Dogs come in all sizes and shapes, from tall and gangly to short and round. Then there are breeds that seem to be nothing but powerful muscle. Most of these dogs are utilized as guard dogs, and some people are (understandably) anxious around these buff breeds. Most of the time, the most muscular and seemingly intimidating breeds are merely big, cuddly babies. They ARE protective of their owners and family, but, many of these muscular breeds have an unwarranted bad reputation.
Muscular dog breeds were often utilized to herd cattle, while some have always been guard dogs. Their sheer size is intimidating, let alone the throaty barks they possess. Their ancestors may have been developed to assist humans with heavy labor or to herd livestock. Often, these muscular dog breeds develop a deep bond with their humans, and they will go to any length to protect them.
Some History Behind the Muscular Breeds
Our ancestors chiefly bred dogs to assist in some type of work. For some dogs, this was herding cattle. For others, it was hunting large game or waterfowl. Dogs that had to do a lot of running, such as bird hunting dogs, were often bred to be quite muscular. Of course, not every dog breeder of old times had the best intention for the dogs they were breeding. There were a number of muscular dogs that were bred for dogfighting or for dog racing. Even so, these dogs eventually became very loyal watchdogs who did develop a deep loyalty to their human families.
Some of these dog breeds today are companion dogs. Some still retain their propensity for protecting the family. Bulldog breeds both large and small have a very protective nature where their families are concerned. They may be leery of strangers simply because decades (or centuries) of breeding have preserved that trait. However, once these breeds realize that people outside their normal family unit mean well, they tend to accept these individuals and would never purposely hurt them.
Some of these dogs were considered “nanny dogs.” That means they are highly protective of children. Many muscular breeds have a bad reputation for being around kids, but this is undeserved. There is much anecdotal evidence about the protective nature of pit bulls and Rottweilers, who have put themselves between a young child and a stranger.
Let’s take a look at several dog breeds that are considered “muscular.”
1. The Rottweiler
The Rottweiler is a dog breed that can trace its roots back to ancient Rome. Like most muscular dog breeds, the ancestors of the Rottweiler were used by Roman soldiers to pull carts and to herd livestock that traveled with the army. Some anecdotal evidence holds that Rottweilers actually participated in a battle with the Roman soldiers.
The Rottweiler of that time was likely a mastiff-type dog that looked little like the Rottweiler we are familiar with today. At some point, these large dogs were utilized in Germany for herding cattle. They were then crossed with Doberman Pinschers. This produces the large, black dog with the tan markings indicative of the breed today. We can assume that the Rottweiler made its journey to the United States around the end of World War II.
Today, there are “German” Rottweilers and “American” Rottweilers. Very little separates the two variations of the breed other than one is slightly larger, and the tail of the American Rottweiler is docked while the German Rottweiler features the full-length tail.
Rottweilers are humongous dogs with very muscular bodies, large, rounded heads, and floppy ears. They can be stubborn, and they are typically aloof when it comes to strangers. A Rottie is very affectionate with his family. They learn to accept “extended family” members – people who do not live in their household but who are consistently around Rottie’s family. Strangers, however, are rarely accepted by the Rottweiler. It’s important to keep this in mind when approaching an older Rottweiler.
The Rottweiler is smart but stubborn. They tend to want to do things their way, and positive reinforcement dog training works well with Rotties. The Rottweiler will need socialization from an early age, meaning pet parents should introduce the Rottie to different people and situations as early as possible. The Rottie is incredibly strong, so early leash training is also in order. The Rottie should be socialized to other dogs too.
In addition, the Rottweiler will need a moderate amount of exercise in order to be happy and healthy. Adequate exercise and consistent training will prevent your Rottie from developing undesirable behaviors.
2. The Cane Corso
The Cane Corso could be described as pure muscle! They are between 23 and 27.5 inches tall (at the shoulder). They have large, sturdy bones and large, muscular heads.
The Cane Corso was another dog breed that was sometimes utilized in battle. They were also an integral part of wild boar hunting (some are still utilized for this purpose today in hunting feral hogs). Cane Corsos today are chiefly family dogs, but some family farms utilize them not only as pets but dogs that assist in herding livestock and protecting the property.
Many will confuse the Cane Corso with a bulldog-type dog. While they do have many of the same traits, they should not be classified as bulldogs. This muscular dog breed is highly protective—a perfect guard dog—but they are affectionate with family members. They are intelligent and easy to train, but, like the Rottweiler, the Cane Corso should never be trained using negative reinforcement. Some would describe the Cane Corso as docile unless their family is threatened.
3. The Greyhound
The Greyhound is s slender dog, so many might not readily associate the Greyhound with larger, beefier dogs such as the Cane Corso and the Rottweiler. However, these dogs are pure muscle, and that muscle is utilized to power the Greyhound with bursts of speed making it a great athletic breed.
Greyhounds weren’t always racing dogs; in fact, they were developed to be hunting dogs. Speed was key, so muscle-bound dogs were sought in order to make sure the offspring were muscular but light enough to run quickly. The Greyhound is capable of speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.
Greyhounds are ancient dogs; there is evidence that they existed in Ancient Egypt. They are usually sweet and mild-mannered, but, they do have a strong prey drive. The Greyhound usually requires a great deal of exercise, but they can be just as happy indoors vegging on his dog bed as they are running after a wild rabbit.
4. The Rhodesian Ridgeback
This dog breed originated in South Africa where they were utilized to guard property and to herd livestock. The breed needed to be able to run quickly and to be large enough to protect both cattle and people in camps. The Rhodesian Ridgeback has a long head such as one would associate with a hound dog, but he is tall and thin with a muscular chest and hindquarters.
Like most muscular dog breeds developed to guard people and property, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is usually better with its family as well people who are consistently around said, family. They are intelligent, and they do best when they are provided early socialization to different people and places.
5. The American Pit Bull Terrier
This is one dog breed that most people are intimidated by, but for all the wrong reasons. The American Pit Bull Terrier is smaller than the Rottweiler or the Cane Corso, but they are pure muscle.
Pitbulls were originally bred for much the same reason as the Rottie. They were used to guard camps, help pull carts, and for hunting. They were bred in England and Scotland. One of their uses was bull baiting. This inhumane sport involved dogs and tethered bulls. It was outlawed in 1835.
Pitbulls today aren’t always bred for the right reasons. There are unscrupulous folks who use Pits for dogfighting. They tap into the basic nature of the Pit, which is a protective nature that will fight when necessary.
However, when a Pittie is raised correctly—meaning the dog should be given lots of affection and provided with lots of early socialization—they are highly beloved family members. Like the Rottweiler, Pits often are most protective of children. In fact, they have been anecdotally used as “nanny dogs.” 
Pits are usually great with people, and they are actually more open to strangers than a Rottie or a Cane Corso. Again, early socialization usually plays up this trait in Pits.
6. The American Staffordshire Terrier
Often confused with the American Pitbull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier is somewhat shorter but just as muscular as the Pit. Like the Pit, the Staffordshire Terrier was developed to be a fighting dog. They were also used for bull-baiting.
Even though the Staffordshire Terrier was bred to be a fierce dog, the dog is actually quite “mellow.” Today, the American Staffordshire Terrier is utilized on movie sets as canine actors, as service dogs, and in the military.
Like the Cane Corso, Pit, and Rottweiler, the American Staffordshire Terrier should receive early socialization and training that involves meeting all types of people in order for the Staffie to become accustomed to people of all ages and personality types. The American Staffordshire Terrier is usually not open to sharing its home with other pets unless it has been raised around other animals.
7. The Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman Pinscher is a tall but muscular dog that looks much like the Rottweiler (that’s because they are related). The Doberman typically has a docked tail and tall, attentive ears.
Their legs are long and muscular. They have always been used as military or police dogs, but they are also good family pets. Dobermans have actually worked as service dogs (seeing-eye dogs for the blind).
The Doberman has often been one breed that was feared by many. However, the Doberman is intelligent and loyal. Like other dogs bred to guard the family, early socialization is important so that your Doberman doesn’t develop any bad behavior or habits.
8. The Boxer
The Boxer is another large, muscular breed that is often feared; however, they are truly big, lovable babies! The Boxer is related to bulldog breeds. They were developed in Germany as hunting dogs. The Boxer was the result of crossing English Bulldogs, the Bullenbeisser breed (a German breed that is now extinct), and the Great Dane.
The Boxer is a dog that is more accepting of strangers than the Rottie or the Pit or Cane Corso. However, they are so strong that they need leash training and obedience training so that they become well-behaved pups. They may be a little aloof with strangers, but, they are much more welcoming of people not in their immediate family unit unlike most muscular dog breeds.
1. Which is the most muscular dog?
The most muscular dog label is really a toss-up between the American Pitbull Terrier and the Rottweiler. Both are large, broad dogs with deep, strong chests and broad skulls.
2. What is a muscular dog?
A muscular dog is not always one that is broad and large. The Greyhound as well as the Whippet are lean, but muscular dogs that use their muscle for great speed.
A muscular dog is one that is strong, with very little fat.
3. Can a dog body build?
This is possible, but it takes a lot of training on the part of the pet parent. Dogs can go on extended jogging sessions with their handlers. They can also get on treadmills in order to exercise, or they can swim in order to build extra muscle. If a dog is going to bodybuild, pet parents will need to provide even more protein to build the extra muscle.
4. Are Rottweilers muscular?
Rottweilers are extremely muscular. In fact, they are broad with deep muscular chests. The Rottweiler rarely gains fat, especially if he is allowed to run and exercise as needed. The Rottie possesses a muscular chest as well as muscular hindquarters. They are extremely powerful dogs.