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the tallest dog
breeds in the world

Which is the tallest dog breed in the world?

If you're interested in which is the tallest dog breed, there is one clear answer, according to the American Kennel Club. BUT there are several other breeds that come close, and a few more that should be mentioned; Because sometimes an individual dog of a slightly smaller breed may grow well above the average height for that breed.

Also, a dog's height is officially measured at the withers, or shoulder blades. This mens that a dog or a breed that has a big head or a long neck may be physically taller than another dog which is higher at the withers.

So, let's look at the top tall dog breeds breeds that most authorities agree are among the candidates for the tallest dog breed. Remember, this list is all about height, not weight. This list is not about giant dog breeds. We have used the American Kennel Club and National Breed associations as our main resources.

All the breeds listed here are over 30 inches tall at the withers (shoulder blade). When you add on the neck and head, these breeds will be over 3 feet high at the top of the head!



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Tallest Dog Breed

Irish Wolfhound

Height; Minimum 32 inches, but typically 35 inches +.

The AKC say that this is the World's tallest dog breed on their list of recognized breeds. The Irish Wolfhound that we see today is actually a relatively recent breed, based on descriptions of the ancient great dogs of Ireland, used for hunting Irish Elk. The ancient dogs were simply called "The Great Dog of Ireland" or even "The Irish Hunting Hound".

When the numbers of Irish Elk were in decline, and wolves started to become a problem in rural Ireland, the hunting dogs had a change of job. They were used to chase and bring down a wolf in one-to-one combat. The Irish Wolfhound was so fast, strong and brave that they eliminated the wolf problem relatively quickly.

Then came the World Wars, and numbers plummeted.

The breed was re-invented after the World Wars by collecting a few outstanding specimens remaining on outlying farms, and breeding them to increase their size. It is thought that the Scottish Deerhound was used in this breeding program.

It was at this time that the breed was given the modern name of "Irish Wolfhound". Recent DNA analysis has shown that the breeding was successful in re-creating the size of the ancient Great Dog of Ireland. Today, this breed is a gentle giant, almost the size of a small donkey, although they have a short average lifespan of around 6 years.


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Great Dane

Height; Minimum 30 inches, but typically 32+ inches.

Although, as a breed, the Great Dane is usually slightly less tall than the Irish Wolfhound at the withers, the World Record for Tallest Individual Dog is actually held by a Great Dane, called Zeus, who stood at a massive 44 inches. (According to the Guinness Book of World Records). Sadly Zeus passed away in 2014 at a relatively young age.

A tall black Great Dane called Zeus standing at the kitchen sink, drinking out of the faucet.Zeus the Great Dane

Also, the Great Dane has a longer neck and more massive head than the Irish Wolfhound, so the top of its head may be higher. But dog height is traditionally measured at the withers, not the top of the head, and so the Wolfhound breed comes in as the tallest dog breed on the AKC list. The average Great Dane male dog is usually around 32 inches at the withers.

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Scottish Deerhound

Height; 30 inches minimum, typically 32 inches.

The Deerhound helped the old Scottish Highlands clans in hunting the massive Scottish Red Deer, weighing over 400lbs and armed with fearsome horns. The dogs had to be fast, and cover rough, uneven ground in wet conditions.

Nowadays they are calm and docile animals, but still with a strong tendency to chase anything that is moving. They are not quite as tall as the Irish Wolfhound, nor as heavy. The breed was registered with the AKC in 1886 - the 33rd breed to be recognized.

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Leonberger

A big Leonberger dog walking across bright green grassLeonberger

Height; 31 inches.

This is a BIG DOG BREED! Weighing in at up to 200lbs, this breed is heavy as well as tall. The Leonberger was developed in the 19th Century by Heinrich Essig, to be an impressive and imposing companion dog for the wealthy and famous. Starting with Newfoundland and Saint Bernard breed stock, he succeeded in creating a popular dog that was widely admired.

Famous owners include Napoleon III, Tsar Alexander II, The Prince of Wales, Richard Wagner and Rachmaninoff.

The sheer size and power of the breed combined with its good nature resulted in it being adopted later as a working dog, on farms and in water. They are excellent swimmers, a result of their Newfoundland ancestry.

Great Pyrenees
(Pyrenean Mountain Dog)

Height; 32 inches

Bred to work with shepherds in the Pyrenean Mountain range separating France and Spain, the Great Pyrenees is a calm and confident breed, frequently weighing over 100 lbs. They had to defend their flocks against wolves and human predators, and be able to withstand the cold of the mountains.

Although capable of bursts of speed and energy, they usually amble around at a slow pace in a regal and dignified manner. The breed was adopted by King Louis XIV as the Royal Dog of France, after they proved to be effective guard dogs on the royal estates.

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Akbash

Height; 32 - 34 inches

Although recognized by the Turkish Kennel Club, and not the AKC, I felt I had to include the Akbash in this list. This is a traditional livestock guardian dog breed which frequently reaches 32 inches at the withers.

They were bred to be suspicious of strangers, and may be overly protective if they have not been socialized properly. They are not well suited to family life.

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Tallest Dog Breed

Kangal Shepherd
(Kangal Dog)

Also originating in Turkey, like the Akbash, the Kangal Dog is listed by the AKC under the name 'Anatolian Shepherd dog'. At 32 inches tall it deserves a place on this list. Unlike the Akbash which is almost pure white, the Kangal is fawn in color. Also unlike the Akbash, the Kangal is calm and makes for a good family dog.

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Neapolitan Mastiff

Height; 31 inches +

The Neapolitan Mastiff is an ancient breed, tracing its roots back to 700BC and beyond. In Roman times they were used in battle, in the gladiator arena, and as guard dogs. The most notable feature apart from its size is the loose folds of skin around the head and eyes, giving the breed a rather fearsome expression.

However, looks can be deceiving, and the modern breed is now calm and gentle. They will defend their home and 'family' if needed, but they are not innately nervous, edgy nor aggressive. Like other big mastiff breeds, they tend to drool and pass gas regularly.

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Saint Bernard

Height; 30+ inches. (AKC)

The St. Bernard was developed by monks in a Swiss monastery in the Swiss alps to help rescue travelers who had become trapped or snow-bound. The breed is famous for being calm and gentle, especially around children. They are no longer used as rescue dogs, the last time being in 1955, and have become a favorite as a family pet, as they make excellent family dogs.

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English Mastiff

Height; 30 inches +

Mastiff type dogs have been around for a long time. The modern-day Mastiff listed by the AKC is also known as the English Mastiff or Old English Mastiff. This style of mastiff came into being in medieval England, and were used by the English soldiers against the French at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.

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Black Russian Terrier

A Black Russian Terrier lying down on grass in a fieldBlack Russian Terrier
A Black Russian Terrier walking next to a girl in a dog show, to illustrate how big this breed isBlack Russian Terrier, image courtesy VisualHunt.com/creative Commons.org

Height; 30 inches

The result of a breeding program established in 1930, 'Red Star Kennel', with the aim of producing a dog for Russian military duties. As many as 17 different breeds were involved, including the Airedale Terrier, Newfoundland and Rottweiler. It has been used as a border guard, a prison camp guard and for patrolling military installations.

The reduced need for guard dogs after the end of the 1950's resulted in the breed being introduced to the Russian public, where it has become very popular. In 1981 the Black Russian Terrier was recognized officially as a breed by the Soviet Ministry of Agriculture. In 2004 it was listed by the AKC.

Standing at up to 30 inches at the withers, the BRT actually looks bigger due to its relatively large head. Despite the name, the breed is only about 15% terrier.

Kuvasz

Height; 30 inches

A livestock guardian breed from Hungary, although the origins of the dog are thought to go back to ancient Turkey and Tibet. They were mainly employed to guard flocks of sheep from wolves and human bandits.

The loyalty and bravery of the Kuvasz came to the attention of Hungarian nobles, who used them as guards for their estates, and on hunting expeditions. The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1931.

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Tallest Dog Breeds

Other tall dog breeds include the following;

Caucasian Shepherd

Bernese Mountain Dog

Spanish Mastiff

Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff)

Afghan Hound

Borzoi (Russian Wolfhound)

German Shepherd

Tallest Dog Breeds

No doubt, there may be a few other breeds that I have missed at around the 30 inch mark. Please let me know via the Contact Me link if you think I should add a particular breed. Thank you!


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