Are you considering adding a Giant Breed dog to your family? Here are some great tips to consider first! Dog breeds that have a healthy weight over 100 lbs fall into the "giant" breed category. Examples include the Newfoundland, Great Dane, Mastiff and Saint Bernard. Most of these dogs are loyal, affectionate and truly "gentle giants", but like any dog breed there are pros and cons to consider. Here are our top 5 tips to think about before introducing a giant breed to your family:
1) Finances: Giant dogs can generate equally proportionate bills! All pets have expenses, but due to their size, food alone is a major financial investment for giant breeds. This also means more costly pet supplies such as leashes, collars, toys, grooming materials and veterinary medications.
2) Environment: Giant breeds need a lot of space - for them and their stuff! Bigger beds, crates and toys will also take up more space. Many of these dogs, such as the Newfoundland, are double coated and shed A LOT. This means frequent (even daily) house cleaning and grooming may be needed. Finally, be prepared for drool; on your floors, walls and even the ceiling!
3) Training & Safety: Though giant breed dogs are often affectionate, they also often are not aware of their size and strength. It is very important to ensure they are well trained and you are able to control them to prevent accidents and injuries, as they can very easily pull you right off your feet. At the very least, these dogs should know how to walk on a leash, sit, lie down, stay and remain calm around other people and dogs. Even their tails are strong enough to cause damage and they may be clumsy and awkward, especially while growing. Keep in mind these dogs typically do not finish growing until they are about 2 years old. Despite their often docile temperament, they should not be left alone with small children.
4) Medical Concerns: Orthopedic conditions are common in these breeds; examples include hip or elbow dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament injuries and degenerative joint disease. They do not reach skeletal maturity until about 2 years of age, so an appropriate large breed puppy diet is important. Giant breeds are also prone to gastric dilation and volvulus ("bloat") and certain cancers such as osteosarcomas. A very important thing to consider ahead of time with these breeds is your ability to transport them in the event they are injured or sick and cannot walk or get into the vehicle by themselves.
5) Longevity: Perhaps the most disheartening thing about these breeds is that they tend to have a shorter lifespan. Despite major advancements in veterinary care, they still tend to live only 6-10 years on average. However most people who take the plunge to care for one of these breeds feel they are more than worth it!
As always, if you have additional questions about adding a giant dog breed to your family, schedule a consultation with one of our veterinarians who can provide further information and guidance.