All dogs are wonderful and snuggly, but there’s something extra special about big, fluffy dog breeds. While these dogs’ cuddliness must be acknowledged, one must also note that all that fur has a purpose beyond a “cute” factor.
Dr. Jerry Klein, an emergency and critical care veterinarian with more than 35 years experience and chief veterinary officer of the American Kennel Club (AKC), explains that big dog breeds known for their fluffiness were no accident—they were bred that way to perform certain tasks and excel in specific environments.
“When we’re talking about standard dog breeds, their physical attributes—like fur length and texture—aren’t arbitrary,” he says. “Those attributes are based on the function that those breeds were bred to have. Almost all of the big fluffy breeds were, at one time, working breeds.”
What Makes a Dog Fluffy?
Before we dive into the specific breeds, it’s worth covering what makes a dog fluffy. Heather Cameron, a certified dog groomer and owner of Good Dog Grooming in Glen Gardner, New Jersey, says that the fluffiest dog breeds have a double coat. “That means that their fur has two layers; an outer layer and an undercoat,” she explains.
It’s the combination of the two that make fluffy dogs so fluffy.
Klein adds that the undercoat helps insulate dogs from cold and wet weather, which is especially important when a dog was bred for a certain kind of work.
10 Big Fluffy Dog Breeds
Ready to be overwhelmed by fluff? Here are 10 big, fully dog breeds you should know.
Alaskan Malamutes have “big, dense coats that are very, very thick to protect them from the extremely cold elements in Arctic climates,” Klein describes.
These dogs are one of the oldest Arctic sled breeds and were bred to help transport goods over long distances.Alaskan Malamutes are typically a combination of white and either gray, black, or sable (brown or tan fur with black). They have white faces and big fluffy tails.
Bernese Mountain Dog
While Bernese Mountain Dogs aren’t quite as furry as Alaskan Malamutes, they have a similar fur texture. “They’re from Switzerland, so they had to be accustomed to cold climates,” Klein explains. These dogs have a distinctive black, brown, and white coat and they shed a lot.
Bernese dogs should be brushed weekly most of the years, but during shedding season they should be brushed daily to keep their coats looking great.
Though they aren’t the biggest dogs on this list, Chow Chows boasts an impressive amount of super-cuddly fur.
One of the oldest dog breeds, Chow Chows originated in China and are known for the immense “lion’s-mane” ruff that goes around their head and shoulders.Chow Chows can have black, gray, brown, white, or red fur. They should be brushed at least twice a week and the wrinkles in their faces have to be cleaned regularly.
While Collies are on the smaller side of big fluffy dogs, they may be among the fluffiest, so we’re including them in this list. Collies should be brushed regularly to prevent matting.
“Collie fur is a little dryer than most fluffy dogs because of the terrain they were bred to function in,” Klein says. While most people picture collies as tan and white, they come in a variety of color combinations.
Great Pyrenees dogs are big, fluffy fellows with long white fur. They were first bred hundreds of years ago in the Pyrenees Mountains to protect sheep.Their coats are tangle-resistant, but still require diligence from pet parents.As with other fluffy dog breeds, regular brushing will help keep shedding under control.
Leonbergers are enormous dogs that can weigh up to 170 pounds.While they may look imposing, they’re generally sweet dogs and make good family pets.
They are not low-maintenance, though. Leonberger dogs should be brushed every day, and benefit from a more thorough grooming at least once per week.These guys shed a lot, but daily brushing should help control the amount of fur left around the house.
Black and white and furry all over, Newfoundland dogs were bred to be water rescue dogs. “The Newfoundland was basically meant to go in cold water and rescue people. They were often kept on boats,” explains Klein. “Their fur has a more water-resistant texture than other dogs and is a little oiler to better repel water,”
Like most of the other dogs on this list, Newfoundlands should be brushed at least once a week.
Old English Sheepdog
These gray and white living balls of fluff are known for their easy-going nature.They are also one of the only double-coated dogs that may get trimmed at the groomer. “You almost never trim a double-coated dog,” Cameron says. “But we make an exception for Old English Sheepdogs. Otherwise, their fur would get out of control.”
Between professional grooming sessions, pet parents should brush out Old English Sheepdogs on a weekly basis.
Samoyeds originated in Siberia, so a thick, warm coat was essential to their survival. Klein notes that Samoyeds have a similar coat to the Alaskan Malamute—a course and thick outer coat protecting a soft, wooly undercoat. Samoyeds are typically light-colored and also require daily brushing.
The Tibetan Mastiff breed is so old that no one really knows when it actually originated.They do know where it originated, though: The Himalayas.
“Some of the most difficult weather in the world is in the Himalayas,” Klein notes. “These very imposing guard dogs had to have a lot of fur to be able to weather that climate.”
Tibetan Mastiffs have a wooly undercoat and their fur is actually pretty easy to maintain. They should be brushed out once a week and pet parents should untangle any knots they find.
How to Care for Your Big Fluffy Dog
Caring for a large dog with a whole lot of fur can be challenging, and people who are looking to bring a big fluffy dog into their homes should be sure they understand the care requirements of one of these cuddly beasts before taking the plunge.
First and foremost, big fluffy dog parents must commit to regularly grooming their dogs—and that doesn’t mean a cursory, two-minute brushing once a month. “Many people don’t brush their dogs thoroughly enough, which means when it’s time for the dog to get groomed, things are usually much worse than they look,” Cameron says. “The top layer looks nice, but there’s sometimes more than two inches of fur that didn’t get brushed, and that can lead to mats, hotspots, and other skin and fur problems.”
Mats in particular can be an issue for big fluffy dogs. They occur when fur becomes so knotted that it starts to pull on the dog’s skin. Klein says that if a fluffy dog has a mat, do not cut it with scissors; the risk of cutting your dog is too great. “You should gently work the mat apart with your fingers and be sure to brush it out completely,” he recommends.
When bathing a large dog with lots of fur, Klein also says that pet parents should be sure to rinse away all of the shampoo. “Rinsing a dog off should take longer than shampooing,” he says. “Shampoo that isn’t rinsed away can cause dry, flaky skin.”
Beyond grooming, large fluffy dogs need to eat a solid diet to keep their skin and fur healthy. According to Klein, this shouldn’t be an issue if you feed your dog a high-quality dog food.
“I think that these days, quality pet food manufacturers work really hard to include the right amount of nutrients,” he says. “However, if a large breed dog with lots of fur is on a low-quality diet, that could cause issues and you may need to supplement.”
Love and Cuddles
Above all else, pet parents should be prepared to shower their pup with love. “There’s a reason that big, fluffy dog breeds are so popular,” Klein says. “They are usually wonderful companions and the amount of joy they bring counteracts any excessive hair that you may have in your home. There’s just nothing better than snuggling up with them on a cold night.”
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