Giant dog breeds are as a whole the least common size type for dogs in the UK, and most of us find it quite notable if we see a particularly huge dog when out and about on walks.
There are only around 17 giant dog breeds that are regularly offered for sale in the UK, compared to several dozen for the other size categories like medium sized and small dogs, and even dogs of each of these individual giant breeds aren’t hugely common in the UK as a whole.
A large part of the reason why giant dog breeds aren’t as populous as dogs of smaller sizes comes down to their sheer size alone, and there are a lot of implications to think about if you’re considering getting a giant dog to join your family.
First of all, as mentioned, giant breeds aren’t as easy to find offered for sale as smaller breeds, which means that even once you’ve picked a breed you might have to travel some way or join a waiting list to find a viable litter to choose from.
One of the main restrictions that serves to keep a lot of people who might otherwise wish to own a giant dog breed from buying one is the amount of space a very large dog breed needs. Giant breeds need a home that is large and spacious enough to allow them to move around comfortably, have a large enough bed and generally be able to chill out at home without continually having to navigate carefully around furniture, and they also need a relatively large yard or garden too.
Giant dog breeds are also often expensive dogs to buy, and the average overall lifespan of giant breeds tends to be a touch lower than the norms across the board as well.
It is not only the potential purchase cost of a giant dog that constitutes a considerable expense either – giant dog breeds are also more expensive to keep and care for too. This is self-evident when it comes to things like food, which of course, giant breeds need a lot of, but it also has an impact on everything else you will need to buy for your dog too.
The vast majority of dog products from beds and bowls to collars and leads are categorised by size, and as you work your way up the size spectrum, the prices increase too. Even flea and wormer doses and many veterinary procedures cost more for giant dogs, and it is certainly true that owning a giant dog breed and providing them with the appropriate care is an expensive endeavour.
However, if you have your heart set on a particular dog breed and it happens to be a supersized one, or if you have a huge soft spot for giant dogs in general and wish to find a giant breed to suit you, you may already have narrowed down your options to some of the world’s bigger dog breeds.
Doing plenty of research into the care and ownership challenges of owning a giant breed and the costs involved too is vital, but if you’re just starting to explore giant dog ownership and haven’t got as far as choosing your preferred breed yet, it can be hard to know where to start.
Compounded with this, as mentioned, few of us see a lot of giant dog breeds out and about on a regular basis, and so we don’t often get a chance to learn more about individual breeds from their owners and the dogs themselves. Unless you already know a lot about dogs and dog breeds already, you might not even know what breeds are classed as giant when you’re shopping around, and it can be very hard to tell from pictures alone!
To help you to narrow down your options and find the perfect giant dog breed, a good starting point is to find out what giant breeds other people tend to prefer, and why. The popularity of different dog breeds can be very variable, and those that are the most popular and in demand tend to be those that share a range of positive traits that helps them to appeal to lots of different types of owners.
Simply because a giant breed is very well known or seems to appeal to a lot of different people won’t necessarily make it the right breed for you of course, but it can help you to explore further and rule the breed in or out of your own decision-making criteria.
However, knowing how to find out what type of dog breeds of a certain type are the most popular isn’t easy, and if you asked a lot of different dog owners, you’d be sure to get a lot of different answers.
This is where Pets4Homes can help. As the largest and busiest dedicated pet classifieds website in the UK, Pets4Homes hosts tens of thousands of adverts for dogs and puppies for sale every year, and we collate information over the course over the year on the popularity of different dog breeds, and how they compare to each other.
This information is based on real data supplied by dog and puppy sellers who advertise here, which enables us to build up a snapshot of the current state of play when it comes to dog breeds and their respective popularity levels, divided up into size groups.
In this guide, we’ll share with you our findings on the top five most popular giant dog breeds in the UK for 2019, based on Pets4Homes advert data from 2018.
We’ll begin by explaining more about what constitutes a giant dog breed and how we determined the popularity rankings, before sharing the list itself. We’ll also provide valuable supporting information for each dog breed on their average price points, and whether pedigree or non-pedigree adverts for dogs of each listed breed are more common.
We will also provide a basic introductory guide to each breed mentioned too, to help you to find out more about them. Read on to learn more about the five most popular giant dog breeds in the UK for 2019.
Let’s get started by explaining the parameters we used to determine what constitutes a giant dog breed, and what it means when we say that a dog is “giant.”
Giant dog breeds do of course stand out in a crowd, and the sheer size and bulk of them often takes many of us by surprise the first time we see a truly giant breed, but if you’re researching dog breeds online or looking through images, this can be much harder to determine.
Dogs towards the top end of the large breed size spectrum often come fairly close to the sort of sizes achieved by giant breeds at the smaller end of their respective scale, and you have to factor in build and weight as well as simply height.
Categorising different groups of dogs based on their sizes is a common practice to help to divide breeds into groups with relevant shared traits, but if all that those breeds have in common is their size, the personalities and core traits exhibited by each breed can be highly variable.
Size groups can be useful to help prospective puppy buyers and people seeking to learn what type of breeds fall within a certain size range, but outside of this purpose, the use of size groupings are limited.
For dog showing and Kennel Club puppy registration purposes, dogs are instead divided into different types of groups that may contain a wide sampling of dogs of different sizes, which are instead united by a shared working history or core traits, like the terrier dog group or the gundog group.
Grouping dogs in this way is useful to determine best of type and best in show awards, which pit the winning dogs from individual breed classes side by side against dogs of other breeds with shared traits to determine the best dog overall. Size is implicit to the toy dog group, all of the members of which are small – but within the other Kennel Club dog groups, a variety of breed sizes can be found, and the giant breeds are spread across several of them.
We’ll indicate which Kennel Club dog grouping each of our most popular giant dog breeds falls within alongside of the popularity information we will share for each of them.
So, what is classed as a giant dog breed for the purposes of dividing dogs up into size categories? Ultimately, it comes down to a combination of the dog’s height, weight and build when they are fully grown.
For the purposes of inclusion or exclusion from our giant dog breeds popularity list for 2019, we’ve considered only dogs from breeds whose average adult heights fall above the 70cm mark, and/or whose average weights fall above the 60kg mark.
This means that a giant dog breed might be reasonably but not overly tall but very heavy and muscular, or they may be very tall but lean and leggy, and less heavy in build. Some giant dog breeds are of course both very tall and very heavy, but all of the breeds on our list are very much giant breeds, which would be immediately obvious if you saw them when out and about.
For the purposes of creating our giant dog breed popularity list, we’ve only counted dog breeds that are formally recognised by the Kennel Club in the UK as being eligible for pedigree registration, which means that cross-breeds, hybrid dog types and breeds that are currently in development for future pedigree registration have not been considered.
Within many pedigree dog breeds, however, non-pedigree examples of the breed are very popular and in demand, and in some cases, more numerous than pedigrees with paperwork. Non-pedigree dogs of pedigree breeds also generally cost a little less to buy than their pedigree counterparts too, all of which can be useful information for prospective buyers.
We’ll share information on the split between pedigree and non-pedigree dogs of each breed on our list too, as well as details on the average price points for each respective variant.
Next, we’ll outline how we gathered the data we have used to draw up our list, and how to interpret it accurately.
Before you dive right into the giant dog popularity listing and start to explore the breeds included in more depth, it is important to understand what the information you will read can tell you, and its limitations.
Pets4Homes is the most widely used and busiest dedicated pet classifieds website in the UK, and every year we host more dog and puppy adverts and receive more traffic to our adverts than any other pet classifieds platform.
Whilst we do not of course have access to information on the data collated by other pet sale sites or dogs that change hands by other methods, our position as the largest and best pet classifieds site in the UK means that our own data, when interpreted accurately, provides a true, real-time reflection of the wider state of play across the UK.
The rankings of our list and the supporting information we have supplied to assist prospective giant breed puppy buyers has been collated from real data supplied to us by dog and puppy sellers when they place an advert for a dog for sale on Pets4Homes, based on the specifics supplied by sellers about their own individual dogs.
When a puppy seller creates an advert here, they enter information like the dog’s breed, pedigree status, asking price and area, and data such as breed, pedigree status and price are anonymised and entered into our database to form the core of the raw information we work with.
We can then collate lists of dogs based on things like the number of adverts placed on a breed by breed basis, pricing from low to high, and split between pedigree and non-pedigree dogs of each breed. When we consider this information across a set period of time and use parameters like breed sizes, we can return definitive rankings for popularity by breed within size categories for Pets4Homes adverts.
Here is some further information on how to understand and interpret our data, and the factors to consider when doing so.
In order to produce Pets4Homes’ list of the most popular giant dog breeds in the UK for 2019, we worked from data gathered and collated for 2018, the most recent year we have a full twelve month set of data to work with.
From our raw data on all dog breeds and sizes, we used the parameters outlined above to determine which dog breeds fall into the giant size category, and placed them in order based on the number of adverts placed here for dogs of giant breeds in 2018.
Accompanying the data for each dog breed in terms of their position on the giant breeds popularity list, we’ve also included a variety of other information that could be of use to puppy buyers, including the average advertised price for each breed, the split between pedigree and non-pedigree prices, the breed’s popularity ranking out of dogs of all sizes, and which Kennel Club grouping each breed is included within too.
To draw up our list itself, we have only considered pedigree dog breeds that are recognised by the Kennel Club in the UK, and have discounted mixed breeds and hybrid dog types that are not classed as pedigrees.
When an advertiser places a for sale ad here on Pets4Homes, they can choose to either advertise one individual dog (or one puppy from a litter, with a new ad for each pup) or to place an advert for a whole litter altogether.
As most dog breeders place one advert for a whole litter rather than individual adverts for each puppy, the figures we have used to calculate popularity by breed are based on the number of ads placed in 2018, and not the exact number of dogs.
The total number of individual dogs and puppies advertised for each breed will be higher than our mentioned figures due to this, but as the practice of using one advert for a whole litter is normal across all dog breeds, the actual popularity rankings based on advert numbers remains consistent as the same parameters were used for each breed on the list.
This is why you will see us refer to the number of adverts placed rather than the number of dogs advertised within the popularity rankings.
To calculate the average asking price for each giant dog breed on our list, we have once again worked from real information supplied by our advertisers within their listings. This has enabled us to build up a picture based on 2018 adverts for giant dog breeds for the average price asked per dog, and how this varies from breed to breed.
Before we worked out the averages, we first discounted the pricing information supplied in adverts where no price was stated, or the price fell well outside of the norms – being under £100 or over £8,000 respectively. This helps us to make sure that the prices points we mention are representative, and are not artificially inflated or reduced due to listing errors or anomalies.
We have also shown the difference in prices for each breed between pedigree dogs and non-pedigrees, as there is often a significant gap between the two.
In order to ensure that the popularity information we’ve provided for each giant dog breed is useful to prospective puppy buyers, we’ve also taken a look at why the breeds on our list are so popular in the first place, and their core traits. Learning about the good points of each breed as well as any potential challenges that may accompany them can help puppy buyers to rule breeds in or out of consideration, or bookmark those to find out more about.
Within our list, you will find insights into each breed’s popularity and pricing, as well as their core traits, temperament and size, and some conclusions on what type of owners each breed suits and why they are in such high demand.
We will also include mention of the Kennel Club breed group each giant breed falls within, to give you a head start on finding out more about their shared origins and histories.
With this explained, let’s move on to the giant dog breed popularity list for 2019, presented in reverse order.
The mastiff or English mastiff is a large, stocky dog breed with drooping jowls and a somewhat melancholy expression, tempered by a soulful and very loving personality.
The first thing you’ve probably noticed from our mastiff facts and figures is that even though this breed is the 5th most popular giant dog in the UK, just 264 of them were offered for sale on Pets4Homes in 2018.
Whilst Pets4Homes is of course not the only website that puppy sellers might list their dogs on, we are the largest, and so our results reflect a very low number of dogs of the breed being produced and changing hands each year. As we mentioned earlier on in this guide, giant dog breeds as a whole can be hard to find owners for due to the restrictions that come with their size, and so even many of the more popular giant dog breeds aren’t hugely populous in numbers.
Additionally, mastiffs are quite expensive to purchase, as is often the case with giant dog breeds, and there is a large jump in price from the averages for non-pedigrees to pedigrees too. Almost £500 difference in fact, and adverts for non-pedigree dogs of the breed outnumbered pedigrees by over four to one in 2018 too, and this indicates that the level of demand for pedigrees quite possibly exceeds the current level of supply, which is reflected in the pedigree dog adverts’ high asking prices.
In terms of the mastiff’s size, the breed’s average weights range from 54-113kg, which is a huge range of variation, and males of the breed tend to be the largest dogs, and usually considerably larger than females. Mastiffs can stand between 70-91cm tall at the withers, with males again usually being significantly bigger than females, and dogs of the breed are both heavy and tall, which can make them look very imposing and very much ensures their inclusion within the giant breeds size category.
Mastiffs are quite imposing-looking dogs that are simply big in all respects, including the size of their heads and necks. They have a noble appearance and a very watchful expression, and they tend to be thoughtful and slow-moving dogs, which tend to take their time to make up their minds about new people and situations.
They have deep and broad chests and a lot of wrinkling, as well as drooping jowls, which tends to make this quite a slobbery breed too!
The mastiff coat is short and lies flat, being slightly coarse to the touch in places, and can be found in shades of brindle, fawn and apricot.
So, what makes the mastiff the 5th most popular giant dog breed in the UK? Let’s take a look.
The mastiff is one of the oldest extant dog breeds of all, and they have a long history both within the UK and in other countries too. Originally used for guarding roles and as battle dogs, mastiffs can make for great watchdogs and guard dogs as they are naturally quite alert and watchful, and tend to be very territorial.
Once the dog has established their territory and the people and things within it that are theirs to protect, they take this responsibility very seriously and will actively see off intruders and threats, and bark and make a lot of fuss to alert their owners that something is amiss.
Dogs of the breed tend to be very protective over the children they’ve bonded with in particular, but they can be speculative with strangers and don’t tend to enjoy a lot of rowdy behaviour and noise, so they might be less amenable to children that they don’t know.
The mastiff is both physically powerful and quite confident, which is what helps to make them good guard dogs and watch dogs, but this can also mean that dogs of the breed can be prone to dominance, and so careful training and management is required to ensure that the dog is calm and obedient.
A mastiff that doesn’t have clear direction, rules and boundaries will soon begin to see themselves as the boss, and you cannot win a dispute with a mastiff based on physical strength alone, and so need to work proactively to keep the dog well mannered and respectful of their pack leaders.
However, mastiffs that have a consistent routine and handling and that understand their place in the pack are loving, responsive and kindly mannered dogs, which look to their owners for direction and obey commands reliably.
Mastiffs are not naturally aggressive dogs, and when it comes to people that they don’t know or aren’t sure about, they prefer to keep a distance and assess the situation rather than go steaming in with bared teeth and a lot of noise! That said, mastiffs do demand respect, and you need to earn this over time to win their loyalty and obedience.
They tend to take the same sort of approach to meeting new dogs too, and plenty of socialisation is required for dogs of the breed from a young age, to ensure that they learn good manners and appropriate canine communication.
In terms of the mastiff’s intelligence, they’re not one of the smartest of dog breeds but can still learn and retain the essential commands and execute them reliably, although training can take rather longer than normal for most breeds. Mastiffs tend to be quite one track minded and will get bored quickly if they aren’t enjoying their training or don’t understand what is being asked of them, and so an adaptive, empathic approach to training is required.
Because of the mastiff’s size, confidence and complex personality, they ideally need a trainer and handler who is experienced with the breed, and knows how to get the best out of them. Tackled incorrectly or ignored entirely, training a mastiff can be a real challenge, and early problems can be difficult to resolve further down the line.
However, mastiffs love their owners and bond strongly with them, and they will work hard to please you when you have won their respect.
Mastiffs are quite moderate in terms of how much exercise they need too; as a giant breed they do need a couple of long walks each day, but they’re not hugely fizzy or overly onerous in terms of their need for walks.
The mastiff’s general health and longevity is something else prospective buyers should consider in depth, because whilst the breed’s average lifespan is quite acceptable for a giant breed at between 10-12 years, the list of hereditary health issues that can affect mastiffs is long and varied. Mastiff breeders are advised to undertake pre-breeding health testing for conditions that can be identified in parent stock before they have a litter, and prospective puppy buyers should ask the breeders they are considering about their testing protocols and results.
A mastiff is not a good choice of dog for all owners, and they need an experienced, confident handler and appropriate management, but they can be very rewarding with the right lifestyle.
The Great Dane is not just a giant breed, but also regularly ranked as the world’s tallest dog breed overall, and these distinctive and handsome dogs are very easy to recognise.
The Great Dane is one of the most obvious of the giant dog breeds, being as they are the world’s tallest breed on average, although there is some competition for the record-breaking spot in terms of the tallest dog in the world at any given time, where the Irish wolfhound is another contender!
The 4th-placed Great Dane only saw 19 more adverts placed in 2018 than were listed for the 5th-placed mastiff, and these to breeds tend to swap places on the list fairly regularly as their annual advert numbers tend to be quite close in general.
Once more, 283 adverts across an entire breed within one year is a low number, again, reflecting the various barriers to ownership for many fans of giant dog breeds.
Something else notable about the Great Dane’s advert stats is that pedigree dogs of the breed outnumber non-pedigrees by over two to one, which is quite unusual. Generally within most pedigree breed adverts, the split between pedigree and non-pedigree specimens is closer to the half and half mark, or even weighted in favour of the non-pedigrees rather than the other way around.
The Great Dane is objectively quite expensive to buy with the average price being £949, but once more, this is well within the average norms for such a large breed, and reflects the costs involved in owning, caring for and breeding Great Danes, as well as the reasonably low numbers produced each year.
The difference between the price of pedigrees and non-pedigrees is quite small too, which indicates that demand for dogs of the breed in general is likely to be slightly higher than the available supply, which serves to keep the costs of non-pedigrees relatively high too.
The Great Dane’s sheer size is often imposing enough to make people stop and stare when they walk by, and this is a very tall breed that whilst not overly heavy in relation to their height, is still large in general and very balanced in conformation.
Great Danes stand on average up to around 81cm tall at the withers, although male dogs in particular are often rather taller, and the breed’s weight ranges between 46-62kg. Great Danes have very long legs that are responsible for most of their height, and they also have long bodies too, making them rangy and lithe whilst not hugely lean.
The chest of dogs of the breed is deep but often narrow, and their muzzles are long and balanced, with large, kind eyes and a generally gentle demeanour.
So, why is the Great Dane popular amongst people seeking a giant dog breed? There are various factors to consider.
First of all, if you’re looking for a giant dog breed that will fit well into a suitably-sized family home with children and a suburban lifestyle, the Great Dane is one of the best choices. Dogs of the breed are particularly notable for being kind natured and calm although sometimes quite silly, and they have a particular affinity for children.
Great Danes tend to be gentle and affectionate dogs as a whole that are keen to make new friends, and they don’t tend to find children overly daunting or stressful as long as they know how to behave around the dog. Dogs of the breed often form very strong bonds with the children in their family, and will even accept training commands from them when given properly.
The breed as a whole is widely considered to be nicely natured and not prone to aggression, although they will defend their families and protect them against potential threats. Like most dog breeds, Great Danes can be a little territorial and as such they make for great watchdogs, but they are not aggressive dogs as a rule, and don’t tend to thrive when used solely as guard dogs.
The Great Dane’s coat is short and straight and so not difficult to care for, although they do benefit from being brushed a couple of times a week, as well as having the occasional bath. They tend to shed a moderate amount, but given the size of dogs of the breed, this can seem like quite a lot of fur around the house!
Great Danes are a high energy breed that is rangy and likes to canter about and stretch their legs, so they need a relatively large garden or enclosed outdoor space to play in, and at least a couple of long, active daily walks. However, assuming that they get enough walks and exercise, dogs of the breed are usually calm and well mannered within the home, and they don’t tend to be problematic or destructive. They are also generally happy to be left alone at home for a few hours at a time, assuming that they are acclimatised to this slowly.
The Great Dane’s intelligence falls around the middle of the pack which makes them a good middle of the road choice, and tends to mean that they can be trained effectively by even a first-time owner who has done enough research to have a good understanding of the breed, how to handle them, and what makes them tick.
The average lifespan of the Great Dane is between 8-10 years, which is slightly on the low side across the board of all dog breeds and types, but fairly normal for particularly large and giant breeds, which tend to have slightly shorter lifespans.
However, there are a range of breed-specific Great Dane health issues that can arise within the breed as a whole, most notably hip dysplasia, heart problems, and a predisposition to bloat or gastric torsion due to the shape and size of the chest of dogs of the breed.
There is also a code of ethics in place for the breed in terms of the colour and pattern combinations that Great Danes can or should display, and so prospective buyers are advised to learn about this too, and make an appropriate choice of puppy.
Whilst the Great Dane’s health as a whole has a number of challenges and can be complex, you can greatly reduce the chances of buying a puppy with hereditary health issues by choosing one from a litter whose breeder undertook pre-breeding health tests on their parent dogs.
Researching the health of the breed is vital before making a purchase, as is learning about the personality of Great Danes and how they need to be handled and managed, but this is a very versatile giant dog breed that can be a good fit for a wide range of different types of owners who have room for a dog of this type.
The Saint Bernard is a giant dog breed that is better known to many of us over a certain age as the St. Bruno dog, as the breed was used in a well-known tobacco advertising campaign during the 1980s before such adverts were banned.