10 dogs that look like a lion
I don't know about you, but ever since I watched The Lion King as a kid, I've always wanted a pet lion. And whilst I now know that isn't possible for a number of reasons, the good news is that you can get yourself a dog that looks like a lion. Really.
Whether you're after a tiny Simba, a darker-haired Scar, or a fully-maned Mufassa, there's a dog breed for you (and me).
Here are some of the most lion-like dogs that would feel at home in any pride.
These large, imposing, and powerful dogs are an ancient breed that has been around for thousands of years. In fact, these ancient pups are thought to be the progenitor of all Mastiff breeds. Tibetan Mastiffs are known as the guardians of the Himalayas where they were used to protect property and livestock.
These big dogs are sweet-natured and devoted to their families. They come from a long line of excellent guard dogs, so they can be a bit aloof and independent. They're territorial around strangers and won't think twice about protecting the ones (or things) they love.
The Tibetan Mastiff is the ultimate lion dog thanks to its long coat, bushy mane, and coloring. When you think of a dog that looks like a lion, it's the Tibetan Mastiff that springs to mind. The American Kennel Club recognizes 8 possible coat colorings – with red gold, or red gold sable being most lion-like. They can also be black if you're after Scar.
Just like the Tibetan Mastiff, Chow Chows really look like lions because of their bushy mane. They also have little, rounded ears which poke out from under all the hair and which definitely make them look even more lion-like. Cinnamon-colored Chow Chows could easily be mistaken for a large feline!
But it's not just their appearance. Many dog owners say they actually act like cats too! They're an ancient breed from China where they were favorites amongst emperors and nobility. This can give them a rather aloof and almost snobby aura (which some may say is cat-like). They're also big on cleanliness, are easy to house train, and often groom themselves.
When trained and socialized well, these dogs are very loyal family pets. They can be a bit protective around strangers and are always dignified. Although you may not think it looking at them, Chows don't actually need to be on the plains of Africa and can happily live in cities thanks to their fairly low exercise needs.
Despite their appearance, these powerful, hairy dogs are named after the German city in which they were first bred. Not because of their bushy manes.
These are big dogs – they can grow to be up to 170 pounds! That's more than some fully-grown adult humans! Leonbergers are known for being excellent working dogs and will respond well to training. They have a loud, deep bark which (with a bit of imagination) could definitely sound like a lion roaring.
Although pretty intimidating, Leonbergers actually make wonderful family dogs. They're affectionate, intelligent, and very loyal to the ones they love. They like to play and, despite their size, are surprisingly gentle.
Males grow a very lion-like mane which, naturally, takes a lot of looking after. These dogs need regular grooming and brushing to maintain their long and fluffy coats.
Known as the little lion dog, these pups may be more the size of a cub but they're certainly as brave as a fully-grown lion. They're great companion dogs thanks to their positive, friendly, and endearing personalities and their low-shedding coats.
Out of all the dog breeds on the list, the Löwchen particularly resembles the king of the jungle because of its traditional ‘lion clip'. Its back legs are closely clipped, whilst its mane is left long. Löwchen come in 18 recognized colors and combinations – many of which make them look even more like a mini Simba.
These small dogs are great family pets. They're extremely affectionate and get on well with young children.
The Caucasian Shepherd is a fearless working dog. They were originally bred to protect livestock in the Kavkaz mountains in Eastern Europe. They have very thick fur, a broad muzzle, and endearing eyes which make them look like big cats!
Caucasian Shepherds are very confident dogs (probably because of their size) and they don't back away from threatening situations. Although bold and territorial around strangers, these dogs are extremely loyal and devoted to their families.
Male, long-haired Caucasian Shepherds look particularly lion-like, especially if they're fawn colored. They need an experienced owner as their size and independent nature can be hard for novices to handle. But with training and socialization, these dogs can be great family pets that love to work!
Bear Coat Shar-Pei
…Or the Lion Coat Shar-Pei as we prefer to call them. This sub-variety of the Shar-Pei has a long, fluffy coat that distinguishes it from other varieties. Shar-Pei originated in China over 2000 years ago! They were bred as herders, hunters, and guard dogs for both livestock and property.
They're extremely loyal dogs that are hesitant and quite reserved around new people. They're very strong and intelligent – which can make them a bit of a handful for inexperienced owners. They need a lot of firm training and socialization to prevent them from becoming dominant.
Whilst other Shar-Pei varieties may look more like hippopotamuses (thanks to their wide muzzle), the Bear Coat Shar-Pei has a very lion-like mane and a much longer, fluffier coat. They also have small, rounded ears which help add to the illusion!
Pomeranians are one of the most sought-after pets at the moment – and no wonder, just look how cute they are! These pups may be little, but they'd probably try to take on a lion if they actually ever met one!
Pomeranians are bold, fearless, and very loving. They're alert and intelligent and can easily be trained to be amazing guard dogs. They make great companions and are very loyal to their families. Unlike their bigger feline cousins in Africa, they don't need a lot of exercise. They're happy with a couple of short walks and lots of play.
Pomeranians can come in many different colors, but the most common ones are orange and red – which just so happen to be the ones that make them look like lions.
Newfoundlands are big dogs and pretty intimidating. They can weigh upwards of 150 pounds! But don't let their size fool you. These pups are incredibly caring, patient, and affectionate. Especially around children which is why they have the nickname ‘nanny dog'.
Newfoundlands love swimming and are incredibly good at it, so you'll be getting a lifeguard and a dog if you get one of these pups for your kids!
They're still very capable of deterring an intruder. These alert pups won't hesitate to protect their family. Although they don't have a particularly lion-colored coat (unless you're thinking about Scar), they do have a distinctly lion-like fluffy neck.
Also known as the Himalayan Sheepdog or Indian Panther Hound, Gaddi Kutta are often mistaken for Tibetan Mastiffs. They have a large, black mane and can be just as fierce as a big feline.
As well as being very good protectors, they also excel in herding and love to have a job to do. They're highly intelligent, can be aggressive, and are very physically strong – meaning they're not a good choice for novice owners. They're alert and are the ideal Himalayan guard dogs.
These Indian dogs are keen to please their owners but need plenty of training and socialization if they're to be part of the family. Just like their lion cousins, Gaddi Kutta love to have space to wander and explore.
Last on the list of dogs that look like lions is the Pekingese. These little lions were originally bred as companion dogs in ancient china. In fact, according to Chinese legend, these pups are lions that were shrunk down by the Buddha!
These feline dogs are very affectionate and loyal to their family. They love to spend time snoozing on your lap as well as playing in the yard. Although great family pets, these little lion dogs can be quite strong-willed (and, dare we say it, stubborn like a cat). Taking your pup to obedience class is a good idea if you don't want them to get too independent!
Despite their size, little Pekingese make great guard dogs. They're alert and can be quite vocal when intruders are approaching them. They're wonderful pets that can sway between being cute little kittens and bold lions.
And there they are! 10 canines that could easily be mistaken for kings of the jungle. Which breed do you think looks most like a lion?
I’m Charlotte, a content and copywriter from the North of England and currently living in Berlin. Animals have always been a huge part of my life, so writing about dogs is a total pleasure! I love all kinds of dogs and their cheeky personalities, but I’d have to say Weimaraners are my favourite!