Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Dogs > 11 Dogs That Look Like Lions: Pictures, Facts & History

11 Dogs That Look Like Lions: Pictures, Facts & History

giant mastiff up close

Lions are fearsome, proud cats often referred to as kings of their habitats. Their noble and imposing figures evoke a sense of reverence in those who see them, so it is understandable that some pet owners may want their dogs to inspire the same feelings.

Several dog breeds bear a striking resemblance to the courageous lion. To learn more about 11 dogs that look like lions, take a look at our list below.divider-paw

How Are Dogs That Look Like Lions Classified?

While dogs are not as closely related to lions as cats are, plenty of canines still mirror the lion’s magnificent appearance. Of course, this is often subjective, as some may declare that a specific breed resembles the lion, whereas others will disagree wholeheartedly. Therefore, there is no strict classification for which dogs are lion look-alikes.

Still, common qualities often cause a breed to be compared to a lion. For example, dogs with golden fur, thick manes, and bold temperaments are usually considered lion-like. The dogs are often large, but as you’ll see in the list below, that is not always the case.


The 11 Dogs That Look Like Lions

1. Tibetan Mastiff

beautiful Tibetan mastiff
Image Credit: Tatyana Kuznetsova, Shutterstock
Origin: Tibet
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Height: 24–26 inches minimum

The Tibetan Mastiff is one of the closest lion look-alikes among canines. While this breed is typically seen with black and tan fur, it can also be seen in more lion-like colors such as cream and red gold. Beyond the Tibetan Mastiff’s striking colors, they mimic the lion’s appearance with its fearsome stature and magnificent mane.

Tibetan Mastiffs stand at a minimum of 24 inches at the shoulder, weighing as much as 150 pounds. Their medium-length double coats appear shaggy and dense around the neck, giving them the appearance of a lion’s silhouette. If any dog is going to be mistaken for a lion, it is definitely the massive Tibetan Mastiff!

2. Chow Chow

chow chow dog in the grass
Image Credit: Flower_Garden, Shutterstock
Origin: China, possibly existing before the Han Dynasty circa 206 B.C.
Lifespan: 8–12 years
Height: 17–20 inches

The Chow Chow may not be as large as a lion, but it looks similar in almost every other way. They stand at 20 inches at the shoulder and weigh less than 70 pounds, making them more manageable than some larger breeds. The Chow Chow looks like a medium-sized lion with their dense double coats.

Besides their likeness to the great lion, the Chow Chow has a distinguished history. The Chow Chow is possibly one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, with thousands of years of careful breeding. They were kept as guardians, hunters, companions, and more.

3. Löwchen

Löwchen dog standing on the river bank
Image Credit: Cat Dana, Shutterstock
Origin: Historians cannot agree on the breed’s origins, but the Löwchen has been popular in many European countries since the Middle Ages
Lifespan: 13–15 years
Height: 12–14 inches

Löwchen is German for “little lion,” so it makes sense that this breed has a spot on this list. The Löwchen may be on the smaller side, standing at 14 inches maximum, but that doesn’t mean they cannot have a lion’s qualities. The dog’s long, wavy coat can be styled to appear like a lion’s mane, and when their fur is gold, they look even more lion-like.

Perhaps the Löwchen’s personality earns them the name “little lion.” Although small, the Löwchen has a brave heart. Due to their bold yet affectionate personality, they were popular among noblemen in the Middle Ages and displayed in Renaissance paintings.

4. Leonberger

leonberger dog standing at the park
Image Credit: AnetaZabranska, Shutterstock
Origin: Leonberg, Germany
Lifespan: 7 years
Height: 5–31.5 inches

It isn’t a challenge to spot the resemblance between the lion and the Leonberger. Leonbergers are massive dogs, standing as high as 31.5 inches at the shoulder and weighing up to 170 pounds. Although they are often seen in darker colors, their coat can also take on a yellowish hue, much like a lion.

This breed is prized for their grace and elegance, which gives them a noble bearing. But if their dignified nature isn’t enough to inspire comparisons to the mighty lion, their luxurious mane certainly will.

5. Pekingese

Image Credit: T.Den, Shuttestock
Origin: China
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Height: 6–9 inches

The thought of comparing the tiny Pekingese to the mighty lion may seem laughable, but this comparison has existed for centuries. According to Chinese legend, the Buddha developed the Pekingese by breeding it from the lion. While this tale isn’t accurate, it is likely that the Pekingese was indeed bred down from a large, lion-like dog.

The Pekingese’s physical qualities have led many people in modern times to consider them lion-like. Their biscuit-colored fur and fluffy coats give them the appearance of a golden lion. While the Pekingese may never have the stature of such a large creature, they bear a regal manner that can rival any lion.

6. Chinese Crested

Chinese crested dog pet
Image Credit: Veronika_Andrews, Pixabay
Origin: China
Lifespan: 13–18 years
Height: 11–13 inches

This alert, lively companion is among the most unique dog breeds in the world. Due to their interesting appearance, the Chinese Crested has earned many nicknames over the years, such as the “Dr. Seuss Dog” in reference to their fantastical appearance.

Due to the concentration of fur around the head and neck, some have compared the Chinese Crested to a lion. While the dog’s small size and relative hairlessness may make such comparisons seem strange, the Chinese Crested’s elegance and grace make them well deserved.

7. Newfoundland

Newfoundland dog breed outdoors
Image Credit: Liliya Kulianionak, Shutterstock
Origin: Newfoundland
Lifespan: 9–10 years
Height: 26–28 inches

The Newfoundland is often seen in black, but if you ever get to see a lighter-colored Newfoundland, their resemblance to the lion will be difficult to miss.

Newfoundlands are large, powerful dogs, standing at 28 inches and weighing up to 150 pounds. They are heavy-boned and dignified in stature, but they are gentle and patient despite their imposing appearance.

Many Newfoundland owners love their pet’s friendly disposition, especially around children. In fact, the Newfoundland has earned the reputation as being an excellent “nanny dog” for children.

8. Pomeranian

brown pomeranian standing on a rock
Image Credit: Kongrat, Shutterstock
Origin: Pomerania
Lifespan: 12–16 years
Height: 6–7 inches

As we’ve already established in this list, the size of a dog’s body has no influence on the size of their spirit. The Pomeranian is no exception, as they are 7 pounds full of liveliness and bravery. With their luxurious, thick coats and appealing expressions, many consider the breed to resemble the noble lion.

It’s their personality that really seals the deal. Although the Pomeranian is the smallest on this list, they have a big dog personality. They are vigilant watchdogs with a feisty, bold nature that makes them as fearless as a lion.

9. Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Caucasian Shepherd dog
Image Credit: DragoNika, Shutterstock
Origin: Caucasus Mountain range
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Height: 23–30 inches

Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are devoted guardians that require an experienced dog owner. Weighing as much as 170 pounds, this massive breed is not one to be trifled with. They have been used as livestock guardians and companions of armies, so the Caucasian Shepherd Dog has developed a confidence and fearlessness that few other breeds can boast.

In addition to their bold personality, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog has a medium-length double coat that mimics the thickness of a lion’s mane. Altogether, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog has the personality and looks of a fierce lion.

10. Mastiff

mastiff with red eyes lying on the floor
Image Credit: A Wild Hair Creative, Shutterstock
Origin: Asia
Lifespan: 6–10 years
Height: 5–30 inches minimum

By far the largest dog on this list, the Mastiff stands at least 27.5 inches and weighs up to 230 pounds. This breed is a dignified, courageous canine with the fearsome stature of a lion. Although the Mastiff doesn’t have the thick coat and mane that many lion-like breeds do, their size alone is enough for many people to compare them to one of nature’s largest cats.

The Mastiff is a good-natured companion and a formidable guardian. Their vigilant natures make them excellent protectors of the home, as few intruders would want to face off against such a massive creature.

11. Chinese Shar-Pei

Chinese Shar-pei puppy on the grass
Image Credit: Waldemar Dabrowski, Shutterstock
Origin: China
Lifespan: 8–12 years
Height: 18–20 inches

The Chinese Shar-Pei is another breed unsuited for a novice dog owner, but in an experienced veteran’s care, this breed can flourish into a one-of-a-kind companion. Like the Mastiff, the Chinese Shar-Pei has a short coat with no mane. However, their prominent skin wrinkles mimic the appearance of a lion’s mane.

Chinese Shar-Peis are known for their independence, loyalty, and regal natures. This dignified guardian shares many of the lion’s noble qualities, making them an excellent choice for anyone who wants a lion-like dog.



The criteria behind what makes a dog lion-like is subjective and open to debate. While many people see the resemblance between the great lion and the dog breeds on this list, others may believe there are better candidates for such a comparison. If you are looking for a dog that most resembles the lion, consider which qualities you think most exemplify the magnificent lion and evaluate different dog breeds based on that list.

Featured Image Credit: Michelle Cavanagh, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets