Interested in adding a large breed dog to your household? A big, lovable giant can offer you a lot of plus-sized affection and fun. But, large breed dogs do require some special attention to ensure they grow up (and up) healthy and happy. Check out some of the pet care tips below to help guide you in raising tall and large breed dogs.
Don’t worry, you can take it all one giant paw step at a time.
What Is A Large Breed Dog?
Some of the most common large dog breeds are the Great Dane, mastiff, Bernese mountain dog, and the Newfoundland. Many of these large breed dogs can weigh between 100-170 pounds. Certain breeds, like mastiffs, can weigh well over 200 pounds.1
If you’ve ever walked through the park and wondered why that person was walking a small pony on a leash, you’ve probably seen one of these dog breeds before.
That’s a lot of dog for anyone. And, it’s a big living adjustment if you have children or have always owned small dogs.
The More You Know, The Easier It Will Be
It’s important to do your homework before adding a large dog to your household. Take the time to speak to other large dog owners and breeders to get a good sense of what it’s like to live with a big dog.
As long as you do the research and prepare appropriately, you can cut down on any unexpected hiccups.
Hopefully, the extra responsibility of owning these plus-sized pooches means that the reward will be all the sweeter.
How To Care For Your Large Breed Dog
Use these tips as a general guide for large and tall dogs. Once you have a specific breed in mind, talk to a vet or breeder to learn more about the unique requirements for that breed of dog. With the right information, raising a large dog will feel like a small-time operation.
Starting Things Off Right: The Importance Of Diet For Puppies
Diet is particularly important for large breed dogs when they are puppies. They have special growth considerations due to their size. It’s important to select a dog food that has the right vitamins and nutrients to support healthy growth.
Don’t feed your large breed puppies adult canine food. They need special formulas designed for healthy growth in large breeds. There are many options for your pup. Do the research to find what specific formula has the right amount of calories and essential vitamins for them.
Check with your vet for specifics, and ask them if they believe supplements are a good idea for your puppy in addition to a high-quality dog food.2
A Slim Dog Is A Healthy Dog
Just because your canine companion is plus-sized doesn’t mean that they need constant feeding. In fact, it’s important that large breed dogs don’t gain too much weight. Larger dogs need to gain weight gradually as they grow to promote the proper development of joints.3
Ask your vet how much dog food your pup should be getting and how often you should be feeding them. As you take your pup to regular vet visits, ask for them to be weighed. This will ensure they are maintaining a healthy body weight as they grow.
Training Your Large Breed Dog
Etiquette inside and outside can be particularly important for large breed dogs. As they grow into tiny titans, they won’t always be aware of their size. This means they’ll still jump on people, children, and other dogs as they get older and much bigger.
Start Training As Soon As Possible
You want to establish good behavior early on. Discourage rough house that could otherwise be interpreted as aggression later on in life. Even though they are naturally affectionate, teaching your dog to be gentle with children and other dogs right away will keep them from playing too rough as they grow big.
Teach them young. It’s much easier to keep a 20-pound dog from jumping on your legs than it is to stop a 150-pound dog from pouncing on your chest.
A Gentle Giant That Doesn’t Know His Own Strength
As mentioned, big dogs aren’t aware of the fact that they are big. If you allow them to run bananas as puppies, then they’ll assume that behavior is acceptable as they get older.
Set a good example early on. Use calm voices and movements when interacting with your big puppy. Be gentle and positive when dealing with your dog. This sort of behavior can influence your pooch in a way that keeps them well behaved in adult life.4
If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional dog trainer. You can also enroll your dog in a puppy training course. Check to see if they offer classes at your nearby pet shop or ask your vet for recommendations.
Exercise And Play For Big Dogs
Dogs need to play and exercise for their health and well-being. This is extra true for large breed dogs. As many are natural hunters and guard dogs, they are bred with large reserves of energy.
It’s important for them to find outlets for all that doggy stamina. You can throw them the ball or go for a run together. Any activity outside by your side will be a great way to help them burn off some of that ancestral steam.
Do additional research about your dog’s breed to find out what their original purpose was. Once you know that, you’ll have a better idea of what type of activity might suit them and how often they may need it.5
Be prepared to spend a suitable amount of time outside or at the park with your large dog breed to ensure they receive proper exercise. This is great for your dog’s health. The exercise will keep extra pounds off your pup, which you now know is extra important for large breed dogs.
Note: A large breed puppy is not the same as a fully-grown large breed dog. Their bones and joints are still developing, so running and exertive play may not be good for their development. Check with your vet to find the best exercise or activity for your young dog.6
Living At Home With A Large Or Tall Dog
If you live in a small apartment, then a large or tall dog may be like adding a new roommate to the house. Make an honest assessment of your living arrangement to ensure that you have the space to comfortably accommodate a dog the size of a tiny sofa.
Big Dogs In Tiny Spaces
The most well-behaved large breed dog will still be prone to accidents based purely on their size. It’s a matter of psychics. Large size equals bumping into everything imaginable. Make sure your living arrangement can be adjusted for a big ball of energy. This is especially important if you live in a small space or have fragile household objects.
Extra Reaching Power
You might need to reconsider leaving that Thanksgiving turkey cooling on the kitchen counter if you have a tall dog. A large breed dog can put their paws right up on the counter and take a nibble off of just about anything. Good training early on will prevent these bad habits. But, it’s still good to keep it in the back of your mind.
Big Dogs Can Equal Big Bills
You can’t expect a Pomeranian-sized lifestyle for your Newfoundland. Big dogs are inherently more demanding. They eat more. Their beds need to be bigger. And, your car needs to be big enough to accommodate them.
Plus, everything will cost more for a big dog, including a trip to the vet. Prepare yourself for that eventuality, and you’ll have no problems. The payoff can be well worth it.
Health Considerations For Large Breed Dogs
Two common health concerns for pups of the plus-size variety are hip dysplasia and arthritis. The symptoms for both tend to reveal themselves at an older age for dogs. They affect mobility and can cause discomfort in the bones and joints.7
Don’t let this discourage you from having a large breed dog, though. There are lots you can do to promote joint health in your big dog. Start early on by feeding your puppy the right diet This provides the correct nutrients and vitamins that their bones need to develop and grow.8
You may hear a lot of talk about giving your dog glucosamine for healthy joints. Research on this claim is ongoing, although many vets do recommend glucosamine for some of their patients. Ask your vet what they think is best for your pup’s situation.9
One way you may be able to help keep your dog’s joints healthy is by again, monitoring your dog’s weight. That extra weight equals an extra burden on their bones. Keep them slim, and you’ll do a lot to support your dog’s joint health.10
Large Breed Dogs: A Big Responsibility With An Even Bigger Reward
A large dog in your house doesn’t have to mean big problems follow. These playful goliaths are like any dog. They need a proper diet, training, and loving attention to grow up to be healthy, well-behaved members of your family.
All of those things are well within your power. It only requires a little planning and some realistic analysis of your living situation.
Once you decide to add a large dog to your house, you may find the extra attention and planning a highly rewarding experience. Plus, you can expect to get some giant licks of appreciation from your new giant, best friend.