The World’s Largest Dog Breeds

The World’s Largest Dog Breeds

The dog occupies a special place in human history. It is our oldest domesticated animal and one of our most loyal friends, a connection that is evident from every ancient civilization to present day households all over the planet. But how big were dogs when they first started following us around? And which breeds have grown the most over the years?

Some of the largest dogs of all time come from breeds that are already massive by design, like Mastiffs. But there are plenty of big dogs who aren’t descended from ancient fighting or hunting stock, but were simply bred to be amiable companions for city living. Some of these large breeds are more recent additions to the dog family, like the Great Dane or Irish Wolfhound.

These dogs may not be man’s original best friend, but they’re still pretty close. If you’ve got an empty lap and any one of these dogs in your home, consider your lap now occupied.

English Mastiff

These massive dogs are gentle giants, with just the right combination of great attitude and daunting size. Mastiffs were originally bred in England to be guard dogs, with a steady temperament that made them ideal for protecting estates. Today’s English Mastiff has changed little from its ancestors, with the same friendly nature and massive size.

Saint Bernard

These dogs possess a deep and abiding love for children (and, of course, the delicious beer barrel) were developed as rescue dogs in the Swiss Alps. The name “Saint Bernard” was not actually bestowed by the monks that trained these dogs; it comes from the hospice where they first worked. These big dogs were put to work as rescue animals because of their enormous size, which allowed them to break through snow and recover people who’d gone off the trail.

Irish Wolfhound

These regal dogs were bred for one thing: hunting wolves. Some of the earliest examples of these dogs date back to 35 BC, and the breed has changed surprisingly little since then. While these dogs were originally bred for hunting wolves in Ireland, they are now more likely to be lazing around your living room.

The Great Dane

Likely descended from the Irish Wolfhound, the Great Dane’s origins date back to around 1000 AD. They’re known for their regal bearing and calm temperaments, making them excellent house dogs. The largest Dane on record weighed in at almost 200 pounds!

English Mastiff vs Great Dane

The largest breed of dog is actually a tie between the English Mastiff and the Great Dane, with both breeds weighing more than 200 pounds on average. They are also among the tallest of all dog breeds, with the Great Dane standing at about 32 inches at the shoulder and Mastiffs reaching over 31 inches (almost 1 meter).

Irish Wolfhound vs Saint Bernard

The size of these dogs is really quite similar. The Irish Wolfhound may be longer overall, but both breeds are likely to reach the same height and weight.

Irish Wolfhound vs Great Dane vs Saint Bernard vs Mastiff

If we take into account that the average Saint Bernard is heavier than the average Irish Wolfhound, these dogs are likely to be very similar in weight as well – all four breeds weigh over 180 pounds (80 kilograms) on average. And while the Great Dane is taller than both Saint Bernard and Mastiff, it’s less likely to be heavier than them – only a few Great Danes have been recorded at more than 200 pounds (100 kilograms). These three breeds are just about the same height, which makes them very similar in overall size.