Owning a large dog is more challenging than owning a small dog. As Outside points out, said animals need bigger investments of time, effort, and money from their owners. Even so, owning a Great Dane is worthwhile because it is a sweet, affectionate protector of the home. Still, if people aren’t satisfied with said animals, they should know they can choose from similar dogs.
Most Japanese people live on the island of Honshu. However, some parts of the island are less densely-populated than others. For instance, the Tohoku region encompassing the northeastern part of Honshu has a longstanding reputation for being a rural backwater. It has beauty, but it has the kind of beauty people want to visit rather than live in. The climate is too harsh, the land is too rugged, and the coastline is too inconvenient for anything else.
The Akita came into existence in this sort of environment. Specifically, it traces its roots to the prefecture of the same name, one of six such divisions making up the Tohoku region. Role-wise, the Akita was a companion for the Japanese warrior class that participated in hunts for boars and other big animals. It is as formidable as one would expect from something expected to excel under such circumstances. Boars aren’t just strong and tough. They are also smart, aggressive, and notoriously stubborn, so much so that Hunt with a Spear says boar spears had wings for preventing boars from working their way up the shaft to get at their tormenters.
Nowadays, Akitas continues to show characteristics of this heritage. These dogs are bold, affectionate, and fastidious. Unfortunately, Akitas are a poor choice for first-time dog owners because these dogs are also independent, strong-willed, and even territorial. By default, the dog breed is suspicious of strangers. There is a potential issue in that poorly-trained and socialized members can be downright aggressive, which is something interested individuals will need to watch out for.
Bullmastiffs have an origin that is both obvious and not so obvious. Chances are good that interested individuals can guess these dogs descend from English Mastiffs and Old English Bulldogs. After all, Bullmastiff is about as much of a giveaway as the portmanteau names of modern designer dogs. Unfortunately, it isn’t clear who started breeding those dogs together. All we know is that people in the United Kingdom started doing so in the 18th century, thus leading to the products of these unions becoming popular by the start of the 20th century.
Those people bred Bullmastiffs to be strong, tough, and faster than most people would expect. That is because these dogs assisted gamekeepers with poaching, meaning they took on humans. Despite that, Bullmastiffs aren’t particularly aggressive animals. If anything, they are gentle, easygoing, and affectionate, thus making them well-suited for living with families. Of course, those characteristics are true for Bullmastiffs’ interactions with their human family members. Dogs Planet calls them one of the best guard dogs in the world. Naturally, that includes Bullmastiffs being ready to intervene when they perceive something threatening.
3. Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman Pinscher is called the Doberman in much of the world. That is because Dobermann is the correct spelling of the creator’s name. Meanwhile, the Germans dropped the Pinscher because they considered it a misleading term for the dog breed, which handles much bigger threats than rats and other vermin. Other countries followed suit, which is why the United States and Canada are the only countries to continue using the name Doberman Pinscher.
Regardless, the Doberman Pinscher has a reputation for aggression. It has earned it through its service as guard dogs, police dogs, and other roles in which it might have to take aggressive action. Interested individuals should avoid reading too much into this. People wouldn’t have trusted the Doberman Pinscher with any of those roles if it suffered from mindless aggression.
Furthermore, there is enough interest in the dog breed as pets that dog breeders have been working on making them more compatible with families for quite some time. Not every Doberman Pinscher has become more suitable as a pet because of said effort. Still, enough of them exist for interested individuals to be able to find such animals so long as they are willing to look.
4. Dogue de Bordeaux
Anyone who recognizes French can guess that the Dogue de Bordeaux hails from the Southern French region centered on its namesake city. Supposedly, its considerable size made it useful for a wide range of work. One example was pulling carts loaded with heavy objects. Similarly, another example was watching over their owners’ possessions. Nowadays, some of the Dogue de Bordeaux’s traditional uses have faded in relevance. Fortunately, its versatility has enabled it to adapt well to modern times.
In short, the Dogue de Bordeaux is a good-natured dog that gets along well with its humans. Better still, it is nowhere near as demanding as some of the more energetic dogs out there, thus making it a good choice for people who prefer a somewhat more sedate pet. Despite these things, the Dogue de Bordeaux is no lapdog. It is a formidable protector of its household, combining incredible strength with an incredible will.
The downside is that interested individuals will also need to deal with those things if they want everything to turn out well. They should always supervise the Dogue de Bordeaux in its interactions with children and other humans more prone to injury than normal because big dogs don’t necessarily know their strength. Likewise, they should be prepared to put themselves in charge of a stubborn dog, thus making this dog breed a less than ideal choice for someone who lacks the necessary skill and confidence.
5. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
The exact origins of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog are uncertain. Yes, the Swiss Alps weren’t the most trafficked places in pre-modern times. Even so, they maintained constant connections with the rest of Europe. As a result, while the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog might reflect unique ancestors fundamentally shaped by their isolated existence in the Swiss Alps, it is also likely to have other ancestors from elsewhere. Some people speculate about a potential descent from the Epirote Molossus that was so popular in the Roman Empire. Other people speculate about even more distant origins in the Levant, which isn’t impossible because the Phoenicians set up colonies with the same enthusiasm as the Greeks in ancient times.
Whatever the case, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog came close to extinction but managed to recover because of timely intervention. Nowadays, it is a pet as much as a working animal. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a people-pleaser much of the time. It likes its human family members. Simultaneously, it is tolerant of strangers, other dogs, and other animals. The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America says it does well as a watchdog but not as a guard dog. Essentially, it won’t hesitate to bark when it sees something problematic, but it is reluctant to bite because that isn’t its intended role. Something interested individuals should keep in mind.
6. Irish Wolfhound
Speaking of which, the Irish Wolfhound is another dog breed that doesn’t necessarily do so well as a guard dog. It is huge. Indeed, Daily Paws says it is the tallest dog breed at 30 to 35 inches. Due to that, there are plenty of people with malicious intent who will very sensibly stay away from this dog. That is particularly true if they recognize the Irish Wolfhound because anything that can take a wolf has much better-than-even odds against a human. Despite this, the Irish Wolfhound just doesn’t have the instincts of a guard dog, though it won’t hesitate to step up if it sees its family in danger.
Personality-wise, Irish Wolfhounds tend to be likable. They are smart enough and easygoing enough to respond well to training. Still, interested individuals should know they aren’t mindless dogs because their ancestors had to make independent decisions while operating on their lonesome. With the proper training and socialization, Irish Wolfhounds get along well with just about everyone. Indeed, their lack of suspicion towards strangers is one of the primary reasons they don’t make good guard dogs.
Livestock guardians are often very shaggy animals. That is no coincidence. Hair isn’t as good as armor, but enough hair can nonetheless prevent teeth and claws from landing with full force. Since livestock guardians are supposed to take on wolves and other big predators to protect their charges, their shagginess gives them a much better chance of coming out in good condition than otherwise possible. With that said, few livestock guardians are as recognizable as the Komondor, which has long, corded hair that has earned it the nickname of the mop dog.
Unsurprisingly, the Komondor gets along well with both human and non-human charges but won’t hesitate to go on the attack if something threatens them. Fortunately, it isn’t mindlessly aggressive. As a rule, the Komondor is cautious around strangers but won’t go beyond that unless it has good reason to do so. Even when it goes on the attack, it prefers to knock its target down and pin them before waiting for its owner to arrive on the scene. That is a good thing because livestock guardians have to act without human input, meaning too much aggression would make them nightmares for everyone involved.
Newfoundland dogs are working dogs well-suited for the water. People shouldn’t be surprised by that because these dogs originated as assistants to North American fishers. Over the years, Newfoundland dogs have spread around the world, as shown by ABC’s reporting on their role as water rescue dogs in Italy. Temperament-wise, these dogs are ideal for people who want to make the experience of owning a dog as smooth as possible. They are calm, mild, and good-natured. Their one issue is that they are big, so they need supervision when interacting with anyone or anything smaller than them in case they accidentally use too much strength.
9. Old English Sheepdog
Old English Sheepdogs are another sweet-natured dog breed. In short, they are smart, social, and even-tempered. These dogs have herding instincts, but these dogs are also adaptable enough to adjust to either an urban or a suburban living environment. Other than this, some Old English Sheepdogs exhibit a streak of stubbornness, though people can work around that through a firm, consistent approach. In any case, getting one of these dogs is worthwhile just because of their fluffy appearance, which goes very well with their occasionally clownish nature. Please note that while the iconic image of the Old English Sheepdog has a docked tail, these dogs have low-set, feathery tails by default.
10. Tibetan Mastiff
The Tibetan Mastiff isn’t a real mastiff, just like how the Tibetan Terrier isn’t a real terrier. Sometimes, people suggest calling this dog breed either the Tibetan Mountain Dog or the Himalayan Mountain Dog, which are good for indicating its origins as a Tibetan landrace.
With that said, the label of mastiff does a good job of communicating the size of these dogs. Pawlicy describes how full-grown males range from 90 to 150 pounds and full-grown females range from 70 to 120 pounds. For that matter, the label of mastiff is also useful for getting across the general attitude of these dogs. Tibetan Mastiffs are livestock guardians. They are ready to defend their charges if they believe it necessary.
That is true even for the western members of the dog breed, which tend to be more suitable as family pets because of generations of dog breeding in that direction. Be warned that Tibetan Mastiffs are every bit as stubborn as other livestock guardians, meaning a hesitant, inexperienced dog owner can struggle with one of these animals.