If you are like me, you love big, strong dogs. There is something about having a pack of muscles to snuggle up to at night. I never feel safer than I do when I know I'm being protected from any would-be intruders by one of the strongest dog breeds in the world.
There are definite benefits to adopting a strong dog, but they have their drawbacks too. Typically, strong dogs aren't the best option for homes with children. These dogs can overpower large adults, so a child would certainly never be able to control one of these pooches. If you want your kids to be involved in the care of your pet, one of these breeds may not be the best option.
If you're looking for a sporting dog or working breed to help around your homestead, these strong canines may be just what you need. Every breed has their pros and cons, and I've listed them all out here.
Be sure to do extensive research before adopting one of the strongest dog breeds that you're not familiar with. The only way to ensure that your home is going to be a good fit for your new pet is to know what you're getting into before you bring Fido home.
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20 Strongest Dog Breeds In the World
1. Alaskan Malamute
Taking the top spot on my list is the Alaskan Malamute (pictured above). This breed prefers the colder temperatures. If you like dogs that “talk”, then the Malamute is for you. Just make sure you have a strong, tall enclosure.
Pros – Pooches in this breed are strong. They can pull sleds, pack supplies, and cart freight. Alaskan Malamutes love to roam and climb. They are happiest with a busy, outdoors family that will have time to teach and train them to be useful. Friendly and affectionate, these dogs do great with kids.
Cons – This breed usually does not like other animals. Double-coated, these fur-babies do not do well in hot temperatures. Malamutes are reserved with strangers and will need socialization training from a young age to keep from becoming fearful and aggressive. These pups do love to dig, so be prepared!
This is a breed of varied ancestry. They were originally created by breeding “Mastiff” breeds with “Bull Dog” breeds.
Pros – This breed is still mainly bred to be guard dogs, and they excel. Brave and strong, these dogs will lay down their life for their charges. These impressive animals have short, easy to care for coats. These pups can be affectionate and loyal with their adult owners, but they are not recommended for kids and other animals
Cons – As primarily guard dogs, these canines can be dangerous. They need intense “pack leader” training. They are wary and distrustful of strangers, so they need intense socialization training from birth. To many, the Bandog is considered a mutt, so you will not be able to receive AKC certification. If that is your dream, it is best to choose another breed.
This wooly dog needs cool temperatures to be healthy. These pups are also known as the “Berner”.
Pros – Affectionate and friendly, the Bernese Mountain Dog may be one of the strongest dog breeds, but they are also great with children and other pets. Originally a working breed, they still love to work and enjoy learning tricks and playing sports. Intelligent and wanting to please, these giants are easy to train. You don’t have to worry about aggression in these fur-babies, they are friendly with everyone they meet.
Cons – While extremely beautiful, their long coats do need brushing and cleaning. They also shed quite a bit. If you don’t like body fluids, this drooling beast is not for you. Playful, large and strong, canines in this breed will need obedience training starting from a young age.
This breed has an imposing stature that doesn’t match its personality. They usually won’t hurt a fly, but they may kill furry little animals if they are not trained.
Pros – This affectionate dog is very friendly with family, including kids and other dogs. Boxers are intelligent and easy to train. They are average in their desire to bark and roam. This energetic furry family member will adapt to apartment living as long as they get plenty of exercise.
Cons – The may make strangers feel timid with their muscular body, but they don’t really make good watch dogs because of their friendliness. Boxers like mild climates, so care must be taken when going outside in cold or hot weather. They may be one of the strongest dog breeds physically, but these pups really do not do well when left alone for long periods of time.
5. Bull Dogs (Pitbull, American, English, etc.)
Bulldogs have a bad reputation right now because of the “Pitbull”. Actually, all Bully breeds can be docile if trained properly.
Pros – Intelligent and loyal, these muscular companions are easy to train. With short hair, the Bull Dog doesn’t need a lot of time at the groomers. Known as “nanny dogs”, these pups love children. They are playful and protective. Most of the canines in these breeds are calm and quiet.
Cons – Make sure you get your fur-baby from a reputable breeder that doesn’t breed fighting dogs. Like other strong breeds, you will need to start with socialization and “pack leader” training early. Some people will greet you and your pup with fear and maybe anger. Their emotions can affect your dog’s emotions. Prepare your fur-baby properly.
6. Caucasian Ovcharka
This Russian dog is a shepherd, and it is tough. It can kill wolves and bears to keep its charges safe, which is one of the main reasons it makes my list of the strongest dog breeds.
Pros – This breed was made to survive barren, wet lands and bitter cold; so, it is one tough cookie. Independent and self-assured, these canines usually do well with alone time. Brave and loyal, this breed is a common police, rescue, and working dog in the areas of the old Soviet Union.
Cons – Serious and professional, this is not a great dog if you have kids and other pets. This breed is not suited for warmer climates. If you want to own this pooch as a companion dog, or a guard dog, it will need to undergo serious “pack leader” training and obedience classes. It will be a danger to strangers if not socialized properly.
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7. Doberman Pinscher
You may not be surprised to see the Doberman Pinscher on this list of the strongest dog breeds. These dogs grow to a large size, but are still incredibly graceful. These trim pooches are actually in the “Mastiff” family.
Pros – This brave, loyal dog is very affectionate with his family. He makes a great watch dog. These intelligent, sensitive canines are easy to train. They will need socialization and “pack leader” training, but they will pick it up quickly. If you are looking for a guard dog, Doberman’s make great ones. That is their traditional job.
Cons – Energetic and playful, these dogs need to be exercised regularly to keep from being aggressive or destructive. While this dog is friendly with kids it is raised with, it is not generally a “kid-friendly” breed. Some pups in this breed can be domineering, so they need a firm trainer.
8. Estrela Mountain Dog
This is a relatively new breed, only making it into the AKC registry in 2004.
Pros – These loyal and intense dogs make excellent guard dogs. A hardy and healthy breed, the Estrela averages about 16 years of life. That is a long life considering its size. This pooch’s long, beautiful coat doesn’t mat easily, so it is still easy to maintain. These pups love kids.
Cons – Like many strong working dogs, this fur-baby is independent and self-willed. They will need a strong-willed master to train it in “pack-leader” training and socialize it properly. While they may love kids, they do not like other animals. This breed is recommended for experienced dog owners.
9. German Shepherd
Intelligent “work” dogs, German Shepherds are used as police dogs, guide dogs, and farm hand dogs. Well known for being one of the strongest dog breeds, the German Shepherd is commonly used as a watch dog as well.
Pros – This breed makes a great watch dog. These dogs are energetic and love play time, but they know when to be calm and restrained as well. Fur-babies in this breed are smart and sensitive to their owners wishes, so they are very easy to train. These kid-friendly canines are nimble and sure-footed, making them great for the active family.
Cons – These pups shed a lot, it may be best if you don’t have carpet in your home. Dogs in this breed usually do not like other dogs. You will need to have chew toys and puzzle boxes because these pups love to chew. German Shepherds are suspicious of strangers. They need socialization and “pack leader” training.
10. Great Dane (Harlequin, Blue, etc.)
If you love horses, then this is the breed for you. They grow to the size of a small horse. While they are one of the strongest dog breeds, they are also gentle giants.
Pros – Great Danes are loving and loyal. They get along well in homes that have other pets and kids. They are of average intelligence, but very easy to train. These giants are very active and playful, so they fit right in with the active family that is always on the go.
Cons – Almost every “con” with the Great Dane has to do with size. They can easily knock over kids and everything else. As with any of the strongest dog breeds, they need an experienced trainer to effectively train them in manners while they are still small enough to handle. This breed grows a large amount over a short time, this makes them susceptible to injuries. Never push these pups past their limits.
11. Great Pyrenees
These beautiful dogs are as strong and steadfast as the mountains they are named after.
Pros – These dogs are just gorgeous, with a white fluffy coat and soulful brown eyes. Gentle and loving, this is one large breed that is great with children. The Great Pyrenees does well in warm and cold climates, preferring the cold. These energetic pups need an active family who will make it feel useful by teaching it some tricks.
Cons – Like many large dogs, the “Pyr” needs to be taught obedience training before he is too big to hurt someone. These pooches are great watch dogs and some lines are bred to be more aggressive. Make sure you get your pup from a reputable breeder. Another negative, these dogs shed quite a bit.
12. Irish Wolfhound
These pups aren’t just strong. They are pretty fast as well. Some people even call them the “Greyhounds of Ireland”.
Pros – These massive dogs are a deterrent to trespassers, but they will probably just lick them to death if the person decides to chance it. Very friendly, Irish Wolfhounds get along with everything and everyone. A great conversation starter, this fur-baby is taller than most people when stretched out.
Cons – Dogs in this breed are not meant for hot temperatures. They retain a high prey drive, so training must happen before the Irish Wolfhound is too big to handle. These canines are playful, but they need obedience training so that they don’t hurt their playmates. These giants don’t live very long.
A breed created from several other breeds, including the Saint Bernard, this large dog is not very well known.
Pros – Affectionate and playful, this dog is great for kids. These active fur-babies enjoy being part of the family and want to do what you do. Leonbergers are active and curious. Suspicious of strangers, the “Leo” makes a great watchdog. Just make sure you do social training so it doesn’t become aggressive.
Cons – These pups love to chew and bark and will need training to curb those desires. While they love kids, they are massive and can easily hurt a child. They need training in manners starting at puppyhood. Like most large dogs, they need room to stretch out and should not live in apartments.
14. Mastiff (Boerbel, Cane Corso, Argentino Dogo, Kangal, etc.)
These gentle giants are far removed from their war-loving ancestors. Another dog of war, the Mastiff has come a long way to be the loving dog it is today.
Pros – The Mastiff is a great dog for families with kids and other pets. These are territorial dogs that make great guard dogs. While affectionate to family and friends, they do not like strange people and animals coming around. Dogs in this breed have short hair and shed an average amount. They have lower energy which makes them need less exercise.
Cons – The dogs in this breed tolerate cold weather well, but aren’t built for hot weather. Mastiffs have a low intelligence and are a little stubborn. They need an experienced trainer. A dog in this breed will weigh well over 100 pounds, so training needs to start in puppy-hood before they are too big to handle. These breeds are known to drool.
Powerful and muscular, these pets make any activity look effortless. The “Newfie” can be trimmed in the summer to help it bear the heat.
Pros – Patient and kind, these furry family members actually prefer the company of children. A great family dog, these loving animals are very social and friendly. Even though it is a large dog, the Newfoundland doesn’t need a lot of exercise, but it does love to play. Easy to train, these pups want nothing more than to please their human.
Cons – Newfoundlands do not do well when left alone. If the house is often empty, this is not one of the strongest dog breeds for you. This breed sheds and drools. If you decide to bring one of these dogs home, make sure you have a tall, secure fence. These canines would love to run around chasing every bird and squirrel. Curious, they want to check everything out.
16. Rhodesian Ridgeback
This breed is great for people looking for a large, good-looking dog. They have a distinctive line (ridge) of hair on their spine.
Pros – These powerful dogs are great if you are looking for a dog that lives primarily outdoors. Also known as the “African Lion Dog”, these canines make excellent guard dogs. This easy to maintain breed is highly energetic which makes them perfect for the outdoors family as long as care is taken around small children.
Cons – The Ridgeback is a large, powerful, and independent breed; so, they need effective, experienced training. Dogs in this breed that are not trained and socialized properly can become aggressive. They retain the prey drive and love to wander and roam. For this reason, they need a strong fence and a strong handler. If bored, they can become destructive.
These dogs are calm, brave and heavy. They can get up to 130 pounds. Like every one of the strongest dog breeds on this list, they need a strong, experienced trainer.
Pros – Dogs in this breed are not hyper and needy. Smart and attentive, these fur-babies make great work dogs. These canines are surprisingly friendly and social. Despite their reputation, they are gentle and family friendly unless trained to be otherwise.
Cons – Training needs to start as soon as possible while they are still small enough to be easily handled. They usually don’t like other animals. These pups do not like alone time and become destructive and aggressive if bored and lonely.
18. Saint Bernard
You are at the movies. The scene shows someone stuck in a blizzard. A friendly dog appears with a keg of hot soup around his neck. That is the St. Bernard.
Pros – An affectionate breed, the Saint Bernard is great for homes with kids and other pets. Saints are a tad lazy, and they don’t need a lot of exercise. This makes them okay for apartment living even though they are big. Just make sure that they do get a daily opportunity to get out and stretch.
Cons – They cannot tolerate the heat well, so they are best suited for colder climates. While friendly and intelligent, these fur-babies are still hard to train. They like doing things their own way. Another drooler and shedder, be prepared to clean up after this pet.
19. Siberian Husky
These affectionate fur-babies are friendly and outgoing. The Siberian Husky is of average intelligence, but they are also independent and mischievous.
Pros – If you want one of the strongest dog breeds that is also a head turner, this is the dog for you. With a beautiful coat and possibly ice-blue eyes, this breed attracts a lot of attention. A friendly, affectionate breed, the Husky does well with kids, pets, and strangers unless not socialized properly.
Cons – Dogs in this breed are escape artists. They need a strong, secure enclosure. Dogs in this breed are double coated and prefer a mild to cold climate. Like other popular breeds, popularity has led to unsafe breeding practices. Make sure your new furry family member comes from a reputable breeder.
Just call this dog Xolo (Sho-Lo) for short. Also known as the “Mexican Hairless”, this breed is said to be hypo-allergenic.
Pros – Xolos have no hair, so there is no brushing. They also do not drool. These traits combined with good health make these dogs one of the easiest to maintain. This pet comes in three sizes so you can get the one that best fits your living situation.
Cons – A little high-strung, these pups do not do well around children and other animals. Aloof and suspicious, these pooches need socialization training starting at a young age to prevent aggressiveness. Often missing teeth, these dogs sometimes have a gap-toothed smile.
Here they are, some of the strongest dog breeds in the world. While they are mighty fine, always remember that strong breeds need strong trainers.
They are not for the lazy, whishy-washy person. To avoid problems, only get one of the dogs on this list if you are a take-charge person. Raising these pups are one project that you will need to see all the way through to the end.