When you decide you want a huge dog, remember that it will need a large amount of space. If you do not have a big house and a spacious yard, you might have to reconsider. You don’t want to keep your new friend locked up in a pen all day long or limit him on the amount he can play inside or outside.
If you have small children, use some caution. Some large breeds tend to have what are called herding instincts. This means they may be aggressive toward other dogs and your kids’ playmates in an effort to protect your child, the one that they have grown up with. Additionally, you should not leave large dogs alone with children. They may knock the children down and hurt them by mistake. This is usually not intentional as large dog breeds are normally gentle, quiet animals with even-tempers.
Five Large Breeds to Consider
The Irish wolfhound is a gentle dog who is the tallest of the large breeds. This sweet dog weighs in at around 180 pounds. These dogs were originally bred to hunt wolves in Ireland because of their keen eyesight. Adult wolfhounds have a tendency to become lazy. They should be taken on daily walks for exercise. The puppies need a lot of room to run and play with the family so they can bond. They do not require a lot of grooming.
Height : The Irish wolfhound stands approximately 35 inches tall at the shoulders.
Another tall dog, the Great Dane weighs in at around 140 pounds. These easygoing dogs are easily housetrained. They require very little grooming. Because of their large size, they can innocently wreck the inside of a house as puppies just from playing so much. Great Danes love their families and need a lot of attention from them. Originally, these dogs were bred to hunt wild boar. Later they were bred for companionship.
Height : The average Great Dane stands about 32 inches tall at the shoulders.
No list would be complete without the inclusion of the Saint Bernard dog. The Saint Bernard dog may weigh close to 200 pounds. These gentle giants make good rescue dogs as well as family pets. The long hair breeds of Saint Bernards do require some grooming. Care should be taken when this dog is around babies and toddlers, as he will innocently knock them over while trying to play and love on them.
Height : The Saint Bernard dog stands at about 27.5 inches tall at the shoulders.
The Greater Swiss Mountain are big dogs that are bred to be companion dogs. They weigh in at approximately 135 pounds. They are gentle-tempered and great with children. These dogs are smart and can be trained to pull sleds and carts. These dogs have become increasingly popular in the United States.
Height : This breed of dog stands approximately 28.5 inches tall at the shoulders.
Newfoundland’s resemble a friendly bear. This dog loves its family, even to the point of allowing the children to tug on his ears and climb all over him. These big dogs are gentle and loving and make outstanding family pets. They have long hair that does require minimal grooming. Originally bred as working dogs, the Newfoundland was used to rescue drowning people and to pull carts.
Height : The Newfoundland can stand as high as 28-inches at the shoulders when full-grown.
Training the Large Dogs
With owning a large dog comes the responsibility of training it to make sure that it knows how to behave in a manner that will not accidentally hurt anyone. While they can seem intimidating to train, most breeds of large dogs are gentle, not aggressive. As with any dog, it is best to begin training it as a new puppy.
With a large dog, it is essential that you maintain eye contact and be firm. This is how you will earn the dogs’ respect. These dogs, like any dog, want affection and so you should use a system of rewards and punishments for good and bad behaviors. This does not mean you should hit the dog but instead you should use a strong voice and stern look to put him in his place.
Health Problems Common to the Large Breed Dog
- Hip Dysplasia, common in large breed dogs affects the hip joints. Not all large dogs will be affected by this disorder. Its primary cause is genetics. Some of the common symptoms to watch for include an abnormal gait, troubles getting up and down and a reluctance to exercise. In some cases, surgery may be required but most of the time anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed.
- Von Wilebrand’s Disease, a blood disorder affects the dog’s blood’s ability to clot. This can make it difficult to stop the bleeding if the dog is injured. While this disease can occur in any sized dog, it seems to be more common in the larger breeds.
- Bloating is a serious gastric disorder seen in large dogs. This disorder causes the abdomen of the dog to distend and will put the pet into a lot of pain. Symptoms experienced by the dog will include gums that are pale in color, excessive salivation and drooling and a swollen abdomen. Dogs that are fed once a day, who exercise immediately following their meal or who are fed bread are at higher risk of developing this disease.
- Many breeds of large dogs are affected by ear infections. If you are not sure if your dog is suffering with an ear infection, watch his behavior. If he is digging at his ears and scratching his head and you notice a discharge that has a foul odor, he may have an ear infection.
- Large breed dogs often suffer with eye problems, especially cataracts. These can be caused by diabetes, head trauma, poor diet or genetics. If you spot a bluish tint in your dog’s eyes, seek the advice of the veterinarian right away.
- Dogs can suffer with heart disease. This ailment is more commonly seen in large dogs than in other breeds. If suddenly your dog becomes unconscious or limp, it may be due to a sudden obstruction of blood flow to the brain. Fresh air may help the dog recover. Veterinary care should be sought right away because this can be a sign that the dog is not receiving adequate blood flow to the heart muscle.
It is easy to become distressed when you see your dog suffering with any illness. Being aware of what your dog might be prone to and looking for early warning signs can often work to offset serious complications and health problems later.