We can thank the Swiss for many great things: fine chocolate, luxury watches... and the Bernese mountain dog. This dog has become extremely popular throughout the years, recognizable because of its affectionate personality and keen intelligence.
Regal looking with its long, silky, tri-colored fur, the Bernese mountain dog is a true outdoors dog that, as its name might imply, fares well in cold weather. Ever patient and loyal, this large dog breed would make a great addition to any family with children, despite having a potential height of 23 to 28 inches and a weight of up to 110 pounds. Just note that due to their propensity to develop cancer, their life expectancy is only about 6 to 8 years, and they should be regularly screened by a qualified vet.
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It'd be very difficult to not mention Lassie when talking about collies, so there. Now that that's out of the way, collies are a very popular breed of large dog, not only for their obvious ties to classic literature and film, but for their sharp minds and friendly natures. These loyal dogs rarely show signs of aggression unless their owners are in need of protection. Equally fearless and gentle, the collie is good with kids and can be the ideal addition to a happy family.
They can get as tall as 2 feet and weigh 50 to 70 pounds, making them slightly smaller than the Bernese.
Image: Claudio Gennari/Flickr
If you've ever seen a mastiff, you'll agree that there is one word that can properly size up its appearance: powerful. No kidding, this dog is huge — not as tall as a Great Dane but probably twice as thick at between 2 and 3 feet tall with a weight of between 130 and 220 pounds.
Fittingly, these dogs make excellent guard dogs. Though the mastiff seems beast-like, it is surprisingly affectionate, gentle and extremely loyal. Their devotion to their owners and patience with children have secured their popularity for years, though they must be properly socialized to get along well with children and other pets, and it's best if you don't have them around very small children or adults who are frail as they can easily knock them over, causing serious injuries. Their life span is generally between 6 and 10 years, but some have lived as long as 18 years.
Image: Jon Hurd/Flickr
Monumental in size and personality, the Great Dane towers over other large breeds at just over 2-feet to almost 3-feet tall.
Often thought to be the world's tallest dog, only the Irish wolfhound can claim to be taller.
Great Danes are gentle giants, calm and friendly despite their intimidating size. If you want to make sure you don't get one of the really huge ones, opt for a female — males can get up to 200 pounds, but females generally top out at 115 pounds. They do require love, attention and plenty of space to exercise those long limbs, though, so they're ideal if you have a big backyard. They're great with kids, but beware that you're probably investing in a 100 to 200 pound lapdog.
Image: Geraint Morgan/Flickr
A true hunting dog, the German short-haired pointer is bold, intelligent, strong and playful.
The German short-haired pointer requires lots of exercise and attention. If properly trained, the GSP makes the ideal companion for owners with an active lifestyle and a love for the outdoors. Otherwise, this headstrong breed may prove to be too much of a challenge for a first-time owner.
If you do love the outdoors, the GSP is good with kids, though it may just be a bit too feisty for very little ones, although at only about 2-feet tall and up to 70 pounds, this fur baby is a bit smaller for the large breed fan who's not willing to commit to one of the previous adorable monsters.
Despite the negative attention received due to its portrayal as a mean dog in television and film, the rottweiler remains a highly popular breed.
Here's why: Historically a herding dog, the rottweiler's natural obedience makes it adaptable to several roles — just as capable of being a guard dog as assisting as a service dog. Extremely intelligent and good-natured, the rottweiler is naturally attentive and very loyal to its family.
That said, rotties are best in homes with older kids who know how to interact with dogs. Since they are herding dogs, small children can easily get knocked over when the pup tries to herd them with leans and nudges.
These dogs are stout, generally around 2-feet tall but weighing as much as 130 pounds, and live between 8 and 11 years.
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It's no wonder the standard poodle is often a contributing factor to some cocktails of "designer mutts." Superiorly intelligent, training the standard poodle is a breeze. It is naturally inclined to be a crowd-pleaser — you'll be hard-pressed to find an unsatisfied owner of a standard poodle. Just be prepared to devote oodles of attention and playtime to your pet if you ever choose to become the proud owner of a poodle.
Usually only about 2-feet tall, they still only weigh in between 40 and 75 pounds. Better yet, they have one of the longer life spans of larger dogs, often living as long as some smaller dogs, at about 15 years. Even better, they're generally good with kids, though they may need some extra help accepting a new animal in the house if they're used to being the only four-legged friend.
Image: Thomas Teubert/Flickr
Though named as such for their distinctively silky, gold-colored tresses, golden retrievers could have easily earned their name for having a heart of gold.
Friendly to both owners and strangers alike, these dogs are renowned for their compatibility with children. Golden retrievers are primarily indoor pets but do require a daily dose of exercise running around the yard. About 2-feet tall, they aren't as weighty as some of the dogs on this list, generally capping out at about 75 pounds. They also live a long life for a dog at around 11 years or so.
Plus... how could you resist that adorable face?
Keenly intelligent and eager to serve, it's no wonder these dogs are commonly seen in service roles and working alongside policemen.
One of the most well-rounded pets out there, the German shepherd is highly versatile and can make for a loving family member as well as a trusted guardian. Generally trustworthy with children, they still need to be well-socialized with them, and small children should always be supervised around dogs of this size.
What can be said about the Labrador retriever that hasn't been said? The fact that the Lab placed No. 1 in the American Kennel Club's registration lists for 18 consecutive years speaks a lot for itself.
Equally excellent at being a working or companion dog, the Lab's intelligence and lovable personality make this breed the most popular dog in the world, regardless of size. They're usually about 2-feet tall, weigh 55 to 80 pounds and live a pretty long time, about 11 years.
These are one of the best dog breeds if you have kids. They aren't just accepting of kids — they seem to enjoy the chaos and often willingly submit to whatever humiliation kids dole out (like wearing crazy hats). They can also be great with other pets if properly socialized.
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