There’s a whole world of canine giants out there, and you might be wondering what criteria classify a dog as a large breed. Well, we’re going to clear that up for you.
There’s no need to grab a yardstick or a heavy-duty scale to determine if your furry friend falls into the category of large breeds. While there is a mix of factors, such as weight, height, and even breed standards, as a rough guideline, here at Large Breed Dog World, we like to use 50 pounds of weight as the minimum for what we call a large breed.
But more on this in just a little bit.
Defining Large Breed Dogs
Weight is the biggest factor in most people’s minds when they think of big dogs, but there’s a bit more to consider to determine if a dog can strut its stuff as a large breed.
First off, let’s talk about measurements. According to the dog sizing system used by breeders, a dog needs to weigh at least 50 pounds (sometimes 70 pounds, but we like 50) and stand about 24 inches tall to join the large breed club. But wait, there’s more!
Large breeds come in different shapes and sizes. Some might be tall and slender, while others can be large and bulky. Although they share the big dog title, they can have very different appearances.
Now let’s get a little more specific. Some popular large-dog breeds include the elegant Afghan Hound, the trusty Bloodhound, the ever-popular Boxer, and the massive Mastiff. These are all large breeds with very different appearances. For a more extensive list of breeds, you can visit the American Kennel Club’s Largest Dog Breeds page. And to help you find the right large breed just for you, visit our Breed Selector Tool page.
Yet, size isn’t everything! Large breed dogs don’t just come with extended legs and a huggable frame—they also have unique traits, requirements, and personalities. From gentle giants to enthusiastic protectors, each large breed has something special to offer. Just make sure your home and lifestyle are ready to accommodate these big bundles of joy!
When it comes to determining whether a dog is considered a large breed, size definitely plays a significant role. However, to merely look at weight and nothing else will give you an incomplete idea of exactly what classifies a dog as large.
You have a dive a bit deeper into the world of canine size classifications!
Height and Weight
As the saying goes, size isn’t everything, but when it comes to classifying dogs, it’s pretty important.
We’ve already said that our basic criteria for a large dog is a minimum weight of 50 pounds or more. However, you also have to look at how tall they are.
Many dog authorities use a minimum height of 24 inches for a dog to be considered a large breed. To us, this seems a bit high. Some of the lighter (50 – 70 pounds) large breeds – for example, the Standard Poodle and the Dalmation – can be as short as 19 inches but are still considered large dogs by most people.
Difference between Medium and Large Breed Dogs
Trying to tell the difference between medium and large-breed dogs can be a bit like comparing apples to slightly larger apples. Medium-sized dogs typically are considered those that stand at 14 – 16 inches or less and weigh less than 50 pounds.
But these are pretty flexible standards. Many people consider a dog as being medium or large based simply on what it looks like to them!
Heavy Weight Dogs That Are Not Considered Large Breeds
Here’s a good reason why we say the standards are pretty flexible.
Sometimes, you’ll come across a dog that’s packing on the pounds, but doesn’t quite fit the large breed criteria. Let’s say you meet a chubby Corgi that weighs a whopping 50 pounds, or a Basset Hound, or a Bulldog. These breeds may only stand 10 -14 inches tall but these chunky fluffballs can be heavy enough to be considered large based on weight alone.
However, their short stature would keep them in the small to medium breed category. That’s why it’s essential to consider both height and weight when classifying a dog’s breed size.
So, whether you’ve got a Great Dane that doubles as a moving coffee table or a pug that’s mistaken for a throw pillow, understanding their breed classification will help you be more aware of their specific care and nutritional needs.
Popular Large Breed Dogs
Alright, let’s spill the beans on some of the most popular large-breed dogs out there. These gentle giants have captured the hearts of many dog lovers with their size, strength, and grace. Let’s dive right into the marvelous world of these colossal canines!
Bernese Mountain Dog
First up, we have the adorable and fluffy Bernese Mountain Dog. Originally from Switzerland, these dogs were bred for drafting and herding; their strength and smarts make them brawny yet brilliant. A Berner typically stands between 23 and 28 inches tall and weighs between 80 and 115 pounds. Now, that’s a whole lot of furball to love!
Next on our list is the stunning German Shepherd. You’ve probably seen these intelligent dogs in many roles such as police work, search and rescue, and even on the big screen (looking at you, Rin Tin Tin). These talented pups usually measure around 22 to 26 inches tall and weigh between 50 and 90 pounds. A well-trained German Shepherd is indeed quite the head-turner!
Let’s not forget the ever-popular Golden Retriever. These lovable goofballs were born to make your day brighter. Exceptionally friendly, even with strangers, they are the life of the party. Golden Retrievers reach heights of 21 to 24 inches and typically weigh between 55 and 75 pounds. These sunny furkids will steal your heart with their smile (and probably your snacks).
Speaking of parties, let’s talk about the majestic Irish Wolfhound. As the tallest of all dog breeds recognized by the AKC, these gentle giants truly stand out in the crowd. Irish Wolfhounds can reach a towering height of 30 to 35 inches and weigh between 105 and 150 pounds. Imagine having this colossal teddy bear by your side! (source)
Last, but certainly not least, is the breed most often voted as the most popular dog breed of all, the friendly and lovable Labrador Retriever. Averaging 55 to 80 pounds and 21 to 24 inches in height, Labs are everybody’s friend. These dogs are all “pros” and almost no “cons”. They are as close to a perfect dog as you can get!
So this is it! Some of the most popular large-breed dogs that will surely make a grand addition to any home. The vast majority of them are rated as excellent family dogs. And if you want to know which large breeds have the other characteristics that you personally look for, be sure to visit our Breed Selector Tool to find your perfect match.
Big Dog Pros and Cons
Yep, Big Dogs Have Big Pros
When it comes to living large, these dogs know how to do it. Big dogs can make a grand entrance at any party and definitely, leave a lasting impression. At the dog park, they are the stars, showcasing both their majestic stature and friendly demeanor.
At 150 pounds and close to three feet in height, some of the largest dog breeds are simply hard to ignore.
As American Kennel Club notes, these gentle giants are often eager to please, making them a joy to train and play with. Large dogs may even inspire you to stay active and fit, as most of them require regular exercise to maintain their mighty physique.
Speaking of mighty physiques, let’s not forget how safe you’ll feel with your large friend. Regardless of whether or not they have a high protective instinct (but most big dogs do!), no one is going to mess with you when you’re with a150 pound Irish Wolfhound that stands seven feet tall on its hind legs!
And finally, let’s not forget those irresistible big-dog cuddles! There’s nothing quite like wrapping your arms around a fluffy Great Pyrenees or sharing the couch with a cozy Newfoundland.
And There Are Some Big Dog Challenges
As much as big dogs might have a larger-than-life presence, they also come with their own set of challenges. For starters, they can be more expensive to care for due to their size. From purchasing larger crates and beds to spending more on food, grooming, and veterinary bills, the costs can add up quickly.
But hey, sometimes you just have to invest in the finer things in life, like a luxury vehicle with fur and four legs!
Big dogs may also have unique health concerns, such as joint issues and a predisposition to certain conditions like hip dysplasia. It’s crucial for their well-being to monitor their weight, exercise, and dietary needs, so be ready to budget your time and financial resources accordingly.
Living accommodations can also be a potential challenge for large dog owners. Those with smaller homes or apartments may find space to be tight when sharing it with a Mastiff or Irish Wolfhound.
And let’s face it, no one has ever mistaken a dog bed for an ottoman, especially when it’s the size of a twin mattress.
In summary, large dogs offer unique experiences, incredible companionship, and certainly make a statement. However, they also present their own set of considerations when it comes to cost, health, and living spaces.
So, embrace the life of the big dog party, but be prepared to overcome the challenges that come with it. No one ever said good things come in small packages, right?