The Tallest Dog Breeds
These breeds are some of the leggiest in the dog world! While they all are distinctly different, they all have one thing in common – they are able to counter surf with very little effort! As puppies they may appear gangly and awkward, but as adults they are some of the most breathtaking breeds out there!
Irish Wolfhounds are a type of sighthound that are generally considered the tallest breed of dog overall. Wolfhounds reach average heights of 31-34 inches at the neck (withers) and weigh from 110-180 lbs. The history of this breed dates all the way back to 1st century BC (if not before) when the Celts raised them as dogs of war. Later their value was noted as hunting dogs, when they earned their keep taking down wolves and boar. Irish Wolfhounds have sweet and gentle temperaments and are especially reliable with children. Their massive size must be taken into account if you are interested in bringing one of these rough-coated giants into your home. Care must be taken in their growing years not to over exercise these large dogs, or permanent damage can result.
Saint Bernards are burly working dogs that have the reputation for carrying small casks of brandy to travelers stuck in snowstorms. However monks at the St. Bernard Hospice, where many of the breed originated said this never happened. In fact, brandy would actually kill a person suffering from hypothermia! This breed is not only tall (27-35 inches) but also very heavy! Dogs can range in weight from 160 to over 240 lbs at maturity! Apparently a Saint named “Benedictine” weighed in at a whopping 357 lbs! Due to their large size, Saint Bernards are often prone to Hip and Elbow Dysplasia.
Although Irish Wolfhounds are generally considered the tallest dogs, the current Guinness Book Of Worlds Records award for that trait goes to a Great Dane named “Gibson”. Gibson measures in at a massive 42.2 inches at his withers (nape of the neck)! The average Dane usually reaches a height between 28-32 inches and weighs in between 100 -150 lbs (though some reach weights over 200 lbs!). Although many assume the breed is from Denmark, it is more probably that they originated in Germany! Great Danes are slow to mature and need to be socialized at an early age with other dogs. This breed is prone to Gastric volvulus (bloat).
The English Mastiff is truly massive! While they outweigh (130-200+lbs) the Wolfhound and most Great Danes, they are a bit shorter – usually only reaching 30 inches or so at the withers. Mastiffs were bred in England and originally heavily used in blood sports (bull and bear baiting). However today these gentle giants are quite passive! While their imposing size makes them ideal guard dogs, they are excellent with children and are quite mellow. Due to their heavy bone structure, English Mastiffs need to have a carefully balanced diet and not be overly exercised during the first years of their lives.
The Anatolian Shepherd is probably the rarest dog on our list of tall dogs! This Turkish breed was created to guard flocks of sheep from predators. Because these uninvited guests came in the form of wolves and even bears, the Anatolian Shepherd had to be big! These dogs measure 28-30 inches at the withers and weigh in between 100-150 lbs. Like many of the herding breeds, the Anatolian is quite independent. Combined with its build, this trait makes it a poor choice for a novice dog owner. They have a tendency to become very protective.
Some people say that Borzoi resemble longhaired Greyhounds. These tall, curvaceous Sighthounds are also known as Russian Wolfhounds. Weight wise, they are the lightest dogs on this list, with weights over 100 lbs being at the high end of the spectrum for the breed. As far as height goes, the Borzoi usually stands between 26-28 inches at the withers. The speedy Borzoi was bred for hunting wolves and did so in packs during the reign of the Russian Tsars. As companions, the Borzoi is quiet and sensitive. They respond well to positive reinforcement. Due to their background as hunters they should be introduced to smaller animals at a young age.
The Scottish Deerhound looks like a cross between an Irish Wolfhound and a Greyhound! This tall Sighthound measures in between 28-32 inches and weighs between 75-110 lbs. The Deerhounds rough coat protected it from the harsh weather when hunting Red Deer on the Scottish Moors. It is believed to be a close “cousin” to the Irish Wolfhound. Scottish Deerhounds are gentle pets but they do require the chance to get out to run and chase. A safe, fully enclosed space is required for this activity. This breed excels in Lure Coursing (as do most Sighthounds!)
For more articles that help you choose the dog breed that's right for you, visit our dog breed selection page.