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20 Tallest Dog Breeds: Pictures, Facts & History

Written by: Misty Layne

Last Updated on June 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

saint bernard dog standing on the lawn

20 Tallest Dog Breeds: Pictures, Facts & History

“Bigger is better” is a popular motto; for some people, that motto extends to the canines in their lives. Some dogs are incredibly tall and large, so they can seem a bit intimidating at first (particularly if they’re taller than you when they stand on their hind legs!), but large dogs are just as loving and affectionate as smaller breeds.

So, if you’ve been thinking about adding a large or giant dog to your home, here’s a look at the 20 tallest dog breeds around.

How Are Tall Dog Breeds Classified?

When it comes to the classification of tall dogs, there are large and giant breeds. Large dogs must measure at least 24 inches tall and weigh 50–70 pounds. Giant breeds don’t have particular height and weight standards, but they typically weigh 100+ pounds and measure over 24 inches tall.

How do you find the height of a dog? You must measure from their shoulder blades to their feet at the withers while your dog stands.

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The 20 Tallest Dog Breeds

1. Afghan Hound

An afghan hound dog walking on the lawn
Image By: raywoo, Shutterstock
Origin: Somewhere in the Afghanistan, Pakistan, India region
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Height: 27–29 inches

The Afghan Hound is a distinctive-looking dog with a long flowing coat. The Afghan is one of the oldest breeds in the world (there was even a myth about them being on Noah’s Ark!) and alternates between regal and dignified to silly and playful.

Afghan Hounds are independent, intelligent thinkers and make excellent pets for those willing to dedicate the time necessary to training them.


2. Akbash Dog

Akbash
Image Credit: Liam Copeland, Shutterstock
Origin: Turkey
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Height: 28–34 inches

The Akbash Dog is a livestock guardian dog, and due to their protective nature, they don’t always make the best pets (at least not for first-time pet owners). They can be wary around strangers, so they will need extensive training when young.

They become incredibly close with their families but are always alert and ready to protect them.


3. Anatolian Shepherd

anatolian shepherd dog standing
Image Credit: SusImage, Shutterstock
Origin: Anatolia
Lifespan: 11–13 years
Height: 27–29 inches

The Anatolian Shepherd is another ancient breed believed to have been around since at least the Bronze Age. As the name suggests, they are working dogs meant to guard sheep and livestock. However, those guardian tendencies will quickly transfer to the humans in their lives.

They are another breed that requires extensive training and socialization while young; otherwise, they will be overly suspicious of strangers and may become aggressive. With their families, the Anatolian Shepherd is often described as a “gentle giant.”


4. Black Russian Terrier

Black Russian Terrier dog lying in the forest
Image Credit: Marina Trunova, Shutterstock
Origin: Russia
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Height: 26–30 inches

The Black Russian Terrier resulted from Russian scientists and breeders working together in the 1930s to create a “superdog” that could work for the Russian army. They originally worked in prison camps and patrolled borders.

These days, the Black Russian Terrier can make a wonderful pet for the right families since they are sweet, loyal, and protective. They are fairly rare, though, so you may be unable to locate one.


5. Boerboel

Standing boerboel dog in a summer meadow
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock
Origin: South Africa
Lifespan: 9–11 years
Height: 22–27 inches

This mastiff breed originated in South Africa with the influx of Dutch and German settlers in the mid-1600s. They were bred to guard homesteads against wild predators, and they are strong and protective of their owners. That makes them an excellent choice for a family guard dog.

Though calm, confident, and eager to please their people, the Boerboal might be too much for a newbie dog owner to handle. Like other tall dogs on our list, they need extensive training and socialization when young.


6. Borzoi

borzoi_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay
Origin: Russia
Lifespan: 9–14 years
Height: 28–33 inches

The Borzoi breed has been around since the Romanovs ruled Russia, but they might not be a breed you’re familiar with. They look similar to Greyhounds and have the speed to match (they can get up to 40mph!). That speed helped them in their original designation as wolf hunters.

These days, they’re much better suited to being pets, with their relaxed, gentle nature. As former hunters, be aware they’re big on chasing things smaller than them, so they may not do well in homes with cats or smaller dogs.


7. Bukovina Sheepdog

Bukovina Sheepdog
Image Credit: Fabian Emanuel Balint, Shutterstock
Origin: Romania
Lifespan: 10–15 years
Height: 25–31 inches

The Bukovina Sheepdog is a livestock guardian dog from Romania, but despite their guard dog background, they aren’t particularly aggressive canines. Because they’re bred in Romania for the most part, you may find it challenging to find one in the U.S., but if you do, you’ll find these pups are sweet, gentle, loyal, and highly intelligent.

They can also be a bit stubborn at times,  so they may be a handful during training.


8. Bullmastiff

bullmastiff outdoors in autumn
Image Credit: photosounds, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Lifespan: 7–9 years
Height: 24–27 inches

The Bullmastiff was bred in England in the mid to late 19th century to scare poachers away from large estates with game preserves. These canines can be intimidating at first glance, so it’s easy to see how they could accomplish this task! As a Bulldog and Mastiff mix, the Bullmastiff isn’t as tall as the Mastiff, but they come close.

Though they are large enough to look scary, they can make excellent pets for those willing to spend the necessary time training during puppyhood. The Bullmastiff is fearless, loyal, and calm.


9. English Mastiff

English Mastiff
Image Credit: Michal Ninger, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Lifespan: 6–10 years
Height: 28–31 inches

The English Mastiff (or just Mastiff) is another ancient breed that’s been around for eons, and they’re one of the tallest canines around. Though some of these pups can outweigh an adult man, they’re exceptionally gentle and patient. They are still guardians, so they require a lot of training when they’re young; otherwise, they may be overly wary of strangers, which could cause issues.

English Mastiffs require a commitment nearly as large as they are, so consider carefully whether you’re up to the task before getting one!


10. Great Dane

great dane dog standing on grass
Image Credit: belu gheorghe, Shutterstock
Origin: Germany
Lifespan: 7–10 years
Height: 28–32 inches

Great Danes are among the tallest canines on the planet. Though many will reach 32 inches tall, several Great Danes have been taller than that, like Zeus, the tallest dog ever to live, standing at 44 inches! Then there’s Giant George, another Great Dane who was 43 inches tall, and the current tallest dog (another Great Dane named Zeus), who is 39 inches tall.

So, if you get one of these pups, be aware they’ll soon tower over you! The breed initially hunted boar, but these days, they make giant, friendly pets.


11. Great Pyrenees

great pyrenees dog sitting outdoor
Image Credit: outdoor-Mikhail Farina, Shutterstock
Origin: Pyrenees Mountains
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Height: 25–32 inches

These herding dogs are powerful enough to deter wolves from stealing sheep, yet incredibly mellow and patient as pets. The Great Pyrenees gets along with children, not only during play but also when it comes to keeping them safe.

They require training to ensure they don’t become overly protective; due to their strong independent streak, you might run into a few issues during this time.


12. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Image Credit: Nadiia Diachenko, Shutterstock
Origin: Swiss Alps
Lifespan: 8–11 years
Height: 24–28.5 inches

When you think of the Swiss Alps, you probably picture the St. Bernard, but the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is also from the region. They are the descendants of Julius Caesar’s war dogs, so they’ve been around in one form or another for a while.

This is a rarer breed, but if you manage to get your hands on one, you’ll find them dependable, calm, and intelligent. They can be stubborn, so early training while they’re still small is a must!


13. Greyhound

greyhound dog standing on the meadow
Image Credit: Haletska Olha, Shutterstock
Origin: Egypt
Lifespan: 10–13 years
Height: 27–30 inches

As the ubiquitous racing dog, the Greyhound breed is another of the tallest canines around. Coming from ancient Egypt, they’ve been around for ages and are known not just for their speed but their elegance. Though known best for their speed, the Greyhound originated as a hunting dog who hunted by sight rather than sound.

You might have difficulty locating a Greyhound as a pet (as they’re usually bred for racing), but they’re worth the effort. They’re known for being laidback, gentle, and tolerant. However, they’re independent pups, so they can be challenging to train.


14. Irish Setter

irish setter standing in the field
Image Credit: Reddogs, Shutterstock
Origin: Ireland
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Height: 25–27 inches

The Irish Setter is an absolutely gorgeous canine with a red coat. They also has an amazing temperament that makes them fantastic family pets. If you’re looking for a friendly, sweet-tempered, playful, easier-to-train tall dog, the Irish Setter could be a perfect fit!


15. Irish Wolfhound

irish wolfhound is standing on a green meadow
Image Credit: Tikhomirov Sergey, Shutterstock
Origin: Ireland
Lifespan: 6–8 years
Height: 30–32 inches

You may not be as familiar with the Irish Wolfhound as some of the other dogs on our list, but they hail from the time of the Roman Empire and were originally bred to hunt wolves. Nowadays, they’re more than suited to a pet’s life with their mild-mannered, friendly temperaments. The Irish Wolfhound needs a lot of space to play, and they’re better suited to life outside the city.

They can also be a bit lazy sometimes, so you’ll have to encourage them in their daily exercise!


16. Leonberger

leonberger dog in the grass
Image Credit: Ricantimages, Shutterstock
Origin: Germany
Lifespan: 8–9 years
Height: 25–31.5 inches

It’s no surprise that the Leonberger is known for their grace and elegance; they were initially bred to be the companion of royals! A royal pup needs a royal temperament, which the Leonberger has in spades. Despite their size, they are patient, gentle, calm, and love human companionship.

The Leonberger was also used as a guard dog in the past, so they make excellent watchdogs, too.


17. Neapolitan Mastiff

Neapolitan Mastiffs
Image Credit: Christian Mueller, Shutterstock
Origin: Unknown
Lifespan: 7–9 years
Height: 24–31 inches

It’s unclear where the Neapolitan Mastiff (or Mastino) originated, but they might have been developed as far back as 700 BC. They were used as guardians, gladiators, and war dogs back in the Roman Empire, but don’t let their huge size and past intimidate you.

Neopolitan Mastiffs are incredibly loving and fiercely loyal to their humans. They make excellent pets and fantastic watchdogs.


18. Saint Bernard

Saint bernard in winter
Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock
Origin: Swiss Alps
Lifespan: 8–10 years
Height: 26–30 inches

These gentle giants used to be guard dogs for monks and rescue dogs for travelers passing through the Swiss Alps. Despite being former guardians, St. Bernards aren’t very aggressive (though they are undoubtedly protective of their loved ones).

They love being around their people and are exceptionally friendly; however, they may still be a bit too challenging for a first-time dog owner.


19. Scottish Deerhound

scottish deerhound
Image Credit: Kim Christensen, Shutterstock
Origin: Scotland
Lifespan: 8–11 years
Height: 28–32 inches

The Scottish Deerhound breed is so old they might have been in Scotland before the Scots even arrived. These pups used to hunt massive deer (roughly 400 pounds!) but aren’t that fierce these days. Scottish Deerhounds are easy-going, affectionate, and don’t bark or growl at strangers.

So, if it’s a watchdog you’re after, this isn’t the right breed for you.


20. Spanish Mastiff

Spanish Mastiff_Marcelino Pozo Ruiz_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Marcelino Pozo Ruiz, Shutterstock
Origin: Iberian Peninsula
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Height: 28–35 inches

These massive livestock guardian dogs can be intimidating when you first see them, but the Spanish Mastiff breed has always been a loyal companion to people. They can sometimes be challenging to train since they’re fairly stubborn and independent.

The Spanish Mastiff requires extensive training and socialization during puppyhood, which will ensure a trustworthy and protective canine companion.

Conclusion

Several canines are taller than you when they’re on their hind legs! Don’t let the pups’ size fool you; for the most part, large and giant dogs tend to be among the gentlest, most patient around. Having a tall dog as a pet does require more work than having a small dog, and you need plenty of room to keep one, and they are more prone to health issues than smaller dogs.

However, a large canine equals a larger amount of love in your life!

See also: 


Featured Image Credit: Rita Kochmarjova, Shutterstock

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