Have you ever wondered what it’s like to stand beside a giant in the canine world? Picture yourself walking a dog that turns heads, captures attention, and perhaps even elicits a few gasps. In the realm of dogs, size matters, and today, we’re diving into the fascinating universe of the top ten tallest dog breeds.
1. Irish Wolfhound: The Gentle Giant
The Irish Wolfhound is the tallest of the dog breeds, standing at thirty-two inches at the shoulder. When standing on their hind legs, they may be over seven feet tall. An imposing figure, to be sure, they hunted large game in Ireland.
But don’t let that imposing stature fool you. Irish Wolfhounds don’t make good guard dogs. They are more curious about strangers than suspicious. Their inquisitive nature makes them great companions for traveling adventures – if you have a big enough car.
2. Great Dane: Counter Surfers Extraordinaire
Great Danes may be listed as the second tallest dogs, and they often compete with Irish Wolfhounds for the world’s tallest dog; they can also stand up to thirty-two inches at the shoulder. Trained to hunt wild boar, they will follow their nose, which is often counter height, so be careful where you place that plate of steaks.
Great Danes are happy-go-lucky dogs whose tails will wag all day long. Just be careful. Those tails are powerful. If you want a dog that loves playing sports as much as you, the Great Dane is for you. They are working dogs and enjoy the challenge of dog sports like agility and flyball.
3. English Mastiff: A Giant with a Heart of Gold
Now, let’s talk about the English Mastiff. They’re massive, coming in at thirty-one inches at the shoulder. These dogs have quite a history, having come to America aboard the Mayflower and used as guardians for settlers and their livestock.
English Mastiffs tend to be more suspicious of strangers and very protective of their human pack, but with training and socialization, they make great companions. They are also known for drooling and snoring, so have a set of towels and earplugs handy at night.
4. Leonberger: Majestic, Friendly, and a Bundle of Fur
With its lion-like mane, the Leonberger might seem more suited to guarding the outside of the New York City Library than being your companion, but being by your side is where they would rather be.
These dogs are loyal and known for their athleticism. They enjoy water sports and may dunk their heads in their water bowl. Be prepared with lots of activities for them to expend energy and towels to dry them off after a swim. They may not do well with other dogs, and training is paramount with this large breed.
5. Saint Bernard: More than Just a Rescue Dog
Saint Bernard’s may be the most recognizable of the giant breeds. Monks first bred these dogs for search and rescue operations in, you guessed it, the hospice of Saint Bernard. And yes, they did wear jugs of spirits around their necks to revive those losing consciousness.
Though still used for rescue missions, the breed has become a great companion in homes worldwide. Be prepared with towels. Saint Bernards are another giant breed that drool a lot.
6. Newfoundland: The Versatile Water Dog
Newfoundland dogs are not just tall; they’re versatile. Named for Canada’s Newfoundland area, this dog was the everyman’s working dog. The Newfoundland dog is a versatile canine. They can work as a fisherman’s helper, bringing in the nets or retrieving items that went overboard.
These dogs are built to swim, with their thick double coat and webbed feet. They are used for water rescues and even jump out of helicopters and low-flying planes to rescue people. If you live near water, this is the dog for you. They are just as happy hanging out on the couch with you as in the water.
7. Scottish Deerhound: Graceful Giants of the Highlands
With its slender physique akin to a Greyhound, the Scottish Deerhound might not fit the typical image of a giant dog. But make no mistake; these dogs compete for the world’s tallest, standing between twenty-eight and thirty inches at the shoulder.
They were once exclusively owned by Scottish royalty and used for hunting the Scottish stag. If this dog looks familiar, it’s what Sirius Black turned into in the Harry Potter series. So whether you want to feel like Scottish royalty or a wizard, the Scottish Deerhound is a solid choice.
8. Anatolian Shepherd Dog: Guardians of America’s Endangered Species
Originating from Turkey, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is more than just a tall presence in the field. These dogs are known for their protective instincts, independence, and unwavering loyalty.
The Turks considered these dogs so valuable they didn’t export them until the 20th century. But once they arrived here, they were destined for greatness. They now protect endangered species in America. Because of their independent nature, these dogs may not do as well in urban environments as other breeds.
9. Tibetan Mastiff: Ancient Guardians with a Regal Air
The Tibetan Mastiff is the world’s oldest and most primitive dog breed. With their double coat, they are more commonly referred to as the “bear dog,” these gentle giants are more teddy bear-like than bear-like.
The Tibetan monks bred these dogs to help guard their monasteries from attacks. They still keep their guardian tendencies but have adapted quite well to a more urban lifestyle. Despite their imposing appearance, Tibetan Mastiffs are known for their loyalty and protective nature.
10. Neapolitan Mastiff: Wrinkles and Wisdom
Lastly, let’s talk about the Neapolitan Mastiff. Used initially as Tibet and Roman war dogs, these gentle giants have settled into a more refined domestic life on your lap. Yes, these dogs don’t seem to realize how big they are and will curl onto your lap.
The Neapolitan Mastiff’s wrinkles aren’t just for show. Those folds of skin help to deflect bites and scratches. Beneath those folds is a loyal and protective companion. They drool, so be prepared for a couch potato partner with their own set of towels.
And there you have it—the magnificent world of the top ten tallest dog breeds. Hopefully, this has ignited a spark of curiosity about these gentle giants. Whether you’re considering adopting one or just fascinated by the larger canines, remember, each of these tall, waggy tails comes with its unique twist and an interesting history.