Giant dog breeds have a huge amount of appeal for many dog lovers, and even if you know a few huge dogs quite well, it can still sometimes come as a surprise each time you see them just how huge they really are in the flesh.
There aren’t a huge number of giant dog breeds around in total compared to their smaller cousins – 17 different giant breeds and types widely recognised in the UK, like the Great Dane and Saint Bernard – and also, the number of individual dogs of each giant breed tends to be much lower than that for most other breeds too.
This is because there are a huge number of potential limitations to owning a giant dog breed, which means that even many people who are hugely keen to own such a dog would simply be unable to do so. Their sheer size alone is of course one of the main limitations, and unless your house is itself large and spacious, and your garden large and well fenced too, giant breed ownership will be very much off the menu.
Additionally, giant dog breeds tend to be hugely expensive to keep, because everything they need costs more too, from the amount of food they eat to the accessories they require, to veterinary treatments ranging from flea and worming doses right through to surgical procedures.
All of this means that many prospective giant dog breed owners soon discount giant breeds as a viable choice very early on in their research – but if you’ve got this far and still think that giant dog ownership might be viable for you, there are still a few things you need to think about before making a purchase.
In this article we will share five often overlooked things that prospective giant dog breed owners need to know before making a purchase, to ensure that you make an informed decision. Read on to learn more.
Stopping a small or medium sized dog from scavenging food is usually as simple as keeping food on a counter out of reach – but if your dog stands as tall as you or even taller when on their hind legs, they’ll make short work of that discarded meal left on the worktop!
The same is true for containing your dog in general – garden fences will need to be very high to contain your dog, even to the point that this might cause issues with the neighbours if your fence occludes the light to their garden or blocks their view.
Owning even a small dog that pulls on the lead can make walks fraught, stressful, and uncomfortable, but a giant breed that behaves in the same way won’t just annoy you and build up your arm muscles, but they will very likely be able to pull you clean off your feet if they lunge away.
Whatever potential behaviour issue you could imagine a dog of any type developing is going to be more of a problem in a giant breed than a smaller one – such as pulling on the lead, being pushy or dominant, or scavenging for food.
You won’t win a physical battle for strength with a giant dog, and this means that their training and management needs to be handled with great care from the get-go.
If you are not already an experienced dog owner and familiar with the breed you are considering getting, it might be wise to hire a professional dog trainer who can help you to ensure you start off on the right foot, and don’t end up with problems further down the line.
All dogs can potentially be quite clumsy, but when it comes to giant dogs, this often seems to be worse – although this may well be simply because their sheer size ensures that they can achieve the maximum mayhem with a minimum of effort!
If you call your dog back to you in the dog park and they’re barrelling towards you on a downhill slope picking up speed behind potentially 100kg plus of bulk, you’re going to need to be able to sidestep them swiftly or risk the need for an emergency visit to A&E – and this is only the beginning.
A giant dog’s height is often perfect to enable them to sweep a whole serving of crockery off a table with one swipe of their tail, and even if your home is large and spacious, a giant dog attempting to execute a turn or backpaddle can soon become quite destructive without meaning to be.
Giant dog breeds grow and develop more slowly than smaller dogs, and take longer to reach full maturity. This means that things like their spay and neuter operations usually need to be left until they’re a little older than the norm to carry out, and this in turn has implications for the dog’s management in the meantime when they start feeling the urge to procreate!
They also need the right balance of size and age-appropriate nutrition in order to enable healthy growth, so you should talk to your vet about this to ensure that you feed the most appropriate diet to meet your dog’s needs.
Finally, giant dogs weigh a huge amount, and this places more pressure on their bones and joints, which as mentioned, tend to be slow to develop and fully mature.
This means that giant breeds are often more prone to damage to their bones and joints and also, more prone to developing health issues like hip dysplasia.
The exercise provided for giant breeds needs to take all of this into account, providing them with ample opportunities to exercise appropriately but in such a way as to protect their developing joints and bones, and to protect them in older dogs as they become more fragile over time too.
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