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7 Best Large Dogs for First Time Owners

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First-time dog owners can be poorly advised that large breeds are not for them – and this is just not the case. There are so many large and even giant breeds that are perfect for first-time dog owners. Contradictory, there are small and toy breeds that I would never recommend to a first-time dog owner! 

A large breed does not necessarily equate to a difficult dog. Many large breeds can be gentle, docile, and love nothing more than just spending time with their owner. They’re also often extremely loyal. Large breeds can often be pretty lazy too, and not require copious amounts of exercise or attention. 

There are large breeds suited to apartment living and large breeds who fare perfectly well in mobile homes or even life on the road. Of course, there are factors to consider before falling in love with a large breed, and they aren’t the best fit for every owner or home. 

Problems With Large Breed Dogs. 

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first because if you’re a regular Canine Weekly follower, you will know that we are all about large breeds

Large breeds do have some drawbacks that we can’t ignore. To begin with, they tend to have a much shorter life expectancy than smaller breeds. For example, a Great Dane would do well to pass the age of seven, but a Yorkshire Terrier can often live 15 years or more. 

It will cost more to purchase a large breed initially, and the running costs can be substantially more than smaller dogs. To feed a 110lbs+ Dogue De Bordeaux, and cater to his breed-related ailments, can cost an owner upwards of $17,000 – this sum will be significantly less with a more robust, smaller breed. 

Owners of large breeds can also encounter difficulties with travel – often, a vehicle will need upgrading, and finding a place in a doggy-day-care facility can be more troublesome due to the sheer amount of room your dog would take up. 

You could also experience negativity down the local dog park or within the neighborhood, with people crossing the street to avoid your dog entirely. This can make dog socialization difficult and often lead to poor behavior due to the dog never having a chance to learn any better. 

It may be that you’ll also find that certain vacation parks or vacation accommodation won’t allow your breed access, and certain states will have restrictions on some large breeds (known as Breed-Specific Legislation, B.S.L.).

Another factor to consider is the cost of pet insurance – which is a whole deal more for a large breed. 

What is the Definition of a Large Breed?

Different sources provide different definitions of what specifications make a large breed. The general consensus is that a breed with a weight exceeding 55 lbs is considered a large breed. 

Giant Breed should weigh a minimum of 75 lbs and go up to over 120 lbs. 

Now, that’s out of the way; let’s look at the 7 best large dogs for first-time owners.

7 Best Large Dogs for First Time Owners

RankingNameHeightWeightLife spanBreed sizeTemperamentOrigin
1The Labrador Retriever 21 – 24 inches55 – 80 lbs10 – 12 yearsLargeOutgoing, Even Tempered, Intelligent, Kind, Agile, Trusting, GentleNewfoundland
2German Shepherd 24 – 26 inches70 – 88 pounds9 – 13 yearslargeintelligent, obedient, courageous, stubborn, curious, confidentGermany
3Irish Wolfhound32–34 inches120-155 lbs6 – 10 yearsGiantSweet-Tempered, Dignified, Thoughtful, Generous, Patient, LoyalIreland
4Tibetan Mastiff25-29 inches90-149 lbs12 – 15 yearslargeTenacious, Aloof, Intelligent, Strong WilledTibet
5Golden Retriever 22 – 24 inches65–75 lbs10 – 12 yearsLargeIntelligent, Friendly, Reliable, Kind, Trustworthy, ConfidentUnited Kingdom, Scotland, England
6The Bullmastiff25–27 inches110–130 lbs8 – 10 yearsLargePowerful, Docile, Devoted, Reliable, Alert, Reserved, Loyal, Loving, Protective, Calm, CourageousUnited Kingdom
7Newfoundland 27–28 inches140 – 180 lbs8 – 10 yearsLargeSweet-Tempered, Gentle, TrainableNewfoundland

Bringing home a large breed puppy requires lots of planning, energy, and financing! Check out my list of the 7 best large dogs for first-time owners to make sure you adopt the right fit for you. 

1. The Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever

The nation’s favorite dog – The Labrador Retriever, has to take position one. Loving, loyal and large, you will have a devoted friend with high intelligence and great trainability. A Labrador puppy can be a test, however, and not for the faint-hearted. Due to their sublime intelligence, they can be destructive if they’re not adequately stimulated. 

Providing fun and games for your Labrador will ensure you have a content puppy and will also help to cement the dog-owner bond. Labradors are very food-oriented, so I would advise always using healthy treats as positive reinforcements when training. They’re super-quick to learn and love nothing more than pleasing their owners. 

An issue with Labradors that can’t be avoided is their copious amounts of shedding – due to their double coat. Although this is fairly easy to stay on top of, with products like furminator combs, it can make allergy sufferers’ lives pretty troublesome – which is exactly why the Labradoodle was bred. 

Like most large breeds, the Labrador Retrievers matures quickly; however, he does so at different rates. The Labrador can reach sexual maturity by 6 months, but mental maturity by 2-years, and this can make for a testing adolescent dog! However, what this fundamentally means is a big, bouncy, happy hound, and aggression is extremely rare in Labradors. 

2. German Shepherd 

German Shepherds are extremely responsive to training, which makes them a good choice for first-time dog owners. The German Shepherd is a fiercely loyal dog who will proudly protect its owner at all costs. It is often said that German Shepherds are aggressive, and unfortunately, in part, this can be true. If they’re not raised properly and adequately socialized, their instinct to protect, combined with high intelligence, can lead to aggressive tendencies.

I would strongly advise looking at puppy socialization clubs in your area before adopting a G.S.D. to ensure there are provisions there to combat undesirable behavior. 

When a G.S.D. has a good upbringing, he will be possibly the greatest dog you could hope to own, and there are many ways you can try to increase his lifespan past the average 7-10 years, too. This breed is a regular assistance dog, military dog, and police dog because he thrives when given a challenge, and he will not let his master down. 

Owning a German Shepherd for the first time can be a challenge but also highly rewarding. If you’re an owner-to-be with energy, determination, and a good level of agility, the G.S.D. will slot into your life with ease. 

3. Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound

The Irish Wolfhound is the tallest breed in the world but also amongst the most gentle. Irish Wolfhounds are known for their manners and are suited to apartment living, in spite of their towering size. They’re a very chilled out breed who love nothing more than to relax and sprawl out on a giant dog bed surrounded by their loved ones. 

Their hearts are as big as the rest of them, and Irish Wolfhounds are noble, easygoing, gentle, and sensitive. If you’re looking for a protection dog, then the Irish Wolfhound is not it. They are more of a pacifist than anything else and a model citizen with humans, other dogs, and have a particular love for children.

Irish Wolfhounds are quiet dogs, not known for barking, and they’re usually very docile and don’t require much in the form of stimulation or vigorous exercise – although daily walking is essential. Irish Wolfhounds aren’t particularly suited to outdoor living due to being a sighthound and an extra-large one at that; they can easily scale a 6-foot fence after prey if they feel inclined. 

They enjoy a quiet life and aren’t destructive in the home, usually taking their time to elegantly stroll from room to room. Grooming is fairly simple as Irish Wolfhounds don’t shed – much. Brushing once a week should be enough to keep their coat matt-free. 

4. Tibetan Mastiff

The Tibetan Mastiff is a giant furball who is incredibly low-maintenance. This breed is fairly aloof with people, although he will appreciate the odd pat from time to time – and on his terms. Tibetan Mastiffs are happy to be left alone and thrive in their self-claimed occupation of guarding their home, yard, toys, and whatever else they deem is theirs. 

If you’re looking for a large breed who won’t cover you in slobber or need to be by your side at all times, then the Tibetan Mastiff could be a good fit. Training, in the beginning, will be essential to ensure your place as the alpha of the pack as this is a pretty strong-willed breed who has been making their own decisions for centuries. 

First-time dog owners who want a low-maintenance breed to coincide with should consider the Tibetan Mastiff as due to his independent nature; he won’t require a lot from you; although he can be loving, understanding, and patient, he will likely look to himself for guidance over his owner and is capable of making his own decisions. 

The Tibetan Mastiff is instinctively a hard worker who is fearless. However, they can form strong attachments with their owners. They are prone to stubbornness and don’t make the best dogs for agility or obedience training. They can be very territorial, and I wouldn’t recommend it for owners with young children or who like to entertain a lot of visitors to the home. 

5. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever

The nation’s third favorite pet dog is the Golden Retriever, for a wide number of reasons. The level of empathy shown by a Golden Retriever is quite unlike anything else, and this helps to make them some of the finest therapy and assistance dogs in the world. They’re caring, compassionate and they want nothing more than for their owner to be happy. 

Golden Retrievers are highly trainable due to their high intelligence and inane desire to please their owner. This breed will do well with first-time owners, single-owners, couple-owners, and within a family; they’re also very adaptable to different property types and good with other dogs, animals, and children. 

You can trust the Golden Retriever with your life; after all, they’re the most popular dog in the world to lead the blind and to enrich the lives of so many people who would live very different lives without them. 

Due to the high intelligence of the Golden Retriever, it is essential to keep them mentally stimulated – I personally recommend this puzzle toy, along with this extra-durable Kong, to help with this. 

6. The Bullmastiff

Developed in England in the 1800s, the intention of the Bullmastiff was to protect and guard. These traits are still evident today, although this breed has evolved to be more of a gentle giant than a fighter. The Bullmastiff does have power and great endurance at times, but mostly you will find him lying down happily in the company of his family. 

Bullmastiffs are a good breed to have with children as they can be incredibly tolerant, gentle, and calm. They’re a healthy breed in general that requires less maintenance and care than the majority of other breeds, making them suitable for first-time owners. 

The Bullmastiff isn’t a needy breed and can cope very well being left alone for long periods. A couple of short walks a day is enough for this breed, and due to their mellow nature, they’re adaptable to apartment and condo living.

This breed doesn’t shed much, nor is it much of a chewer, but drooling can be an issue, so I really would contemplate couch covers or even providing him with his own couch bed to save your own. 

7. Newfoundland


The Newfoundland is a giant breed that will grow quickly. This isn’t a breed for the ultra house proud because drool and slobber are part of the deal, along with a long-heavy coat that acts as a magnet for dirt and debris. Once you get past this and the breed-related health conditions that are not uncommon in any large breed, it is plain to see just how great this breed is. 

Newfoundlands are A*-students when it comes to training, and this is an ultra-sweet breed who really adores his family, especially the children in it. The Newfoundland is naturally gentle and extremely friendly, sharing many traits of the Labrador Retriever, such as a strong desire to please, good work ethic, versatility, adaptability, and friendliness. 

The Newfoundland can be protective of his family, and owners say they’re natural-born babysitters due to the incredible bonds they form with children and their desire to keep them safe. Check out this book of true stories about Newfoundlands to see just how truly special they are. 

Newfoundlands have a tendency to put on weight and become fairly lazy and idle if given a chance, so ensure you feed a high-quality large breed-specific diet and maintain a good level of exercise – two short walks a day will be enough. This breed isn’t a runner, but he has strong endurance when it comes to swimming and loves to do this at any opportunity.  

Is a Large Breed Right for You?

As we’ve learned, a large breed doesn’t always mean a high-maintenance breed. Many are gentle giants, couch potatoes, or real-life teddy bears who need nothing more than your love. 

If you have room in your home and your heart for a dog on this list, please consider your local shelter as your first step to adopt. They’re overrun with large breeds who are waiting there for you to make your house a home. 

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