6 of History’s Biggest Dogs
Being a good dog is highly subjective and depends quite a bit on how recently one has chewed their owner’s shoes or tugged a pizza off the counter.
Being a big dog, however, is purely about height and weight—objective metrics that can be stacked against other dogs to garner the honor of being the world's biggest canine. It turns out there have been a few contenders. Take a look at our list of dogs that could give Clifford a run for his money.
Fetching the title of world’s biggest dog depends on how people define “biggest.” If you go by the distance between paws to shoulder blades, then the lanky Great Danes are perennial contenders, and a Dane named Zeus was the tallest of them all. The Otsego, Michigan, resident measured 44 inches in height and could stretch to a full 7 feet, 4 inches when standing on his hind legs. Zeus spent his time as a certified therapy dog, lending his comfort to people in area hospitals. On walks, his owners would be asked if he had a saddle. He passed away in 2015 at the age of 6; Guinness World Records acknowledged him as the world’s tallest dog in 2011, displacing another Great Dane, Giant George, by an inch. He currently holds the record for Tallest Dog Ever.
Freddy was another Great Dane who reached great heights: He measured 40.75 inches tall and resided in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England. In addition to a robust diet of minced beef (two pounds daily), casserole steak, and liver, Freddy had a tendency to eat sofas. His owner, Claire Stoneman, told The Telegraph that Freddy had destroyed 26 couches in collusion with his sister, Fleur. Sadly, the massive dog died in 2021 when he was 8 years old.
After Freddy died in 2021, another Great Dane named Zeus nabbed the title of World’s Tallest Dog. This Texas pup stands an impressive 3 feet, 5.18 inches tall. He’s a regular at the Dallas Farmer’s market. “Everyone knows him, and all the vendors know him. He gets extra treats and lots of attention,” his owner, Brittany Davis, said.
4. Aicama Zorba of La-Susa
This Old English mastiff hailing from London, England, scored points from Guinness in 2008 for being the longest dog on record at the time—a whopping 8 feet, 3 inches from nose to tail as measured in 1987. Guinness also cited Zorba as the world’s heaviest dog, weighing in at 343 pounds in 1989. Since male mastiffs generally grow to be 230 pounds at most, Zorba’s waistline far exceeded expectations for his breed. Though he obviously would have been a social media star today, Zorba had to settle for photos—some of which can be seen in the video above—and an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman in 1989.
In 2009, the Associated Press profiled Boomer, a Landseer dog who measured 7 feet in length and weighed 180 pounds. While not quite as formidable a presence as some of the others on this list (at 36 inches, he failed to meet the Guinness minimum height of 40 inches for consideration as a world record holder), Boomer’s stature was such that his tail would knock things off counters and he could drink from the kitchen faucet without hopping on the counter. As a puppy, he grew at such a fast rate that stitches from abdominal surgery kept ripping. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 6.
In March 2018, when she was just a puppy, Euphrates measured 6 feet on her hind legs and weighed over 180 pounds. She’s an unusual breed: The American Molossus is the result of cross-breeding between two formidable dogs: English and Neapolitan mastiffs. They’re intended to resemble the Mesopotamian Molossus, a towering canine that dates back to 5000 BCE and was bred to be a battle dog by Alexander the Great. Euphrates hasn’t stormed any battlefields, but her owner, Jared Howser, said that a string of car break-ins in his neighborhood didn’t affect his vehicle—likely a consequence of having a war dog on the premises.
A version of this story ran in 2019; it has been updated for 2023.