From Great Danes and Akitas to Newfoundlands and St. Bernards, dozens of dog breeds solicit stares from passersby based on their sheer size. While some people fear the breeds that tower tall above their smaller canine counterparts, the vast majority of large-breed dogs are truly gentle giants
If you've ever asked the question, "What's the biggest dog breed?" the answer depends on who you ask and what constitutes "the biggest" in their eyes in terms of height, breadth and weight. However, one breed of dog-the English mastiff-is generally considered to be the largest breed of dog in the world. To learn more about what makes this giant species a beloved house pet for families around the globe, check out the following biggest dog breed facts.
What is an English mastiff?
The history of the English mastiff dates back to 3,000 B.C., when drawings depicting the dog breed were carved onto monuments throughout Egypt. Over the years, mastiffs-whose name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word "masty" which means "powerful"-became popular companions among English peasants due to their ability to protect their masters and their home and to ward off potential predators, which were often wolves. In the 1800s, English mastiffs were brought to the United States from England, and they were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885 and placed into the organization's "working dogs" category.
The breed comes in a handful of different coat colors that include fawn, apricot and brindle, all of which are combined with a black mask that covers the front of their massive head. The breed stands at a minimum of 30 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs the most of any large-breed dog, coming in at upwards of 190 pounds when full grown. Although they are often used as guard dogs because their size intimidates intruders, mastiffs are known for their gentle and docile demeanor that makes them excellent family pets.
Caring for a large breed dog
Every individual dog's diet is unique and based upon its breed, age, weight and how large it will be when it is fully grown. For instance, you wouldn't feed your teacup poodle the same kind and amount of food as you would your English mastiff. The bones of large-breed dogs grow much more rapidly than those of smaller-breed dogs and tend to be weaker, putting them at risk for skeletal deformities and bone diseases such as hip dysplasia and hypertrophic osteodystrophy. When shopping for quality dog food for your large-breed dog, look for products that are specially designed for bigger breeds to devour at the specific stages in their life: puppy, adult and senior.
In addition to providing the proper nutrition to meet a large-breed dog's unique set of needs, it is also imperative to ensure that your pet is properly trained and socialized. Although they may mean well and are simply attempting to show affection, large dogs that jump on people can pose dangers because of their size and should be trained to keep all four paws on the floor when greeting guests. Powerful pets-such as the English mastiff-can also create a risky situation when walking if leash pulling isn't corrected at an early age. Socializing your large-breed dog by exposing him to other pets, people and places during his first few months of life is the best way to mold him into a suitable member of canine society that your friends, family and neighbors will enjoy being around.