Despite the fact that dogs and cats last common ancestor lived 42 million years ago, some modern dog breeds have the thick manes, fierce temperament, or golden fur of their distant lion cousins—not unlike how there are dogs that look like wolves and dogs that look like foxes. These leonine pooches aren’t all enormous, either; some will fit in your apartment! Whether you want a lion dog who will defend your home, play with your kids, or snuggle with you on the couch, there’s a dog that looks like a lion out there for you. Looking for a pup that’s a little snugglier? Then you’ll want to see these dogs that look like teddy bears or dogs that look like mops.
1. Chow Chow
An ancient breed from China, it’s easy to see why this fluffy fellow tops the list of dogs that look like lions. Chows thick fur and small, rounded ears give them a distinctly leonine appearance. They are known for their fastidious cleanliness (like cats!), aloofness, and blue tongues. Chows are also recognizable by their snobby expressions; these dogs were companions to emperors and nobles, so they are not easily impressed. However, once you have their love, they are loyal for life. Chow chows are also one of the lazy dog breeds that are expert nappers.
2. Tibetan Mastiff
Tibetan mastiffs are ancient domesticated dogs. They are large, strong and powerful. Their traditional purpose was to protect livestock and help with herding. Tibetan mastiffs look like lions, which makes them one of the most sought-after pets in parts of Asia and Europe. They are a trending fashion and status symbol in China, which makes their price high.
When considering adoption, some other factors must be considered, like temperament and grooming requirements: Tibetan mastiffs are courageous, fearless, tempered, and intelligent dogs who are very loyal to their human families. However, they are not very friendly toward other pets and strangers. Along with that they are stubborn, strong willed and dominant.
They need a lot of physical exercise and a daily walk. They are not well adapted to apartment living.
Basically, they are only recommended for firm and experience owners.
It’s easy to see why these gorgeous giants made the list of dogs that look like lions. Standing around three feet tall, and weighing as much as a human, the Leonberger is friendly, playful, and surprisingly gentle for their size. Their long coat extends into a beautiful leonine mane around the neck and chest. They require a lot of brushing, but like other double-coated dogs should never be shaved, as it actually helps them cool off.
4. Nepali mountain dogs
Nepali mountain dogs are ancestors of Tibetan mastiffs. They are native to Nepal, but are also found in some part of India, Pakistan, and Bhutan. They are very friendly, intelligent and make excellent guard dogs. Are also known as Himalayan sheep dog or pahari kukur. Like their ancestor, the Tibetan mastiff, they also need a lot of outdoor exercise. They are also dominant and territorial dogs and not suitable for apartment living. Though they are known as herding dogs, they also used as working or companion dogs.
If lions came in brown or black, they would look like Newfoundlands. Newfies are known for being the sweetest dogs around, often called the “nanny dog” because they are so good with children. Their large size and thick fur, however, earns them a place on the list of dogs that look like lions. Like their big cat cousins, Newfies love water—in fact, they are natural swimmers, born with partially webbed feet. Newfies have taken part in many a water rescue, working as shipboard dogs for Canadian fisherman. If you’ve got kids and live near a lake, definitely consider making a Newfoundland part of your family!
This dog’s name is actually German for “little lion,” named for both their flowing mane and their lion-like bravery. This breed has been popular in Europe for centuries because of its lively and affectionate nature and non-shedding coat, traditionally kept in a “lion clip” with close-cropped hindquarters and a plumed tail. For the apartment-dwelling lion-lover, a Löwchen is a great choice.
7. Bangar Mastiff
This breed originated in an Indian town called Tehri Garhwal. They got their name from the part of town—Bangar—where they were developed. They are also known as the Bangara mastiff. This breed was developed by a retired Indian army officer named W.V. Soman. They are descended from native Bhotia dogs. Bhoti dogs were used by local people for herding yak, sheep and to protect the villagers from ғᴇʀᴏᴄɪᴏᴜs wild animals.
Bangar mastiffs are very friendly, alert, courageous and loyal to their owner and family. They have very similar muzzles to Tibetan mastiffs, but they are less hairy and smaller in size. They are well-suited to apartment living and usually friendly towards other pets and guests.
8. Chinese Crested
Now, you may not immediately think “lion!” when you see the eight-pound Chinese Crested trotting sweetly along, but take a look at that mane and tail. This breed comes in two varieties: hairless, and powderpuff, or completely covered with long, thick hair. Both of them have that fluffy mane and tail tuft that got them onto the list of dogs that look like lions. Cresteds are playful, loving, and loyal, making them great family dogs.
This little guy is only six inches tall weighs only three to seven pounds, but Poms cannot be left off any list of dogs that look like lions. Their expansive orange ruffs and absolute self-confidence mean that they carry themselves like a much bigger dog—like a dog the size of a lion, perhaps? Intelligent and lively, these little lions are loyal and easily trained. As Queen Elizabeth II is to corgis, so Queen Victoria was to Pomeranians, owning dozens of Poms over her lifetime and spreading their popularity. It makes sense, though; the lion is the national animal of England!
There is a Chinese legend detailing the origins of this little lion dog. Long ago, a lion fell in love with a marmoset monkey. The lion begged the Buddha to shrink him so that he could be with his much smaller love, and the Buddha obliged. Thus we have the Pekingese, a small dog breed that looks like both a lion and a monkey! It’s the neck ruff that most makes these dogs look like lions. Pekingese are known for their waddling walk and immense dignity. They usually attach themselves to one person in the household, so if you want a devoted lion companion, this cutie might be a good choice.