Large White Dog Breeds

If your attention been caught by a big white dog lately, this post might help you identify which of the large white dog breeds it might be.

Today, a search for “Belle and Sebastian” leads to results about a Scottish indie pop band. However, long before the band’s formation, “Belle et Sébastien” was a classic television series based on a French book. It featured Sébastien a six-year old boy and his beautiful white Great Pyrenees dog, Belle. For an entire generation of kids, the beautiful Belle was simply the huge white fluffy dog that was Sebastian’s protector and friend. And it is Belle that they probably think of if asked to name any large white dog breeds. While the largest of the large white breeds, and some would say the most majestic, there are others that are popular with those that like the look of large white dogs.

Great Pyrenes dog against a backdrop of mountains

Great Pyrenees

Recognized by its large size and majestic, thick, weather-resistant white coat, the Great Pyrenees is a noble breed with a long history as a livestock guardian and protector of shepherds. Originating from the mountainous regions of France and Spain, they are valued  for their courage, loyalty, and ability to withstand harsh conditions, diligently watching over flocks and deterring predators.

Their calm, gentle nature makes them beloved family companions, while they retain an instinct to guard and protect their human charges. That said, they are of an independant nature which makes this breed best for those wuth some experience with large breeds.

Turkish Akbash flock guardian

Turkish Akbash

The Turkish Akbash is an ancient breed, with origins tracing back over 3,000 years. It is thought to have originated in western Turkey around 750 to 300 B.C. where it was developed as a livestock guardian dog, a role it has maintained throughout the centuries. In fact, it is considered to be one of the oldest of the livestock guarding breeds, sharing a common heritage with other ancient guardian breeds from the region, such as the Anatolian Shepherd and the Kangal.

The Akbash has a lean, powerful build and a distinctive white coat, which helps it blend in with the flocks it guards. This breed is highly independent and can make decisions on its own when protecting livestock from predators. It requires a lot of space and is best suited to a rural setting where it can fulfill its natural guarding instincts. The Akbash can be somewhat aloof and reserved, especially with strangers, which makes it an excellent watchdog and guardian but also means it requires socialization from a young age. Like many guardian breeds, the Akbash is a low-energy dog but needs regular, moderate exercise to stay healthy and happy.

Large white dog - Hungarian Kuvasz

The Hungarian Kuvasz presents a picture of strength and dignity. With roots stretching back to royal Hungary, they served not only as guard dogs for livestock but also as esteemed guardians of kings. Their thick white coat is both beautiful and functional, providing camouflage in snowy landscapes. Kuvaszok are known for their loyalty and protective instincts, paired with a gentle patience that makes them suitable for families with older children. However, their independent and sometimes aloof nature calls for an experienced hand in training.

maremma sheepdog

Maremma Sheepdog

From the heart of Italy’s pastoral landscapes emerges the Maremma Sheepdog, a breed as robust as it is devoted. Traditionally employed to defend sheep from wolves and other predators, their bear-like head and dense white coat are trademarks of the breed. Maremmas possess a natural guarding instinct that makes them excellent protectors of home and family. Though independent and reserved, they show a gentle affection to their owners and are best suited to environments where they can fulfill their protective role.

Swiss white shepherd

Swiss White Shepherd

Not as imposing as the other large white breeds mentioned here, the Sswiss White Shepherd is just as beautiful. With its striking white coat and noble stance, it is a picture of grace and intelligence. Originally from Switzerland and developed from lines similar to the German Shepherd, this breed is known for its versatility as a family pet, service animal, or working dog. They are highly trainable, eager to please, and maintain a deep connection with their human counterparts. Their friendly demeanor makes them excellent companions, particularly in homes that can provide them with mental and physical stimulation.



Known for their “Sammy smile,” Samoyeds are the epitome of joy and exuberance. Originating from Siberia where they herded reindeer and pulled sleds, they sport a fluffy white coat that belies their sturdy build. Samoyeds are incredibly social and loving, thriving in family environments where they can participate in activities. Their friendly nature extends to children and other dogs, making them an integral and delightful part of any home. They do require regular grooming and plenty of exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

Which of these breeds is right for you?

If you have young kids and are looking for a gentle companion dog for them, then the Samoyed fits the bill. If you have older kids, the more independent Kuvasz would be a good addition to your family. However, if you yourself are active and are looking for a dog that will keep up with your active lifestyle, then the Swiss White Shepherd is for you.

Families seeking a gentle guard dog that is also great with children might consider the Great Pyrenees. If you’re in a more rural setting and appreciate a dog with strong protective instincts, the Akbash could be the perfect match. For those with large properties and a need for a guardian of livestock, the Maremma Sheepdog offers excellent protection and independence.


Breed Comparison:

Breed Maintenance Health Temperament Exercise Needs Average Longevity
Great PyreneesModerateGoodCalm, ProtectiveModerate10-12 yrs
SamoyedHighGoodFriendly, PlayfulHigh12-14 yrs
KuvaszHighGoodIndependent, LoyalModerate10-12 yrs
AkbashModerateGoodVigilant, ReservedModerate10-12 yrs
Maremma SheepdogHighGoodProtective, IndependentModerate11-13 yrs
Swiss White ShepherdModerateGoodIntelligent, ActiveHigh12-14 yrs

Table Explanation:

  • Maintenance: Reflects the grooming needs and general upkeep required.
  • Health: Indicates the general health issues commonly associated with the breed.
  • Temperament: Describes the typical behavioral characteristics of the breed.
  • Exercise Needs: Shows the level of activity required to keep the breed healthy and happy.
  • Average Longevity: Provides the typical lifespan range for the breed.