Biggest dog breeds

August 14, 2020
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Biggest dog breeds

It’s a cliche to refer to dogs as “man’s best friend,” but the four-legged furballs have earned the distinction. According to archeologists, dogs were the first domesticated animal, with some scientists estimating that dogs began accompanying humans as early as 30,000 years ago. Since then, dogs have changed, shifting from their wolf ancestry slowly, and then rapidly, as breeding became more and more refined. Today, there are dogs so small they can hide behind a dollar bill and weigh the same as an apple.

But there are also the big dogs, bred to hunt and guard and rescue drowning fishermen. They’re giants, usually fiercely loyal and a nightmare for intruders. They herd sheep, fight off lions, and chase bears up trees. They also enjoy belly rubs and cuddling with their humans. They’re mascots, movie stars, and official state dogs. The big dog is a symbol of loyalty, bravery, toughness, and strength.

Big dogs also require a certain level of commitment from their owners. For example, they’re usually high energy and need frequent exercise in order to stay physically and mentally healthy. They tend to be more aggressive than their smaller counterparts and need intentional and focused training in order to be their friendly best. Big dog owners must be sure that they can provide the level of commitment and care these breeds need in order to be happy and healthy.

In the following slides, Stacker analyzed 193 dog breeds based on American Kennel Club data, sifting through statistics on dogs ranging from Afghan hounds to Yorkshire terriers. What lies ahead is a ranking of the 96 biggest dog breeds, based on a size index, which incorporates the typical max height and weight of each breed. Read on to discover the personalities and histories behind some of the biggest canines in the world.

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#96. Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever

- Size index: 44
- Typical max height: 21 inches
- Typical max weight: 50 pounds

The foxy red fur of Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers is no accident—early breeders of the dog specifically sought out the color in an effort to fool waterfowl, who would then be enticed to draw near enough to be picked off at ease. Acting as a lure for unsuspecting birds isn’t this retriever’s only contribution to the hunt. Webbed feet make them excellent swimmers, which comes in handy when they’re sent out to the center of the lake to retrieve the fallen ducks.

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#95. Border collie

- Size index: 44.4
- Typical max height: 22 inches
- Typical max weight: 45 pounds

Ancestors of the border collie include ancient Roman herding dogs and Viking spitzes, whose genetics were combined to create what the American Kennel Club describes as the “world’s greatest herder.” Incredibly high energy, border collies need frequent exercise and require ample room to run and play, meaning they’re best suited for owners with lots of time and space to share.

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#94. Norwegian elkhound

- Size index: 44.4
- Typical max height: 20.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 55 pounds

For more than six millennia, the Norwegian elkhound has prowled around Europe, acting as a guard dog, herding livestock, and, once upon a time, helping their Viking masters trail giant elk on the hunt. The breed can be reserved upon initial introduction, but once it develops a bond with its owner, it is fiercely loyal, sweet, and sensitive.

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#93. Finnish Lapphund

- Size index: 44.7
- Typical max height: 21 inches
- Typical max weight: 53 pounds

In Lapland, a region north of the Arctic Circle, a nomadic people called the Sami have spent the past several centuries migrating around with their herds of reindeer. Walking alongside them is this tough and weatherproof breed, the Finnish Lapphund, who earns its keep working as a herding dog. The breed stands out as one of the most diligent and empathetic breeds recognized by the AKC.

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#92. Chinese shar-pei

- Size index: 44.8
- Typical max height: 20 inches
- Typical max weight: 60 pounds

More than 2,000 years ago in the southern provinces of China, the Chinese shar-pei began its history as an all-purpose peasant’s dog. Beginning in 1949 during the country’s Communist regime, the dogs were all but made extinct by a government that frowned on pet ownership. Thankfully, a Hong Kong breeder stepped in to save the fiercely loyal guard dog in the mid-1970s.

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#91. Harrier

- Size index: 46.4
- Typical max height: 21 inches
- Typical max weight: 60 pounds

First bred for hunting hare sometime in the 13th century, harriers perform their work best in packs. Slightly larger than their beagle cousin, the dogs first made their appearance in America in the Colonial era, likely brought over by George Washington and his compatriots to work as sporting dogs. While the breed is loving and friendly, it can be fiercely independent and needs a firm training hand.

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#90. Bearded collie

- Size index: 46.7
- Typical max height: 22 inches
- Typical max weight: 55 pounds

The history of the shaggy-coated bearded collie is somewhat contested, but the most-agreed-upon theory is that it descended from dogs native to Eastern Europe sometime in the 1500s. The breed is fiercely independent, loves being outdoors, and needs ample exercise to be at its best.

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#89. Chow chow

- Size index: 47.2
- Typical max height: 20 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

It is thought that chow chows are among the world’s oldest breeds, with evidence of their existence predating 206 B.C. Beloved in China, these dogs with their lionesque mane are also some of the cleanest canines, easy to house train and bearing minimal dog odor. Aloof with strangers, loyal to loved ones, and not needing too much space to roam, these pups make great city pets.

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#88. Entlebucher mountain dog

- Size index: 47.5
- Typical max height: 21 inches
- Typical max weight: 65 pounds

The Entlebucher mountain dog is the smallest of the Alpine mountain breeds developed by Swiss cattlemen in the valleys of the Entlebuch river. Quick, agile, and muscular, these dogs make wonderful companions for children, require ample exercise, and thrive when given plenty of focused attention. The breed isn’t typically a good fit for inexperienced owners.

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#87. Xoloitzcuintli

- Size index: 48.3
- Typical max height: 23 inches
- Typical max weight: 55 pounds

Named for the Aztec god Xolotl 3,000 years ago, the hairless Xoloitzcuintli were considered sacred by their Aztec owners and were often buried alongside them in order to act as guides into the next world. Today, these pups are often employed as guard dogs in this life for their owners. And if hairless dogs aren’t your thing, there is a coated variety of the pooch as well.

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#86. Portuguese water dog

- Size index: 49.4
- Typical max height: 23 inches
- Typical max weight: 60 pounds

Bred to be a fisherman’s helper, the Portuguese water dog once lived all along the coast of Portugal herding fish into nets, relaying messages across the water, and retrieving items lost at sea. Incredibly intelligent and eager to please, these dogs are easily trainable. They require plenty of regular exercise and extensive grooming, but when properly cared for they make excellent companions.

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#85. Wirehaired vizsla

- Size index: 49.4
- Typical max height: 22.25 inches
- Typical max weight: 65 pounds

First bred by Hungarian hunters in the 1930s, the wirehaired vizsla is an ideal bird dog. As much as they love to run, swim, and play, these dogs can also be calm and gentle around the house, especially in the presence of younger, smaller humans.

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#84. Canaan dog

- Size index: 49.8
- Typical max height: 24 inches
- Typical max weight: 55 pounds

The national dog of Israel, it is thought that the Canaan dog has been in existence for some 4,000 years, through various periods of domestication and wildness. Bright and easy to train, these dogs have worked as herders and sentries, while always retaining a bit of their own self-reliance. Canaan dogs are an ideal choice for those looking for a family pet—they’re loving, sweet, and responsive to the moods and needs of those around them.

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#83. American Staffordshire terrier

- Size index: 49.8
- Typical max height: 19 inches
- Typical max weight: 88 pounds

Bred for blood sports, American Staffordshire terriers have earned an often unfair reputation of being violent, defensive, and unsociable. In reality, when bred responsibly and given proper training, they can be incredibly loving, loyal, and sweet. Still, they retain sparks of bravery they were once so well known for; in fact, the most decorated dog in World War I was an AmStaff named Sgt. Stubby.

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#82. Bull terrier

- Size index: 50.2
- Typical max height: 22 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

Another dog initially bred to thrive in the fighting ring, the bull terrier now has a reputation as being one of the most comical and fun-loving breeds recognized by the AKC. America has learned to love the breed since its introduction in the mid-1800s. Case in point—Bullseye, the famous Target mascot, is a white bull terrier.

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#81. Clumber spaniel

- Size index: 50.7
- Typical max height: 20 inches
- Typical max weight: 85 pounds

While the precise history of the clumber spaniel is lost to time, it’s known that the breed was extremely popular by the late 1700s, when it became the preferred hunting companion to nobles and royalty such as Edward VII and George V. Often described as mischievous, stubborn, affectionate, and entertaining, the breed requires proper training in puppyhood. When given a proper foundation, the laid-back dogs make excellent playmates and family pets.

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#78. Wirehaired pointing griffon (tie)

- Size index: 51
- Typical max height: 24 inches
- Typical max weight: 60 pounds

The son of a Dutch banker, Eduard Korthals set out in the 1800s to develop a breed of hunting dog that could work both as a pointer on dry land and a water retriever. The result was the wirehaired pointing griffon, an incredibly active, stubborn, and tireless breed. As with many sporting dogs, these pups require serious exercise and training to prevent them from getting destructive and bored.

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#78. Vizsla (tie)

- Size index: 51
- Typical max height: 24 inches
- Typical max weight: 60 pounds

Most easily identifiable by their sleek rust-colored coat, vizsla pups were first bred by the Magyar people and refined by Hungarian nobles. The breed first arrived in America in 1950 after a U.S. State Department employee helped smuggle it in from Communist Hungary. The athletic pups develop fiercely close bonds with their owners and struggle to be left alone for long periods of time, making them unsuitable for individuals who travel a lot or work long hours.

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#78. Siberian husky (tie)

- Size index: 51
- Typical max height: 24 inches
- Typical max weight: 60 pounds

The Chukchi, an indigenous people of northeastern Asia, were the first to breed the Siberian husky as a companion and endurance sled-pulling dog. It wasn’t until 1925 when a team of the dogs traversed 658 miles in a matter of five days in order to bring a life-saving serum to a remote Alaskan town that Siberian huskies became known world-wide. Bred to be pack animals, Siberians thrive in families, and their friendliness makes them an excellent choice for those with children.

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#77. Pharaoh hound

- Size index: 51.3
- Typical max height: 25 inches
- Typical max weight: 55 pounds

The Phoenicians, an ancient culture of seafaring traders, are thought to have brought these Egyptian hounds to Malta where they were employed as rabbit hunters. The lithe breed was primed for fast pursuits and retains its love for running today. Another unique feature of blushing when happy or excited led to its nickname, “the blushing dog.”

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#76. Samoyed

- Size index: 51.4
- Typical max height: 23.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 65 pounds

The Samoyed breed takes its name from the Samoyed people, a seminomadic group indigenous to Asia. The Samoyeds bred these fluffy white dogs to pull sleds, act as watchdogs, herd livestock, and assist in the hunt. Today these social, friendly pups thrive in a more low-key family environment.

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#74. Australian shepherd (tie)

- Size index: 51.8
- Typical max height: 23 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

Refining the Australian shepherd has truly been a worldwide effort. The breed’s first ancestors originated in the mountains between France and Spain, then moved to Australia with Basque ranchers, before being further perfected in the rolling farmlands of California. The breed’s eclectic history has allowed the dogs to hone their skills in a variety of areas. Today’s Australian shepherds work as livestock herders, rodeo performers, therapy and service dogs, drug detectors, and search and rescue animals.

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#74. Airedale terrier (tie)

- Size index: 51.8
- Typical max height: 23 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

According to the American Kennel Club, Airedale terriers are “among the world’s most versatile dog breeds.” Initially bred in the Aire Valley in northern England, these dogs worked as hunters on land and in water, as sentries, messengers, and guard dogs, and even, on occasion, as performers and babysitters. Docile and patient with children, Airedale terriers aren’t afraid to protect what they view as theirs, and, like other terriers, can be bold, hyper, and stubborn.

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#73. Plott hound

- Size index: 52.5
- Typical max height: 25 inches
- Typical max weight: 60 pounds

In 1750, German immigrant Johannes Plott arrived in North Carolina with five of his beloved Hanover hounds. Plott and his son bred that existing family stock, creating a new big game scent hound that was better primed for the southern terrain and able to track wounded animal trails up to a week old. The resulting Plott hound is gentle and friendly at home, but focused and determined when given a job to do, be it hunting bears or navigating an obstacle course.

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#72. Irish water spaniel

- Size index: 52.8
- Typical max height: 24 inches
- Typical max weight: 68 pounds

Developed from two now extinct water spaniel breeds—the South Country water spaniel and the North Country water spaniel—the Irish water spaniel first came into existence in the mid-1830s. By 1875, the dog had moved beyond its home country, becoming one of the most popular sporting breeds in America. Playful and eager to please, these dogs require frequent exercise and excel at sports such as dock diving and games like fetch.

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#71. Barbet

- Size index: 52.9
- Typical max height: 24.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 65 pounds

Like several other dogs on this list, there was a moment in time after the close of both world wars where the barbet was almost entirely extinct. Thanks to the tireless work of a handful of devoted breeders, the French pooch, which has existed since at least the 17th century, was saved. Described as an “all-around dog,” and resembling a stuffed animal come to life, this breed makes a perfect pet for calm, athletic owners.

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#69. Flat-coated retriever (tie)

- Size index: 53.3
- Typical max height: 24 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

First bred in England in the mid-1800s, flat-coated retrievers were once the most popular type of retriever, preferred over both golden and Labrador retrievers. Their luscious black coats are beautiful, but also serve to keep the dogs warm and protected in all types of climates and terrains. Unlike their other retriever cousins, flat-coated pups mature quite slowly, with some owners reporting their dogs never grow out of their puppylike state.

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#69. Dalmatian (tie)

- Size index: 53.3
- Typical max height: 24 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

While experts are uncertain when or where Dalmatians first originated, they all agree that the dogs were bred for a unique role: that of a coach dog. The spotted pups ran alongside the horse-drawn carriages of western Europeans and the caravans of the Romani people, in order to protect the animals and property that could otherwise be susceptible to harm. Those protective instincts remain strong in the breed, and without proper training, Dalmatians are not always welcoming to new people or careful with young children.

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#68. Irish red and white setter

- Size index: 54
- Typical max height: 26 inches
- Typical max weight: 60 pounds

Irish red and white setters were around before their all-red cousins, having been a fixture in the rolling emerald hills of Ireland since the 17th century. The breed is high energy and high spirited, making it a good fit for owners with lots of time and love to give, but requiring plenty of training and socialization.

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#67. Golden retriever

- Size index: 54.5
- Typical max height: 24 inches
- Typical max weight: 75 pounds

One of the most popular dog breeds in America, golden retrievers owe their success to their beautiful yellow coats, their happy and playful personalities, their sweet and loving natures, and their ability to thrive in a family setting. Although they’re incredibly popular in this country, they didn’t originate in the United States. Instead, it was Scottish businessman, Dudley Marjoribanks, who, between 1840 and 1890, put in the bulk of the work of refining this exceptional breed.

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#65. German shorthaired pointer (tie)

- Size index: 54.8
- Typical max height: 25 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

It took generations of breeding to perfect the German shorthaired pointer, but since at least the 1800s the breed has dominated in competitive hunting events around the world. While they were created to be working dogs, the pointers have evolved to become happy, family pets who love to play.

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#65. American foxhound (tie)

- Size index: 54.8
- Typical max height: 25 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

America’s founding families, like the Washingtons, Jeffersons, Lees, and Custises, are also the founding families of the American foxhound. A cousin of the English foxhound, American foxhounds were also bred to be hunting dogs, and retain their relentless need for exercise and activity; loud, bawling bark; and single-minded focus, despite being incredibly difficult to housebreak. That being said, the dogs get along well with children and other animals and could make a good addition to a house that already has one or more pets.

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#64. American English coonhound

- Size index: 55.2
- Typical max height: 26 inches
- Typical max weight: 65 pounds

American by birth, English by ancestry, it is said that American English coonhounds are descendants of English foxhounds who arrived in American around 1800. Crossed with other breeds, these dogs were refined in order to specialize in nocturnal raccoon hunts. Even today, the breed remains a favorite among coon hunters, due to its trailing characteristics, but consequently not a first choice as house pets, especially for novice owners. So, before bringing one home, make sure you’re suited to the challenge and can provide it an appropriate environment.

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#63. Afghan hound

- Size index: 55.6
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 60 pounds

Authorities maintain that the Afghan hound, the long-haired aristocrat, is the oldest purebred breed in existence, with a myth that it may have even been represented on Noah’s ark. The hunting dogs and royal companions have been a fixture in Eastern culture since their beginning but didn’t make their way to the Western world until the early 1900s. The breed’s unique personality keeps it from being a perfect fit for every owner, but when the match is right, it will be a companion for life.

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#62. Berger Picard

- Size index: 55.6
- Typical max height: 25.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

Named for its home region of Picardy, France, the berger Picard has been working as a herding dog in France since antiquity. Like other centuries-old breeds, it faced extinction once upon a time, after its difficult-to-train nature made it an unfavorable choice. Still, the berger Picard would make a wonderful pet for an athletically-inclined owner who could help the dog burn off its excessive energy.

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#61. Bergamasco sheepdog

- Size index: 55.8
- Typical max height: 23.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 84 pounds

Crowned “the shaggiest dog in the world,” Bergamasco sheepdogs are instantly recognizable thanks to their long, matted, or flocked, coats. While owners may initially be intimidated about the upkeep for this Italian sheepdog, they shouldn’t be concerned. After the 1-year mark, when the mats are beginning to form, grooming for these dogs is basically nonexistent, bar a bath every few months.

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#60. English foxhound

- Size index: 56
- Typical max height: 25 inches
- Typical max weight: 75 pounds

Described as the “epitome of what serious dog breeders strive for—beauty, balance and utility,” English foxhounds excel at what they do, namely hunting foxes. While the dogs are truly impressive specimens, their singularly focused nature means that they don’t make good house pets, and are better left to hunters who can keep entire kennels full of the breed.

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#59. Sloughi

- Size index: 56.3
- Typical max height: 29 inches
- Typical max weight: 50 pounds

Little is known about the precise origin of the sloughi, an ancient sight hound, except that they seem to have originated in the Mediterranean basin. Additionally, there is historical evidence that sand-colored dogs have been favorites of Egyptian nobles, African kings, and other nomadic chieftains. The breed is a shy one, often coming off as aloof, but it’s also caring and thrives with sensitive owners.

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#58. German wirehaired pointer

- Size index: 56.4
- Typical max height: 26 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

While German wirehaired pointer mania took over Germany in the early 1800s, it didn’t reach America until the 1920s, when sportsmen began importing the athletic breed. Intended to be an all-terrain, all-weather hunter, these pups are protected by a harsh, wiry coat that requires very little maintenance. Another innate quality of the breed is its need for strenuous exercise and thoughtful play, things potential owners must be able to provide.

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#57. Labrador retriever

- Size index: 56.4
- Typical max height: 24.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 80 pounds

Currently the most popular dog breed in America, Labrador retrievers are outgoing, energetic, and loving, bonding easily with an entire family. The breed originated in Newfoundland, Canada, where they retrieved waterfowl and fish, and provided company to those who worked on the water. Those looking for a pet to add to their homes would do well to consider a lab of any color—yellow, black or chocolate.

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#56. Boxer

- Size index: 57.2
- Typical max height: 25 inches
- Typical max weight: 80 pounds

Another American favorite, boxers can trace their ancestry back to 2500 B.C. in the Assyrian empire. While they have roots as war dogs and prizefighters, the modern-day Boxer, which began to appear around 1800, is a much more mellow, affable, and funny dog. They do well in a family setting but tend to struggle in homes that have other dogs of the same sex; however, they tend to be fine with other animals and dogs of the opposite sex.

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#55. Ibizan hound

- Size index: 57.5
- Typical max height: 27.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 65 pounds

Phonecian traders are said to have delivered Egyptian dogs to the rocky Spanish island of Ibiza 3,000 years ago. Throughout the years, the locals bred these pups to hunt rabbits, seeking out qualities like speed and agility. Watching Ibizan hounds work in person, it becomes clear that they have a graceful manner not found in many other canines.

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#52. Collie (tie)

- Size index: 57.6
- Typical max height: 26 inches
- Typical max weight: 75 pounds

Brought to Scotland by the Romans, and promoted to international fame by Queen Victoria, collies have become one of the most easily recognizable dog breeds in the world. Their wedged heads, lithe bodies, and silky coats make them incredibly attractive pets, while their fondness for children, playfulness, and happy natures promote them even further. The most famous collie to have ever existed is probably Lassie, of Eric Knight’s novel “Lassie Come Home,” and the subsequent spin-off movies.

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#52. Belgian Tervuren (tie)

- Size index: 57.6
- Typical max height: 26 inches
- Typical max weight: 75 pounds

A Belgian herding dog, the Belgian Tervuren was standardized by M.F. Corbeel, an English breeder from the village of Tervuren, Belgium. Its most defining characteristic is a straight red coat that appears to be blacked around the edges. The breed is energetic, intelligent, and completely devoted to humans, for better or for worse.

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#52. Belgian sheepdog (tie)

- Size index: 57.6
- Typical max height: 26 inches
- Typical max weight: 75 pounds

The workaholics of the canine world, Belgian sheepdogs were bred to herd cattle. They are anatomically identical to their cousin, the Belgian Tervuren. The only difference between the two breeds is the color of their coat—these sheepdogs are entirely black. Like the Tervuren, these dogs are loyal, energetic, and need plenty of attention in order to thrive.

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#49. Treeing walker coonhound (tie)

- Size index: 57.9
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

This American hound dog was bred in Kentucky to hunt small game, like racoons, bobcats, or squirrels. The floppy-eared tricolored dogs have a loud, distinctive bark. In a pack, they’ve also been known to hunt bears.

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#49. Redbone coonhound (tie)

- Size index: 57.9
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

Another American hound dog from the South, the redbone coonhound is distinctive for its fully red coat, save for a small patch of white on the chest. Just as vocal as any other hound dog, the redbone coonhound is also an exceptional swimmer, with water skills to rival a retriever.

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#49. Irish setter (tie)

- Size index: 57.9
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

This brown-red long-haired dog from Ireland is an expert hunting companion and fantastic with kids. Both Harry Truman and Richard Nixon had Irish setters, and Stephen King wrote one into “The Stand.”

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#48. Saluki

- Size index: 58.3
- Typical max height: 28 inches
- Typical max weight: 65 pounds

This tall, slim dog is also known as the Arabian greyhound because of its origins in the Arabian Peninsula, possibly in the ancient town Saluq, in Yemen. While greyhounds are considered the fastest dogs, the 1996 Guinness Book of World Records credited a Saluki as the world record-holder for the fastest dog—that speedy pup reached a pace of 42.75 mph.

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#46. Chesapeake Bay retriever (tie)

- Size index: 58.7
- Typical max height: 26 inches
- Typical max weight: 80 pounds

These energetic water dogs trace their roots to the Chesapeake Bay region in the 1800s, when they were bred as hunting companions for duck hunts. Both Teddy Roosevelt and General Custer had Chesapeake Bay retrievers, and the dog was named the official breed of Maryland in 1964.

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#46. Belgian Malinois (tie)

- Size index: 58.7
- Typical max height: 26 inches
- Typical max weight: 80 pounds

Sometimes referred to as a Belgian shepherd, this intelligent working dog is known for its sense of smell and high energy. The Malinois is used by police forces and the military throughout the world because of its incredible ability to sniff out explosives and help with search and rescue. The dogs help the Secret Service guard the White House, and also have been used to combat poachers in South Africa.

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#45. Alaskan malamute

- Size index: 59.9
- Typical max height: 26 inches
- Typical max weight: 85 pounds

These snow dogs, which look similar to a Siberian husky, are used to haul freight through the snow and drag sleds. Like huskies, these dogs have double coats and have been bred to survive in harsh conditions. They are friendly and rarely bark, but will sometimes howl. In 2010, they were named the state dog of Alaska.

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#42. Gordon setter (tie)

- Size index: 60.3
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 80 pounds

This large gun dog was bred in Scotland to assist on bird hunts. The breed has long, slightly wavy black and tan hair, and is energetic and intelligent, if a bit immature at times. The Gordon setter is part of the setter family, along with the English and Irish setters, which appear in English writing dating at least as far back as the 17th-century English poet William Somerville.

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#42. English setter (tie)

- Size index: 60.3
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 80 pounds

Another of the setter family, the English setter is distinctive for its mainly-white coat, speckled with bits of either black or brown color. The dogs are intelligent, expertly aiding bird hunters by creeping up on the prey and then freezing, to alert the hunter to the location rather than chasing down the birds. The dogs need a good amount of exercise, but have become popular pets because they’re people-oriented and great with kids.

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#42. Bluetick coonhound (tie)

- Size index: 60.3
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 80 pounds

The bluetick coonhound is a Louisiana dog that is muscular and is named for the way the black flecks on its white fur gives it a bluish appearance. The dog is usually used to hunt raccoons, but can also be kept as a pet. It is quite vocal, which is difficult to train out, but is a smart, sweet dog when properly trained. Having Southern roots means it has made regular appearances in country songs by Emmylou Harris, Charlie Daniels, and others.

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#41. Old English sheepdog

- Size index: 60.3
- Typical max height: 24 inches
- Typical max weight: 100 pounds

These big poofy herding dogs originated hundreds of years ago in the English countryside. The breed is a great family pet, because it is sociable, easy-going, and great with kids—who it’s been known to try to gently herd—but the dog is definitely lazy around the house. They’re favorites for the silver screen, appearing in “Serpico,” “Hook,” and many more films.

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#40. Pointer

- Size index: 60.6
- Typical max height: 28 inches
- Typical max weight: 75 pounds

These strong, short-haired hunting dogs are usually white with marks of light brown or black, but can vary in color. For a long time, setters were considered the premier bird dogs, but by the 1950s, pointers had become the best bird-hunting companions. A pointer won best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show for the first time in 1925.

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#38. German shepherd (tie)

- Size index: 61.1
- Typical max height: 26 inches
- Typical max weight: 90 pounds

The German shepherd is a large, working dog initially bred in Germany to herd sheep. Eventually, because of its intelligence and strength, it became much more well known for its work as a guide dog and with police and military.

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#38. Chinook (tie)

- Size index: 61.1
- Typical max height: 26 inches
- Typical max weight: 90 pounds

The first Chinook was bred by a New Hampshire man in the early 20th century and is a mix of mastiffs, huskies, and some other large sheepdogs. The large, friendly dogs with a brown coat and a black muzzle are sometimes used for dog-sledding, but mainly kept as pets. The Chinook is New Hampshire’s official state dog.

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#37. Rhodesian ridgeback

- Size index: 61.4
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 85 pounds

The Rhodesian ridgeback’s alternate name, the African lion hound, should give a good idea of this large dog’s strength and ferocity. Known for its distinctive ridged back, actually a result of its hair growing the opposite direction along its spine, this southern African dog is known for keeping lions at bay. It’s important to be an experienced dog owner when raising a Rhodesian ridgeback, as they can be strong-willed and fierce if not correctly socialized.

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#36. Spinone Italiano

- Size index: 61.7
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 86 pounds

This wiry-coated, big-eared, bearded dog was initially bred for hunting and has remained incredibly intelligent and loyal. The Italian pointer moves a bit slower than other high-energy bird dogs. The breed nearly went extinct during World War II.

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#35. Giant schnauzer

- Size index: 62.2
- Typical max height: 27.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 85 pounds

The largest of the schnauzer breeds, this German working dog, with its distinctive beard and usually-cropped ears, is a great working dog and guard dog. Initially bred on farms, the giant schnauzer began to guard businesses in German cities and then became a military dog during World Wars I and II. The dogs are smart and loyal, but are wary of strangers.

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#34. Greyhound

- Size index: 62.5
- Typical max height: 30 inches
- Typical max weight: 70 pounds

The most famous of racing dogs, the greyhound is a thin, powerful, and, of course, exceptionally fast breed. The greyhound is known to max out at an incredible 43 mph, but is also distinctive for its ability to reach its top speed very quickly, in under 100 feet. The breed is a mascot for many colleges, and is the namesake and logo for the Greyhound Bus Line.

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#33. Weimaraner

- Size index: 62.6
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 90 pounds

This German hunting dog was originally bred to accompany royals on boar, bear, and deer hunts in the 1800s. The breed is usually short-haired and gray or amber, and is hugely loyal, to the point that it struggles when it’s away from its owner. Be wary of leaving a weimaraner around a cat—it was bred to hunt smaller animals as well, and its prey drive could come into play.

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#32. Curly coated retriever

- Size index: 63.8
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 95 pounds

This English retriever was bred to hunt waterfowl and is best known for its distinctive tight curls. So long as the retrievers get enough exercise, they can be excellent pets, as they will be loyal, friendly, and relaxed within the house. The breed is nicknamed "curlies."

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#31. Dogo Argentino

- Size index: 64.2
- Typical max height: 26.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 100 pounds

Developed in the 1920s by an Argentine physician as a hunter of big game and guard dog, this breed is strong, intelligent, athletic, and known for its smooth white coat. Introduced to the United States in the 1970s, in January it was recognized by the American Kennel Club as its 195th breed and assigned to the working group. With strong protection instincts for its home and family, it’s important that these pups be socialized and formally trained.

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#30. Briard

- Size index: 64.9
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 100 pounds

This French sheepdog is a shaggy herding dog with a distinctive beard and bangs that cover its eyes. The large dogs come in either black or tawny, and were used by the French during World War I, but have since become pets and service dogs. Briards have made appearances on the TV shows “Married...with Children,” “Get Smart,” and in the movie “Dennis the Menace”—and though George Lucas claims Chewbacca was based on his Alaskan Malamute, Han Solo’s friend is a dead ringer for a tawny Briard.

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#29. Doberman pinscher

- Size index: 66.5
- Typical max height: 28 inches
- Typical max weight: 100 pounds

This large black and tan German dog is known for its distinctive cropped ears and docked tail. The breed is intelligent, alert, and strong, bred to be aggressive because of its history as police and war dogs. During World War II, Dobermans became the official dog of the Marine Corps, and served throughout the South Pacific.

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#27. Bloodhound (tie)

- Size index: 67.3
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 110 pounds

One of the most recognizable and well-known breeds, the bloodhound has distinctive large ears, saggy skin, and bloodshot eyes. Because of an incredible sense of smell, bloodhounds are used to track human scents over long distances. Hundreds of years after the breed came to prominence, the Pennsylvania-based satirical rap-rock group the Bloodhound Gang defiled the noble name with its smash-hit “The Bad Touch.”

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#27. Black and tan coonhound (tie)

- Size index: 67.3
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 110 pounds

This large American hound, with a black body and tan marking above the eyes, on the muzzle, and on the feet, is bred to hunt large prey, like bears, deer, and wolves, but is mainly used for raccoon hunting today. The dog has a fantastic sense of smell, and while it’s relaxed inside, its hunting instincts may take over if it catches a scent outdoors.

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#26. Borzoi

- Size index: 67.7
- Typical max height: 28 inches
- Typical max weight: 105 pounds

The word “borzoi” was used in late-19th-century Russia to mean “swift.” This dog, also referred to as the Russian wolfhound, has the body of a greyhound, but with longer hair. Like the greyhound, it’s incredibly fast. Bred to hunt wolves, the dog is the symbol for the publishing house Alfred A. Knopf.

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#23. Cane corso (tie)

- Size index: 68.1
- Typical max height: 27.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 110 pounds

This muscular dog, also known as the Italian mastiff, is most recognizable by its large, square head that looks like a mix of that of a pitbull and a boxer. The cane corso traces its roots to the Roman Empire, and was bred on farms in Southern Italy to work with cattle and swine and to guard the property.

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#23. Bouvier des Flandres (tie)

- Size index: 68.1
- Typical max height: 27.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 110 pounds

In French, the name for work dogs from Belgium translates to “the cow herders from Flanders.” The black rough-coated dogs with long bangs and a shaggy beard resemble another European farm dog, the briard. This breed traces its roots to the monks at a monastery in Flanders. The Reagans owned a bouvier des Flandres named Lucky.

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#23. Beauceron (tie)

- Size index: 68.1
- Typical max height: 27.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 110 pounds

This French breed has a similar coloration to a Doberman: black with tan markings above the eyes, on the muzzle and below the knees. The dog was bred in northern France and was used to herd sheep and as a guard dog—they were known to take on wolves. The breed is a great family dog because it is loyal, gentle, and intelligent.

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#22. Otterhound

- Size index: 68.5
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 115 pounds

This English breed was bred to hunt otters, an activity now illegal in Britain. The otterhound is a large shaggy hound, with an acute sense of smell like other hound dogs. But its distinctive features are webbed feet and a rough double coat, both bred in to make the dog a great hunter in the water. It is considered the most endangered native British breed, with only 24 registered puppies born in 2017 in the United Kingdom.

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#21. Bernese mountain dog

- Size index: 68.8
- Typical max height: 28 inches
- Typical max weight: 110 pounds

Tracing their roots to the canton of Bern in Switzerland, these giant mountain dogs were bred to live on family farms in the region. The breed is beautiful, with a long-haired coat that is black with tan markings like a Doberman, but with a white shock of chest hair and a white line down the nose. They are exceptionally friendly and love to bound about, sticking close to people.

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#20. Rottweiler

- Size index: 72
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 130 pounds

These German behemoths were bred as butcher’s assistants, herding cattle but also dragging carts filled with meat to the market. Rottweilers are intelligent and dependable dogs, but because of their history of use as police and military animals, and their sheer power, they are regularly regarded as violent creatures. They have a similar coloration to Dobermans.

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#19. Kuvasz

- Size index: 73.1
- Typical max height: 30 inches
- Typical max weight: 115 pounds

This large white herding dog has deep roots in Hungary, appearing in ancient lore and serving as guard dogs for the old kings. The breed is extremely loyal, but it is difficult to train—and because of its massive size, training and socialization is of paramount importance. The breed was nearly extinct during World War II, with both Soviet and German troops actively hunting the dogs, who were known to protect their owners. Since then, through active breeding, kuvasz have been brought back in Hungary.

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#18. Akita

- Size index: 73.5
- Typical max height: 28 inches
- Typical max weight: 130 pounds

The Akita traces its roots to the oldest of the Japanese dogs, the Matagi dog, who hunted large prey like bears and deer in ancient Japan. These large cold-weather dogs have thick coats and a floppy tail that sits upon their backs—they are difficult to train because they are both territorial and dominant, and have been described as “feline” in nature. Russian leader Vladimir Putin has an Akita named Yume.

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#16. Dogue de Bordeaux (tie)

- Size index: 74.3
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 140 pounds

Also known as a French mastiff, the dogue de Bordeaux is a giant brown dog from France’s famous southwestern wine region. This breed’s most distinctive feature is its heavy square face that hangs loose off the sides of its giant mouth. Some males will have a head circumference of 27 to 30 inches, which is equal to the dog’s height.

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#16. Bullmastiff (tie)

- Size index: 74.3
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 140 pounds

This British behemoth was bred in the 1800s as an estate guard dog, specifically designed to ward off poachers and intruders. A mix of the English mastiff and the now-extinct, and famously aggressive, Old English bulldog, the bullmastiff—brown, with a black muzzle—is powerful, but incredibly sensitive.

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#15. Scottish deerhound

- Size index: 75
- Typical max height: 32 inches
- Typical max weight: 110 pounds

These tall, lanky hound dogs were bred as sight hounds—fast dogs that chased down prey which is tracked by sight, rather than smell. The Scottish deerhound is similar to the greyhound, though heavier—its closest relative is the Irish wolfhound. They have a shaggy, rough coat, and are friendly despite their size.

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#13. Komondor (tie)

- Size index: 76.6
- Typical max height: 30 inches
- Typical max weight: 130 pounds

Also known as the Hungarian sheepdog, this breed has a corded coat that looks like long white dreadlocks. Bred to protect and herd sheep, komondors are calm and friendly with owners, but are fierce guard dogs that like to patrol at night and attack intruders. The classic Beck album cover for “Odelay” features a komondor jumping over a hurdle.

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#13. Black Russian terrier (tie)

- Size index: 76.6
- Typical max height: 30 inches
- Typical max weight: 130 pounds

Created in the Soviet Union during the 1940s or 1950s, the black Russian terrier closely resembles a giant schnauzer, though it’s much larger. The breed is intelligent and well-behaved, with a drive to work. It was used as a military dog in the 1950s.

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#12. Greater Swiss mountain dog

- Size index: 76.6
- Typical max height: 28.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 140 pounds

The greater Swiss mountain dog has a similar coloring to the Bernese mountain dog, but is short-haired compared to its shaggy relative. The Swiss giants were farm dogs and like to work, but are also happy to laze around the house. They are friendly with kids and are good family pets.

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#11. Newfoundland

- Size index: 78.2
- Typical max height: 28 inches
- Typical max weight: 150 pounds

These giant dogs from Canada were bred by the fisherman of Newfoundland, then a part of Britain, as companion animals. The 150-pound, long-haired dogs have webbed feet and a thick double coat, allowing them to be expert swimmers even in the frigid northern water. Newfoundlands are legendary for their water rescues—reportedly, a member of the breed saved Napoleon Bonaparte after he fell overboard in 1815.

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#10. Great Pyrenees

- Size index: 79.7
- Typical max height: 32 inches
- Typical max weight: 130 pounds

These dogs with thick white coats were bred to protect livestock for European farmers. They are gentle with small animals, children, and their owners, but can be good guard dogs. The breed is a favorite in films, appearing in “Dumb and Dumber” and in many anime series.

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#9. Anatolian shepherd

- Size index: 79.7
- Typical max height: 29 inches
- Typical max weight: 150 pounds

These giant Turkish mountain dogs were bred to protect livestock for farmers in the countryside. The short-haired dogs are usually a cream color with a black muzzle, and are hugely self-sufficient, which makes them hard to train. They have appeared in a few films, “Road Trip” and “Shooter” to name two, and are used by African farmers in an effort to protect cheetahs from poachers.

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#8. Neapolitan mastiff

- Size index: 82.8
- Typical max height: 31 inches
- Typical max weight: 150 pounds

These Italian giants are fearsome guard dogs, extremely intelligent, and protective of their owners. The short-haired black dogs have saggy skin, and have a face like a pitbull with skin two sizes too big. Many believe the dog is a close descendant of the Molossus, an ancient European guard dog mentioned by both Virgil and Aristotle.

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#7. Tibetan mastiff

- Size index: 83.6
- Typical max height: 30 inches
- Typical max weight: 160 pounds

This Tibetan behemoth was bred to protect the sheep of the nomadic tribes of Asia from large predators. The black and brown dogs are distinctive for their puff of hair around their shoulders that makes it look like it’s wearing a fur parka. Trained to guard livestock, the breed is mainly nocturnal, intelligent, and stubborn, and distrustful of strangers.

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#6. Leonberger

- Size index: 88.3
- Typical max height: 31.5 inches
- Typical max weight: 170 pounds

This German dog is a beauty, bred to resemble a lion. It’s been nicknamed “the gentle lion.” With a thick, lighter brown coat and a black muzzle, the giant dog, true to its genteel moniker, is a fantastic family pet. The dog was used on farms, and for water rescue by the Canadian government in the early 1900s. A Leonberger played the main character in a 1997 Canadian film version of Jack London’s classic novel “Call of the Wild.”

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#5. Saint Bernard

- Size index: 88.3
- Typical max height: 30 inches
- Typical max weight: 180 pounds

These giant mountain dogs were bred by monks at Swiss monasteries to aid with daring alpine rescues—the dogs have become legendary for their rescue talents. Humongous, gentle, slobbery, and affectionate, the breed makes wonderful pets. An 1895 New York Times article reported an 8-foot, 6-inch Saint Bernard, which would be the longest dog ever recorded. The breed is a favorite among fiction writers and directors, and for kids of the 1980s, “Beethoven” is an especially important Saint Bernard.

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#4. Boerboel

- Size index: 88.4
- Typical max height: 27 inches
- Typical max weight: 200 pounds

These dogs from South Africa have been bred as guard dogs for large farm properties, which means they must be prepared to encounter lions and other large African predators. While loyal and intelligent while well-trained, this breed is ridiculously powerful—the ownership of these dogs is banned in a handful of countries around the world.

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#3. Irish wolfhound

- Size index: 96
- Typical max height: 35 inches
- Typical max weight: 180 pounds

These tall, rough-coated giants have a build like a greyhound, but much heavier. They are lean, introverted, and highly devoted to their owners. Because of their history as hunters of wolves and ancient war dogs, they have been historically mythologized and feared—Julius Caesar wrote about encountering them during his Gallic Wars.

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#2. Great Dane

- Size index: 99.1
- Typical max height: 34 inches
- Typical max weight: 200 pounds

These German giants were bred to work and to hunt boars. The short-haired dogs are exceptionally tall with floppy ears. One Great Dane, named Zeus, held the impressive distinction of the world’s tallest dog, standing 44 inches from foot to withers before passing away in 2014. Because of their huge size and classic dog look, Great Danes are a favorite for cartoonists and directors.

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Kachalkina Veronika // Shutterstock

#1. Mastiff

- Size index: 100
- Typical max height: 30 inches
- Typical max weight: 230 pounds

The mastiff, also known as the English mastiff, is big all-around, with a broad head, a thick chest, and a massive body. The short-haired giants can either be light fawn or dark brittle, but always have a black muzzle. Mastiff-type dogs have been around since antiquity and have always been written of in mythological terms. And for good reason. In the 1989 Guinness Book of World Records, Zorba, an English mastiff, measured an incredible 8 feet, 3 inches from nose to tail and weighed a record-breaking 343 pounds.

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