Best Large Dog Breeds: Top 5 Gentle Giants Most Recommended By Experts

There’s nothing quite like the love between a dog and its owner. Hyper-loyal canines bring plenty of joy and fun into their owner’s life, and in return, owners go out of their way to provide their pup with the best life has to offer. It’s a bond that has inspired books, movies, and songs for hundreds of years. Even Nerf has started making a branded dog toy. More and more people are looking to experience for themselves. Looking for a new furry friend to bring into your life? Some of the best large dog breeds are huggable, kissable, and as cute as can be.

The benefits of dog ownership aren’t only mental, research has shown. It turns out that dog owners may actually be physically healthier than their dog-free counterparts. A new study finds that dog owners enjoy longer lives than others. Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden looked at a broad set of data on more than 3.4 million healthy adult Swedes between ages 40 and 80 to determine whether dog ownership could help prevent cardiovascular disease. Interestingly, owning a dog was determined to be a preventive factor for those who lived by themselves, among whom cardiovascular disease and premature death are typically seen at higher rates.

And the benefits don’t end there. Another survey finds that people who own pets are happier, earn more money, and exercise more frequently than those who don’t. In a poll of 1,000 British dog and cat owners over 55 and 1,000 people in the same age group who don’t have any pets, researchers calculated that pet owners were twice as likely to consider themselves a success. In fact, nine in 10 owners agreed that their furry family members were good for their health and well-being. Perhaps most shockingly, having a cat or dog is also somehow linked to a higher salary. Pet-loving participants earned nearly $5,200 more per year than their counterparts. And owners proved to be more philanthropic too, volunteering for charities more frequently than the other group.

If you’re considering making the jump into dog ownership, there are plenty of questions to ask yourself before you make the final decision. Different breeds require different amounts of food, exercise, and attention, and it’s important to choose one that fits your lifestyle. For many people, a bigger dog is a better fit for their physical activity level as they enjoy more frequent and intense exercise. Others choose a big dog for their ability to offer protection to both their owner and their home. For some, it’s simply a matter of personality, as many big dogs tend to be lovable gentle giants. Whatever your reason, there are plenty of great breeds to choose from. To help start your search, StudyFinds compiled this list of the best large dog breeds. This list includes the most frequent recommendations from dog experts, but of course, be sure to let us know if we missed your favorite in the comments below!

The List: Best Large Dog Breeds, According to Pup Experts

1. Bernese Mountain Dog

This breed has the potential to outgrow their owner as they can easily exceed 100 pounds. But despite their size, the Bernese mountain dog is one of the friendliest pups around. “These dogs may be one of the largest dog breeds, but they’re truly gentle giants with a sweet, calm and affectionate nature,” says Good Housekeeping. “Bernese mountain dogs are also eager to please, which mean they’re typically easy to train.”

black white and brown bernese mountain dog lying on green grass field during daytime
Bernese Mountain Dog (Photo by Jovana Askrabic on Unsplash)

“Berners, Bernies, or Bernese mountain dogs, whatever you call them, this Swiss breed would risk life and limb to help rescue people stranded in the Alps,” adds The Spruce Pets. “It’s incredibly protective—but not aggressive—with people. Despite their large size, they’re very gentle (especially with younger kids) and love inclusion in family activities.”

This breed is big and strong, but equally cuddly and sweet. While far too big to be a lap dog, many Bernese Mountain Dogs will still try to crawl into their owner’s arms. “How many things in this world are both cuddly and statuesque? Very few, but the Bernese mountain dog is one of them,” writes Newsweek. “Originally bred as worker dogs in the Swiss alps, today they sit at the side of proud pet owners the world over. A word to the weak-armed: this is a strong dog; buy a good lead.”

2. Great Dane

One of the biggest and tallest dogs in the world, a Great Dane is hard to miss. However, these dogs tend to be quite relaxed in both demeanor and behavior. “Calm, loyal, and clocking in at 200 pounds fully grown, the Great Dane is the gentle giant of the canine world,” says The Spruce Pets. “But don’t let their massive stature fool you—these king-sized pooches are calm and only require a few walks per day once they’re out of puppyhood.”

brown short coated dog on green grass field during daytime
Great Dane (Photo by Brad R on Unsplash)

“One of the most identifiable dog breeds is the Great Dane. They’re just… huge. Tall and lanky, their pointy ears accentuate their stature,” adds PureWow. “You can find them in many colors, including the stunning Harlequin, a black and white spotted pattern. Protective and adaptable creatures, The Great Dane Club of America says these pups enjoy playtime with their family members and mentally stimulating activities.”

These pups are as tall as they are large, with a Great Dane actually holding the record for tallest dog. “Great Dane’s will hog the whole sofa, but you won’t care because they are so patient, easy-going, and don’t bark much. And as far as tall dog breeds go, they’re the high-rise of canines, especially when they are on their hind legs,” notes Reader’s Digest. “A Great Dane named Zeus was an astonishing 44 inches tall at the shoulder when he was named the World’s Tallest Dog by Guinness World Records in 2012.”

3. German Shepherd

You may think of a German Shepherd as a guard dog or a police canine, and they certainly can excel in those roles. But beyond their great working abilities, they also make for wonderful pets. “Known for their strength and intelligence, German Shepherds are highly trainable and quite powerful,” says Woman’s Day. “They’re also very loyal and courageous.”

black and tan german shepherd on green grass field during daytime
German Shepherd (Photo by Anna Dudkova on Unsplash)

“German shepherds have long served as hunting and herding dogs in Germany. Often trained as service dogs, they work with police, search and rescue, and the military because of their intelligence and hardworking attitude,” adds The Spruce Pets. “When it comes to picking a dog for the family, this breed is incredibly loyal and loving, making them the perfect choice for an active family.”

When it comes to training, you’ll be pleased to know that the German Shepherd loves to learn. “Known for their hard work on police forces, German Shepherds are diligent workers. They learn quickly and are extremely obedient—as long as they’re trained and socialized early,” explains PureWow. “While they can be aggressive, German Shepherds also love to play and can adapt to more relaxing lifestyles if exposed as puppies.”

4. Golden Retriever

You’d be hard-pressed to find a list of large dog breeds that didn’t include the Golden Retriever. These universally beloved dogs are widely considered the ideal pet for their affectionate personalities and striking golden coats. “Golden Retrievers are extremely friendly and lovable dogs, which is why they’re amazing family dogs and service dogs,” says Southern Living. “If you’re looking for an all-around good boy, you can’t go wrong with a Golden Retriever.”

adult dog sitting on white sand near seashore
Golden Retriever (Photo by Justin Aikin on Unsplash)

“Golden retrievers are depicted as the quintessential family dog in movies and television from the ’90s sitcom ‘Full House’ to the ‘Air Bud’ movie franchise,” notes The Spruce Pets. “Goldens are known for their super sweet, loving personalities; patience; and intelligence. Golden retrievers are another top pick for service as search and rescue, therapy, or comfort dogs.”

Make sure you give your Golden plenty to do to keep them happy and healthy. “Goldens are active dogs who need a job. After all, they were bred as working, hunting dogs,” explains Puppy In Training. “So long walks, retrieving, swimming, and other activities with the family will help expend his almost limitless energy. They are very trainable and trusting and, even though they may tolerate some rough handling, are not likely to snap.”

5. Labrador Retriever

Another classic breed, the Labrador Retriever has actually been voted America’s favorite. And if you’ve ever met a lab, you probably understand why. As The Pioneer Woman says, “this breed is America’s favorite for a reason: Friendly, easygoing, and athletic, labs—whether golden, chocolate, or black—make for loving companions and enthusiastic fetch partners.”

a sleeping yellow lab puppy
A sleeping yellow Lab puppy (Photo by Chris Leipelt on Unsplash)

“From their sweet, loving personalities to their never-ending enthusiasm, there’s a lot to love about Labrador retrievers,” says The Spruce Pets. “Labs are known for their intelligence and good temperament. Bred as hunting dogs, they are excellent companions and more straightforward to train than other breeds; hence they work as service dogs for the blind, handicapped assistance, therapy dogs, and search and rescue.”

If you train your lab well, they make for excellent family pets. “Labs are friendly and never met a stranger. They love everyone and are good with other dogs. They’re playful and even-tempered,” notes Puppy In Training. “They can be great with children when their needs are met. And well-bred, socialized, and trained labs usually love to be petted and even cuddled.”

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links.


    1. Very hard to adopt one from a rescue, even a puppy, because they say you need experience with the breed. They are amazing!

  1. What about the great pyrenees breed of dog a very gentle giant it must be no.1

  2. One of the best ever dogs for families is a Boxer. These beautiful dogs absolutely love their little humans.

  3. I have had German Shepherds, Jack Russell Terriers and Border Collies all at the same time..all house dogs…great with kids, and Cats..
    I honestly believe that any breed can be acceptable and outstanding if you train them accordingly. Any dog can be made aggressive…it’s the owners responsibility to make their dog no matter what the breed the best they can be..

  4. Irish Wolfhound!!
    How can you skip the Wolfie??
    Labs and Goldens are medium breeds

  5. The Giant Schnauzer is never mentioned in these articles! They are exceptionally smart, loving and gentle family dogs. We have had four of these wonderful animals. Our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren have loved, mauled and played with our dogs and been protected, loved and guarded in return. Our current Giant is now my trained service dog assisting me in every way as I have a spinal injury. Of all my dogs, and I have had many, including German Shepard, our Giants have consistently reigned in every way!

  6. I strongly belive that who wrote this article (he or she) needs to update the knowledge. Looks like (he or she) knows only 5 dog breeds. They’re good but not the best. There are some very intriguing dog breeds that are better by far.

  7. Do not forget the English mastiff,I have had two and both of them was perfect.

  8. I think a well socialised Rottweiler it’s all in one . With farm jobs, protect, and play with children. Can’t find better.

  9. Catahoulas and Great Pyrenees are both excellent family oriented, loyal, protective large breed dogs in my opinion

  10. I have had Newfoundlands and a Saint Bernard. Newfies are the sweetest most gentle creatures I have ever seen. They are wonderful family dogs and great with children. They do require a lot of grooming. I also love Saint Bernards, beautiful creatures!

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