Which Large Breed Dog Is Right For Me?

Use Our Breed Selector Tool To Quickly Find Your Ideal Big Dog

Our Dog Breed Selector lets you quickly and easily identify the breeds that rate highest in the characteristics you want in a big dog.

Although there are over 120 large dog breeds, we only rate the 53 most popular breeds. Most of the others are simply too rare and hard to find to be considered by most people. If you want to read a summarized review of each of these breeds before using the breed selector tool, please see our “Big Dog Overviews” page.

To use our dog breed selector, simply check the box on the drop down menu next to the characteristics you want in your dog. A list of the breeds that score the highest in those characteristics will immediately appear.

You can then check additional characteristics or remove characteristics and the list will change to reflect the changes you made.

If you want to start over, simply click on the “Reset” button to start over.

Be sure look below to read the descriptions of the characteristics, so you’ll better know which ones are important to you.

Large Dog Breed Selector

Breed Characteristics Descriptions

Please remember that these characteristics are generalizations, not guarantees as to how all dogs within that breed will act.

Suitable for Small Yards/Apartments

It may sound odd, but not all large dogs need a big house or a big yard. Several large breeds are fairly low-energy, calm, and are happy to just be lazy on the couch. A small yard or even an apartment is sufficient for these breeds so long as you give them a regular walk. Standard Poodles and Boxers are examples of big dogs that don’t need a lot of roaming space. But bear in mind that even though their nature makes them suitable for a small area, they still take up a lot of space!

Good Family Dog

Some breeds are naturally aloof and independent towards everyone, while some bond closely with just one person. Good family dogs, however, are affectionate with everyone in their family, as well as anyone else they know well. Yes, breed is an important determinant of whether or not a dog is a good family dog, but even breeds that don’t score high in this area can be comfortable with people and form bonds easily if they are raised inside a home in close contact with people.

Low Shedding

Dogs with low shedding won’t fill your clothes and house with dog hair constantly. All dogs shed, but some breeds shed much less than others and require less brushing, lint-rolling, and vacuuming. They are also less likely to trigger allergies.

Kid Friendly

Kid-friendly applies to breeds that are sturdy enough – and good-natured enough – to withstand the hugs, heavy-handed petting, running, and screaming that children tend to do. These breeds tend to be tolerant and not react to the well-intentioned but sometimes rough behavior of kids. At the same time, they usually are excellent family-friendly dogs. But remember that any dog should always be supervised when around children. Even the most kid-friendly large breed dog can injure a small child simply by bumping into them.

Good With Other Dogs

This trait specifically refer to how overall friendly a particular breed is towards other dogs. This is entirely different than friendliness towards humans. Some dogs can be friendly to people but aggressive towards other dogs. Or vice versa. Training and socialization can have a lot to do with this, but some breeds are just naturally better able to get along with other dogs. This is an important trait if you intend to have more than one dog.

Low Drooling

This refers to how drool-prone a particular breed is. If you always want things to be spic and span and have a low tolerance for dogs that leave slobber all over your house and clothes, you’ll want to choose a breed that rates high in the low drooling category.

Easy to Train

This refers to how easy it is to train this breed and how willing it is to learn new things. Breeds that score high in this category are generally cooperative and eager to please. While being easy to train is generally related to intelligence, it does not mean that all intelligent dogs are easy to train. Some breeds are quite intelligent but are also independent-minded and stubborn, which makes them more difficult to train. This is an important trait to have in the larger breeds to prevent them from being the ones to train you!

High Energy Level

This refers to the need for a high amount of physical activity and mental stimulation. High energy breeds are always ready for any kind of action. These breeds were originally bred to have some sort of dog job, such as herding livestock or retrieving game. If they don’t get a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, they may put on extra weight and/or release their pent-up energy in ways you might not like – such as chewing, digging, and barking. These breeds do well with owners who are active or willing to involve their dogs in active sports such as agility.

Friendly to Strangers

Breeds that are friendly to strangers are happy to meet new people and will greet them with wagging tails and licks. But remember that even stranger-friendly dogs will need socialization and exposure to lots of different people to bring out the best in their friendly nature. Also, be aware that some of the super-friendly breeds don’t make the best watchdogs because they are just as likely to lick a burglar as bark at it!

Good General Health

This refers to those breeds that have more of a resistance to some of the diseases that are common to larger dogs, for example, hip dysplasia. This does not mean that dogs we don’t rate high in this characteristic are unhealthy. It merely means that some breeds have a smaller risk of developing some of the common ailments.  

Good for Novice Owners

Some breeds are just easier to own than others. They are more easygoing, affectionate, and easier to train. They are more forgiving of mistakes and inconsistencies you make as a first-time owner. Contrast this with dogs that are independent-minded, assertive, and high-strung, making them difficult for people with no experience. Look for breeds that rate high in this category if you are new to dog parenting.

High Intelligence

Many of the large breeds were bred to perform activities that required intelligence, decision-making, and concentration. As a result, many large breeds rate high on the intelligence scale. High intelligence can also mean good obedience and easy to train, but not always. That said, high intelligence is a good general indicator of a dog that will be easier overall to own. You just have to make sure their intelligence gets the stimulation it needs or your smart dog will create their own stimulation in ways you won’t enjoy – such as chewing or digging.

Likes to Play

Playful dogs are always looking for a game of tag, fetch, or chase and remain enthusiastic about playful activities long into adulthood. These dogs will frequently also rank high on the energy scale. If you enjoy frequent workouts, these are the breeds for you. Otherwise, you need to consider how much tolerance you have for endless games with your playful pup.

Low Amount of Barking

This refers to breeds that are selective about when they choose to bark or howl, rather than barking at every person, bird, and squirrel that they see. These are good breeds to choose if you live in a heavily populated area, a neighborhood with noise restrictions, or an area with a lot of wildlife. Bear in mind that dogs that bark infrequently may not make the best guard dogs.

Tolerates Being Left Alone

These are breeds that are comfortable when their owners are gone and they are alone. Since dogs are very social creatures, very few rate high in this category. In fact, of the 53 large breeds that our breed filter tool rates, only one – the Chow Chow – rates high in this category. Nine other breeds receive a medium rating, but generally speaking, no matter what breed you choose, they will not enjoy being left alone and some will fall into full separation anxiety.

Tolerates Cold Climates

These are breeds that generally have thick or double coats and are thus well-suited for cold weather. Many of these were originally bred in areas of the world containing colder climates. If you live in a hot climate area, you’ll need to watch breeds that rate low in this category carefully to be sure they don’t get overheated when outside.

Tolerates Hot Climate

As you can guess, these are the dogs that don’t have thick, double coats and thus are better able to deal with hotter climates. This also means they are less likely to do well in extremely cold weather. If you live in a colder climate, you’ll need to keep them indoors when the weather is most extreme.

Protective Nature

Dogs with a highly protective nature will react aggressively to any potential threat to their family or their territory. They view this as their primary job and many will willingly give their lives to protect yours. While many protective breeds are not friendly to strangers, others will accept them if they see that they are accepted by their families. Otherwise, you’ll want to make sure to oversee them when they encounter strangers. As you might expect, these breeds tend to make excellent watchdogs and family dogs.

Handles Change Easily

This refers to breeds that can easily adapt to changes in their living conditions, such as their daily schedule, noise, company, and other daily variations in life. These breeds handle change fairly easily, whereas many other breeds desire consistency and a more scheduled life. While all breeds look for some structure in their daily life, breeds that handle change easily can adapt and go with the flow.

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