I’m totally and unequivocally a dog person. Narrowing it down further: I’m a big dog person. To the point where I refer to our 35 and 75 pound pups as “the little dogs.” Maybe that’s because my other baby is a 170 pound Great Dane named Nee — as in the knights who say. He’s my little snuff muffin and I love him to bits.
Giant Breed dogs (dogs whose breed standard is 100 pounds or more) are awesome, and they make great pets as long as you’re prepared ahead of time.
You might be thinking “Duh,” but seeing a people-sized dog in a park is a TOTALLY different thing than having one in your living room.
- You have to keep your dog in mind when you’re decorating; breakables have to be at the very least above tail height. Their tails are like clubs of death — Nee dented the fridge a few years ago.
- When you cook, you can’t leave food out because their chins are counter/stove/table height.
- The big jowly dogs drool. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are essential for getting “slingers” off of walls.
They get big QUICK
Big dogs grow exponentially, but they’re so big it takes a bit for them to get there. Most dogs keep growing until three years old. Keep in mind that adorably awkward little puppy is going to have a HELL of a terrible twos, during which they’ll weigh 80-100 pounds. Most giant breeds end up in rescue between 12-18 months for this very reason. That’s why training them while they’re cute and innocent is so important.
They’re show stoppers
If you’re shy, you’re going to have to get over it, because when you take out a giant breed dog, EVERYONE stops and asks about them. Seriously, add at least 30 minutes to your travel time. You should also grow a thick skin because people can be assholes (they think Big Dog = Bad Ass) but in reality most of them are very sensitive. Nee is terrified of Chihuahuas and Boston Terriers. Some people are scared of big dogs, and their freaked-out vibes can make a dog nervous, so it’s very important to socialize your pup as much as possible.
They belong INSIDE!
Unless your dog is a livestock guardian, or a Nordic breed (and you live in a cold climate), they cannot handle living outside. I believe that all dogs belong inside, but Giant Breeds especially are too large to regulate their body temperature efficiently. Think of them as a big cavernous house: it takes forever to heat up or cool down, and it takes a lot of energy to change the temperature. Your dog can go into shock while waiting for his body to stabilize, so it’s much better to keep them indoors.
Big dogs have a tendency to have big medical bills
The most prevalent problems with giant breed dogs are hip and elbow dysplasia and heart issues. If you decide to get a puppy from a breeder, make sure his parents had the appropriate health testing — you can learn about appropriate tests on breed club websites. When people breed for size and neglect health, you have dogs that are ticking time bombs with a plethora of medical issues.
“Ang, why are you pointing out all the bad stuff?”
I’m a firm believer in knowing what you’re getting into — and the GOOD parts are so easy to see. Big dogs have the most AMAZING personalities. They adore their families, they make you feel safe, they make you laugh, and they bring so so much joy. Spend ten minutes with one and you’ll know all the good stuff.
If Giant Breeds are raised with smaller animals, they are incredibly gentle. They’re excellent service dogs for people with stability issues, and can help prevent injury during a seizure. There’s the general protection factor of course. Because of their huge energy gobbling bodies, most of them are couch potatoes and adjust well to apartment living. Giant Breeds can do all the typical dog sports like agility, fly ball, dock diving, and obedience — plus they pull carts, and can carry quite a bit of hiking gear. I’m guilty of throwing the pack on him when I just don’t want to lug my purse around.
Of course I bring him everywhere with me; how could you leave this face at home?