Throughout history, people have bred working dogs to assist in hunting, farming, herding, and other challenging jobs. The result? Extremely strong, robust breeds with the intelligence and endurance to get the job done.
We've rounded up 10 of the strongest dog breeds out there—from hunting dogs, to herding dogs, and a few breeds whose brute strength may surprise you.
01 of 10
Like many dog breeds, Rottweilers were originally bred to herd large animals, pull carts, and serve as security dogs—and to do their jobs, they had to be extremely big and strong. Thanks to their long history as herding dogs, today's Rottweilers have the, ahem, interesting habit of forcefully bumping into things, including objects, other animals, and people. They can make great family dogs, but for that reason, Rottweilers aren't recommended for the elderly or families with small kids.
Height: 22 to 27 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 80 to 130 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Large, muscular, and extremely robust dogs with a short double coat that comes in black with tan, rust, or mahogany coloring
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Thanks to their massive size, but sweet, calm personalities, Great Danes can be considered the "gentle giants" of the dog world. Great Danes were originally bred as powerful boar hunting dogs that could hold their prey until the hunter caught up. Over time, they became watch dogs and companions to families. As they became popular family dogs, breeders worked to soften their tough, hunting-dog personalities and make them the gentle, sweet dogs we know today.
Height: 28 to 34 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 100 to 200 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Extremely large, strong dogs with floppy ears and long snouts; short, coarse hair that comes in black, blue, brindle, fawn, and other color variations
03 of 10
Huskies are probably best known for their incredible strength that allows them to pull heavy sleds across tough, snowy terrain. But how did these sled dogs get so strong? About 3,000 years ago, the Chukchi people, a nomadic tribe in Siberia, first bred the Chukchi dog to pull their heavy hunting sleds across long distances. In addition to brute strength, the Chukchi dog possessed an extremely warm winter coat and astounding metabolism, that enabled them to exercise constantly with minimal food. A distant relative to the Chukchi dog, the Siberian Husky still has incredible strength and endurance.
Height: 20 to 23.5 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 35 to 60 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Strong, muscular dog with high endurance, a dense, double coat that comes in a variety of colors, and a distinctive wolf-like appearance; blue or gold eyes
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German Shepherds (otherwise known as GSDs) have been employed as working dogs for hundreds of years. Originating—you guessed it—Germany, the GSD was originally employed as a hunting or herding dog. Due to their extreme athleticism and intelligence, today's German Shepherds often serve as guide dogs for the blind or service dogs, search dogs, and military and police dogs. Their sweet, loving personalities make them excellent family dogs, too.
Height: 22 to 26 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 60 to 100 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Strong dog with well-defined muscles, a coarse, medium-length double coat that comes in a variety of colors, and pointed ears that stick straight upContinue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Don't let the smaller stature fool you—Bulldogs are actually extremely strong, powerful dogs due to their history as fighting dogs. Sadly, in 13th-century England, Bulldogs were used in a horrific sport known as bull baiting. During bull baiting matches, Bulldogs would fight much larger, much stronger bulls. These fighting Bulldogs had aggressive, fierce personalities—a far cry from today's sweet, calm Bulldogs. When bull baiting was banned, Bulldog breeders aimed to soften their tough personalities and make them the gentle, loving companion dogs we know today.
Height: 14 to 15 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 40 to 50 pounds
Physical Characteristics: A short, stocky dog with wide shoulders, a wrinkled face, and a distinctive, short snout; short, fine, glossy coats that come in red, white, fawn, and fallow, among other color combinations and patterns
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When you hear "Saint Bernard," you probably imagine a big, hairy dog with a wooden cask of brandy around its neck, surrounded by snow—and that's not totally inaccurate! Originating over 1,000 years ago, Saint Bernards were often employed to rescue lost travelers in the snowy Swiss Alps. Thanks to their keen sense of smell and brute strength, Saint Bernards saved thousands of lost people from snowy terrain over many, many years. Today, Saint Bernards are typically kept as companion dogs, but also make excellent service dogs, due to their loyalty, affection, and fierce protection of their people.
Height: 25.5 to 27.5 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 130 to 180 pounds
Physical Characteristics: A large, muscular, powerful dog with a wide head; coats can be short and smooth or long and silky, and come in white with red, brown, or brindle markings, and a black "mask" across the face
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The Siberian Husky may seem similar to the extremely large Alaskan Malamute, but they were first bred for totally different purposes: While the Husky was bred for the speed needed to pull sleds over long distances, the Alaskan Malamute was developed for its sheer strength. It's true that Malamutes were sometimes used to pull sleds, but they also hunted polar bears (yes, really!), seals, and other powerful prey. It's commonly believed that Alaskan Malamutes are wolf-dog hybrids, but today's Malamutes are totally domesticated and make sweet, loving, and loyal companions.
Height: 24 to 27 inches at the shoulder in males and 22 to 24 inches at the shoulder in females
Weight: 75 to 100 (or more) pounds
Physical Characteristics: A super-sized dog with extreme strength and endurance; distinctive, wolf-like appearance, thick, double coats that come in many color variations, and pointed ears that stick up
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Doberman Pinschers, otherwise known as Dobies, first originated in Germany in the early 1900s. Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, who created the breed, aimed to produce a medium-sized companion dog that could also work as a fierce guard dog. The result was the Doberman—a muscular, athletic dog with high endurance and a good personality. Thanks to their athleticism and endurance, the Doberman became the Marine Corps' official dog during World War II, and are still used as security, military, and police dogs today.
Height: 24 to 28 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 65 to 100 pounds
Physical Characteristics: A medium-sized dog with a deep chest, well-defined muscles, and sturdy, intimidating appearance; short, sleek coats that come in red, blue, black, and fawnContinue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Known for the distinctive "ridge" along their backs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks originated as many as 500 years ago when European immigrants brought domesticated dog breeds to South Africa and bred them with a native, ridge-backed dog. There, these dogs were used to hunt large game, like lion and boar, in packs of four to six. Although modern Rhodesian Ridgebacks have retained their ancestors' strength and endurance, today, they're typically kept as companion dogs to very active, athletic families, or guard dogs.
Height: 24 to 27 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 70 to 85 pounds
Physical Characteristics: A large, sturdy, athletic dog with a "ridge" along its back; coats are short and smooth, coming in light wheaten to red wheaten colors
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Despite their fluffy, teddy bear-like appearance, Chow Chows are actually very powerful dogs with a long history as aggressive guard dogs. With DNA dating as early as 206 B.C., Chow Chows were employed as temple guard dogs in China and other parts of Asia. It's mistakenly believed that modern-day Chow Chows have retained their ancestors' aggressive behaviors, but they actually can make gentle, sweet family dogs.
Height: 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 40 to 70 pounds
Physical Characteristics: A medium-to-large-sized dog with a bear-like appearance and blue-black tongue; coats can be rough or smooth and come in colors such as black, blue, red, and cream