The vast majority of dog breeds were bred for a specific job, such as herding, guarding, rescuing people from stormy waters or freezing mountain ranges. The physicality of modern pet dogs reflects the jobs they were originally bred to do. Naturally, strength was an important factor when breeding dogs for guarding, rescuing, hunting an fighting. But there is no one strongest dog, as physical strength comes in many forms.
Aside from Wendy, the famously muscular whippet who owes her hulking physique to a genetic defect, the most muscular breed of dogs are the American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier and rottweiler. The pit bull and Stafford are athletic and lean, with barrel chests and short legs, which give them a low center of gravity and make them extremely adept at pulling and climbing. The rottweiler is somewhat bulkier, with longer legs and a less-defined physique.
The bite strength is measured by how many pounds of pressure the dog can exert when biting down. In a study published in the Journal of Anatomy in 2008, the rottweiler was measured as having a bite strength of 328 pounds. The mastiff has the largest head and widest jaw of all breeds, meaning he can typically bite harder than any other breed. One mastiff was measured as having a bite of 552 pounds, which is close to the bite strength of a lion. The rottweiler, a popular choice for guarding, also has a highly powerful bite, and is a close contender to the pit bull for strongest breed overall.
Strength is a somewhat vague concept and its meaning can change slightly over time. In 1963, a Siberian husky named Charlie was considered to be the strongest dog alive, pulling a 3,142-pound sledge. However, that accolade doesn't account for the fact that a larger, more muscular dog may also be able to pull the same weight or more, if given the opportunity. Only dogs that would regularly be called on to pull sledges, such as huskies and other large spitz breeds, would be measured for their pulling strength. Still, the husky would most likely win the award for the dog with the most endurance and stamina, an area in which bulkier and heavier dogs would struggle to compete. In terms of explosive speed over a short distance, the greyhound has other domestic breeds licked, with his lean physique and long legs, he can reach speeds of up to 37 miles per hour.
The Newfoundland is widely regarded as the ultimate water rescue dog, due to his incredible strength, love of the water and fine swimming ability. The breed, with webbed feet, powerful legs and thick coat, was built for swimming, and no other breed is able to match his power in the water. On land, these gentle giants are pretty formidable too, reaching up to 150 pounds in weight with high muscle density.
By Simon Foden
Hills Pet: American Pit Bull Terrier
Psychology Today: Dog Bite Force: Myths, Misinterpretations and Realities
Pet Planet: Siberian Husky Dog Breed Profile
Pet MD: Newfoundland Dog Breed Info and Pictures
Hyper Text Book: Speed of the Fastest Dog
About the Author
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.