3 Dog Breeds That Are Bigger Than Wolves- And 5 That Nearly Are

Photo by Vlad Rudkov on Unsplash

As most of us are aware, all dogs are descended from wolves.

And so that makes many dog owners, like me, fascinated by some of the comparisons between the modern day wolf and a modern day dog.

And one of the questions people have is “which dog breeds are bigger than wolves?”

And in this article, I provide an answer.

After lots of research, I can only find three breeds of dogs that are bigger as in taller than a wolf.

But there are plenty of dog breeds which are far heavier than a wolf. 

Which is where I will start by trying to define what we mean by a wolf.

What is a wolf?

When we tend to think of wolves, most of us think of the grey wolf that inhabits parts of North America.

And these wolves are the biggest and most impressive.

In terms of height a male can stand up to 85 cm tall and weigh around 40 kg

But in truth there are other species of grey wolf that are smaller.

An Italian wolf is a mere 70 cm high and 35 kg in weight

And an Indian wolf is around 72 cm tall and 25 kg in weight. 

How big is a wolf?

The next line that can be blurred relates to the numbers that relate to the size or the weight of a wolf or a dog breed.

To keep things consistent and simple, I have got all of my statistics from wikipedia.

And I have only used the maximum height and weight of a male adult wolf or a male adult dog.

It keeps the writing and the comparisons much simpler.

If I was to constantly refer to a range of heights or a minimum and maximum weight of a dog, this would make the article much harder to read.

All those numbers would make your head spin. 

After clearing up that potential point of confusion I want to move on and talk about how I have defined the term “bigger”. 

What do I mean by bigger than a wolf?

Bigger is a bit of a vague term..

Do I mean taller or do I mean heavier?

To keep things a bit more interesting, I have searched for dog breeds that are taller than a wolf. 

And it is surprising just how few breeds there are.

I have found three (and there might be more) but searching for those three took long enough.

Finding dog breeds that were heavier is a much easier challenge because most big dogs are actually heavier than a  grey wolf.

And so in my hunt, I have found three breeds of dogs that are taller than the grey wolf and seven other breeds that are there or thereabouts height wise.

Three dogs that are bigger than a grey wolf

For starters, let me focus on the three breeds that are taller than a grey wolf.

To make things easier, I have included a table showing the most important information.

Height (cm)Weight (kg)
Grey Wolf8540
St Bernard90120
Great Dane8690
Borzoi8548 

St Bernard

First up is the tallest of all dog breeds. 

With its origins stretching back to at least the seventeenth century, the St. Bernard has a long and distinguished history.

Measuring up to 5 cm taller than a grey wolf (90 vs 85 cm) and weighing three times as much (120 vs 40 kg,) St. Bernards were originally bred to rescue lost and weary travellers in the Swiss alps.

The most famous of these dogs, Barry, rescued up to 100 people.

Legend has it that none of these dogs received any training on how to rescue people, they just learned what to do by watching older dogs. 

And the breed has got bigger over time.

It is thought that the original rescue dogs were only the size of a German Shepherd. 

Great Dane

Coming a close second to the St. Bernard is a Great Dane.

And the interesting thing about this is that the current holder of the world’s biggest dog, is actually a Great Dane called Zeus

Zeus stands a massive 112 cm high, which is 25 cm higher than a large male wolf.

But the tallest Great Danes normally stand around 86 cm tall which is a fraction taller than a wolf. 

Weighing in at 90 kg they are over twice the weight of a wolf though. 

Great Danes were not bred to rescue people, they were bred to hunt boar or bears. 

Again this is stretching back to the seventeenth century. 

And they also originate in Germany not Denmark!

Fortunately, any real hunting instinct has been bred out of them and they are now regarded as being very affectionate and laid back dogs.

As long as you have a large enough sofa for them to lay back on.

Borzoi

The height of Borzois was a surprise to me- I was expecting other breeds to have been taller.

And that is because, in comparison to Great Danes and St Bernards, Borzoi don’t have the sheer bulk of the other two.

In height, it is exactly the same as a wolf at 85 cm. 

Weight wise, it is slightly heavier than a wolf (47 vs 40 kg.)

But compared to a St Bernard or Great Dane 47 kg is very slight indeed. 

A native to Russian and popular with the tsars and Russuan aristocracy, the ultimate test for a Borzoi was to see if it was agile and fearless enough to catch and kill a wolf.  

Which is why a Borzoi is also called a Russian Wolfhound. 

Having looked at the three breeds which are as big or bigger than a grey wolf, it is time to look at dog breeds that are nearly as big as a wolf. 

7 dog breeds that slightly smaller than a wolf

Since by its very nature, this article involves lots of numbers, to make things a little easier I have created a table that shows these seven breeds in size order. 

Height (cm)Weight (kg)
Wolf8540
Irish Wolfhound81 70 
Anatolian Shepherd8165 
Tibetian Mastiff7673
Komondor 7660
Kuvasz7652 

[1] Irish wolfhound

From one wolfhound to another- from Russian to Ireland.

The breed’s name tells us almost everything that we need to know about this dog.

It was bred to hunt wolves in Ireland.

Which is something that the breed hasn’t done for centuries now because the last wolf in Ireland was killed in the late eighteenth century

Standing a few centimetres shorter than a wolf (81 vs 85 cm) but weighing nearly twice as much as a grey wolf (70 vs 40 kg), an Irish Wolfhound looks like a vacuum cleaner’s worst nightmare!

Like many breeds, the original Irish Wolfhound fell out of favour (which isn’t surprising when there was no longer any wolf to catch.)

And so, from the middle of the nineteenth century a new strain of Irish Wolfhounds were created.

And these were bred using Scottish Deerhounds and Great Danes 

[2] Anatolian Shepherd

Originating in Turkey and measuring the same height as an Irish Wolfhound (which is to say a few centimetres shorter than a wolf) this breed weighs up to 65 kgs- which is much more than a wolf.

But this breed wasn’t bred to hunt.

Instead it was bred to guard livestock from predators such as wolves and bears.

In its native Turkey it is more commonly called a Kangal Shepherd, with the Anatolian Shepherd being the preferred name of the breed in America. 

The two dogs that are thought to be responsible for all the breed’s stock in the US, were only bred as recently as 1967. 

[3] Tibetan Mastiff

Bred as guard dogs for livestock or guard dogs for monasteries, Tibetan Mastiffs with their huge heads and fluffy coats look much bigger than they actually are. 

Standing up to 76 cm tall and weighing 70 kgs, this Mastiff is quite a lot shorter than a wolf (76 vs 85 cm) whilst being significantly heavier (70 vs 40 kg.)

A couple of interesting breed traits that might put some would- be owners off are that their quite fluffy coat might also smell really bad and that they can be more active at night than they are during the day.

And that bark in the middle of the night will surely make you jump out of your skin!

[4] Komondor

I think that this dog is potentially one of the best looking dog breeds in the world.

Have you ever known a mop to look so good?!

These dogs are the same height as Tibetian Mastiffs- 76 cm which is shorter than a wolf by about 9 cm.

But they still weigh one and a half times as much as a wolf (60 vs 40 kgs.)

Which isn’t a surprise when you look at that coat. 

And it is a coat which suits the breed perfectly.

Firstly, it camouflages the dog amongst the herds of sheep that it is often used to protect and secondly, the coat keeps the dog warm and dry in the ice cold temperatures of its native Hungary. 

And even though it is very athletic and brave when fighting off predators, it is known to be very sensitive around people and children specifically.

[5] Kuvasz 

My final breed in the category of “nearly as big as a wolf but not quite” goes to another Hungarian breed the Kuvasz.

In looks, it looks far more like the Anatolian Shepherd dog than the Komondor.

But height- wise it is the same- 76 cm.

Which is 9 cm shorter than a grey wolf.

And at 52 kg, it is the closest in weight to the wolf to any of the breeds that we have looked at so far. 

They were originally bred to guard livestock such as sheep by nomadic tribes in Hungary.

And boy oh boy were they good.

So skilled were they and with such a strong reputation for being effective bodyguards, they were one of the tragic casualties of the second world war.

Their reputation made them a legitimate target for both the Soviet and German armies who killed so many that the breed was on the verge of extinction. 

Which breed of dog can kill a wolf?

Before I finish this article, I just want to answer a question which is at the back of a lot of people’s mind when they ask the question “which dog breeds are bigger than wolves?”

And that question is, which dog breeds can kill a wolf?

And the simple answer is that most of the breeds that I have highlighted today (at some point in their history) could kill a wolf given the right circumstances.

The only exception is a St. Bernard which at no point has been bred to attack or to defend anything.

Other breeds that I have discussed in this article may have been able to kill a wolf hundreds of years ago but that trait has long since been bred out of them. 

And I’m thinking here of the Great Dane.

For most of the other breeds, it all depends on whether they have any “working strains”- specific dogs that are still working, most probably guarding livestock and breeding.

Those specific groups of dogs will have the capability of killing a wolf. 

I read here that the mop dog is currently massively popular in the United States because of its ability to guard livestock. 

Other strains of the same breed that have been bred to show or to be family pets, I suspect won’t have the same ability. 

Another thing to consider when we are talking about a dog’s ability to kill a wolf, is that many of these dogs tended to work with other dogs.

And therefore they would have attacked any intruder as a pack.

And wolves are social animals too, who hunt in packs.

So where does leave us?