The Most Muscular Dog Breeds
While there are many strong breeds out there, these 12 powerfully built dogs are some of the strongest and most muscular! While they might not all be giants (or even large!), these dogs were bred to have physical prowess that rivals their other canine cousins.
American Staffordshire Terrier
The American Staffordshire Terrier is a close relative of the American Pit Bull Terrier. The breeds are very similar and share many of the same traits. Am Staffs are known for their playful and stable nature. They do well with positive reinforcement and if they are introduced to other animals at a young age they are known to coexist well with them. This breed is known to excel in agility and weight pull due to their energetic nature, musculature and strength! Am Staffs are often confused for many of the other bull breeds. They are also targets for Breed Specific Legislation. If these dogs fall into irresponsible hands and are mistreated or irresponsibly bred, they can be a hazard (just like any other strong breed!).
The Bull Terrier has one of the most unique looking heads in all of “dogdom”. It is almost egg shaped, with a long, distinctive roman nose and small triangular eyes. If you are a child of the 80’s, you might remember the Budweiser Spokesdog – Spuds Mackenzie – he was a Bull Terrier! Bull Terriers can range greatly in size (35-72 lbs), but no matter what the weight, these dogs are built like tanks! The breed is generally quite friendly and playful with its family and other humans but they can have issues with dog aggression.
The Whippet is a medium sized sight hound that ranges in size from 25-40 lbs. They have been called the “poor man’s racehorse”. This breed was used to hunt small game over wide-open spaces at high speeds. In modern day they are used in straight and oval track racing. (However dog racing is not a humane activity!). This breed’s athletic musculature shows in their sculputure-esque build. There is not a bit of “flab” on the Whippet! These dogs are gentle and good-natured and love lounging around on soft surfaces. Because of their instinct to chase, they are often aggressive towards cats and other small animals unless they are raised with them.
Parson Russell Terrier
The Parson Russell Terrier is also known as the Jack Russell Terrier. This compact (14-18 lbs) breed packs a big attitude into a little body! Originally bred for hunting fox, badger and other animals that lived underground, these little dogs were bred for digging – thus giving them strong muscles to perform such a task! They are quite vocal, as they are always alerting their owners to changes in their environments and constantly love to play. This is one small breed that definitely has a “napoleon complex” and will take on dogs 10 times its size!
Siberian Huskies are a medium sized (35-60 lbs) working breed that has a thick double-coat, suitable for life in the cold north! These dogs were heavily used during the Alaskan Gold Rush and then their population spread into the rest of the United States. Huskies are known for their gentle and friendly nature towards humans, thus they do not make good guard dogs. They are prone to theft if they are left outside, as they will not bark at a stranger! This breed has tons of energy! Being bred to pull heavy loads for long distances equals a dog that can go and go! Huskies need an outlet for their strength and stamina. If they don’t have one they will often resort to destructive behaviors or even drastic escape attempts. Huskies are known to have a very strong prey drive and must be monitored with small animals.
Alaskan Malamutes are another heavily muscled Northern working breed. They are often confused with Siberian Huskies, but Malamutes are quite a bit larger (75-85 lbs, but sometimes there are “giant” Mal’s that are over 100 lbs!). While the Husky is a bit faster, the larger Malamute is probably a bit stronger- they can aid in moving heavy objects short distances. As a pet, these active dogs do well with recreational sledding, Skijoring and weight pull. Malamutes do very well with human beings of all ages, but need to be carefully monitored with other animals. They are known to have a very strong prey drive.
Australian Cattle Dog
Australian Cattle Dogs are an incredibly intelligent, independent breed of working dog. They are bred to work and a well-conditioned Cattle Dog will have a build that shows just that! These dogs require exercise and a job to do. They excel many dog sports – from obedience to Frisbee to fly ball to agility. This is not a breed for a first time owner, as they are constantly needing to be challenged and will run a household if they are permitted.
The Doberman Pinscher is a large (60-100 lbs) working breed that has been historically used as a police and guard dog. Now this breed is most often seen as pets. A well-conditioned Doberman is truly a site to behold. The breed is gentle, intelligent and highly responsive to training. Their loyalty and physical abilities made them ideal working and guarding dogs. This breed has a reputation for being more fearsome than they actually are. Some of this comes from the media and the appearance that is created by ear cropping. Most Dobermans are great family pets and companions if they are well trained and socialized!
The Boxer is a Medium sized (55- 70 lbs) dog that is quite stocky and has a distinctive square muzzle. The breed is part of the Molossor group (meaning they descended from mastiff type dogs) and this can be seen in their hard muscled build. Boxers are popular family pets. They are known to get along exceptionally well with children and they have a great deal of energy! They are generally suspicious of strangers, thus they have a reputation for being ideal guard dogs. This breed can be stubborn and headstrong and requires creativity during training. Boxers are energetic and need regular outlets for their energy, but care must be taken in warm weather because of their short muzzles (they are bracheocephalic and can’t tolerate high temperatures).
Rottweilers are large (95-130 lbs) dogs that were used for a variety of purposes! In their native country (Germany) they were used to pull carts, carry items, herd livestock and as guard dogs! Currently the breed is most popular as a pet, although they are still used for guarding purposes. Rottweilers need careful and early socialization as well as obedience training. They have a tendency towards dominance and when dealing with any dog of this build and size, you must have control of them at all times! They are a very intelligent breed that requires a great deal of mental stimulation, or else behavioral problems can result.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a medium sized (24-38 lbs) dog who is incredibly well muscled for his compact nature! These low set, stocky dogs are renowned for their good-natured ways with children. However, they are not “dog park dogs” and they do have a tendency to challenge other dogs. It is up to the owner to be responsible for their Staffy Bull and not allow them to engage with strange dogs. Staffordshire Bull Terriers have endless energy and have been known to excel in obedience, agility and flyball. They also can make excellent therapy dogs. This breed has a low tolerance to the heat and they must be kept cool on hot days.
Greyhounds are a large breed (70-100 lbs) that often look deceivingly skinny! This sight hound was bred for chasing game across wide distances and then later for racing. Greyhounds are sprinters and can reach speeds up to 45 mph in just 3 strides! Their muscles are built for running, and they do it well! However, the Greyhound is a deceiving breed! As pets, they are incredible couch potatoes! They do well with normal daily walks and are most content to curl up on the furniture. They make ideal apartment dogs and often do well with children. This breed does have a tendency to chase smaller animals (cats, squirrels, etc) and may hurt them. Otherwise they are a very gentle breed with a build that could be compared to a dancer!
For more articles that help you choose the dog breed that's right for you, visit our dog breed selection page.