Skip the small-talk & jump directly to the large dog breeds list.
What is a Large Breed Dog?
A large dog breed includes any adult dog weighing between 50 and 100 pounds.
Up for Debate
You should be aware that this range can vary.
The AKC does not have an official cut-off that distinguishes one size of dog from another. So it’s typically left up to the general public to categorize dog breeds by size. Which is why some sources will say large dogs are 59 to 98 pounds, while others say that a large breed is any dog over 55 pounds.
For the purposes of this article, though, we will classify large breeds as dogs weighing in between 50 and 100 pounds.
Dogs under that range would be considered small or medium. And dogs over 100 pounds are the extra-large or giant breeds.
Large versus Extra-Large and Giant
"Extra-large or giant?! You mean ‘large’ isn’t the biggest thing out there?"
Well, no, actually.
Picture your typical Golden Retriever:
Cute, furry, golden, able to be petted on the head without you having to bend over. You know. A Golden Retriever.
Okay, happy image, right? :-)
Well, a Golden Retriever weighs between 65 and 75 pounds, assuming he’s healthy, full grown, etc.
So, according to the parameters we’ve established, this is a pup that would fit comfortably in the large dog breed classification.
So large is large is large, right? And Golden Retrievers are large and are therefore the largest dog breed, right?
The Golden Retriever would look like a mouse when compared to, say, a Mastiff.
Which, weighing in at a whopping 230 pounds, is considered not large, but extra-large or giant.
Now, that’s a pretty extreme example comparing a large dog to an extra-large/giant dog breed. But I think it has sufficiently illustrated the difference!
So, long story short, weighing a measly 50 to 100 pounds really isn’t something to brag about. It’s those 100+ pound, extra-large, giant breeds that rule the roost.
But even still, large breed dogs are pretty awesome in their own right. (Even if they’re not the biggest canines out there.)
Now, on with large breed dogs...
So, Who’s Included in the Large Breed Category?
Okay, you already know that Golden Retrievers fall into the large breed category.
But what other breeds make the list?
Well, quite a few, actually. This list is by no means finite, but here’s a few examples of dogs falling in the 50 to 100 pound range:
- Afghan Hound
- Airedale Terrier
- Alaskan Malamute
- Bearded Collie
- Clumber Spaniel
- Doberman Pinscher
- German Shepherd Dog
- Giant Schnauzer
- Irish Setter
- Labrador Retriever
- Old English Sheepdog
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
How Long do Big Dog Breeds Live?
In general, large dog breeds live to be about 10 to 12 years old.
Every Breed Is Different
Of course, just because a particular breed fits into the large category, doesn’t mean he’ll live to the 10-12 age range, no questions asked.
Every breed has a different average lifespan. Heck, even individuals within breeds aren’t all going to cross the rainbow bridge at the same age.
Because, just like people, lifespan depends on about a million factors:
- Overall health
- Vet visits and preventative care
- Proneness to accidents
Okay, maybe not fate. But you get the idea.
We all want the dog we bring into our homes to live as long as possible. But truth be told, it’s impossible to guess exactly how long that will be. Even when we do know a particular breed’s average lifespan.
And that’s why it’s so important to enjoy every possible moment with your dog. And also to not be hesitant to bring home seniors or breeds with notoriously short lifespans.
Because they still have lots of love to give and are worth every second. And besides, for all you know, even a puppy estimated to live well into his teens could still pass away prematurely.
It’s not a happy thought, I know.
But I just wanted to put things into perspective.
In other words, searching for the one breed that will outlive all other potential options shouldn’t be your first priority when bringing home a dog.
Okay, onto some happier topics now.
Not only do large dog breeds have different average lifespans than smaller dogs, but they also develop at different paces.
With a small breed dog, you can expect your pup to enter adulthood at around the 10 to 12 month mark. But with large dogs, the puppy/adolescent stage lasts a lot longer. This is because larger dogs take longer to reach maturity.
So if you’re getting a large breed dog, get ready to put up with the puppy antics and a teenage attitude for a good 18 to 24 months!
And be aware: physical maturity typically comes long before emotional maturity. So even if your cute little German Shepherd has become not-quite-so-little, chances are he’ll still act like a youngster anyways.
Which means you’ll eventually be trying to wrangle a 65+ pound "puppy!"
So good luck with that...
On the other hand, if the puppy stage is your absolute favorite, then a big dog may be the way to go!
Are Bigger Dogs More Expensive?
Yes. That's the short answer, anyway.
When it comes to the base purchase price of a large breed dog, numbers vary widely. Here’s a few things that affect the base cost of your new furry friend:
- Are you adopting from a shelter?
- Are you purchasing from a breeder?
- Is AKC registration important to you?
- Are you looking for a purebred or a mixed breed?
- How rare is the breed you want?
- Is the breed you’re looking for in high demand?
- Where do you live?
- And of course, what breed are you looking for specifically?
In short, there’s just far too many factors for me to give you an estimate or average. I’m afraid you’ll just have to do your own research based on your specific situation.
Obviously, mixed breeds and shelter dogs will be significantly less costly than bringing home a purebred puppy from a breeder.
But even still, prices vary widely. If you’re lucky, you may find a dog for $50 at a shelter (though it’s more likely that adoption fees will be at least a couple hundred dollars.)
Or you could pay up to $4,000 or more for the large breed dog of your dreams.
It really just depends.
Supplies and Medical Costs
As a general rule, the average cost of maintenance and care increases with the size of the dog.
Typically the bigger and fancier the purchase, the higher the price tag. So let’s go ahead and look at some things contributing to higher care costs.
Food is an important one. Obviously, the larger the dog, the more he is going to eat. So if you’re going to get a large breed dog, be sure you’re aware of the food costs.
A 50 pound bag of dog food may last months for a tiny Chihuahua. But you’re going to be buying a new bag a lot more often with a large breed dog.
Crates and Bedding
The bigger the dog, the bigger the things you’ll need to buy.
Sure a dog crate meant for a 20 pound dog will probably only cost you around $30. But a crate big enough to hold your full grown Labrador is going to cost you quite a bit more. Like lots more.
Dog crates meant for large breed dogs could cost anywhere from $50 to $100+.
Same with bedding. The bigger the bed, the more expensive it’s going to be. And dog beds can get pretty pricey...
Collars, Leashes, and Harnesses
Again, items designed for larger dogs are going to need to match their large size. Which means greater quantity of materials going into the product.
And they’re going to also need to be more durable. Which means greater quality as well.
Hence, you may be able to get a leash and collar for a smaller dog for under $20. But you’re going to have to spend a bit more to get these basic supplies for your large breed dog.
And you definitely don’t want to take any shortcuts! Go for quality. Because you don’t want your dog breaking free of his collar and getting away from you!
Besides the obvious bigger equals bigger equals pricier, you’ll need to take into account your dog’s growth.
Large dog breeds increase so much in size as they grow that you’ll need to buy multiple collars and harnesses over the course of your pup’s life.
That fancy collar you bought when he was a puppy isn’t going to grow with him, after all!
If you just brought home a large breed pup, chances are you’re going to be buying a lot of dog toys in the future.
And I mean a LOT of dog toys.
Unfortunately, larger dogs can be oh-so-not gentle on their playthings.
Which means a higher price tag for those larger, more durable toys. And a greater frequency of needing to replace said "durable" toys.
It’s really just a hybrid version of Disney’s Toy Story and Disney’s The Lion King. You know--with the helpless toys becoming the unfortunate victims of that infamous circle of life.
Beyond the violent death and spillage of guts endured by your dog’s favorite toy, you should bet on some other damages caused by your pup, as well.
Nothing is safe from an energetic dog whose sole desire is to explore the world by tearing it apart.
Shoes, slippers, electrical cords, the TV remote, the leg of your dining table, your favorite armchair... Heck, perhaps even the very drywall and door frames of your house!
Of course, large breed dogs aren’t the only culprits. Dogs everywhere--from the tiniest teacup Chihuahua to the long and lengthy Great Dane--like to chew things up on occasion.
It’s just that the larger dogs tend to leave a bigger mark as rip, tear, and destroy.
So, yeah, keep that in mind. Some large dog breed owners have had to spend thousands of dollars just trying to repair or replace the things that their dogs have torn up.
‘Course a little training along with a healthy dose of physical and mental stimulation go a long way in helping to prevent damages.
But still. Something to be aware of.
Flea, Tick, and Deworming Treatments and Medications
While you’ll have to pay for treatments and medications no matter the size of your dog, they do unfortunately cost more for larger dogs.
That’s because most medications are prescribed by weight. Thus, the heavier and bigger the dog, the more it’ll cost to prescribe him the medications he needs.
Surgical procedures are another area where size comes into play. As with medications, the larger the animal, the greater amount of anesthesia he’ll need when put under.
And we all know that anesthesia is pricey, for both people and pets.
Plus there’s just the sheer fact that performing surgery on a larger dog is probably going to take longer than it would on a smaller dog.
And veterinarians need to be compensated somehow!
Are Bigger Dogs Smarter (than Smaller Dogs)?
Yes and no.
Does Big Dog = Big Brain?
You might assume that just because a bigger dog has a bigger brain, he’s going to be smarter than his smaller counterpart.
And to some extent, this statement is true. However, the brain is complex, and it’s not just a question of smarter versus dumber.
Instead, it’s a matter of varying types and degrees of intelligence.
Where Big Dogs Have the Advantage
Brain size and intelligence in dogs is quite the intriguing topic. And luckily there’s some studies out there that have investigated the matter.
One study performed various tests on more than 7,000 purebred dogs from 74 different breeds. What it found was that larger dogs had an advantage in a couple specific areas of intelligence.
But outside of those areas, small and large dogs were essentially the same with regards to the smarts.
So in what ways did bigger dogs outsmart the little guys?
For one, larger dogs have better short-term memory. So if your dog sees you hiding a treat, chances are he’ll more easily remember where it was a few minutes later if he’s a big dog.
Larger dogs also outperform smaller dogs when it comes to self-control. In the study’s test, for instance, bigger dogs waited longer before taking a treat they were told to not take.
Why did large breed dogs have an upper paw when it came to these two areas? Nobody is really sure. But it’s an interesting phenomena, at the very least.
Here’s something you’ve heard about or seen before:
You’re strolling along the sidewalk, minding your own business, when you suddenly hear a huge ruckus and a lot of yapping.
You look to the other side of the street to see a Golden Retriever and a Chihuahua passing by each other as their owners cross paths.
Well, the Golden Retriever is passing by. All cool, calm, and collected.
Meanwhile the Chihuahua is throwing a furious doggy temper tantrum. Barking, snarling, and tugging frantically at his leash.
Maybe you shrug and think, "Ah, typical." Or maybe you wonder what the heck is wrong with that Chihuahua.
But either way, there you have it. A not entirely uncommon sighting.
So why, you might ask, does it always seem to be the big dog that’s so well-behaved and the tiny teacup dog that’s going nuts?
Considering how common this stereotype is, you may assume that big dogs are just plain better.
But the truth is, they aren’t naturally or genetically superior. They’re simply trained better.
Well, big dogs must be properly trained to live peaceably in human society because of their size. Otherwise, they can pose a more threatening hazard.
Small dogs really should be well-trained, too. But because they are so much easier to pick up and remove from less-than-ideal situations, their owners sometimes get lazy.
And the result is a tiny terror monster.
So don’t be too quick to blame those little dogs or to see them as inferior. Chances are they just haven’t received the adequate and proper training that their larger counterparts have received.
And that’s not because bigger dogs are more trainable, either. In reality, both small and big dogs learn the same way--with positive reinforcement and consistency.
So with proper training, all sizes of dog can become equally well-behaved, whether small or large.
Large Dog Breeds List with Photos
Bullmastiffs are just what they sound like: a cross between a Bulldog and a Mastiff.
But rest assured…this dog may look big and powerful, but he was never bred to actually kill anyone. 🙂
No but really. This pup makes an excellent companion. He just needs a few things as a pup to start him off on the right paw…Read More
The Cane Corso boasts a wide spectrum of traits:
He’s submissive, easily trained, & can make a great family dog. But he’s also protective, strong-willed, & can be aggressive.
You’re probably wondering how all these opposing traits can be crammed together into one dog breed.
And the answer lies mostly with…Read More
The Giant Schnauzer is a true beauty.
With his imposing size and handsome expression, you can’t help but get caught up in those dark, wise eyes.
There’s no doubt he makes a fantastic companion and family member, but I would recommend doing your research before deciding to make this dog a part of your home.
Here’s why…Read More