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7 Dog Breeds That Look Like Lions

Lion in Nature

Lions are one of the most respected animals who hold a special position in several cultures and religions. Consequently, they are quite prominent in our literature, art, and even flags.

Owing to all this respect, it’s quite understandable that breeders have developed some dog breeds that look like lions. A few of these canines that resemble the ‘King of Animals’ are discussed below.  

Caucasian Shepherd

Caucasian Shepherd in nature setting

This large breed was originally developed in the Caucasus Mountain region to guard livestock (against wild predators). Similarly, they were also used for bear hunting. This is the reason why this strong dog can fight dangerous animals, like bears and wolves. Being one of the largest dog breeds, Caucasian Shepherds are compared to lions due to their size and strength.

The independent and stubborn nature of these canines makes them difficult to train, even for experienced owners. Likewise, it’s natural for them to show aggressive tendencies towards children and other pets.

Despite all these issues, a Caucasian Shepherd can become an excellent family companion through proper training and socialization. Although they are generally regarded as low-energy dogs, this large breed is NOT recommended for apartment life.  

Chow Chow

Chow Chow standing in grass

Hailing from ancient China, Chow Chows have the maximum resemblance with lions. The brown color of their coat is quite identical and they have a lion-like mane around their head and shoulders.

In northern China, these canines are called ‘Songshi Quan’, which means ‘Puffy-lion Dog’. Chow Chows were originally developed as multi-purpose working dogs and their duties included herding, pulling carts, guarding, and hunting.

This confident breed is known for its independence, but a well-trained Chow isn’t aggressive. Generally, it has been observed that these dogs like to have a favorite person. However, their loyalty will also extend to other family members with time. Proper training at an early age is necessary for these canines because they are quite territorial and can be aloof with strangers.  


Leonberger in grass field standing with front paws on a log

These giant working dogs were bred to look like lions. Heinrich Essig (a breeder from Leonberger in Germany) mixed a Saint Bernard, Newfoundland, and Great Pyrenees to develop this breed. These canines were originally developed for farming, drafting, and guarding livestock. However, Leonbergers can become great watchdogs thanks to their deep bark, never-ending energy, and lion-like looks.

A Leonberger is an ideal pet for those families who are looking for an intimidating yet friendly companion. These dogs need an ample amount of attention, exercise, and space to avoid negative behavior. Similarly, their long fur will require regular grooming to limit copious shedding. Due to their unmatched love for the water, Leonbergers can do quite well as water rescue dogs.   


Lowchen running in grass

Lowchen is nicknamed the “Little Lion Dog” for its natural and full mane. They were groomed for a long time by court ladies to look like smaller versions of lions. These companion dogs were developed in pre-Renaissance Europe and have accompanied royalty for centuries. Other than companionship, these smart canines have done exceedingly well in dog sports, like agility and obedience.  

In contrast to their overall appearance, Lowchens are more friendly than fierce. They are affectionate companions who love to enjoy the company of their people. They can adapt to live in all kinds of households whether it is an apartment or a large estate. Likewise, they don’t mind other pets (including dogs) and tend to get along well with them.


Newfoundland in nature setting

This giant dog hails from Newfoundland and was bred to pull nets for fishermen and haul wood from the forest. These strong and hardworking canines are equally effective on land or in water. The large size, ferocious strength, and calm personality of this breed allow it to resemble the king of animals.

The obedient and responsive attitude of Newfoundlands makes them incredibly easy to train. They have an extraordinary temperament and do well with strangers and other pets (including dogs). Similarly, they have a strong desire to please their parents and don’t require a lot of exercise. However, moderate activity is still needed to keep them in shape.  

In contrast to their physical outlook, Newfoundlands are extremely patient and tolerant with kids. The fans of this friendly breed believe that it is a natural babysitter. For this reason, they are often called the “nanny dog”.   


Close up portrait of a Pekingese

Pekingese originates from China and this toy breed is regarded as a ‘lion dog’ because it resembles lions. According to a Chinese legend, these canines are a result of the union between a lion and a monkey. Whether this legend is true or not, there is no doubt that these little dogs do look like lions.

Given their historical background, it’s not surprising at all that Pekingese have a self-important attitude. They have been a cherished companion of the imperial family of China for centuries. Even in today’s world, they are still being used as show dogs who greet everyone with grace and dignity. In return, they expect their people to give them a lot of respect and affection.

Pekingese are not suitable for families with small children because they don’t like to be treated roughly. They won’t need a second invitation to defend themselves so it’s advisable to always supervise such interactions. Although they are extremely fond of their families, Pekingese make excellent watchdogs because they are wary of strangers.

Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff in a nature setting

In our opinion, Tibetan Mastiff is the dog breed that looks like a lion the most. Owing to this striking resemblance, a Chinese zoo tried to present a Tibetan Mastiff as an African lion in 2013. These powerful dogs were originally developed for herding and to protect the livestock against predatory attacks. These canines are quite expensive in China because they are considered a status symbol in that part of the world.

The historical background of Tibetan Mastiffs clearly shows that they are courageous and fearless dogs. They are very loyal to their people but are not fond of strangers and other pets. Similarly, their dominant attitude and stubborn nature can be difficult things to handle for a novice owner. Therefore, this dog breed is ONLY recommended for experienced and patient owners.

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