Hercules, World's Biggest Dog?

Was a Mastiff Named Hercules the World Record Holder?

World's Biggest Dog?
World's Biggest Dog?. Image source: unknown, circulating via email

Your friend just emailed you or posted a photo of a gigantic mastiff named Hercules. Is this a real photo and a real dog?

  • Description: Viral image / Hoax
  • Circulating since: April 2007
  • Status: Fake / False 

Text example:
Email contributed by Shelby B., April 10, 2007:

Hercules: The World's Biggest Dog Ever According to Guinness World Records

Hercules was recently awarded the honorable distinction of Worlds Biggest Dog by Guinness World Records. Hercules is an English Mastiff and has a 38 inch neck and weighs 282 pounds.

With "paws the size of softballs" (reports the Boston Herald), the three-year-old monster is far larger and heavier than his breed's standard 200lb. limit. Hercules owner Mr. Flynn says that Hercules weight is natural and not induced by a bizarre diet: "I fed him normal food and he just grew".... and grew. and grew.

Analysis of the World's Biggest Dog Photo Claim

Thanks to some clever Photoshop manipulation, the dog pictured above (which is actually a Neapolitan mastiff as near as I can tell, not an English mastiff as claimed) looks roughly twice its natural size. It's an obvious hoax. This can also be achieved by forced perspective, with the dog being much closer to the camera than the people and horse in the background. However, in this case, there are shadows that appear to be all in line, which would require photo manipulation if forced perspective was used.

It is true that back in 2001, Joe Flynn, owner of a 282-pound English mastiff named Hercules, was told by the Guinness World Records folks that his was the world's "heaviest" dog at the time. This is not that animal.

Can a Dog Be That Big?

Dog breeders say that Neapolitan mastiffs top out at around 29 inches tall at the shoulder and 165 pounds in weight.

Maybe the people and the horse in the photo are abnormally small. In any case, it interesting that neither the photographer nor the owner of the behemoth canine has surfaced to validate its authenticity.

Guinness World Record Holders for World's Tallest Dog

World's Largest (Tallest) Dog: As of April 2, 2008, a harlequin Great Dane named Gibson was the Guinness World Record holder.

He died of bone cancer on August 13, 2009.

Gibson was succeeded by another Great Dane, Titan. Then in 2010, Giant George, a blue Great Dane in Tucson, Arizona, was measured as being 0.375 inches taller than Titan. He was confirmed as the Tallest Living Dog and Tallest Dog Ever.

Zeus, a Great Dane in Kalamazoo, Michigan, earned the award for World's Tallest Dog Ever. He received this designation on October 4, 2011 and was measured at 44 inches tall (1.118 meters). He passed away in 2015.

The tallest living dog - male and tallest living dog - female records are to be found continuously updated on the Guinness World Records website. There is no largest (heaviest) living dog category at this time, perhaps due to concerns that pets would be encouraged to become unhealthily overweight.

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