You know what they say about giant breeds: There’s more of them to love. At least, that’s what I say about them. I love greeting an Irish Wolfhound or Mastiff with a big thump or two on the side and having him lean into me or respond with a massive hug or gigantic slurpy kiss.
Giant breeds can have the drawbacks of shorter lifespans and greater care expenses, but for many of their owners, the dogs’ sweet but vigilant nature outweighs those disadvantages. I love all the dogs I see, but I have a special place in my heart for these immense canines. Here are five dog breeds with big bodies — and big hearts — that I wouldn’t mind seeing more of.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Farmers used to keep Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, who can stand 23.5 to about 28.5 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 85 and 140 pounds, to pull carts and guard property. They’re generally sociable and calm, they tend to enjoy doing whatever their people are doing and they usually adapt to their activity level. However, they can have occasional bursts of energy that can send them barreling through the house or yard. Swissies can be
great family dogs and their short, tri-colored coats are easy to
The Mastiff has, well, significant mass. He can stand 27.5 to 30 inches or more at the shoulder and can weigh between 120 and 230 pounds. Few intruders would be crazy enough to take one on, but the Mastiff is usually loving and gentle with family members. Just be prepared for really smelly farts, and be sure you carry around a hand towel to wipe off his drool from your clothes and the floor.
The gorgeous Great Pyrenees was born to be a flock guardian, but he can also make a faithful companion and can be a great family dog who is often quite affectionate with children. He can stand between 25 and 32 inches at the shoulder and can weigh 85 to 115 pounds. He can be strong-willed, so he needs plenty of socialization and training — however, in the right home, he’s often gentle, alert and protective.
The tall and regal Borzoi — also known as the Russian Wolfhound — can stand 26 inches or more at the shoulder and weigh between 55 and 120 pounds. He is typically quiet and well-mannered, but he can have a silly side, too. You can’t count on him obeying your every command (or any of them, for that matter), but he can be trained with patience and positive reinforcement.
At 28 inches or more at the shoulder and weighing 110 to 190 pounds, the Great Dane is no lap dog, but don’t tell him that — Great Danes generally believe they’re puppies and tend to love to curl up with (or on) you whenever possible. Great Danes are typically goofy and affectionate and can be great family dogs — as long as they learn early not to jump on people.