Caring for Giant Dog Breeds

The Pros and Cons of Giant Dogs

giant dog standing on grass
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Giant dog breeds are basically larger-than-average canines. Mastiffs and Great Danes are common examples of this dog group. In general, dog breeds that have healthy weights of over 100 pounds fall into the giant dog breed category. And despite their size, most of these extra large dogs are truly gentle giants.

The Pros and Cons of Giant Dog Breeds

Like any type of dog, giant dog breeds have their pros and cons. On the positive side, giant dogs are typically gentle, affectionate, and loyal. Also, many don't have extremely high energy levels and thus won't need tons of exercise. In addition, many giant dog breeds are fairly easy to train.

Potential negatives include an increased cost of food, supplies, and veterinary care. Some giant dogs also have large jowls, making them drool quite a lot. (Their owners usually carry a rag around to clean up all the drool.) In addition, many large dogs are more prone to orthopedic problems and such health issues as bloat.

Perhaps the most unfortunate thing is extra large dog breeds tend to have a shorter life span compared to the average canine—about six to 10 years compared to the 12 to 15 years most dogs enjoy.

child and large dog
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Caring for Your Giant Dog

Typically weighing anywhere from 100 to 200 pounds, giant dogs need ample space in their homes. You'll need room for them to move and play without bumping into things. And you'll have to be able to fit extra large dog beds (or have furniture that can accommodate them).

When these big dogs are young and not fully trained, they might not know their size and strength. Likewise, they might be clumsy and awkward, unintentionally knocking over furniture, decor, and even people. However, with age and proper training, they usually become gentle giants. Just be aware that many giant dogs won't reach full size until they are about 2 to 4 years old.

Proper training and socialization are absolutely crucial for large dogs. If you are unable to control your giant dog, it can inadvertently hurt you or other people. Giant dogs should learn how to walk on a loose leash, basic obedience commands, and how to act calm around people and other dogs. If not, you'll have a difficult time taking your dog places.

Furthermore, you might need a special food that's formulated for large breeds to support your dog's growth. Always discuss the proper diet with your vet. And be sure not to overfeed your giant dog. Obesity causes health problems in dogs of all sizes. Even a little extra weight in a giant dog breed can lead to orthopedic problems, such as arthritis.

Finally, make sure your dog visits the vet for routine wellness examinations. Due to giant breeds' shorter-than-average life span, your dog will reach its senior years relatively quickly. Be sure to discuss with your vet the different ways to support your dog as it passes through its life stages.