Gentle Giants: Big Dogs That Are Big Softies
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It’s hard not to feel a little frightened by Great Danes, which stand at around thirty inches and weigh as much as 160 pounds on average. But personality-wise, they’re affectionate, great around kids, usually good with other animals, and generally sweet-natured.
You could guess by looking at this breed that it’s one of the tallest in the species. You probably wouldn’t guess it’s one of the least aggressive. Actually, the fact that wolfhounds get along so well with everyone is what makes them poor guard dogs but excellent family dogs. These hounds got star treatment in the 2013 New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade as they walked with the New York Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry. Troops with the 69th have lead the parade since 1851.
Also called English Mastiffs, they’re about 27-32 inches in height and range from 130 to a whopping 220 pounds. While they’re exceptionally protective and fiercely loyal, they’re also laid-back and gentle. They stick closely to their families and have calm dispositions—as long as they don’t feel threatened.
Beethoven may have been mischievous, but most Saint Bernards are easygoing. They can get playful and will be possessive, but these dogs won’t take either of those traits to the extreme—as long as they’re trained properly. They’re workers at heart, but mostly they just want to be around their people.
Remember Nana from Peter Pan? She belonged to this breed and was just as watchful and friendly with kids as she was with her peers. These goofy dogs are eager to please, sweet-tempered, and happiest when they have a task to complete. And look how cute they are when they're little!
Huskies look wolflike, but their temperament is anything but. Even though they’re prone to escaping and hard to train, the effort is worth it to enjoy these smart, loving creatures. Far from jealous, they’re okay with new people and other animals—for the most part.
At anywhere from 85 to 160 pounds, Pyrenees can scare away the biggest dog enthusiasts with their loud, baritone barking—which they tend to do a lot as natural watchdogs. But there’s little bite behind the bark; they’re quite gentle and affectionate, especially with their families. Sometimes they demonstrate these qualities by putting their paws on their loved ones’ shoulders and legs.
Bernese Mountain Dog
Like Newfoundlands, these dogs are bred for work, which means they’re also easy to train and love making their owners happy. These mountain dogs crave family time and shower their human companions with loyalty and affection.
Slightly smaller than the English variety but no less physically imposing, Bullmastiffs can act aloof toward strangers, but they’re close and friendly with loved ones. They have gentle, happy dispositions if trained well, and their naturally protective instinct makes them terrific watchdogs. Unlike the Pyrenees, they scare with their looks, not their barks.
Rottweilers have aggressive reputations, but when trained vigilantly from the start, they can be the sweetest dogs your family could ask for. They love being around their people and have a desire to protect them, which makes them act wary around new folks. But a well-trained Rott’s surprisingly tender and goofy.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
This rare breed has been used in therapeutic and rescue capacities in the past. As family dogs, they’re devoted, loving, and quite custodial—though they’ll get used to new people once they’ve been introduced properly. Maturing later than other breeds, they look adult in size at 85 to 140 pounds, but they’re like puppies until they’re about 3 years old.