Culture and Lifestyle Pets 30 Large Dog Breeds That Make The Best Pets By Southern Living Editors Updated on May 30, 2023 Fact checked by Jillian Dara Fact checked by Jillian Dara Jillian is a freelance writer, editor and fact-checker with 10 years of editorial experience in the lifestyle genre. In addition to fact-checking for Southern Living, Jillian works on multiple verticals across Dotdash-Meredith, including TripSavvy, The Spruce, and Travel + Leisure. brand's fact checking process Share Tweet Pin Email Trending Videos Photo: Capuski/Getty Images If you're in the market to get a dog, one of the first things you'll decide is whether you want a large or small dog. There are a lot of factors that can impact that decision, like your living situation, activity level, whether or not you have kids, and more. If you have your heart set on a big dog breed, these are the best large dog breeds for families. Whether you want a hunting dog to accompany you on excursions, a watchdog that will protect your home, or a gentle giant that will be patient with kids, these big dogs will fit the bill. Remember that a large dog is a huge commitment (literally), and you need to seriously evaluate if you have the space and time to devote to one. If it turns out that you do, step right this way to see some of the biggest and best good boys out there. These big dogs have plenty of love to go around. 01 of 30 Labrador Retriever Purple Collar Pet Photography/Getty Images Since 1990, the Labrador Retriever has been the most popular dog breed in America, and for good reason. These guys are lovable, kid-friendly, and eager to please. 02 of 30 German Shepherd Tara Gregg/EyeEm/Getty Images A consistent favorite dog breed in America, the German Shepherd is smart and courageous. These beautiful dogs will be extremely loyal and loving, 03 of 30 Golden Retriever Capuski/Getty Images Golden Retrievers are extremely friendly and lovable dogs, which is why they're amazing family dogs and service dogs. If you're looking for an all-around good boy, you can't go wrong with a Golden Retriever. 04 of 30 Boxer Michael Lofenfeld Photography/Getty Images These hardworking pups are active and playful but are loyal and protective when it comes to their owners, which makes them the perfect blend. 05 of 30 Bernese Mountain Dog Bigandt_Photography/Getty Images Berners are undeniably gorgeous, and these big dogs are happy to play and protect. They thrive in cold weather and are extremely hard workers. 06 of 30 German Shorthaired Pointer Tara Gregg/EyeEm/Getty Images These gundogs are energetic and active, so they're perfect for Southerners who love the outdoors. 07 of 30 Alaskan Malamute bruev/Getty Images These hardworking dogs had their origins as artic sled dogs, so they're strong and active. When they're trained as puppies, these sweet Mals will grow up extremely obedient. 08 of 30 Mastiff forisana/Getty Images These huge pups are extremely lovable, patient, and loyal. If you have the space to accommodate them, they'll be your very best friend. 09 of 30 Standard Poodle Carol Howell/EyeEm/Getty Images Poodles are incredibly smart, so they're well-trained and great companions. Their fluffy, hypoallergenic coats can be styled to show off their athletic physique or left to grow curly. 10 of 30 Newfoundland bruev/Getty Images These massive pups are well-known for their sweet and loving nature. Despite their size, they're amazing (and patient) with kids. 11 of 30 Weimaraner Susanna Cesareo/Getty Images These silky-smooth dogs are known for their beautiful silver coats and obedience. They make wonderful companions for active families and hunters. 12 of 30 Saint Bernard Capuski/Getty Images One of the most universally recognized and well-loved breeds, Saint Bernards are big ole dogs just filled with love. 13 of 30 Collie Koljambus/Getty Images "Lassie" ensured the Collie's spot as a beloved dog breed decades ago. These fluffy dogs are amazing with kids and need plenty of exercise, which go hand in hand. 14 of 30 Dalmatian Annabell Michie/Getty Images Widely recognized as resident firehouse dogs, Dalmatians are smart and loyal. These sweet dogs are athletic and love to be active. 15 of 30 Irish Setter Wavetop/Getty Images These sweet gundogs are smart, outgoing, and great with kids. Their silky auburn coats are beautiful, too. 16 of 30 Giant Schnauzer DevidDO/Getty Images These dogs are extremely smart, so they're very well trained and loyal. Their sweet beards and eyebrows are so endearing. 17 of 30 Rottweiler Steve Howell/EyeEm/Getty Images Although Rottweilers get the reputation as aggressive, they're actually very loving. Their loyalty is strong and so is their playfulness. 18 of 30 Australian Shepherd Maria Itina/Getty Images With richly colored fluffy coats, these ranch dogs are stunningly beautiful. They're active, intelligent, and hardworking. 19 of 30 Old English Sheepdog dewollewei/Getty Images These shaggy pups are just big bundles of love. They're gentle and patient with kids but make great watchdogs with their loud bark. 20 of 30 Great Dane Richard Theis/EyeEm/Getty Images These dogs are truly massive and owning a pup that big is a major commitment. But if you can accommodate such a large roomie, you absolutely should. They're gentle giants in every sense of the word and are so friendly. 21 of 30 Chinese Shar-Pei sanjagrujic/Getty Images These wrinkly pups have a unique look with their blue-black tongues and big snouts. They're extremely loyal to their owners but suspicious of strangers, so it's good to get them socializing young. 22 of 30 Bloodhound alkir/Getty Images These "detective dogs" use their amazing sense of smell to find just about anything. They're friendly, easygoing, and stubborn, and those big ears and droopy eyes make us melt. 23 of 30 Siberian Husky Carmen Martinez Torrón/Getty Images These graceful guys are extremely athletic and energetic, so you need to be able to give them the exercise they crave. They're outgoing and can be slightly mischievous. 24 of 30 Doberman Pinscher Tara Gregg/EyeEm/Getty Images This powerful breed is very intelligent, loyal, and athletic. They make incredible watchdogs and are truly elegant. 25 of 30 Great Pyrenees HPCPHOTO/Getty Images These big dogs are calm, smart, and so sweet. These gorgeous mountain dogs have all-white coats that set them apart. 26 of 30 Chesapeake Bay Retrievers ktatarka/Getty Images This all-American dog is loyal, confident, and makes an excellent watchdog. A major plus for outdoorsy or coastal families—their wavy coats are waterproof. 27 of 30 Akita Tara Gregg/EyeEm/Getty Images These loyal dogs are of Japanese descent, where they're symbols of health, happiness, and long life. They're fiercely protective of their humans and love companionship. 28 of 30 Irish Wolfhound James Johnson/Getty Images When we say large breeds, these guys are the largest of the pack. If you can commit to a dog this big, you're going to love these loyal, patient, smart dogs. 29 of 30 Vizsla Tomas Maracek/Getty Images These beautiful gundogs are the picture of elegance. They're extremely smart and form close bonds with their owners, so know you're getting a loyal friend for life. 30 of 30 Shetland Sheepdog Keegan Moffatt/EyeEm/Getty Images These fluffy dogs are smart and obedient herders who will be easily trained and stand as good watchdogs. Frequently Asked Questions What are the most common health issues for big dogs? Large dogs are more prone to specific health concerns, but healthy lifestyles, regular veterinarian visits, and a good diet can help extend a dog's lifespan. Here are the most common health issues: Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, arthritis, Wobbler syndrome, dilated cardiomyopathy, hypothyroidism, bloat, entropion, ectropion, and cherry eye. What is the average lifespan for large dog breeds? According to the American Kennel Club, the average lifespan for large dog breeds is eight to 12 years. Some dog breeds included in this category are German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, Great Danes, St. Bernards, and Mastiffs. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Southern Living is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy. American Kennel Club. Most popular dog breeds of 2021. American Kennel Club. Bernese mountain dog. American Kennel Club. Alaskan malamute. American Kennel Club. Best hypoallergenic dog breeds for people with allergies. American Kennel Club. Weimaraner. American Kennel Club. Collie. American Kennel Club. Akita.