20 Dogs That Look Like Lions

Written by Kellianne Matthews
Published: October 2, 2023
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If you love dogs but secretly wonder what it would be like to have a pet lion, then perhaps a dog that looks like a lion is the perfect companion for you! These unique dog breeds have the sturdy physique of a lion and the stunning elegance of its mane, combined with the unwavering loyalty of the perfect canine companion. Although some may seem nearly as enormous as a wild lion, others are small and perfect for apartment living. From their luxurious fur coats to their regal presence and fierce yet gentle nature, these lion-like canines are both beautiful and captivating. 

1. Chow Chow

Chow-chow dog

Chow chows are often aloof with strangers but are loyal to their families.

©Roman Zaiets/Shutterstock.com

The chow chow originates from China and is popular for its lion-like appearance. Chow chows have small rounded ears and long, thick fur that makes them look like gorgeous lions. In fact, the Chinese name for these fluffy giants literally means “lion dog”. 

Chow chows are remarkable dogs with large, strong bodies, wide heads, and a dense double coat of long fur. Their small, rounded ears poke out from beneath a thick mane of hair, adding to their regal and lion-like appearance. They also have almond-shaped eyes, slightly flattened, square faces, and unusual blue-black tongues. Although they come in many different colors, cinnamon, red, and cream-colored chows especially look like lions!

2. Pekingese

Pekingese dog walking outdoors

Pekingese dogs are very smart and independent.


Another glamorous dog from China that looks like a lion is the Pekingese. These adorable little lion dogs are a toy breed with luxurious furry manes encircling their necks and shoulders. With their confident and charming demeanors, Pekingese pups rule like mighty canine royals in any domain. Long ago in the Majestic Forbidden City of Beijing, this beautiful dog breed was cherished by the Chinese Imperial Court and aristocratic families, and could only be kept by those who lived at the palace. According to legend, the Pekingese is the result of a seemingly impossible love story between either a lion and a butterfly or a lion and a small marmoset.

3. Tibetan Mastiff

Two Tibetan mastiff siting in the foliage in the autumn forest

Tibetan mastiffs are large dogs that need lots of space.

©Ksenia Raykova/Shutterstock.com

With a beautiful thick mane and striking facial expressions, Tibetan mastiffs exude the regal and majestic aura of lions. Tibetan mastiffs are known for their large size and powerful build, giving them the resilience needed to survive the harsh environments of Tibet and other high-altitude Himalayan regions. The dog’s double coat comes in a range of colors including black and tan, solid black, bluish gray with white markings, and various shades of red. These giant pups are at the top of the guard dog world, with both strength and agility combined into one perfect package. However, beneath that large and imposing exterior lies a heart full of love and devotion for their families.

4. Keeshond

Keeshond by the water

Keeshonds are typically playful and affectionate.

©Anastasiya Tsiasemnikava/Shutterstock.com

With their fox-like faces, perky ears, and fluffy mane of colorful fur, Keeshonds stand out amongst dogs that look like lions. Their body shape echoes that of a lion, with a broad chest and strong jaw that exudes power and grace. Keeshonds have a colorful double coat of fur featuring a long and coarse outer layer paired with a soft and dense undercoat. There is also a distinctive black mask around their eyes, adding to their regal appearance and intrigue. In addition, Keeshond dogs walk with a confident gate and upright posture. Originally from the Netherlands, Keeshonds were bred as companions and watchdogs. They are intelligent, playful, and devoted to their families.

5. Himalayan Sheepdog

The Himalayan Sheepdog, also referred to as the Bhotia, is a livestock guardian dog that originated from Tibetan mastiff in India.

Himalayan sheepdogs need regular grooming, lots of space, and plenty of exercise.


Found in the Himalayas, Himalayan sheepdogs, also known as indigenous mastiffs and Gaddi Kutta, are magnificent canines that are not to be underestimated. Their regal appearance comes from their enormous size and thick furry mane. They also have a very broad chest and strong jaw that adds to their imposing appearance. 

Himalayan sheepdogs are steadfast guardians and loyal protectors of livestock, guarding their charges from all manners of predators. However, they are also gentle giants with their families, with unwavering loyalty and affection. Himalayan sheepdogs are always on high alert, ready to protect and defend their beloved humans.

6. Pomeranian

Pomeranian dog

Pomeranians like to be active, but they can be temperamental with outdoor weather.


These little fluff balls may be small in size, but they’ve got a lion-like appearance and personality that can charm just about anyone. Pomeranians almost look like tiny chow chows, with thick and fluffy coats that resemble the majestic mane of a lion. Their coats are also double layered, with a soft and cuddly undercoat and a long and wiry outer coat, giving them a fuller and even cuter appearance. 

Pomeranians come in a wide array of colors, but the ones that truly evoke the lion spirit are the cream, red, or sable coats. Playful and outgoing, these tiny lion-like dogs are affectionate and extremely loyal. Pomeranians are quick to fiercely protect their families with no regard for their small size. 

7. Chinese Crested

Portrait of two nice Chinese Crested dogs

Chinese crested dogs come in “hairless” and “powderpuff” varieties.


Another tiny dog that looks like a lion is the Chinese crested. These small and skinny pups only weigh 8 to 12 pounds and come in two charming varieties: the hairless and the powderpuff. Although mostly bare, there can be some variation in just how much fur is on the hairless Chinese crested. Some hairless dogs may have a bit of fuzz on their muzzles as if they are sporting a stylish beard. Others have long hair on their heads, tails, and feet, making them look like skinny little lions. 

The second type, the powderpuff Chinese crested dog, is completely ensconced in luscious locks, with a thick double coat that makes it look extra fluffy and snuggly. Their hair is typically longer on their tails, feet, and heads, and shorter throughout the rest of their body, giving them a distinctly lion-like appearance.

8. Löwchen

Lowchen (Little Lion Dog) is on the grass in park.

Löwchens are playful and affectionate dogs.


A popular dog for several centuries, the löwchen is famously known as “the little lion dog”! In German, löwchen actually means “little lion,” and refers to the dog’s unique lion-like features. Some owners even have their löwchen pups groomed in a “lion cut,” shaving the back half of the dog and leaving the front end long. These compact dogs have a slightly squarish shape and a long mane of hair in front, just like a majestic lion. Their fur coats are also long and flowing, adding a unique elegance as their tails curve over their straight backs. In addition, these little cuties are known for their liveliness and bravery, which is another reason why they are called “little lions.”

9. Leonberger


Leonbergers are gentle giants that originated in Germany.

©Kaca Skokanova/Shutterstock.com

Standing tall and weighing as much as a human, Leonbergers are impressive giant dogs that look a lot like lions. Their large and muscular bodies are covered with long flowing coats. Their coats extend into a breathtaking leonine mane around their necks and chests, giving them a lavish and regal appearance. 

Although these luxurious coats require regular brushing, you should never ever shave a Leonberger — all that hair actually helps them to cool off when they get too hot! Leonbergers are brave and protective dogs, but they are also friendly, playful, and gentle as can be. 

10. Newfoundland

Black Newfoundland running in water

Newfoundlands are known for their huge size, weighing between 120 to 180 pounds.


Bearing a striking resemblance to a mighty lion, the beautiful Newfoundland was initially bred as a working dog. Hailing from Newfoundland, these impressive dogs worked alongside fishermen in the icy and treacherous waters of Canada. The Newfoundland had the unique ability to withstand the harsh conditions of the region due to its thick fur and robust physique. 

Newfoundlands, or Newfies, have heavy bodies and powerful bodies but are truly the gentlest of giants in the canine kingdom. They are renowned across the world for their trainability, trustworthiness, and their affectionate nature, especially toward children. In fact, over the years Newfoundland dogs have gained quite a reputation and are often affectionately referred to as “nanny dogs.”

11. Samoyed

samoyed sitting in field of flowers

Samoyeds are outgoing, friendly, and playful dogs that make excellent family companions.

©Roman Milavin/Shutterstock.com

Hailing from Siberia and the Samoyedic peoples, Samoyeds are stunning dogs that look like lions. These medium-sized canines have thick coats, which are fuller around their shoulders like a lion’s mane. Male dogs in particular tend to have larger ruffs around the neck than female dogs do. The Samoyed’s almond-shaped eyes are either black or brown, giving them a charming and chic facial expression. Their thick triangular ears stand up straight, while their tails curl over their backs. 

In addition to their remarkably beautiful and elegant appearance, Samoyeds are well known for their friendly and affectionate natures. In fact, although they may look like lions, these big dogs are poor guard dogs —  they always seem to be smiling and are friendly to everyone.

12. Caucasian Shepherd

Caucasian Shepherd

Also known as the Ovcharka, the Caucasian shepherd dog originated in the Caucasus Mountains.

©Aleksandra Saveljeva/Shutterstock.com

Caucasian shepherds have a tough and fierce appearance, especially when there are any possible threats around. These amazing dogs look like lions with their wide heads and powerful jaws. Their thick fur coats can be white, gray, brown, or black, and sometimes they are even spotted or brindle. Caucasian shepherds are athletic, with muscular bodies, deep chests, and strong hindquarters. 

The Caucasian shepherd is all about protecting sheep from thieves and predators. These canine powerhouses also serve as excellent guard dogs and hunting dogs. Some are even used for bear hunting and prison guard dogs! However, Caucasian shepherds are total softies when it comes to their families, with a sweet and loyal disposition. These gentle giants are the perfect blend of power and grace. 

13. Giant Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute Giant

Giant Alaskan Malamutes are bred for their enormous size.

©Tatar CCube/Shutterstock.com

These super-sized Alaskan Malamutes can easily tower over standard-sized Alaskan Malamutes, even though they are technically the same dog breed! Giant Alaskan Malamutes can weigh over a whopping 150 pounds and can stand up to a towering 30 inches tall at the shoulder. In addition, they are a bit more muscular than standard Alaskan Malamutes.

Giant Malamutes have super thick double coats that are extra fluffy around their necks like a lion’s mane, which only add to their imposing and regal appearance. Their heads are broad and square, and they’re jaws are extremely strong. They come in many different color patterns, but the red and white pups in particular really look like lions!

14. Bear-Coat Shar-Pei

A confirmed example of an adult Bear Coat Shar Pei, not crossed with anything else (KC registered, with pure Shar Pei family roots). Notice the famous wrinkles to the face and shoulders and the typical curled tail, with the added bonus of masses of fur.

Bear-coat shar-peis are unique they have longer hair than other shar-pei dogs.

©SharPeiLover / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

A rare and unique dog that looks like a lion is the incredible bear-coat shar-pei. These precious pups are secret treasures within the shar-pei dog breed and are starting to gain popularity among many dog enthusiasts. Regal in appearance, these beautiful lion-like dogs are fun-loving, cuddly, and friendly.

Bear-coat shar-peis are a subtype of the shar pei breed and retain the breed’s adorable wrinkled faces, cute ears, and gracefully curled tails. However, what sets them apart from other shar-pei pups is their luxurious fur coats. Unlike the short coat of the traditional shar-pei, the bear-coat shar-pei has a long and soft coat that makes it look like a lion. These beauties come in just about any color, but the most common are gold, brown, and black.

15. Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees laying in front of tree with white buds

The Great Pyrenees is one of the largest dog breeds.


Tall and majestic, the great Pyrenees or Pyrenean mountain dog, is a powerful canine that originated from the beautiful Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain. These lion-like dogs have thick white coats with broad chests and strong hindquarters. Their large and square heads have a prominent brow ridge that adds an extra touch of regality to their appearance, along with strong jaws and dark, intelligent eyes. Great Pyrenees dogs also have amazing winter coats that protect them from the elements. The undercoat is soft and wooly, providing plenty of cozy warmth, while the outer coat is coarse and water-resistant. 

16. Tibetan Terrier

Black and white Tibetan Terrier running on grass

Tibetan terriers are typically calm, laidback dogs with an energetic and playful streak.

©Sue Thatcher/Shutterstock.com

An enchanting dog breed from Tibet, the Tibetan terrier is a medium-sized marvel that looks like a lion with its poised and regal demeanor. The dog’s most striking feature is its thick long coat, which elegantly lies upon a sturdy frame and broad chest. This thick double coat embraces their bodies like a shield against the mountains they once called home. In addition, a waterfall of hair cascades down the dogs’ broad faces, framing and covering their eyes with an elegant and stylish look. You can find Tibetan terriers donning shades like white, gray, black, and brown. 

17. Kuvasz

Adult male Hungarian Kuvasz shepherd dog resting on the front of his house.

Hungarian Kuvasz shepherd dogs require lots of regular grooming.

©Benedek Alpar/Shutterstock.com

Hailing all the way from Hungary, the Kuvasz possesses an irresistible charm with its lion-like appearance. These dogs have sturdy builds, with a broad chest that exudes strength and power. Their large and square heads, topped with a prominent brow ridge and strong jaws, are softened by their intelligent and soulful eyes. However, one of the dogs’ most striking features is their incredibly thick white coats. The undercoats are soft and wooly, while the outer coats are coarse and water-resistant. Many Kuvaszok are solid white, while others have tan, gray, badger, or black markings. Kuvasz dogs are very intelligent and playful, but they can also be independent and stubborn.

18. Golden Retriever

A Golden Retriever sits on his hind legs and holds his paws up in a poppy field at sunset

Golden retrievers are some of the most popular dogs in the United States.

©Olha Didenko/Shutterstock.com

Large and sturdy with a broad chest and powerful hindquarters, golden retrievers are the epitome of strength and grace. Their stunning and thick double coats are typically golden in color, much like a lion. Some of these beautiful dogs — especially the males — develop an extra fluffy ruff of fur around their necks, adding to their majestic lion-like appearance. 

Golden retrievers are one of the most intelligent and affectionate dog breeds out there, loved for their gentle nature and loving personalities. They are extremely patient dogs and make excellent companions for families. In fact, golden retrievers are so friendly that they usually lack any guarding instincts. So, if you’re looking for a watchdog that looks like a lion, you may want to consider a different breed!

19. Bangar Mastiff

Dog belongs to Himalayan mastiff breed, known for its friendly behaviour and loyalty

Bangar mastiffs are powerful dogs with strong protective instincts.


A more recently developed breed, the Bangar mastiff comes from India. These majestic dogs look like lions with their giant, muscular bodies and incredibly courageous souls. They have broad chests and strong hindquarters, making them look strong and impressive. Their muzzles are similar to a Tibetan mastiff, but they’re smaller in size and have less hair.  

Bangar mastiffs have thick double coats that come in many colors like gray, brown, and black, with a soft and wooly undercoat and a rough outer coat to protect them from the elements. Although they are strong and imposing, and make excellent guard dogs, Bangar mastiffs are also intelligent and loving companions. They are known for being gentle and affectionate, but they require lots of exercise, training, and socialization. 

20. Bankhar Dog

Mongolian Bankhar puppies are playing on the snowy ground in Govi-Altai province, Mongolia.

In Mongolia, humans and Bankhar dogs are believed to be “of the same spirit”.


Not to be confused with the Bangar mastiff, the Bankhar dog is another large and formidable dog that looks like a lion. Known for their guarding and protective instincts, these powerful dogs originated in the Mongolian steppes. They are large and athletic dogs with broad chests and powerful hindquarters. Despite their enormous size, however, Bankhar dogs are surprisingly fast and energetic, with a courageous spirit and tireless energy. 

Bankhar dogs have either short or long double coats in shades of black, red, and black and tan. Some dogs have darker fur with light spots above their eyes, and in Mongolian, these dogs are known as Mongolian four-eyed dogs. According to legend, they are special dogs that can see into the spirit world.

Summary of 20 Dogs That Look Like Lions

BreedHeight at ShoulderWeight
Chow Chow17 to 20 inches45 to 70 pounds
Pekingese6 to 9 inchesUp to 14 pounds
Tibetan Mastiff24 to 30 inches70 to 150 pounds
Keeshond17 to 18 inches35 to 45 pounds
Himalayan Sheepdog20 to 30 inches51 to 90 pounds
Pomeranian6 to 7 inches3 to 7 pounds
Chinese Crested11 to 13 inches8 to 12 pounds
Löwchen12 to 14 inches15 pounds
Leonberger25.5 to 31.5 inches90 to 170 pounds
Newfoundland26 to 28 inches100 to 150 pounds
Samoyed19 to 23.5 inches35 to 64 pounds
Caucasian Shepherd23 to 30 inches99 to 170 pounds
Giant Alaskan Malamute23 to 35 inchesOver 100 pounds
Bear-Coat Shar-Pei18 to 20 inches45 to 60 pounds
Great Pyrenees25 to 32 inches85 to 100 pounds or more
Tibetan Terrier14 to 17 inches18 to 30 pounds
Kuvasz26 to 30 inches70 to 115 pounds
Golden Retriever21.5 to 24 inches55 to 75 pounds
Bangar Mastiff20 to 31 inches77 to 99 pounds
Bankhar Dog26 to 32 inches80 to 150 pounds

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Kat_marinina/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Kellianne Matthews is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on anthrozoology, conservation, human-animal relationships, and animal behavior. Kellianne has been writing and researching animals for over ten years and has decades of hands-on experience working with a variety of different animals. She holds a Master’s Degree from Brigham Young University, which she earned in 2017. A resident of Utah, Kellianne enjoys creating, exploring and learning new things, analyzing movies, caring for animals, and playing with her cats.

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