Big Dog Breeds
Bigger is not always better, but it is always impressive. There are many large dog breeds, each with different care and training needs. Most large dog breeds were bred for a purpose or function. Some breeds were meant to be hunters, others guard dogs.
People have been intrigued by giant-size dogs for millennia, keeping them to guard family, flocks and property and to hunt big game. They have also relied on four-legged giants to perform tasks that required size and strength, such as pulling carts with heavy loads. Giant dog breeds can look very intimidating, but most are surprised to find out these dogs are just gentle giants wanting to snuggle.
Giant breeds often possess tender, loving temperaments, but before you get one, remember to factor in the costs associated with keeping a large dog breed. In terms of food, veterinary bills and space, the costs can be gigantic.
Oh, baby! A Great Dane is truly a great dog breed . The Great Dane combines, in its regal appearance, dignity, strength and elegance with great size and a powerful, well-formed, smoothly muscled body. It is one of the giant working breeds, but is unique in that its general conformation must be so well balanced that it never appears clumsy, and shall move with a long reach and powerful drive. It is always a unit — the Apollo of dogs. Apollo is the Greek god of the sun, the brightest fixture in the sky. The Great Dane certainly holds stature in the dog world; but though he looks terribly imposing, in reality he’s one of the best-natured dogs around. For all of his size, a Great Dane is a sweet, affectionate pet. He loves to play and is gentle with children. A Great Dane must be spirited, courageous, never timid; always friendly and dependable. This physical and mental combination is the characteristic which gives the Great Dane the majesty possessed by no other breed.
If you’ve ever seen a mastiff, you’ll agree that there is one word that can properly size up its appearance: powerful. No kidding, this dog is huge — not as tall as a Great Dane but probably twice as thick at between 2 and 3 feet tall with a weight of between 130 and 220 pounds. The Mastiff is a large, massive, symmetrical dog with a well-knit frame. The impression is one of grandeur and dignity. Dogs are more massive throughout. Bitches should not be faulted for being somewhat smaller in all dimensions while maintaining a proportionally powerful structure. A good evaluation considers positive qualities of type and soundness with equal weight.
Fittingly, these dogs make excellent guard dogs. Though the mastiff seems beast-like, it is surprisingly affectionate, gentle and extremely loyal. Their devotion to their owners and patience with children have secured their popularity for years, though they must be properly socialized to get along well with children and other pets, and it’s best if you don’t have them around very small children or adults who are frail as they can easily knock them over, causing serious injuries. Their life span is generally between 6 and 10 years, but some have lived as long as 18 years.
The Neapolitan Mastiff is a heavy-boned, massive, awe inspiring dog bred for use as a guard and defender of owner and property. He is characterized by loose skin, over his entire body, abundant, hanging wrinkles and folds on the head and a voluminous dewlap. The essence of the Neapolitan is his bestial appearance, astounding head and imposing size and attitude. Due to his massive structure, his characteristic movement is rolling and lumbering, not elegant or showy.
The massive, solid Neapolitan Mastiff is an imposing hulk of a dog, and it’s meant to be. A writer during the days of the Roman Empire described the ideal guard dog for the house as visible during daylight hours and able to fade into the shadows at night to attack without being seen. He called for a head so massive that it seems to be the most important part of the body. The description fits the Neapolitan, whose ancestors may have first been brought to Italy from Greece, where they were much esteemed. The Romans found all sorts of jobs for these mighty dogs. Not only were they employed as guardians of the home, they were also used for hunting, as war dogs and as contestants in Roman Circus events. The breed continued to exist in the Naples area, though it was largely ignored for several centuries. A few fanciers undertook the reconstruction of the breed after World War II and it has steadily attracted a following. Neapolitan Mastiffs may tip the scales at more than 150 pounds, and stand as high as 31 inches. This is a powerful, dominant breed that requires early and ongoing socialization and training. Not the dog for a first-time owner. Choose an experienced, knowledgeable breeder with care.
The Bullmastiff dog breed is a firm and fearless family guardian. While standoffish toward strangers he’s got a soft spot for his loved ones. He has a short, easy-care coat, but he is a drooler.
Developed in England as the gamekeeper’s night dog, the Bullmastiff represents a cross between the Mastiff and the Bulldog. The breed’s job was to warn the gamekeeper of poachers and, if necessary, throw and hold the intruder but not harm it. The breed is powerful and compact; males stand up to 27 inches at the shoulder and may weigh up to 130 pounds. The coat is short and dense in red, fawn or brindle, all with a black face mask. The coat sheds little, and a good weekly rubdown keeps it gleaming and free of dead hair. The Bullmastiff makes a loyal family pet and a superb guard dog. These dogs have been known to do well as apartment dwellers but are really house and garden types.
The Newfoundland is a large, strong dog breed from — wait for it — Newfoundland. He was originally used as a working dog to pull nets for fishermen and haul wood from the forest. He is a capable and hardworking dog, well suited to work on land or water. He is a strong swimmer and equally strong “pack horse.” Sweet-natured and responsive, he makes a wonderful family companion as well.
The Newfie is a robust, family-loving dog, equally at home in the water and on land. This large, strong, active dog is capable of heavy work, yet the breed’s gentleness, even temper and devotion make the Newf an ideal companion for child or adult. In Newfoundland, this dog was originally used as a working dog to pull nets for the fishermen and to haul logs from the forest for the lumbermen. Elsewhere, the Newf did heavy labor of many kinds, powering the blacksmith’s bellow and the turner’s lathe. The oily nature of its double coat, which effectively keeps the Newf from getting wet to the skin, its webbed feet, its deep, broad chest and well-sprung ribs make it a natural swimmer. The Newfoundland has true instinct for life-saving and is renowned in this role. Average height for males is 28 inches at the shoulder, weight about 150 pounds; females 2 inches and 30 pounds less. The long coat is flat, dense and water resistant, and sheds twice each year’in spring and fall. Acceptable coat colors include black, brown, gray, and white and black. Regular grooming is necessary to remove dead hair and keep the coat shiny and tangle-free. The Newfie is friendly, easygoing, and loves the outdoors. It’s most comfortable in a large home where it will receive daily exercise and lots of time with the family.
The Dogue de Bordeaux’s origin is not known, but it’s likely that the Mastiff and Bulldog each played a part in its development. The breed was once used as a fighting dog, challenging bulls, bears and other dogs. The Dogue is powerful and massive, but surprisingly athletic and quick. A large, expressive head characterizes this breed. As with most dogs that were once bred for fighting, the Dogue de Bordeaux has a powerful jaw. This breed is built low to the ground, but is well balanced. The standard calls for males to weigh at least 100 pounds and stand 24 to 27 inches at the shoulder; bitches are slightly smaller. Dogues come in several colors, but dark auburn is preferred. The short coat requires only a weekly brushing. By far the most distinctive feature about the French Mastiff is their gigantic heads, sporting the largest heads of any canine species. They are extremely energetic dogs, requiring many walks throughout the day and a lot of food to replenish their energies.