10 Massive Mountain Dog Breeds That Will Steal Your Big Heart
You'd probably not be surprised to hear that just like actual mountains, mountain dog breeds are large and in charge.
Mountain dog breeds were historically bred to complete tasks for their owners. These tasks included protecting their families, carting objects, and herding and protecting sheep. But unlike shepherd dog breeds, mountain dog breeds were able to perform similar tasks despite extreme weather and travel over rough terrain due to their large body masses and thick coats. These physical characteristics helped to insulate these pooches in order for them to do their jobs relatively unbothered.
Their bold stature and furry coats make them stand out from the crowd, beloved by pet owners worldwide. Interested in adopting a mountain dog in the future? Read on to learn what 10 of these breeds are all about.
Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese mountain dogs get their name from their region of origin—Bern, Switzerland. Their roots in this region are ancient—like Roman times ancient. They made their way to the United States in the 1920s and were registered by the American Kennel Club in 1936. They are widely known to be uber tough, able to pull as much as 10 times their own weight. Wow, talk about gym motivation!
If you're interested in a Bernese mountain dog, know that their fluffy coat likes to leave traces around the house, so have a vacuum ready! Luckily, you'll have so much fun training this eager-to-please breed that you'll hardly notice.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
The Greater Swiss mountain dog is not only majestic, but agile, even weighing in at over 100 pounds. Like the Bernese mountain dog, they have roots in Switzerland and love their tasks, originally bred to pull carts and corral cattle in the mountains. The difference? Swissies are larger. No shocker there. Despite their size, these are family-friendly dogs and are famously tri-colored, typically boasting a colorful combination of black, white, and red markings on their coat.
Swissies are super good-natured but probably fit in better with families that have older kiddos—no, taller kiddos—so that your big puppy doesn't make them into dominos!
For centuries, these up-to-170-pound pooches served as fierce protectors of property, livestock and more. And Caucasian shepherds are so great that there's two different breed types: the mountain and steppe. The Caucasian mountain shepherd is distinguished by their longer coat and heavier body mass. The longer coat requires lots of brushing, so keep that in mind.
While they may love to crush you as a heavy lapdog, Caucasian shepherds also need their exercise and would adore you if you gave them a fenced-in backyard to romp around in. They'll pay you back with undying dedication and love.
Entlebucher Mountain Dog
Despite their name, the Entlebucher mountain dog (AKA the laughing dog of the Swiss Alps) is on the smaller side of the mountain dog spectrum, weighing around 50 pounds. They trot around on short legs that need lots of exercise, so they would fit in well with an active family with older kids who would benefit from a furry playmate.
Entlebucher mountain dogs are smart and clever, and with an experienced owner, they can reach their full potential, able to become shining stars in any canine sport.
Formosan Mountain Dog (Taiwan Dog)
Also a medium-sized boy, the Formosan mountain dog (Taiwan dog) almost always has a very special connection to their owner, thanks to generations of the breed hunting small game in the mountains beside their human bestie.
This innate connection and willingness to protect can cause Taiwan dogs to be a little wary of strangers, so socialization is super important. And make sure to not leave them alone outside for too long; they will miss you a lot and would much prefer to be an integral part of the household.
Not only did the friendly Saint Bernard breed inspire eight films, but they're also that lovable in real life! Saints love humans and even have patience for children. But watch out; they have plenty of slobbery kisses to go around.
Saint Bernards don't require as much exercise as their other mountain dog breed friends, but you'll want to take them for a walk around the block a couple times a day just to give them a bit of purpose. Besides that, brush their teeth a few times a week, and you'll be in good shape!
These fluffy snowballs easily stand out from the crowd with their bright white coat and their soulful brown eyes. Great Pyrenees dogs were originally bred to scare off predators on the mountaintops of the—you guessed it—Great Pyrenees mountains. While they still retain that protective nature, they also make mellow pets and let you do your own thing. These polar bears also get along incredibly well with other pets. Even cats!
One thing to know about this breed is that they thrive in the cold. If you see snowflakes start to fall, let your pup run wild in the yard. Just make sure you have a fence because Great Pyrenees have a desire to explore. Another thing? Great Pyrenees are a nocturnal breed and would much rather play at night and relax during the day.
When you first see a Newfoundland, the word "swimmer" may not immediately pop into your mind because of their massive size. But this breed's history would prove you wrong. Newfoundlands were originally bred to assist with water rescues from a ship. They're also great on land as hiking companions.
A great word to describe Newfs would be content. Whether you want to go for a swim or have family over for dinner, your large pal is down. But whatever you decide to do, make sure you make time for leash and crate training right off the bat to make sure they grow into their gentle giant role.
This German-born Leonberger has long been a favorite of German monarchs due to their massive size and loyal disposition. They also resemble the king of the jungle, boasting an impressive furry mane that gives them a shaggy appearance. Unlike some of their peers that were primarily bred to protect, Leonbergers were meant to be family dogs and are now a common choice for therapy dogs that work at senior centers and schools.
Because of their people-oriented nature, they can be quite vocal dogs (think howling) when left alone for too long, so make sure they're well-looked after if you're planning errands that will take more than a couple hours to complete. They get lonely, and don't we all?
Last but not least, boy, do these big, floofy pooches have a backstory! We'll let an expert tell it.
"[The Tibetan mastiff breed] is said to be one of the most ancient breeds to exist," says Jerry Klein, DVM, Chief Veterinary Officer of the American Kennel Club. "They were guardians of the Himalayas and it is believed that they have the souls of monks and nuns who were not good enough to be reincarnated into either people or into the heavenly realm."
Wild, right? With a reputation like that, it should come as no surprise that Tibetan mastiffs almost always act on instinct. And maybe we should just trust them since that instinct is hundreds of years old. Tibetan mastiffs do best with owners that are appreciative of their cleverness and are people that have a sense of humor. However, you'll rarely spot one of these dogs in the United States. Still, you can admire them from afar!
Unique Mountain Dog Breed Characteristics
Before adding one of these precious pups to your family, here are some details to know to help them be their happiest selves.
Most mountain dog breeds are large, so it's important that owners are dedicated to taking care of a bigger dog.
"Large dogs require a person dedicated to large dog needs," Klein says. "It will cost more money to house, feed, medicate, treat, and even transport large and giant breeds of dogs than smaller dogs. Large dogs have their own set of health challenges and prospective owners should do their homework."
Remember that big dogs are also a bigger physical investment. Leash training mountain dog breeds at an early age is a must so that they don't pull you around.
Emotionally, most mountain dogs are fiercely protective of their owners, which can translate into making them a little more difficult to train than say a golden retriever. But with patience, early socialization, and plenty of positive reinforcement, they will be able to sit and stay in no time!
Mountain dogs are huge, but they're nothing to be intimidated by. They are typically good-natured, calm, and friendly and will always want to spend time with you!