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Are You Ready for a Really Big Dog?

Bigger Dogs Means More to Love

By Mary Kearl. February 05, 2014 | See Comments

A Saint Bernard

Large breeds dogs are America's absolute favorites! They have great personalities and seem to have a little extra love to go around. Big dogs however come with even bigger challenges. Here are some important things you should know before deciding on bringing home a large breed dog.

Does your heart melt at the thought of bringing a really big dog into your home? You’re not alone! Large dog breeds—Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers—have taken the top three spots in the ranking of most popular dog breeds in the US, according to the American Kennel Club. Large breed dogs earn and pack a lot of love, but some challenges, too.

Bigger Dogs, Shorter Lifespans

It’s time to get mentally prepared: Your bigger dog is not likely to live as long as a smaller dog. Studies indicate that smaller breeds of dogs are more likely to live longer lives than their bigger buddies—with weight, not height, being the risk factor. Larger purebred dogs can have more health problems and, as a result, even shorter lifespans than big mutts. One study in American Naturalist found that an increase in body weight of 4.4 pounds could shorten a lifespan by one month.

Bigger Dogs, More Health Problems

The same study found that bigger dogs tend to get cancer more than small breed dogs. Large dogs can be more likely to suffer from obesity and joint and ligament issues, such as hip dysplasia.

Don’t Let the Little Ones Get Bowled Over

Many large dog breeds—such as Bloodhounds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Collies—can be good for families with small children, but some may not do well with kids. Take care if you have young ones at home to find a breed that will be well suited to your family.

Bigger Dogs Need More Space

Can your home accommodate a lumbering four-legged being who may want to romp around in much bigger circles than a smaller-sized dog? Some large dogs can do okay in small homes or even apartments, but others will need outdoor running space, or they may resort to misbehavior.

Bigger Dogs, Bigger Travel Troubles

Traveling and moving with bigger dogs can be a problem, too. Many hotel and rental policies give preference to smaller-sized pets, which could lead to higher fees or just more difficulty finding a place that will accept all of your family. When flying, if your pet can’t fit under your seat, she or he will be treated as cargo and will have to fly with the baggage. The ASPCA does not recommend traveling with pets in this manner.

Bigger Dogs Need More Exercise?

That all depends! Small breed dogs can be just as high energy, if not more, than their larger-sized relatives. Basset Hounds and Bulldogs are some bigger dogs who typically need less playtime than the likes of big breeds such as Great Danes or German Shepherds.

Bigger Dogs, Bigger Problems

Dog poop, for one, is much bigger for bigger breed dogs. Other messes and accidents are likely to be bigger, too.

We can’t help who we fall in love with. If a big dog has stolen your heart, there’s a lot of dog to love and a lot of reasons to love big dogs — as long as you’re mentally prepared for all the things that make your big guy unique.

More on Large Dog Breeds

The Best Large Dog Supplies
Large Dogs That Don't Shed
What Are the Largest Dog Breeds?

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