Most cultures have aphorisms and fables about it. Whether you spot one in the wild or in a zoo, a lion commands respect and awe like no other animal. Or so we thought before we discovered various breeds of dogs that look like lions! Our wonder turned into appreciation for these unusually leonine animals. Hence, this blog!
The breeds you’ll find on this list don’t often match each other when it comes to size. Pomeranians, for instance, weigh a fraction of the massiveness that is a Rhodesian Ridgeback. What’s more, they have totally varying personalities. Even so, they do resemble jungle royalty. Therefore, if you have wanted to provide a home to dogs that look like lions, here’s your chance.
Back in pre-Renaissance Europe, the ladies of the court had Little Lions or Löwchens. These canines had groomers dedicating their time to make them look like lions. But it wasn’t just their appearance that won them the hearts of those ladies. They also kept the beds warm and would act as big, shaggy flea catchers.
Give these pooches a lion-trim, and you’ll see what caught eyes at the court so long ago. A plumy tail, long-flowing mane, and short-clipped hindquarters — all mirroring the king of the jungle. As for temperament, these are courageous but friendly dogs. In addition to that, they possess a curious and lively nature.
2. Tibetan Mastiff
Tibetan mastiffs present as hulking figures now. Originally, though, their job was to use that strength to protect livestock in ancient Tibet. However, the humble purpose of this domesticated breeds doesn’t detract dog lovers from wanting to own them. After all, they do look leonine. Hence, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they are amongst the most sought-after pets in different parts of Asia and Europe. A high demand and cost have made them into status symbols, particularly in China.
You might want to adopt a Tibetan Mastiff. If that’s true, do consider some unique requirements that ownership brings with it. For instance, like other large-sized breeds, these canines can be quite strong-willed and stubborn. Again, akin to their other cousins of similar size, these mastiffs won’t be happy living in an apartment. What’s more, they would need daily walks and much physical exercise to remain healthy.
On the plus side, Tibetan mastiffs are fiercely loyal and courageous. Once you become a part of their pack, they will be there for you. However, that doesn’t make them predisposed to tolerating your other pets — and even, strangers.
3. Chow Chow
This leonine breed is from the arid steppes in Mongolia and northern China. Some people also think the Chow Chow inhabits the Siberian regions in Asia. In any case, only bring this dog home if you have space for a canine that weighs about 20-25 kg. The males are taller, i.e., about 48-56 cm while the females aren’t pygmies at 46-51 cm either.
Chow chows are bold and make great guard dogs. However, the aggression they show towards anybody they don’t know can be an issue. So, hand them off to an experienced trainer before you risk the neighbors!
Furthermore, this breed doesn’t only look proud. They also have an aloof and reserved nature. Generally, they keep their owners company for about 9-12 years.
Indeed, you might find the presence of these tiny dogs to be a surprise. However, that won’t last much longer after you take a good long look at them. Toy breed the Pomeranian may be but they can be quite willful when they feel like it.
Many pomeranian owners will compare their pet to animals other than lions. Those include bears and foxes! And even though they weigh roughly seven pounds, these pooches are bold and courageous. Like most delicate-sized dogs, they don’t consider themselves tiny!
Their playfulness and energetic behavior are two of the reasons dog owners rate them so highly. Don’t believe us? Check the AKC popularity list — head for the number 23. Other reasons why they remain a popular toy breed include:
- Colorful personalities
- Longer lifespans, i.e., between 12 and 16 years
- Vocal tendencies
5. Nepali Mountain Dog
Have you ever noticed what a Nepali Mountain dog looks like when resting on their haunches? The way they survey their surroundings comes off as lion-like. That specific style, though, isn’t the only reason why we included this breed on our list.
The Nepali’s facial long hairs tend to grow downwards. Groom them into manes and you will have dogs that look like lions! The only feature that keeps them from looking like lions completely is the nose.
Surprisingly, this breed produces friendlier canines. You will find these 70-132 pounders populating the countries of India, Nepal, and Pakistan. What’s more, these dogs will keep you company for 10-12 years easily.
This breed calls the eponymous place in Germany its original home. The Leonberger will stand out when compared to many other types of dogs due to its distinct size and leonine appearance.
Leonbergers are popular in Europe for several reasons:
- Hulking size
- Deep bark
- Intimidating appearance
- Being good guard dogs
- Trainable to look after livestock, farms, and houses
Males can be as heavy as 127-157 pounds and females aren’t much lighter. A Leonberger female dog can become 65-75 cm tall while males reach 71-80 cm.
7. Indigenous Mastiff or the Himalayan Guard Dog
We have the Ladakh reign of the Himalayas to thank for producing this giant, lion-like breed. Since it is found only in that place, the canine is now known as an indigenous mastiff. Some experts also call it a Himalayan guard dog.
So, what makes these dogs resemble lions so much? Their extensive hooters and long coats are to blame for that. A double coating of fur protects them from the intense cold back at home.
The funny thing is that its appearance belies its true temperament. These pooches might look threatening to you when you face them for the first time. However, they are endearing and peaceful most of the time. Besides that, these sweethearts are easy to love because they constantly try to please you.
But should someone threaten their family or pack, the belligerence and intimidating qualities will come out! They have a certain fearlessness that pushes them on to keep fighting.
Big, strong dogs that look like lions but have an innately sweet nature, the Newfoundlands are called gentle giants. Their mane can get thick and voluminous, lending them a leonine look.
Male Newfoundlands can be as heavy as 150 pounds while shooting to a height of 71 cm. Most of their bulk goes into protecting the family they love with. Their sweet nature has earned them many loving epithets, such as:
- Gentle giants — a trusting nature
- Nanny dogs — look after kids
- Ultimate family dogs — easy to train to live with families and very responsive
9. Bangar Mastiffs
Another breed that originates from India is that of the Bangar or Bangara. These mastiffs were developed in the region of Tehri Garwhal. Amongst their ancestors are the Bhotia canines, which are also natives of India. Like Bhotia, the purpose of breeding the Bangara mastiff was to guarantee the safety of livestock and villagers. These canines would fight off the wild animals to keep their charges safe.
Of course, you may be thinking this makes them too hostile to keep as pets. But you’d be wrong because they have a friendly and approachable temperament. Another trait that makes them suitable as pets to be adopted is that they thrive in small areas. Aside from these pluses, the Bangara is also tolerant towards other pets — and strangers.
10. Caucasian Shepherd
Obstinate as heck, the Caucasian Shepherd is a very intelligent breed nonetheless. They grow up to accumulate about 120-170 pounds of mass and can become taller than 75 cm. They have their origins in the Caucasus region that nestles between two seas, i.e., Black and Caspian. In the beginning, the breeders would use them to protect the flock and home from wild predators. A massive size like that meant these Shepherds would go up against bears and wolves without backing up an inch!
Before you try to get one, bear in mind that this breed produces strong and muscular dogs. Furthermore, their loyalty is tempered with acute territorial instincts. In other words, don’t bank on managing a Caucasian Shepherd if they’re your first dog ever.
11. Gaddi Kutta
Another Himalayan breed, the Gaddi Kuttas are rare, black beauties. Even though many people mistake them for Tibetan Mastiffs, the Kuttas are smaller. What make them truly leonine are a black mane and other physical and temperamental traits.
You’d do well to realize that their highly aggressive and territorial natures make them unsuitable pets for the faint of heart. Even when they will love their masters, they won’t necessarily heed to all your commands. The Kuttas will only obey if they agree with what you’re hinting at!
On the flip side, they make great herders and guards. So, dispel any worries you might have about your property being unprotected. The brutish canines live for 10-12 years. They are also known by their other names, such as:
- Indian Panther Hound
- Mahidant Mastiff
12. Rhodesian Ridgeback
The African lion dog is a creature of beauty. Rhodesian Ridgebacks have an unusual appearance. Their features include a lion-like short, dense, and glossy coat. It can be light wheaten to red wheaten — and all the shades in between. Round brown eyes are located on a dark facial mask. Their nose can be black or brown while the tongue is black.
The Ridgebacks have a muscular build. Hence, you must provide it with daily exercise, such as by taking them for walks, to maintain it. They act as excellent guard and hunting dogs. These pooches can become aggressive, which is why good training is essential. Their lifespans extend to 11 years.
You can keep this intelligent pet in an apartment and they will be fine with it. The males can amass up to 80 pounds while females come up to 70.
The name of this toy breed serves as a hint for its origins, i.e., China. Aside from that, it also owes its lion-like appearance to a local myth. Legend has it that Pekingese were the result of a union between a lion and a monkey! Whether true or not, the fact that these dogs look like lions is plain to see.
For a dog that tiny, you should already expect a self-important attitude to accompany it. But their historical background — as imperial pets in China for centuries — might also have something to do with that. Even today, they will assume any owner would treat them with affection and respect.
Get a Pekingese if you want a leonine breed that makes a good show dog. They’re well-known for the grace and dignity they portray in such competitions. But don’t get one if your family has small children in it. That’s because these canines will treat them roughly! Any hanky panky from the child’s side and these dogs will rear up to defend their canine honor.
On the other hand, that same watchful and loyal nature is also why Pekingese are excellent as watchdogs.
14. Alaskan Malamute
Alaskan Malamutes are another dog breed that resembles lions. Despite their size, there are two reasons for their presence on most similar lists. Firstly, they sport a thick fur coat. And secondly, the color of that coat is very much lion-like. That bulky covering makes them larger than they actually are. But that isn’t to say that the Malamutes are toy breeds. Bitches are 75 pounds heavy and 58 cm tall. Male dogs are generally both heavier and taller.
Other Related Questions
I don’t own a dog that looks like a lion. What else can I do to capture that regal look?
Even a child can tell that a lion’s most prominent feature happens to be its mane. Constructed out of long, silky golden strands, this part spreads outwards. The resulting look is so royal that there’s no doubt as to who rules the jungle. In other words, should you want to mimic that regal feature, go buy an artificial lion mane wig.
The good thing about such wigs is that they’re available in various sizes. You can choose one that will fit your dog’s head. Or, you can get a wig with a string installed to loosen or tighten it.
Of course, these mane-like wigs will work best if you have a large-sized tawny-coloured pooch. With it, you may instigate some serious fun with other dog-owning friends and the fam. Dress up your canine to resemble the Big Cat on holidays, general gatherings, and vacations. And, if they’re patient enough to remain in a lion-like pose, take pictures for posterity! Who knows, someday you could even watch them roaring on the evening news. You know you want to!
My pooch is allergic to wigs. What do I do?
An allergy like that means wigs are out. But that’s okay because we have another alternative that could work for your pet. Just know that this trick will work best if yours is a dense-haired breed. Examples include Black German Shepherds, Rough Collies, Tibetan Mastiffs, Cairn Terriers, and Great Pyrenees.
Your first step is to research experienced dog hairstylists. Go through their profile to see if they are as proficient at lion cuts as they are at others. Then employ their services, so that they can shave your dog like a lion. All the hair on the pooch’s body would need to go — except for the part that surrounds their face. The latter will resemble a mane. The similarity will become even more pronounced when the stylist uses a dog hair vacuum to blow-dry the hair into a workable mane.
But you’d need to keep at this for months. That’s because you want to end up with a substantial portion of dense hair around the dog’s face. Repeat the vacuum part each time you give them a bath. Use a special shampoo if the stylist advises you to do so. Depending on the individual dog’s hair growth and their breed’s hirsuteness, it could take some time for them to look positively leonine.
I did the hair thing. But no one would believe my scrawny dog is a lion! Any solutions?
So, you have the wig — or decided to go with a real mane. But the scrawniness of your pooch is working against you. Counter it by beginning to feed them to promote muscular bulkiness.
A nutritious diet that comes with at least 50g of protein is essential. Get your dog on a similar daily diet and speak to vets about other nutrients they would require. To help them grow stronger and muscular, exercise your canine companion. But not just any routine will work. You’d need one that builds resistance. While exercising, your pup will tear the muscles, which will grow back stronger and bulkier. Therefore, make up routines that involve weight-towing and jumping through hoops.
Here, we’d caution you on taking particular care of knowing how to cool down the temperature of a dog after strenuous exercise. Lose the balance and your pet can get overheated. Stick to their natural limits and create challenges within those. Let them lie down, pant, and hydrate when they need to do so.
In conclusion, you can get a pooch that resembles a lion. Or, you can dress them up in a mane-like wig for the same effect. Finally, you can groom them and feed them to look like the king of the jungle.