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What Your Giant Dog Says About You

If you have a giant-breed dog, you're used to getting stares on the street. Here's what those people are thinking.

Theresa Cramer  |  Feb 26th 2016


Like any responsible dog parent, you probably spent a lot of time picking out the right dog for you. Whether you want a running buddy or a couch potato, your dog’s breed gives strangers a small insight into who you are. And if that dog happens to weigh more than you do, don’t be surprised if heads turn every time you walk your pooch down the street. To some, the giant breeds may all seem like big, slobbery, indistinguishable beasts — but the breed enthusiasts know better.

Get ready for a laugh, because here is what your giant dog’s breed says about you!

Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard by Shutterstock.

Brandy, anyone? (Saint Bernard by Shutterstock)

The mere size of the Saint Bernard means you won’t find one on every street, but few people can resist squishing those faces! Joan Zielinski, president of the Saint Bernard Club of America, says, “I would sum up the typical Saint Bernard as noble, trustworthy, kind, especially with children and small animals, intelligent, and very willing to please.” But for most people, the mere sight of a Saint Bernard conjures images of alpine adventure and rescue.

Originally bred by monks for mountain rescue, many people picture them with barrels of brandy around their necks, searching for avalanche survivors. Of course, in the modern world, most people suspect that Saint Bernard owners are as patient as those monks, spending the vast majority of their time cleaning up drool and vacuuming the steady stream of fur. Zielinski says, “They sometimes drool if it’s hot, but normally don’t.” The fur, though, is a given.

Ultimately, though, you can’t walk a Saint Bernard down the street without getting stopped every few steps by curious pedestrians, so don’t be surprised if your neighbors think you’re a bit of an attention seeker.

English Mastiff

This breed is bigger than a horse! Not really, as that's a miniature horse, but they're still big dogs. (English Mastiff by Shutterstock)

This breed is bigger than a horse! Not really, as that’s a miniature horse, but they’re still big dogs. (English Mastiff by Shutterstock)

The English Mastiff has a long and storied history. Some speculate that the breed’s ancestors can be seen in art from as far back as the sixth century. In modern times, though, this dog is the quintessential gentle giant. A powerful breed with a soft heart — especially for kids — Mastiffs are great for scaring away people who don’t know any better.

When most people see someone walking an English Mastiff down the street, they wonder how you managed to get the massive beast (the biggest one ever recorded tipped the scales at 343 pounds) off the couch long enough to go for a walk. They also assume that, while you love dogs enough to devote a significant portion of your income to feeding a huge one — and a significant portion of your time to cleaning up drool — you do not, under any circumstances, want to have to walk briskly!

Don’t be surprised if your neighbors imagine your house is filled with antiques that have as much history as your dog’s breed, and that you sit around reading Chaucer to your pooch.

Newfoundland

Newfies love the water. (Newfoundland dog by Shutterstock)

Newfies make excellent lifeguards. (Newfoundland dog by Shutterstock)

Ah, the Newfie! Despite looking like a giant teddy bear, the Newfoundland is best known for his lifesaving capabilities — especially in the water. Sue Marino, president of the Newfoundland Club of New England, says, “I would sum up the typical Newfie personality as gentle, sweet, loving, wanting to be around people, wanting to please, and loving attention.” I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to notice a pattern with these big dogs. The more they weigh, the sweeter they are.

Newfoundland enthusiasts, I assume, all have private grooming facilities in their homes. You know, one of those rooms you only see on Pinterest. I’m not that far off. Marino says, “Some think they are ‘dirty’ dogs because they may have met some that weren’t kept up well. They require a lot of grooming to keep neat and clean.”

I also assume Newfie owners live the marine lifestyle, whether it be around a lake or the ocean. I figure these people chose their breeds so they have a vigilant lifeguard on hand at all times. Think I’m right about that one?

Great Dane

(Woman with Great Dane by Shutterstock)

What a goofy Great Dane. (Woman with Great Dane by Shutterstock)

Despite what his name suggests, the Great Dane is not Danish. The dog originated in Germany and has been around for about 400 years (at least officially). According to the AKC breed standard, “The Great Dane must be spirited, courageous, always friendly and dependable, and never timid or aggressive.” Despite their regal good looks, the Great Danes have a reputation for being, well, goofballs. Think Marmaduke and Scooby Doo.

Just the sight of a Great Dane makes me want to find a Chihuahua to put next to her, or dress her up in scarves and funny hats. I imagine this is what all Great Dane owners are doing all the time. I also assume that people who live with Great Danes have separate couches for their dogs, because every time I see a Dane on TV, he’s taking over the entire sofa.

Irish Wolfhound

This Irish Wolfhound looks right at home in front of a castle in Ireland. (Irish Wolfhound by Shutterstock)

This Irish Wolfhound looks right at home in front of a castle in Ireland. (Irish Wolfhound by Shutterstock)

The Irish Wolfhound is a mystery wrapped in an enigma — at least that’s what they look like. They are the Gandalfs of the dog world. More formally, the breed is described by the AKC as calm, courageous, and dignified. I’m sure they are, but I can’t get past the fact that Wolfhounds look like they were originally bred in Middle Earth.

OK, so they didn’t exactly storm the gates of Mordor, but the Irish Wolfhound does have a long history, which may go back as far as 7000 BC. Originally bred for hunting wolves, Wolfies, as they are affectionately known, are the perfect dog for people who have chosen to retreat to the woods and live off the land, hunting big game.

Assuming you don’t actually hunt wolves, your neighbors probably suspect you of either participating in medieval cosplay or pagan rituals. At the very least, you probably read a lot of Regency romances by the fireplace.

Read more by Theresa Cramer

About the author: Theresa Cramer is a journalist and editor by trade, an NPR addict, and an avid gardener. She blogs at Writer on the Prowl, where you will find pictures of her garden, her pets, and musings about whatever is on her mind. She is working on a book about content marketing and how to make the transition from journalist to brand journalist.