Incan art and can be seen on Moche ceramics from as far back as 750 A.D.

2. Great Dane

  • Size - 110-180 lbs
  • Temperament - Physically Affectionate, Gentle, Low-prey drive
  • Coat Colors -Black, Blue, Fawn, Brindle, Harlequin, Mantle, and Merle 
  • Lifespan - 6-8 years
  • Origin - Germany

If you grew up watching the irresistibly lovable, dopey, mystery-solving Scooby-Doo, a Great Dane might be for you. While almost all dogs shed, especially large ones, Great Dane's coats are much easier to maintain than many others. These large dogs have coats that are what's known as single-coated and because of this, they don't have an under-fur popping through around certain times of year, coating your home and clothes with globs of your furry family. Instead, Great Danes have a short and smooth single-coat. This makes their fur much easier to maintain than some other large dog breeds.

These incredible creatures are actually known as gentle giants because despite their wildly large stature, they are incredibly loyal and physically affectionate. They are even known to be good with other dogs, pets, and children because of their low prey-drive. Still, even these sweet creatures can react out of fear if they're not given the proper training or they're not accustomed to new environments or people. Things like this can be remedied though, with a lot of love, patience and someone to train them!

Unfortunately, Great Danes are prone to quite a few health problems including: joint and bone issues such as arthritis and hip dysplasia;  cardiomyopathy - a disease of the heart muscle that leads to enlargement of the heart, bloat and thyroid issues. Sharing your life with a Great Dane can be a joy, but make sure to watch for signs and symptoms of any of these health concerns as the earlier they can be detected, or even prevented, the better.

Did you know that Great Danes are the current world record holder for tallest dog? Measured from their paws to their shoulders, the tallest living dog is a Great Dane named Freddy who stands at 40.7 inches (3.39 feet) tall! This is actually shorter than his predecessor, a Great Dane named Zeus, who stood at 44.0 inches tall!

3. Airedale Terrier

  • Size - 35-50 lbs
  • Temperament - Intelligent, Independent and Loyal
  • Coat Colors - Black saddle with tan ears, legs, and head; dark grizzle saddle (black mixed with gray and white)
  • Lifespan - 11 years
  • Origin - United Kingdom

Next up on the list of large dogs that don't shed is the Ariedale Terrier. Think of this dog as the cooler, big brother to the long haired Jack Russell Terrier, the Ariedale Terrier has all the cuteness of a fluffy dog with extremely minimal grooming. They are the larges of all the Terrier breeds, standing anywhere from 22-24 inches tall and weighing from 35-50 lbs!

Airedales are often known for being working dogs, herding cattle and livestock or hunting because they have a tendency to chase prey. They are very loyal to their owner's despite their independent nature and stoic tendencies. These dogs are incredibly intelligent and even stubborn at times! They tend to be weary of strangers and need lots of socialization, but they can also be very playful and interact well with children and other dogs.

They can live up to roughly 11 years and commonly suffer from gastric dilatation volvulus, also known as bloat. Bloat is very common in large dogs and happens when larger breeds exercise too quickly after eating. This can lead to their stomach twisting and blocking their esophagus which leads to further complications like build-up of gas and even death. Luckily, bloat is relatively easy to treat! All it takes is making sure these large babies don't exercise too soon after eating and it's recommended to wait 40 or so minutes.

An Airedale’s ears should also be checked regularly to remove dirt and avoid a buildup of wax which can cause ear infections in dogs.

Did you know that the first Airedale to come to America arrived in 1881? His name was Bruce and he later went on to win the terrier class in a New York City dog show!

4. St. Bernard

  • Size - 120 - 180 lbs
  • Temperament - Gentle, Affectionate, Patient 
  • Coat Colors - Red & White, Reddish-brown Brindle, Brownish-yellow, Reddish-brown Splash, Reddish-brown Mantle
  • Lifespan - 8 - 10  years
  • Origin - Monks in the Alps of Italy and Switzerland developed these powerful dogs that could locate and rescue travelers buried by drifts and avalanches 

St. Bernards are not only incredibly friendly, but the breed is famous for giving us some of our pop culture icons we know and love today! Have you ever heard of Beethoven from the classic 1990's comedy films? Buck from Jack London's classic, Call of The Wild? Nana from Peter Pan? Cujo?

Unfortunately, St. Bernards cannot be found on a list of large dog breeds that don't shed. In fact, it's quite the opposite! These hefty hounds tend to shed a lot due to the sheer size of their bodies, but they are known to molt around spring and fall like many other breeds do. Still, their dedication and love for their owners is well worth the time cleaning up all their fur!

Because they are such big dogs they can take longer to mature than other breeds and they generally do not reach their full size until they are 2 or 3 years old. When they do mature, St. Bernards can get as big 180 lbs and 35 inches tall, which is huge for a dog. Because of their incredible size they're sadly predisposed to bone deterioration and hip dysplasia. Other health issues that sometimes affect the breed include bloat and eye disease.

Did you know St. Bernards are so known for their kindness that there's even a legend about it? The legend revolves around a St. Bernard named Barry who found a small boy in the snow. He got the boy to climb on his back just so he could bring him back to safety!

5. Golden Retriever

  • Size - 55 - 75 lbs
  • Temperament - Intelligent, Kind, Trusting and Gentle
  • Coat Colors - Dark Golden, Cream, Light Golden, Golden
  • Lifespan - 10 - 12  years
  • Origin - Scotland

Golden Retrievers are not only known for their beautiful, golden fur.  Although not as big as some of the other gentle giants, Golden Retrievers are still have a very big heart. These large dogs are incredibly intelligent and are often used as a popular breed for assisting those who are differently-abled, hunting, detective work, and search and rescue.

Unfortunately, Golden Retrievers are a breed that is not necessarily among the healthiest large dog breeds. Common health concerns amongst the breed are cancer, hip dysplasia, heart disease, joint disease, obesity, glaucoma, and allergies! Luckily, many health concerns for Golden Retrievers can be prevented or proactively fought.

For example, Goldens are known to love eating! Limiting their food in-take along with a regularly maintained exercise regimen are just a few ways to prevent obesity. The Goldens ears should also be checked weekly for signs of infection and their teeth kept clean on a regular basis.

Did you know that Golden Retrievers are no strangers to the White House? President Gerald R. Ford had a Golden Retriever whose name was Liberty. President Ronald Regan had a Golden whose name was Victory, and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren has a Golden who's name is Bailey!

6. Alaskan Malamute

  • Size - 75 - 125 lbs
  • Temperament - High prey drive, Quiet, Amicable
  • Coat Colors - Sable & White, Seal & White, Black & White, White & Chocolate, Gray & White, Red & White
  • Lifespan - 10 - 16  years
  • Origin - these dogs are believed to be a descendants of wolf-dogs who together with Paleolithic hunters crossed the Bering Strait and migrated into North America roughly 4,000 years ago.

If you think you're unfamiliar with Alaskan Malamutes, you may have actually seen one in real life! These pups are commonly mistaken for being Siberian Huskies because of their similar appearances; and they certainly fit into the category of biggest fluffy dogs.

A tell-tale sign that the breed you're looking at is an Alaskan Malamute, rather than a Siberian Husky, is their big fluffy curly tail.

Like Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes are very intelligent and require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to avoid becoming bored. They also get very attached to the humans in their family and can get separation anxiety if left alone too long. 

Alaskan Malamutes can live from 10 to 16 years old and are one of the northern breeds that commonly live with a hormone disorder called hypothyroidism in dogs. The thyroid is a gland in a dog's trachea that controls their metabolism. When a dog lives with hypothyroidism, their metabolism is slowed down because the thyroid is underactive. This can lead to symptoms such as weight gain and lethargy. Hypothyroidism in dogs is treatable, but not curable. 

As with all breeds, an Alaskan Malamute’s ears should be checked regularly to remove dirt and avoid wax buildup.

Did you know that after World War II, Alaskan Malamutes were nearly extinct? After combining certain breeds, Robert J. Zoller created what is now called a Husky-Pak line that all modern Alaskan Malamutes are descended from!

7. Irish Wolfhound

  • Size - 105 - 155 lbs
  • Temperament - Patient, Affectionate, and  Loyal
  • Coat Colors - Black, White, Brindle, Fawn, Grey, Red
  • Lifespan - 6 - 10  years
  • Origin - Ireland

Irish Wolfhounds are known for being an individualistic breed. Not necessarily in the sense of them needing their own space, but in the way that their personalities can greatly differ from one dog of the breed to another.

The Irish Wolfhound is, on average, the tallest dog breed in the world, although several other breeds can outweigh them. Because of this they need lots of room to move around but if you leave them outside make sure that you have a tall enough fence that they won't jump over to catch a passing squirrel. Despite the fact that they can run very fast, most of the time they move fairly slowly. When training these dogs, one requires a lot of patience; although they will eventually listen to you, their decision to follow your direction is at their own pace. In general, Irish Wolfhounds are extremely loving to both adults and children. 

Sadly, many of the biggest fluffy dog breeds have shorter lifespans and Irish Wolfhounds are on that list. With their average life span median ranging from 6.47 to 7 years, this breed shares many health problems that are common among large dog breeds. Irish Wolfhounds are a breed that is described to have a deep chest, which is yet another contributing factor to a large dog experiencing what is known as bloat, or gastric torsion. These big dogs also commonly have enlarged hearts and bone cancer.

Did you know that the Irish Wolfhound is a category of dog breed called sighthounds. Sighthounds are also called gazehounds, and these dogs are bred for their sight and speed rather than their scent and endurance! Sighthounds are known for their deep chests, long legs, and narrow snouts.

8. Old English Sheepdogs

  • Size - 65 - 100 lbs
  • Temperament - Sociable, Bubbly, Intelligent, Loving and Playful
  • Coat Colors - Blue Merle, Blue, Grey, Grizzle
  • Lifespan - 10 - 11  years
  • Origin - as you might expect, these dogs hail from England

Old English Sheepdogs are known for being the biggest fluffy dog. If you've never seen an Old English Sheepdog before, think of Prince Eric's precious pooch in The Little Mermaid! Among the most famous dogs of this breed was Paul McCartney’s Martha, who inspired the Beatles song “Martha My Dear.”

These big, fluffy, dogs are known for their bubbly personality and despite the fact that they are large dogs, they can just as easily live in an apartment as a big house as long as they get enough exercise and play sessions. Their shaggy coat also doesn't tend to shed as much as you might think. If you’re looking for a loyal, protective, and loving family companion, the Old English Sheepdog definitely fits the bill!

One thing to note is that although they may not have an incredibly long lifespan, these dogs tend to live with ailments that can be somewhat preventable like heatstroke, skin problems, and allergies. There are investigations into how many dogs in this breed are currently affected by other large dog health issues, like cataracts, hypothyroidism, and cancer.

Did you know that Old English Sheepdogs are a breed that is known for undergoing a procedure known as docking? Docking is when a portion of a dog's tail is removed and this procedure has been argued over for years on whether this is for cosmetic purposes or health purposes. Many Old English Sheepdogs you see may appear as if they have no tail at all. In most places around the world, docking is no longer legal and because of this, there has been a rise in undocked Old English Sheepdog popularity!

9. Bloodhound

  • Size - 88 - 120 lbs
  • Temperament - Gentle, Willful, Even-tempered
  • Coat Colors - Liver & Tan, Black & Tan, Red
  • Lifespan - 7 - 12  years
  • Origin - This is a vey ancient breed that is thought to have come from Constantinople

Unlike the Irish Wolfhound and other sighthounds, the Bloodhound is on the other end of the hunting spectrum. Bloodhounds are what is known as a scent hound. They are known for their almost obsessive nature in terms of tracking scents, particularly human scents, over many days or even great distances. They are so known for their scent-finding talents that they are often employed by the likes of police and law enforcement to locate escaped prisoners, and missing people. They even find other pets!

Fun fact is that the “blood” in their name refers to breeders working hard to preserve the lineage, and not because they search by smelling blood. 

Due to their size many large dog breeds have similar health issues. Just as some of the others we have mentioned to this point, Bloodhounds are extremely susceptible to gastrointestinal problems like bloat, which is most commonly their cause of death. They also tend to suffer from ear and eye ailments and it's recommended that their caregivers give these areas special attention and care.

Did you know that an event called the Bloodhound Working Trials is held four times a year? Started in 1898, the Bloodhound Working Trials is an event dedicated to testing and gauging Bloodhounds scent finding skills! The trials involve one person to follow a course on a map while a bloodhound and its handler do their best to track the scent. The Bloodhound Working Trials are held in Britain and follow Kennel Club rules.

10. Newfoundlands

  • Size - 120 - 175 lbs
  • Temperament - Calm, Obedient, Sweet and Loyal
  • Coat Colors - Black, Black & White, Grey, Brown
  • Lifespan - 8 - 10  years
  • Origin - Island of Newfoundland in Canada

The last breed on the list are Newfoundlands! These large dogs could easily be mistaken for bears with their long, dark fur and commanding stature but unlike a bear, these dogs are known for their calm and obedient nature. Much like their St. Bernard brothers and sisters, Newfoundlands tend to shed a lot because of their sheer size.

These giant pups are known for their courage and have a long history of tales from being taken on adventures to saving the lives of their human counterparts. Newfoundlands are born swimmers; they have partially webbed feet and are strong enough to save a grown man from drowning.  What the Saint Bernard is to the Alps, the Newfoundland is to the icy waters of the North Atlantic and many a time hauled both fishing nets and lost fishermen back to shore.

Truly a gentle giant, the Newfoundland is a working dog who is also happy lazing around the house. His docile temperament and love of children make for a wonderful family dog if you don't mind getting slobbered on.

Did you know that Newfoundlands are known so much for water rescue that kennel clubs across America offer Newfoundland Water Rescue Demonstration and classes! They even board boat tours in St. Johns for the safety of passengers! (Also, because who wouldn't want a dog on a boat?)

Large Dogs With A Big Heart

Although it is almost habitual for people to assume that large dogs will turn out aggressive - by now you should see that this not only untrue, but their severe kindness is one of their greatest qualities and strengths.

Not only are these big dogs extremely loyal and calm but they make wonderful pets and family protectors which are traits that are absolutely priceless.

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