Owning a giant breed dog: 10 things no one tells you
- by DR Roxanne Jones
They’ll tower over your toddler and take you up to your hip! Great danes, mastiffs, Newfoundlands and Rhodesian ridgebacks are just a few of the pooches considered giant breeds. Although there’s no official height or weight measurement to classify a dog ‘giant’, it’s generally accepted that any dog over around 50kg is a giant breed.
Is a giant breed right for you? Here are some things to consider before adding one of these large, lovable furballs to your life.
10 things to consider before getting a giant breed dog
- They take up a lot of room. This sounds obvious, but really think about it. Do you have a cat? A regular-sized dog? Think about how much space these (small) pets manage to take up on the bed or the couch - or even under your feet while you’re cooking. Do you have the space for a large breed - and are you ready to share it with such a large animal?
- They eat a lot. A giant breed dogs needs special attention to diet. They are puppies until they are 2 years and and must eat a giant breed puppy diet until they are 2 years old. This is very important as they grow very quickly and actually need to be on a specific diet that is not too high in energy with the right amount of proteins and calcium to ensure a steady growth. We actually want them to grow a little slower. This is much better for the development of their joints and bones. Another point that may seem obvious, but really think about this. Giant breeds can eat twice what a regular dog eats, so there’s a major cost implication here - especially if you’re feeding your furkids a vet-food diet (which you might want to as giant breeds have specific dietary needs ) a little tip - stay away from diets that are a one for all breed types as there is no way these diets will allow for proper safe growth of your giant fur friend.
- Vet costs. Some giant breeds are predisposed to certain health conditions, which could translate into substantial vet bills. It’s worth chatting to your pet insurance company to find out what will and what won’t be covered.
- Sedentary lifestyle. You may think that giant breeds need tons of exercise, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, some giants can even live quite happily in apartments because they aren’t very active. Keep this in mind if you’re hoping for a pooch you can take on adventures. A giant breed might not be able to keep up (but bear in mind that as puppies, they’re likely to be quite exuberant and require training and a fair amount of exercise).
- Shorter life span. Sadly, certain giant breeds may only live six or seven years, which is something you need to be okay with if you’re going to bring one into your life. Ten years is considered a long life for a giant breed.
- Goodbye, ornaments, hello accidents! A single sweep of a giant breed’s tail can send everything flying off your tables. And your lovingly prepared dinner? Since giant doggies are so large, they’re able to easily gobble food off the countertops. This means you’ll have to doggie-proof your home… and learn to keep it that way.
- Generally higher costs. Think about it: giant breeds need bigger beds, bigger collars and leashes, bigger food bowls, stronger toys - the list goes on. Apart from the higher cost of feeding, life in general costs a lot more for giant dogs than for small or regular sized ones.
- Strength. Are you able to handle the size and weight of a giant breed? These dogs are incredibly strong, so you need to be sure you’re physically able to handle having one in your life.
Plus, you’ll be in for quite a bit of heavy lifting for the first several months of his life: because giant breeds are susceptible to joint and bone problems, it’s important to ensure their joints grow properly. It’s ill-advised for them to jump into and out of cars until they’re 12 to 18 months old - which means you’ll be doing the heavy lifting. For the same reason, stairs are also a no-no for certain breeds, until they’ve properly developed. And just think about when they’re out for a walk and get excited… they could (and probably will!) pull you right off your feet. The bonus, though, is that you won’t need a gym membership!
- You may need a bigger car. Love your little two-seater? Crazy about your convertible? Well, you may need to trade it in for a larger model, because you’re going to need a safe and large enough solution for getting your pooch from place to place.
- Get the poop scoop ready. It’s simple maths: giant dogs = giant poops!
Giant breeds are beautiful, special creatures with tons of love to give. They’re often great for families and will fill your home with excitement - and chaos! So buckle up and let the fun begin.
Disclaimer: Always consult your vet for professional advice. The Zuki.co.za blog is provided as an educational tool and should not be used to diagnose illness or treat an animal.