These are the largest dogs in the world

Dogs have a way of winning over even the hardest of hearts. Whether they're excitedly wagging their tails at your return home, chasing a ball down a beach, staring at you with those warm brown eyes, licking your face in the morning, or courageously saving your life, these furry pals have certainly earned the title of man's best friend. It's hard to imagine what the planet might be like without dogs hanging around. Sounds like a boring place, that's for sure.

Maybe that's why, in many respects, dogs are so similar to us. Just like humans, dogs come in countless shapes, sizes, and personalities, with the majority being lovable mutts of one sort or another. Some dogs are bigger than others, though, and some are so astronomically huge that it's easy to imagine them protecting you from a Tyrannosaurus rex … or grabbing something off the top shelf for you. Let's work our way up through the biggest dogs in the world.

The ancient, fluffy dinosaur dogs

Get used to the term "Mastiff" because it'll turn up a lot whenever you start talking about big dogs. And when it comes to Mastiffs, the fluffy ol' Tibetan Mastiff (TM for short) is the grandpa of the breed. According to the Smithsonian, these ancient, lion-looking canines are older than the Roman Empire. Back in the day, they prowled through the terrifying peaks of the Tibetan Plateau, where the average elevation is around 15,000 feet. Tough old dogs, for sure.

Today, Tibetan Mastiffs are as furry and enormous as ever, with males standing at least 26 inches tall and weighing up to 150 pounds, according to the American Kennel Club. Not that long ago, India Today reported that they'd become the most expensive dogs on the planet, with one TM named "Big Splash" selling for over $1 million in 2011, and another one selling for even bigger bucks just a few years later. Since then, though, the fad has died, leading to heartbreaking results. In 2017, Quartz reported that a market collapse had led to thousands of abandoned Tibetan Mastiffs roaming homeless on the streets of Tibet, allegedly due to unethical breeding practices and cruel owners who did not properly research the breed's unsuitability for urban living.

Big, friendly and oh-so-French

Ah, the French Mastiff, otherwise known as Dogue de Bordeaux! This heavily-jowled dog probably would be just as happy eating cheap beef jerky as a perfect French croissant, but this breed certainly does have a long history in France, according to the Dogue de Bordeaux Club, though its actual origins are shrouded in mystery. For many years, owning this dog was a status symbol for the French elite, as Dogue de Bordeaux was considered a prized fighter, hunter, and protector of the home. Honestly, though? While French Mastiffs might look mean and tough, they're just big old teddy bears. And "big" is definitely the key word here, as according to LovetoKnow, the average French Mastiff stands at around 27 inches tall and weighs over 110 pounds. You have to wonder if all the Dogue de Bordeaux's weight is just in its head. Godzilla has some competition with that huge doggy cranium.

You've gotta be tough to live in those mountains

You might prefer to spend your vacations sipping margaritas on a tropical beach, but maybe your friend prefers his weekends cold, snowy, and skiing down the slopes. That's okay, because everyone's different, and your friend's spirit animal is the Bernese mountain dog, a heavy, hardy old pooch with thick fur, strong legs, and a majestic temperament that's easy to fall in love with. According to AKC, these 27.5-inch tall, 115-pound dogs come from Switzerland, where their ability to drive cattle and pull massive weights behind their legs earned them a proud reputation as working dogs.

Just because Bernese mountain dogs have gentle and sweet natures, though, never forget that they're some seriously tough animals. For example, back in 2011, NBC reported that a 5-year-old Bernese mountain dog named Sasha had chased a mountain goat off a cliff in Washington state, toppled 150 feet down, and — with the help of some dedicated humans — lived to tell the tale.

The world's best babysitter

About 28 inches tall, weighing in at around 150 pounds, the giant dog known as a Newfoundland is well recognized for being amazing with kids, according to AKC. Maybe that's why the most famous Newfoundland in the world is a fictional character, Nana, who in most versions of the Peter Pan story is presented as the dedicated babysitter of Wendy, John, and Michael. According to Neverpedia, Nana was inspired by author J.M. Barrie's real-life Newfoundland, named Luath, and early stage versions of Peter Pan based Nana's appearance on Luath's two-toned coat. 

When it comes to real Newfoundlands, though — often called "Newfs," for short — their wonderful way with children is just one of their many talents. Despite their mega-ginormous size, these dogs are terrific swimmers, with webbed feet and powerful muscles, which is why Canadian fishermen often kept a Newf on board to rescue anyone who went overboard. A Newfoundland named Seaman even accompanied Lewis and Clark on their famous 1802 expedition, and at one point even saved them from an angry bison rampage.

Hero of the Alps

The word "noble" might have been created purely as an adjective to describe the Saint Bernard, the nirvanic warrior monk of the dog world. With a keen sense of direction, a thick fur coat, and a lifelong dedication to helping humanity, the Smithsonian reports that Saint Bernards were once the superheroes of the Swiss Alps, saving over 2,000 human lives, including both children and soldiers, from numerous wintry catastrophes. For centuries, Saint Bernards were used to track stranded people from miles away, uncover them if they were buried in the snow, and then use their heavy, furry bodies to provide warmth to the frostbitten. 

One particular Saint Bernard, named Barry, is recorded as saving at least 40 lives over the course of 12 years, all by himself. Could a dog possibly be more cool? Today, of course, the first Saint Bernard that a lot of people think of is a goofy old guy named Beethoven, but just think of Beethoven as the Clark Kent to Barry's Superman. As far as size goes, Saint Bernards are just huge, with AKC charting them at 30 inches tall and weighing up to 180 pounds.

Heavy bodies and wrinkly faces

You've seen these dogs before, and while the several zillion folds on their skin might've made you jokingly call them "Big Wrinkles," they're actually referred to as Neapolitan Mastiffs, or sometimes, Mastinos. Neapolitan Mastiffs might wear their skin like a toddler wears his dad's clothes, but there's a lot of body underneath those wrinkles: Petful says they stand about 30 inches tall and weigh up to 200 pounds. If you ever see a Mastino who is really intent on catching your frisbee, probably don't stand in their way. Because of their size and naturally protective tendencies, Neapolitan Mastiffs are not recommended for first-time dog owners: They require an experienced approach, with lots of socialization, patience, and affection. That said, AKC describes them as extremely loving, loyal, and dignified creatures, who grow from romping puppies into calm adults with a profound level of dedication toward their human families.

Mix, match, and make something huge

What happens when you cross a Newfoundland and a Saint Bernard? You get the Leonberger, a big dog whose origins were surprisingly controversial. According to the LCA Leonberger Kennel, these strikingly beautiful animals were first bred by an 1800s German politician named Heinrich Essig, whose marketing skills led to Leonbergers becoming one of the most celebrated dogs in the land, beloved by monarchs and aristocrats across Europe … much to the dismay of dog breeders, who cried foul at Essig for not following agreed-upon breeding practices.

Whatever one thinks of the Leonberger's strange origin — or dog breeding in general, which can often be rather cruel in practice — there's no question that Leonbergers have stood the test of time. While most big dogs are known for their power or adorable goofiness, AKC says these 31-inch, 170-pound German canines are prized for their elegance and sophistication.

Caesar's favorite hound

The Irish wolfhound is like a scrappy, hairy little underdog who grew up into a noble wizard. At first glance, you wouldn't think of them as being a big dog, but try fitting them in the backseat of your car, and you'll see. 

According to Dogster, Irish Wolfhounds are the second tallest dogs in the world, with SFGate saying that if you get one on its hind legs, it might stand 7 feet tall. These giant hounds were first bred as war dogs, where they had the ridiculously aggressive job of knocking men off horses and chariots. They also made excellent hunters, and although they do kinda resemble wolves, they actually earned the "Wolfhound" moniker by hunting wolves. Maybe that's why, if you have a wolfhound as a pet, they'll make a point to take out any small furry animals that venture into your yard, from rabbits to squirrels. As pets, wolfhounds also need a good amount of exercise to stretch out those giant limbs.

These magnificent canines have a long history, stretching back to Ancient Rome, where Julius Caesar mentioned them in his treatise The Gallic Wars. More recently, Irish wolfhounds have been the beloved pets to such famous figures as John F. Kennedy, John Huston, Georgette Heyer, and Rudolph Valentino, according to Country Life.

Big and British

English Mastiffs are pretty much the classic example of a giant canine, from their massive paws to their muscular bodies to their cuddly ol' bulky heads. Though plenty of scared people have jumped out of their skin the first time one of these King Kong-sized creatures walked up to them, anyone who has hung out with an English Mastiff for a few hours knows they're actually the sweetest, most gentle, kindhearted giants imaginable. Seriously, if Groot were a dog, he'd be an English Mastiff. 

…but yeah, just like Groot, these Mastiffs are insanely huge. Though usually not quite as tall as the Irish wolfhound, English Mastiffs pack on a lot more weight and muscle, with AKC saying these 30-inch canines can weigh up to 230 pounds. So if you ever wanted a dog that's incomprehensibly bigger than you in every possible way, English Mastiffs might be your top pick. Back in the 1980s, the biggest of the big guys was a Mastiff named Zorba, according to MSN, who weighed 343 pounds, earning him an easy spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Scooby Dooby Doo!

Shaggy must've bought a lot of Scooby Snacks to keep up with his dog's voracious appetite because Scooby Doo belongs to the biggest dog breed on the planet. Sure, Great Danes don't carry the heavy mass of those aforementioned English Mastiffs, but they make up for it in sheer size, with their long legs reaching them to cloudy heights of 32 inches or more. Luckily, AKC says these towering giants are known for their friendliness, easygoing nature, and courage. (Scooby might've been lacking in the "courage" department, but he did have to chase ghosts every day.)

Not surprisingly, all the record-holding doggos tend to be Great Danes. In 2012, according to NPR, the Guinness Book of World Records awarded the title of "world's tallest dog" to a Michigan pooch named Zeus. On four legs, Zeus was tall enough to lap water from a kitchen faucet, and when he stood on two legs, he reached 7 feet 4 inches. Sadly, Zeus died in 2014 at the age of 5, but his mantle has been inherited by another Great Dane named Freddy. According to the Telegraph, Freddy's loving owner is a woman named Claire Stoneman, who describes the world's largest dog as a "big hunk of love."