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12 Most Gentle Giant Dog Breeds: We Countdown The Dogs Who Are Big but Incredibly Sweet

Written by: Ejay Camposano
A college graduate with a degree in Electrical Engineering, Ejay has a diverse background that combines technical expertise with a passion for pets and is now one of the content writers at IHD. Read more
| Published on May 8, 2024

The term “gentle giant” perfectly encapsulates a special group of large dog breeds renowned not just for their impressive size but equally for their remarkable temperaments. These breeds, often towering and muscular, defy the intimidating first impressions with their sweet, calm, and affectionate natures. Ideal for families, singles, and seniors alike, these gentle giants are often protective, loving, and wonderfully patient with children. Despite their large bodies, many of these dogs are surprisingly gentle and easygoing, making them excellent companions in households big and small. This article explores twelve of the most notable gentle giants in the canine world, explaining why their combination of size and sweetness makes them such beloved pets.

12. Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for their gorgeous tri-color coat and sturdy build, but it’s their calm and affectionate temperament that truly endears them to families. Originally bred as farm dogs in the Swiss mountains, these dogs are both strong and gentle, capable of hard work yet always eager to snuggle with their owners. Their patient and friendly nature makes them excellent companions, particularly for children with whom they are naturally gentle.

11. Newfoundland

Newfoundlands are as large as they are lovable. Known for their incredible strength and swimming abilities, they were originally used for water rescues. These dogs are famously good-natured and gentle, often referred to as “nanny dogs” for their tendency to watch over and protect children. Their sweet disposition and reliability make them a favorite among families, especially those with young kids.

10. Great Dane

The iconic Great Dane is a true gentle giant, known for its enormous size and elegant appearance. Despite their imposing stature, Great Danes are friendly, and affectionate, and often behave more like lap dogs than the powerful creatures they are. They are known for their patience and love of comfort, often seeking out soft places to rest alongside their family members.

9. Leonberger

Leonbergers are impressive dogs, bred for their resemblance to lions. Beyond their striking looks, these dogs are known for their serene and gentle temperament. They are incredibly patient and are often used in therapy and rescue work because of their calm demeanor and sensitivity to human emotions. Leonbergers are especially good with children and make excellent family pets.

8. Irish Wolfhound

The Irish Wolfhound, once used for hunting wolves, is now more likely to be found lounging with their owners. They are the tallest of all dog breeds but are known for their quiet, friendly nature. Despite their hunting heritage, these dogs are incredibly calm and gentle, often forming strong, affectionate bonds with their families.

7. Mastiff

The Mastiff is one of the oldest and most dignified of dog breeds. Known for their massive size and protective nature, Mastiffs are surprisingly gentle and affectionate with their families. They are naturally calm and composed, often serving as effective guard dogs simply by their presence, without the need for aggression.

6. Saint Bernard

Saint Bernards are famous not only for their role in alpine rescues but also for their sweet, loving nature. These massive dogs are incredibly gentle, especially with children, and are known for their ability to sense when their family members need comfort. Their friendly demeanor makes them poor guard dogs but excellent family companions.

5. Scottish Deerhound

Scottish Deerhounds, like their Irish counterparts, are large and regal. They have a quiet and dignified presence, often described as gentle and well-mannered. They are extremely loyal to their families and have a calm disposition that makes them excellent companions, particularly in homes with enough space to accommodate their size.

4. Dogue de Bordeaux

The Dogue de Bordeaux, also known as the French Mastiff, has a powerful build and a head that exudes seriousness. However, their temperament is anything but harsh. These dogs are very affectionate and gentle, particularly with their families. They form strong bonds with their owners and are known for their loyalty and protective instincts, all while maintaining a calm and loving nature.

3. Anatolian Shepherd

Anatolian Shepherds are large, rugged, and powerful, bred for guarding livestock against formidable predators. Despite their serious work ethic, they are incredibly affectionate and protective of their families. They tend to be calm and watchful, making them excellent guardians who are gentle with children and other family members.

2. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a large, strong breed, originally used for farm work in the Swiss Alps. They are known for their versatility, and strength, and especially for their gentle and affectionate nature. These dogs are very family-oriented and thrive when they can participate in household activities, showing a gentle disposition towards children and often acting as patient and protective companions.

1. English Mastiff

Topping the list of gentle giants is the English Mastiff, one of the largest dog breeds in terms of mass. Known for their immense size and equally big hearts, English Mastiffs are profoundly gentle and affectionate. They are known for their calm and loving nature, often seeking to be close to their families, despite their bulky size. Their gentle demeanor makes them excellent companions for families with children, as they are both protective and incredibly patient.

These twelve breeds demonstrate a remarkable combination of size and gentleness, making them perfect for those who love big dogs with big hearts. Despite their imposing appearances, these gentle giants are known for their sweet dispositions and loyal nature, often making them beloved members of any family they become part of.