Though petite pets are fun to cuddle, there’s much to be said for the role of powerful, strong dog breeds in our lives. After all, these workhorse dogs have long fulfilled important functions from farming and hunting to protection, and they’re loyal, smart, and often wonderful family pets. In this list of strongest dog breeds, you’ll find plenty of variety—though they’re all very strong dogs, these canines range from cuddly to reserved, playful to laid-back, and more.
So how do we define a super-strong dog breed? Strength in dogs is measured in various ways and doesn’t always correlate to sheer physical size, though they often go hand-in-hand. Dogs known for their incredible weight pulling ability are considered extremely strong, such as winners in the International Weight Pull Competition, while the force of a dog’s bite is another measurement used, typically calculated by pressure per pound. Dog bites stats have been misunderstood, however (source) and are not often as high as reported.
Strongest Dog Breeds in the World
- German Shepherds
- Siberian Huskies
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Great Danes
- Saint Bernards
- Rhodesian Ridgebacks
- Kangal dogs
- Irish Wolfhounds
- Cane Corso
- Dogo Argentino
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- Chow Chow
- Belgian Malinois
Even the biggest and brawniest dog needs lots of love! As you admire that tough exterior, take the time to get to know what makes these strong dog breeds so very special.
It’s really no wonder that this breed is often preferred by law enforcement, security agents, and other organizations where strength and power are key—the German Shepherd has that in spades. Considered the second most popular purebred dog breed in the United States, these canines (who, duh, originated in Germany) are celebrated for their brains, beauty, and courage.
They can weigh up to 90 pounds and are best for folks who are really active and can give them the exercise they need.
Though an old breed, Huskies became popular in 1925 when musher, Leonhard Seppala, led a group of them 658 miles in only five and a half days to deliver life-saving serum to Nome, Alaska to treat a diphtheria epidemic. The lead dog, Balto, remains one of the most honored dogs in history.
Their bravery and ability to cover huge distances in harsh conditions is part of the Siberian Husky DNA, along with their friendliness and love of family. Another plus—these dogs are naturally clean and don’t have the same “dog odor” you’ll find in other breeds. Huskies, like malamutes, are renowned for their weight pulling ability (see: sled dog competitions).
Bred for centuries to be working dogs, Rottweilers have been helping herd and guard livestock since the ancient Roman empire. Though many still herd, they also are used as police and guard dogs since most intruders wouldn’t dare mess with such a powerful and tough-looking canine.
It can be hard to picture them being playful, but if you’re in a Rottie’s inner circle, you may get to see that side of them. Just make sure to begin training them early as they respond best to confident and experienced owners.
Though similar to their slightly smaller friend the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Malamute has an even stronger and more muscular body—which makes sense considering they were once used to hunt and carry freight through deep snow by the Inuit tribes of Western Alaska.
Even if they aren’t traversing difficult terrain, Malamutes need tons of exercise, plus an experienced owner considering their independent, mischievous nature—positive reinforcement goes a long way with these stubborn and lovable dogs!
Though they tend to tower over other breeds, Great Danes truly are the gentle giants of the canine world. Originally used to hunt animals like boar, deer, and bear, these dogs are now content to hang out with their family and lounge around on the sofa. This doesn’t mean they aren’t still strong though—this breed is all muscle and weighs in at a maximum of 175 pounds.
Originally from Germany, the powerful Doberman has long been considered the ideal guard dog, and they’re often used in law enforcement. Super fast and powerful, these dogs have an elegance that has earned them respect in the canine kingdom.
But don’t underestimate them just because they’re beautiful—their tough nature sets them apart as one of the strongest dog breeds in the world. If you’re looking for a loyal dog to help you feel secure in your home, a Doberman may be for you.
It’s amazing that Newfoundlands are such masterful long-distance swimmers considering their big-boned, muscular build—though I’m sure their partially webbed feet come in handy. Good-natured and friendly, this breed is devoted to their family (especially kids).
Ranging from 120-150 pounds, they’re the kind of family member you’d be lucky to have. Just make sure to give them plenty of exercise, attention, and affection—they deserve it.
The St. Bernard is a Swiss dog trained to rescue and save travelers lost in avalanches by digging out massive amounts of snow and guiding (or dragging them) them to safety. That perfectly sums up this unique and powerful dog—incredibly strong and undeniably loyal.
Though not necessarily light on their feet, this breed is all about brute strength, and the AKC reports that Saint Bernards are responsible for saving thousands of lives. They’re tough as nails in the harshest conditions, but these dogs are also affectionate and adore cuddle time with family.
This breed is so old that it’s said that Caesar described Mastiffs in his account of invading Britain in 55 BC—but they still haven’t lost their charm. Bred to be guardians, hunters, and war dogs, they are thickly muscled and weigh more than most full-grown men.
But aside from their incredible strength, this breed is patient, lovable, and kind, and they respond well to gentle, positive training. Just know that when you decide to add one of these dogs to your family, you’re making a commitment to training the dog that should be taken seriously.
This strong, muscular dog was bred to guard livestock and homes—something that perfectly complements its ultra-protective instincts. Originally from Rhodesia in Africa (now Zimbabwe and Zambia), this breed can be a handful for an inexperienced owner but will make a nice pet with plenty of training, socialization, and love.
You can’t be too surprised about the Rhodesian Ridgeback’s tough nature, seeing as how they used to hunt lions in Africa.
Originating in an isolated region of Turkey, the Kangal is considered one of the oldest livestock-guarding dog breeds. Kangals can weigh up to 140 pounds, and have a high tolerance for pain—they’ve spent generations fighting off dangerous animals, after all.
Incredibly loyal to the ones they love, you’ll just have to make sure you take the time to train and socialize them properly. Owning such a large, strong animal is a big responsibility, especially considering their bite force of 743 PSI—the most powerful of all dog breeds according to World Atlas.
According to the American Kennel Club, this ancient breed of sighthound has also been called the “Irish Dog”, the “Big Dog of Ireland” and the “Great Hound of Ireland”. Whatever you call them, these Wolfhounds are known for their incredible speed and size—some measuring as tall as three feet and weighing up to 180 pounds.
Despite their impressive strength and power, they tend to make poor guard dogs (they’re just too sweet) and are patient with children.
With a lineage that goes back to ancient Roman times, this giant dog breed is known for their excellence as guardians. Always alert and confident, Cane Corsos are very loyal to their humans. And the fact that they weigh over 100 pounds and have lots of muscles makes them intimidating to any would-be intruders.
The Cane Corso is not ideal for first-time dog owners, as it requires strong, consistent training and in-depth socialization.
This big, white, powerful dog was bred in Argentina to hunt big game like wild boar. Muscular and short-coated, these dogs can weigh up to 100 pounds, and are often used for police work and search and rescue. Because it’s known to be stubborn (and has a natural protective instinct), the Dogo Argentino should have an experienced, confident owner.
American Pit Bull Terrier
The truth is that “pit bull” isn’t technically a dog breed, but rather a term used to refer to a variety of related dogs like the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Bulldog, and other “bully breed” mixes. Due to diverse, unregulated breed standards across dog registries, as well as the unfortunate excess in “backyard breeding,” it’s very difficult to claim one true standard for a pit bull (though you can read about APBT standards here).
Pit bulls are known to be sweet family companions and are highly trainable and adaptable to family life with proper socialization.
Bulldogs are one of the most recognizable breeds, with their stocky build, striking underbite, floppy lips, and wrinkled faces. The bulldog hails from the U.K., where they’re considered a mascot of sorts. Many compared British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to the bulldog for his unwavering persistence and gruff charm.
Bulldogs range in size from 40 to 50 pounds—they’re short but hefty. Despite their brusque look, they’re incredibly loving towards owners and family members, particularly children. Bulldogs were the fourth most popular breed in 2015, according to the AKC.
Chows are known to be tidy, powerful pups with beautiful lion-like manes, blue-black tongues, and funny facial expressions. Giving off a dignified vibe, these dogs have a history of guarding work in their native China and need plenty of good training and socialization to help curb overly-protective tendencies (particularly towards strangers).
Also known as the Belgian shepherd, the Malinois is a graceful, powerful working dog bred for herding. They’re active, smart, and require a great deal of exercise, so they’re not well-suited to life in the city unless given plenty of daily walks and opportunities to play. These dogs excel at protection and police work as well as drug and bomb detection (though not always as service dogs, as this video shows!)
Strongest Dog Breeds: The Bottom Line
While some people overlook these stronger dog breeds due to intimidation, they all make incredible companions with the right amount of training, exercise, and attention. We hope this overview will help you make the right decision about which strong dog breed to bring into your home.
Featured image via Flickr