Little-Known Facts About 10 of the Most Popular Large Dog Breeds

Large dog breeds like Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds are certainly popular, but we bet there are a lot of things you don’t know about them (unless, of course, you are a dedicated reader of our breed profiles, in which case you get two big paws up).

Either way, these cool tidbits about the 10 most popular large dog breeds as ranked by the American Kennel Club are sure to impress your friends — and may make you appreciate these pups even more.

Test Your Large Dog Breed Knowledge

Australian Shepherd

Anna Pozzi, Animal Photography

Australian Shepherd

Despite his name, the Australian Shepherd does not hail from the Land Down Under. The breed was developed right here in the United States. So why the misnomer? His possible ancestors include long-haired, bobtailed, Collie-type dogs from Australia; German sheepdogs exported to Australia and known there as German Koolies; and herding dogs brought by Basque shepherds who came to work in the United States both before and after World War II.

Great Dane posed in a field

Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

Great Dane

It may be hard to believe, but the Great Dane can be a good candidate for apartment living. The breed tends to be quiet, gentle and laid back. Plus, he’s typically not much of a barker.

Doberman Pinscher

Julie Poole, Animal Photography

Doberman Pinscher

Tax collector Louis Dobermann needed a guard dog to help him keep himself and the money he carried safe from thieves, so he developed the Doberman Pinscher. He crossed short-haired shepherd dogs with Rottweilers, black and tan Terriers, and German Pinschers to create the breed.

Siberian Huskies playing outside in the snow

Anna Pozzi, Animal Photography

Siberian Husky

Fans of the movie Balto know that the Siberian Husky's biggest claim to fame occurred in 1925 when people in Nome, Alaska, suffered a diphtheria epidemic in the middle of winter. To get desperately needed antitoxin to Nome, a team of about 20 mushers traveled nearly 700 miles from Anchorage in six days in extremely cold conditions. 

Two German Shorthaired Pointers Outdoors

Nick Ridley, Animal Photography

German Shorthaired Pointer

Not only is the German Shorthaired Pointer capable of pointing birds, the versatile Sporting dog can also hunt rabbits and raccoon, trail deer and retrieve on land or water.


Tetsu Yamazaki, Animal Photography


With the invention of the motorized vehicle, the need for the Rottweiler decreased — they were often used in the German town of Rottweil to pull butchers' carts to deliver meat and milk to customers — and the breed almost died out. Thankfully, German dog lovers recognized the Rottie’s work ethic and generally protective nature and saved the breed.


Anita Peeples, Animal Photography


The origin of the Boxer's name is a little hazy. It could be a corruption of the word “beisser,” which comes from Bullenbeisser, a German descriptive term for the breed’s Mastiff-like ancestors. Or it could be a reference to the breed’s habit of using his front paws in a fight.

Three Golden Retrievers Sitting Outdoors

Barbara O'Brien, Animal Photography

Golden Retriever

There are two types of Golden Retrievers: the fluffy, teddy bear Goldens of the show ring and the leaner, darker and smaller Goldens that are popular as hunting companions and dog-sport competitors.

Nick Ridley, Animal Photography

German Shepherd

Rin Tin Tin is perhaps the most famous German Shepherd of all. The iconic pup was found in a World War I battle zone and became the world’s first canine movie star.

Senior Labrador Retriever in Grass

Barbara O'Brien, Animal Photography

Labrador Retriever

Not only is the popular Labrador Retriever often a wonderful companion, this versatile breed can also be a great show dog, hunting dog, canine athlete, guide dog, service dog, sniffer dog, search and rescue dog, and therapy dog.

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