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Large Calm Dog Breeds

husky lab and boxer dogs in portrait

Many popular dog breeds are large in size and calm in temperament. For dog owners looking for a calm breed, there are many choices amongst the large dog breeds. Most of these gentle giants were initially bred as working dogs - some for the farm, others as snow or water rescue dogs. But, they are also a good companion for domestic life. Large dog breeds make excellent family dogs. 

The largest dog breed, the Irish Wolfhound, is one of the most affectionate. And the heaviest dog breed, the Great Dane, has an easygoing personality making them a calm family pet.

The Benefits of Large Dog Breeds

Each breed has its own temperament and unique characteristics. These are consistent qualities throughout the breed and are expected to be a substantial part of each dog's personality. The calmest breeds have many of the same attributes. They are loyal companions, easily trainable, and especially good with young children. 

These gentle giants are both physically and emotionally sturdy but choose to display a tranquil temperament. For example, Saint Bernards have been used as a rescue dog for hundreds of years, and the Irish Wolfhound is commonly used as a therapy dog due to its strong emotional sensitivity.

Saint Bernard

For hundreds of years, the Saint Bernard has been used as a rescue dog, helping to find missing travelers along the Great St Bernard Pass on the Italian-Swiss Alps. Bred primarily for Alpine weather, the average height of a Saint Bernard is 28 inches and weighs 120 pounds. They can be either longhaired or shorthaired with red and white, brown and white, and brindle and white coats. The ears are floppy, foreheads are wrinkled, and have pronounced drooling jowls. Because the dogs are so large, they generally do not reach their full size until they are 2 or 3 years old.

Though powerful and muscular, this breed is among the gentle giants of the large dog breeds; some even call them couch potatoes. They have incredibly easygoing personalities and are well suited for families. 

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Owning a Saint Bernard

Listed as a calm breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC), Saint Bernards are friendly, gentle, tolerant, and suitable for families. They are eager to please, which makes them easy to train. These absolute units make great family dogs if you have a lot of time to devote to them since they love being with their owners.

Though mild-tempered, the American Kennel Club says, “the Saint Bernard benefits tremendously from training classes as these dogs can knock people over, especially children.” Saint Bernards don't have special grooming needs but will shed twice a year. This calm breed doesn’t mind being brushed, so a good brush twice per week will make its coat shiny and shedding manageable.

Bernese Mountain DogBernese Mountain Dog

Yet another dog breed from the mountains of Switzerland, the Bernese Mountain Dog was bred in Bern as a working dog. Typically, a Bernese Mountain Dog would pull carts, guard livestock and drive cattle. An average full-grown Bernese Mountain Dog can be 27 inches and weigh 110 pounds. They have thick, silky, moderately long jet black, clear white, and rust fur coats. The distinctive markings on the face and coat are hallmarks of this breed.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are one of the best family dogs among the large dog breeds. They love to take daily walks and are exceptionally gentle with children. 

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Owning a Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dogs are intelligent with a mild temperament. They are calm and easily trainable, making them well-suited for young children. Like all herding dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs need to be active, so be sure to have plenty of time to spend with them. This breed, though not aggressive, are excellent watchdogs due to their large size, serious face, and loud, deep bark.

Here is one word of caution; Bernese Mountain Dogs are one of the highest shedding dog breeds. This mild-tempered breed also drools, but not consistently. Due to their long, double coats, you can expect hair everywhere. However, a good vacuum will help. 

Irish Wolfhound

Don't let the name fool you. Steeped in Irish Folklore, only the rich and powerful once owned these giant dogs. Over the centuries, they became coveted gifts to emperors and kings, arriving in symbolic groups of seven, tied with silver chains. Today, the Irish Wolfhound is a gentle breed and a treasured family companion. 

At almost 3 feet tall and 120 pounds, the Irish Wolfhound is the largest dog breed. They have medium, wiry coats and come in many colors, including white, gray, brindle, red, black, and fawn. They have small ears, a long muzzle, and a thick tail covered with hair.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Owning an Irish Wolfhound

The modern Irish Wolfhound might be as imposing as its ancestors, but this large dog breed's nature is among the calmest. They are loyal family dogs and are enshrined in a folktale of loyalty called “Gelert, the Faithful Hound," where the Irish Wolfhound saves the son of the English king from a wolf. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), Irish Wolfhounds are both calm and sensitive to the emotions of humans, making them qualified for a wide variety of therapy work. They are loyal family dogs who seldom bark and are easy to train. 

One of the main drawbacks of this breed is that its size would be challenging if you're looking for a lap dog. This breed also sheds. Though not as much as some, an Irish Wolfhound will still produce a lot of hair around the house. 

Great Dane

It's no wonder that Americans fell in love with the cartoon Marmaduke. The lovable Great Dane displays all of the qualities that make it one of the best dog breeds for families. They have a playful, easygoing personality making them a calm family companion.

This breed is both tall and large. The average full-grown male is 32 inches and 175 pounds. They have smooth, short coats and come in various colors, the most common being golden brown. Some are even patterned with black cross stripes. Their ears are medium-sized and fold forward, and their tails are long.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Owning a Great Dane

Owning a Great Dane is a joy for many families. They are highly affectionate with family members, and many actually think they are lap dogs. Their couch potato personalities are well known, yet this breed's easygoing nature and eager-to-please character make them the perfect walking partner. Great Danes have short coats, shed little, and are low maintenance. Great Danes only need grooming once every month. 

Great Danes are easy to train, but they need training at a very early age before they are too large and difficult to handle. Great Danes drool a lot and are likely to leave a rope of slobber on your arm. 

Greyhound

Greyhounds have always been a popular dog breed. They have aerodynamic bodies and are legendary for their speed and racing ability. But it's the sweet temperament of this breed that makes them especially suitable as a family dog. It should be no surprise that this breed enjoys daily walks.

The average Greyhound is a big dog, measuring 26 -30 inches and weighing 65-80 pounds. They have short, smooth coats and come in all colors, including grey. Greyhounds also possess a characteristically S-shaped body, short ears, a long muzzle, and a long tail.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Owning a Greyhound

Greyhounds are loyal companions who love being the center of their owner's affection. Their low-maintenance short coats are effortless to care for and easy to clean. They don't have an oily coating on their fur, so they won't develop unpleasant odors. They are one of the calmest breeds, for they don't bark much and get along well with other dogs and children.

You don't need to sign your Greyhound up for racing lessons; daily walks are enough to provide mental and physical stimulation for this breed. This mild tempered-dog also prefers to be in a calm environment. Greyhounds are a docile breed and need to be trained with gentleness and praise.

Newfoundland

The Newfoundland, or Newfies as their owners affectionately call them, are loving, loyal, and intelligent. Developed as a companion for Canadian fishermen, these gentle giants love to spend time with their owners. According to the American Kennel Club, the Newfie breed standard says that a sweet temperament is the 'most important single characteristic of the breed.'

The Newfoundland is an undoubtedly large dog breed standing 28 inches and weighing 150 pounds. They have a medium-length, double coat and are typically gray, brown, black, and black-and-white. They have massive heads with small triangular close fitting ears. They are a loyal breed, and with their loud bark and large size, they are also good guard dogs.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Owning a Newfoundland

Newfoundlands are a popular dog breed for families, especially with young children. Because they are loyal and protective, they have sometimes been called the "nanny" dogs. This mild-tempered breed is not afraid of the water because of its muscular build, thick double coat, webbed paws, and swimming abilities. It is frequently used as a water rescue dog.

Unfortunately, if you live in a warm climate, Newfoundlands are prone to overheating. They have average grooming needs with moderate shedding and moderate coat brushing. But do be prepared for a breed known to drool. Having a towel nearby is a good idea.

Scottish Deerhound

The Scottish Deerhound is another noble giant bred to stalk the giant wild red deers of Scotland. Though steadfast and swift in the hunt, they are calm and gentle around the house. 

Scottish Deerhounds are one of the tallest breeds averaging 30 inches and weighing between 85 - 110 pounds. They have the sleek S-curve shape of the Greyhound, with a wiry double coat of medium-length hair. They can be found in several colors but are most commonly grey. They have big thick ears hanging flat on the head and a long tail.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Owning a Scottish Deerhound

Scottish Deerhounds are all-around likable dogs. This breed is most affectionate with family members and is one of the best breeds for canine companions. Scottish Deerhounds are quiet, seldom bark, and rarely drool.  

Though large, Scottish Deerhounds do not make reliable guard dogs. They are too good-natured and exceedingly polite to strangers. This breed, classified as a working dog, benefits from daily walks to stimulate them mentally and physically.

Leonberger dog

Leonberger

Initially bred as a mascot to resemble a lion. Leonbergers have a tawny, lion-colored coat, complete with their signature mane and black mask. Though calm in nature, their appearance is enough to make them a good guard dog.

But one look at a Leonberger's large eyes, ears that hang down to its mouth, and a bushy tail, you immediately see the gentle giant side of this unit of a dog breed. The Leonberger is usually 30 inches, and males can grow to 170 pounds.  

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Owning a Leonberger 

Leonbergers have many of the qualities of their working dog and sheepdog ancestors. They are loyal, affectionate with family members, a delight with young children, and are good canine companions. They are very eager to please and easy to train.

Like many double-coated long-hair dogs, Leonbergers have substantial grooming needs. They shed a lot, and their coats need frequent grooming. This dog breed also drools, but not as much as others.  

Summary

When looking for a calm dog breed, you don't have to be limited by size. Many large dog breeds have the mild temperament treasured in the ideal family dog. They are easy to train, loyal, relaxed, lovable, and kind. These gentle giants enjoy being part of a group and are patient with young children and other family pets.