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Five care and management considerations specific to giant dog breeds

Five care and management considerations specific to giant dog breeds


Many dog owners have a soft spot for very large and giant dog breeds, and bigger breeds tend to be quite easy-going, loving and great to have around. However, while many dog owners dream of owning a giant breed like a Great Dane or a Newfoundland dog, they are not suitable for everyone – such as people who live in small flats, or those who simply may not be able to afford the higher cost for pretty much everything that a large dog will need.

Even if you are absolutely sure that a giant breed is right for you and are confident that you have thought of everything and know just what the dog will need and how to manage them, there are likely to be a few things that you haven’t even thought about!

If you are considering buying or adopting a giant dog breed, this article will help to support your wider research by explaining five of the care and management considerations to bear in mind when you own a giant dog breed, and what they mean for you as the owner. Read on to learn more.

Giant breeds are very strong and can stand up very tall

It might seem obvious that a giant breed standing on their hind legs will be very tall, but you may not have fully thought through what this means in practice if you are used to smaller dogs. If you have got used to putting things down on the kitchen counter to keep them out of a dog’s reach, you might find that your giant dog can easily reach it – even if you put it right at the back.

Also, a giant dog that jumps up can do a lot of damage, even if they are just playing – and so teaching them the rules and not to jump up at people or counters is something you must begin early on.

Giant dogs are also by design much stronger than smaller dogs, and even a strong person is unlikely to be able to physically outmanoeuvre a boisterous or pulling giant breed. However, if you are frail or suffer from problems such as arthritis in your hands, you might find walking the dog on the lead to be impossible if they pull or lunge about – so think about this before you buy.

Big dogs have different nutritional requirements

Giant breeds don’t just need more food, but they also have specific nutritional requirements that tend to be rather different than that of smaller dogs. Feeding a diet that is designed not only for the dog’s life stage but also their size is vital – kibble chunks themselves need to be bigger to promote chewing and avoid inhaling the food, and the ingredients and nutritional make-up of a food for giant breeds is likely to be rather different too.

Giant breeds grow and mature slowly

Giant breeds don’t grow and mature as fast as smaller dogs, and many giant breeds don’t stop growing physically until they are around two, or even older in some cases. This means that spaying and neutering may come later than normal, and also, that you will have to account for the fact that the dog’s bones and joints are still young and not fully formed, and take care over their exercise and how much they exert themselves.

Certain health problems are much more common in giant breeds

Giant dog breeds are more likely to suffer from bone and joint problems such as hip dysplasia or arthritis in later life, which requires careful management and vigilance to identify and correct potential problems, or support your dog and keep them comfortable.

Gastric dilation or bloat is also more common in large breeds with a deep chest, and this may mean that the way you feed your dog should be designed to minimise the risks. Vigilance is important, because bloat is a very serious and acute condition that can be fatal, so if you think something is up with your dog, contact your vet ASAP.

Everything you need for a giant dog costs more money!

Literally everything you will ever need to buy or provide for your giant dog will cost more than it will for smaller dogs. You might think that you are prepared for this, but unless you have owned a giant breed before, you might not realise the sheer range of things that are more expensive, nor how much more they are likely to be.

Your giant dog will need more food of course, but their beds will need to be supersized too, which costs more, and may even mean a higher shipping cost if you buy online.

Flea and worming treatments for larger dogs cost more, as do veterinary procedures such as spay and neuter surgeries, and the amount of medications they may need to care for their health as well.

Even dog toys for larger dogs cost more – as do things like coats, collars and everything else, not to mention pet insurance and other larger purchases, so make sure that you budget properly before you go ahead.