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5 Things You Need to Consider Before Getting a Giant-Breed Dog

Is your life a good fit for a giant-breed dog? I just got a Newfie and can help you figure that out.

Sassafras Lowrey  |  Apr 17th 2017


Are you thinking about going big? Really really big? Giant dogs are amazing, but regardless of which of the breeds you decide is the right fit, they do come with some unique challenges. After years of dreaming and planning, I’ve added a Newfoundland puppy named Sirius to my family. Before you bring one home, there are five big things to consider.

1. Cost

All dogs are expensive, but the bigger they are, the more expensive their stuff is. From collars and leashes to toys and food, be prepared for a budget to match their giant size. Feeding a premium food might seem more expensive when you look at the price tag, but with higher-quality food, you ultimately feed less and have a healthier dog. Some giant breeds are predisposed to different genetic health conditions, as well, so be prepared for the possibility of giant-sized vet bills.

Sirius is a big puppy. (Photo by Sassafras Lowrey)

Sirius is one big puppy. (Photo by Sassafras Lowrey)

2. Space

Many giant dogs aren’t super active, and some guides even include them as ideal for apartment life. While the dogs themselves might not need a lot of exercise, everything they do takes up space, as do all of their belongings.  My Newfie puppy’s crate is like a condominium for my Chihuahua, and her water bowl is like a swimming pool!

Also important to take into consideration is your living space and how compatible it will be to a giant dog. Do you own your home or are you renting? Renting with giant dogs can be really challenging because there so often are size or weight limits that they will always exceed.

No human treats for you, Sirius. (Photo by Sassafras Lowrey)

No human treats for you, Sirius. (Photo by Sassafras Lowrey)

3. Longevity

How do you handle grief? I’m pretty sure no one does well when they lose a dog, but with a giant breed, you don’t have as much time to prepare for that inevitability. Unfortunately, longevity just isn’t one of the things giant dogs are built for. Knowing they have a shorter lifespan is always on your mind. It’s sad, but it also inspires you to make each day fun and memorable because they just don’t have as many days as another breed of dog.

Sirius is growing up. (Photo by Sassafras Lowrey)

Sirius is growing up. (Photo by Sassafras Lowrey)

4. Attention

Do you being a wallflower?  If so, sharing your life with a giant dog might not be the right choice for you. When you are walking down the street with a pet the size of a small horse, or one that looks like a bear on the other end of your leash, you will not blend into the background. Just a simple errand to the pet supply shop will involve stopping to talk to everyone who wants to know what kind of dog you have, how much they weigh, how much they eat, etc. Because your giant dog is a people magnet, it’s important to do a lot socialization and manners training to be sure they are prepared to appropriately greet adoring fans.

Dog or bear? (Photo by Sassafras Lowrey)

Dog or bear? (Photo by Sassafras Lowrey)

5. Strength

How strong are you? How strong are you willing to become? Giant dogs are not only big, but they are incredibly strong. You have to be prepared for the physical demands of having one in your life. To ensure her joints grow properly, my puppy won’t be cleared for jumping in and out of a car until she’s between 12 and 18 months old, which means she has to be lifted — it’s better than the gym!

Giant dogs are strong willed, as well. Having one requires the mental strength to commit to training. Training is incredibly important for any dog, but especially with a dog who weighs as much as an adult human. It isn’t about barking orders, but about learning how to communicate to create a strong relationship and approach life as a team.

Do you have a giant-breed dog? Share your experiences and advice in the comments!