Owning a large or giant breed dog is very different than owning a small dog, and owners usually choose such a dog because they have different expectations. You may be interested in a jogging or hunting buddy, or a dog who can protect your family from intruders.
However, owning a Mastiff or a Boxer comes with added responsibility because large dogs require space to move around, careful training, and time to exercise that not everyone can spare. They can be a beautiful addition to your home, or a bringer of chaos, if you aren't a careful pet parent. While some large breeds have the potential to be aggressive, most are gentle giants who need your help to learn the best way to behave in your home.
Large breed dogs include Dalmatians, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds, and giant breed dogs are easy to recognize, including Great Danes, Black Russian Terriers, and Newfoundlands. Such majestic dogs may seem exciting, but it's important to ensure you have the time to train and take care of them properly.
If you have a large dog, or are thinking of bringing one home, here are some tips to help you make the proper choices for your big dog.
Sometimes it's tough being big, and large breed dogs are susceptible to certain joint and health conditions due to their size. Hip dysplasia is one of the greatest concerns for large and giant breeds because of the stresses on their joints. It's important to know what problems your dog may have and to look out for warning signs.
Your big buddy will have very different nutritional needs from a miniature. Puppies risk growing too quickly if overfed, which can cause them joint trouble. Switch to an adult food early, and talk with your veterinarian about how much to feed your dog and what supplements might keep them healthy. Food specially designed for large breeds will often include fatty acids and other ingredients to promote joint health.
One of the best things you can do for your large dog is train early and clearly. Even though your dog will grow to compete with you in weight, you should make clear to your dog that you are the master. If your commands are taught early and delivered with a firm voice, your dog should follow them well. Make sure you take time to train your dog early on, and allow for enough exercise to avoid boredom-induced delinquency.
Washing a dog can be hard enough, but combine that with 120 pounds of love and a double-coat—and it may be more than you bargained for on a bath day. Training your dog to behave during grooming is an important first step, but having the right tools will make the process quicker and easier. If you keep your dog's fur and teeth brushed, ears clean, and nails trimmed, only an occasional bath will be needed to keep your large dog clean, healthy, and beautiful.
Tough dogs need tough toys! Your large dog is powerful enough to break some toys and leashes designed for smaller dogs. Look for products designed for larger dogs so that your dog bed is big enough, your bowls are strong enough, and your toys fit the playtime needs of your pet.
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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.