10 Large Dog Breeds That Are Gentle Giants

Dogs such as Mastiffs and Great Danes might look intimidating, but many large and giant breeds are actually total softies. Beneath their massive bodies and, in some cases, copious fur, many are calm and gentle dogs who often just want to snuggle on the couch. Even if they are taking up most of the room on it.

Sadly, giant dogs tend to have short life spans and are susceptible to certain health conditions. And due to their size, big dogs must be well trained and socialized or they can become destructive — which is why it's good to learn as much as you can before bringing one home. Click through our photo gallery to get better acquainted with these ten beloved breeds. 

Large Dogs Who Tend to Be Lovers, Not Fighters

Bernese Mountain Dog sticking out his tongue

Tara Gregg, Animal Photography

Bernese Mountain Dog

Known to be mellow and patient, Bernese Mountain Dogs can be excellent therapy dogs. But Berners, which can weigh up to 120 pounds, are not couch potatoes. They need moderate exercise and can excel at dog sports like agility, drafting, herding, rally and tracking. 

Irish Wolfhound running

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Irish Wolfhound

Originally bred to hunt wolves in Britain and Ireland, the Irish Wolfhound is not as ferocious as he sounds (or looks). This typically gentle and quiet breed tends to get along with everyone, including children, strangers and other dogs. At 105 to 120 pounds and standing nearly 3 feet tall, the Irish Wolfhound needs a spacious home to spread out in. Just be sure to keep food and breakable items up high — these dogs are often expert counter surfers. And, sadly, you have to keep this in mind before bringing one home: Irish Wolfhounds typically live only 6 to 8 years.

Leonberger Dog Breed

Lee Feldstein, Animal Photography


With early socialization and training, a Leonberger can become the gentle giant of your dreams: loyal, sweet and friendly. Otherwise, the breed can be a bit difficult to live with and can easily wreak havoc due to the fact that he can weigh between 120 and 170 pounds. Some might be charmed by his general messiness and puppylike disposition, but for those who like to keep a pristine home, the Leo is not the best choice. He’s generally a digger, chewer, and sloppy eater and drinker. 

Three Newfoundlands in a field

Alice van Kempen, Animal Photography


The Newfoundland is often happiest when he’s in the water or snuggling on the couch with his family. With his calm demeanor and docile temperament, the Newfie can be an excellent therapy dog — he’s just the right size for standing at a bedside, as he tends to be about 26 to 28 inches and ranges from 100 to 150 pounds. And like Nana, the Newfoundland in Peter Pan, the breed tends to get along well with children.

Saint Bernard Standing in Grass

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Saint Bernard

The Saint Bernard’s heart is typically as big as his body — and his body can weigh a hulking 130 to 180 pounds. Calm, patient and gentle, the Saint can be a good choice for families as long as he is trained and socialized from a young age. Despite his giant size, this breed usually doesn’t need too much exercise, just a couple of short walks daily. But if you want your home and your clothes slobber free, then this breed is not for you. Saint Bernards are droolers with a capital D.

Mastiff dog breed

Karin Newstrom, Animal Photography


Leave some room on the couch for this massive wannabe lap dog. Although the Mastiff can weigh more than 200 pounds, he loves to lean on his family and lie at their feet. He typically doesn’t need too much exercise and can adapt to living in an apartment or condo. The breed generally adores children, but since these dogs are so big, they can accidentally scare or harm kids. 

Great Dane

Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

Great Dane

The Great Dane was bred to hunt wild boar and guard estates, but nowadays you're more likely to find this beloved giant breed snoozing on the sofa. He can weigh between 120 and 180 pounds — and with his great size comes the potential for significant behavior problems if he isn’t properly trained and socialized. Before falling in love with this breed, consider that he can clear a coffee table with the swipe of his tail, has no trouble reaching items on the counter, and can easily knock someone over.

Three Great Pyrenees dogs sitting together

Sam Clark, Animal Photography

Great Pyrenees

Once known as the Royal Dog of France, the Great Pyrenees has a striking white coat and commanding presence. Pyrs tend to be affectionate and gentle with their families, but due to their guarding instincts, they can be wary around strangers. Positive reinforcement training and early socialization is key to preventing fearfulness in the breed, which can weigh up to 120 pounds.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

If you want a breed who may be puppylike and rambunctious well into adulthood, look no further than the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. It can take this gentle giant four or five years to reach maturity, which can be taxing for even the most patient dog owner. But with training and socialization, the Swissy, which weighs between 85 and 140 pounds, can be a confident and devoted pet.

Kuvasz dog breed

Ron Willbie, Animal Photography


Generally loyal and protective to a fault, the Kuvasz is a giant livestock guardian breed that hails from Hungary. The breed will often do anything to protect his family and tends to be suspicious of people he hasn’t met before. Though he might not be the best choice for inexperienced or first-time dog owners, with firm and consistent training and plenty of socialization, he can be a brave, assertive, calm and patient pet.

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