Dogs of all types are often divided down into size sub sections- toy dogs, small dogs, medium dogs, large dogs and giant dogs! The types of dogs known as giant dogs are perhaps the least commonly kept as pets in the UK, due to the simple logistics of providing enough space for them, filling their exercise needs, and taking care of them. Also of course, the cost of feeding a dog that might quite possibly weigh more than you do is not to be sniffed at! Giant dogs are also often more likely to suffer from a range of health problems and inherited health issues, which are often in large part due to the simple fact that the size and weight of the dog places a significant amount of pressure on the joints and muscles. This means that many giant breeds of dog come with a range of potential future health problems to consider as well, even if you found yourself in a position to be able to provide enough food and space for them! However there’s no getting away from the fact that giant dogs have a very definite appeal to them, and despite their imposing size, are almost always good natured, loving and easy to train.
The largest individual dogs in the world were assessed according to their height and weight respectively, and have been entered into The Guinness Book of Records. The world’s heaviest recognised dog was Zorba, an Old English Mastiff, who entered The Guinness Book of Records in 1981 at a weight of 314.5lb, or over 22 stone! Zorba was later recorded in 1987 as weighing 343lb (24.5 stone). The world’s tallest recognised dog is Zeus, a Great Dane from Michigan in America who plucked the title from another Great Dane (Giant George) in 2012. Zeus is 111.8cm tall, and weighs in at 155lb (11 stone).
Taking the top spot for the overall largest dog breed in the world is the Pyrenean Mastiff dog, averaging around 81cm tall at the withers and weighing in anywhere between 200lb and 300lb or even more! They are generally considered to be calm, loving dogs, not overly energetic, although they are popular as herding dogs in their native home of the Pyrenees mountains.
2. Great Dane
The Great Dane, also sometimes referred to as the German Mastiff, is possibly the most popular of the giant dog breeds commonly kept in the UK. They are generally the tallest of the giant dog breeds, topping 86cm at the withers, and while large and certainly weighty, they are not particularly heavyset.
3. Spanish Mastiff
The Spanish Mastiff is a herding/guarding dog that appears to be slow moving and lazy, but don’t be fooled; the Spanish Mastiff can get up some speed when they have to! They generally weigh around 200lb and there is no lower height limit for the breed, although the average is well over 80cm tall at the withers.
The St. Bernard was made famous and so, popular in the UK in the 1970’s and 1980’s after being featured in a TV advertisement for St. Bruno tobacco- back when tobacco advertising on the TV was still allowed and normal! The St. Bernard comes from the Alps of Switzerland and Italy, and generally weighs around 200lb, although dogs weighing well over 300lb have also been recorded! They are also tall and stocky, standing at around 78cm high at the withers. They are good natured, slow moving and tolerant with children.
5. Japanese Tosa Inu
It is highly unlikely that you will ever see a Japanese Tosa Inu in the flesh unless you leave the UK- they are one of the four breeds of dog that are banned in the UK under the terms of the Dangerous Dogs Act. They weigh around 200lb and stand about 71cm high, although in recent years it has become popular for breeders to breed selectively to produce larger, heavier dogs.
6. Korean Mastiff
The Korean Mastiff is certainly an interesting looking dog- their faces and even eyes are often almost completely hidden behind their incredibly loose folds of skin. They share a common ancestry with the Japanese Tosa Inu, although they are renowned for being docile, loving and not prone to aggression. The Korean Mastiff averages 180lb in weight and 76cm in height at the withers.
7. Old English Mastiff
The Old English Mastiff is one of our homegrown giants, and Zorba, mentioned above, held the distinction of being recognised as the heaviest dog in the world! Although the Old English Mastiff breed often turns out some of the heaviest dogs in the world, the average for the breed tends to be around 180lb in weight and 76cm high, putting them into a respectable seventh place on the list.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the Tibetan Mastiff was crossed with a lion, so large and impressive looking are they, with their thick, flowing fur! They are often used in guarding roles, and are renowned for being rather strong willed and even aggressive- although this of course may have more to do with their training and handling than the traits of the breed itself. The average Tibetan Mastiff stands about 76cm tall and weighs over 200lb.
9. Giant Alaskan Malamute
The Giant Alaskan Malamute is a big, bright-eyed spitz type dog, used as sled dogs in their native Alaska. Standing at around 85cm tall, however, these canine giants will put your average Malamute in the shade! They are muscular, strong and renowned for their endurance, and generally weigh upwards of 180lb- around 100lb heavier than a regular sized Malamute dog!
10. Central Asian Shepherd Dog
The Central Asian Shepherd Dog is a guarding sheep dog, and is one of the most popular dogs in Russia and other former Soviet block countries. They weigh in at around 175lb or more, and stand 80cm or higher at the withers.