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Ultimate Guide to Large Dogs: Training, Care, Chart & More | Pupford

January 31st, 2024

Filed under Pet Parenting

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Maybe lap dogs aren’t your thing (but who are we kidding? Large dogs who think they’re lap dogs are incredible. Maybe you adopted a dog that was estimated to grow a little more… and they grew a lot. Or maybe it’s been your dream all along for your largest family member to have four paws.

No matter how your large dog comes into your life, you should know things about having one that will help you keep them happy and healthy throughout their lives.

This ultimate guide will cover everything you need to know about large dogs, including:

  • Large dogs: the basics
  • Training large dogs
  • Large dog lifestyle and needs
  • Additional tips and tricks for large dogs along the way!

In other words, it’s everything you need to know to acclimate yourself to life with a big dog. So, let’s get right into it.


large dogs needs

To start, let’s lay the foundation of what “large dog” really means – and what to know when adding one to your family.


Depending on dog experience and preference, people may have differing opinions on what constitutes a “large dog breed”. But for this purpose, we’re talking about breed classifications. There are two main categories of bigger dogs: large breeds and giant breeds.

Large breeds are dogs weighing 55-85 pounds with an average height of 24 inches.

Giant breeds are typically between 75-125+ pounds and stand taller than 24 inches.

These dogs are solid and strong, making them excellent working and sporting dogs.

Related Reading: How Big Will My Puppy Get?


There are a total of 72 breeds that are considered large dogs. This doesn’t consider mixed breed dogs, which sends the total number skyrocketing.

While we’re not going to touch on all 70+ breeds, here are some of the most popular large dog breeds and a little bit about them in a handy chart. 👇

Common large dog breeds chart

Are there any other breeds you’d like more information on? Let us know in the comments!


Some wonderful benefits come with having a large breed dog, but there are also some things to consider carefully. Knowing the pros and cons of large dogs can help you make the best choices for your dog!

Pros of large dogs:

  • Most large breeds are highly intelligent and easily trainable.
  • Many large breeds make wonderful family members because they are loyal and attached to their families.
  • People interested in activities like running, hiking, swimming, etc. can include their high-energy large dog.
  • Since large dogs can make excellent guard dogs (emphasis on “can”), they often provide a feeling of security.
  • Overall, large dogs are more mild-mannered and emotionally stable.

Cons of large dogs:

  • Larger dogs take a longer time to mature mentally and physically. The slow physical development puts their joints at risk of injury.
  • Bigger dogs need bigger… well, everything. You’ll want to ensure you have enough room indoors and outdoors and big enough beds, toys, bowls, etc.
  • Large dogs can be expensive to care for since they require more food and sometimes require specially-trained personnel for grooming, walking, and veterinary care.
  • Large and giant breeds are prone to health issues like hip dysplasia or arthritis and have a shorter life expectancy than smaller breeds.
  • Sometimes big dogs don’t know how big they are. They may accidentally play too rough with adults and children, even if they have no intention of hurting anyone. For this reason, you may have to be cautious around children.

While these aren’t all the pros and cons of having a large dog breed, it’s enough to consider when deciding if a large dog is right for you.

🐶 Spoil your pup with our full line of treats, chews, and toys. Shop our Large Dog Gift Guide here!


training a large dog

As is the case with all dogs, training large dogs is extremely important. Bigger, stronger dogs can’t “get away” with certain problem behaviors like jumping and chasing like smaller dogs can sometimes.

But the good news is that most large breeds are extremely intelligent and highly trainable, especially if you start working with them during puppyhood. We have some tips to help you succeed in training your large dog.


Good training starts with having the right tools. Here’s what you’ll need for training a large dog breed:

  • A properly sized harness designed for large dogs
  • An appropriately sized crate
  • Short and long leads
  • A clicker
  • High-value training treats
  • Expert-led resources like videos and checklists that give step-by-step instructions for training certain behaviors. You can find these in the Pupford Academy.

Psst – you can get many of your training tools in one place. Check out one of our favorite training tool bundles here.


While a well-rounded dog is best, there are some areas to focus on when training your dog. Of course, we want to master the basics like:

But some specific behaviors are even more helpful for large breeds:

Given the size and strength of large breed dogs, emphasizing these behaviors will keep you, your dog, and other people/animals around you safe.


best treats for large dogs

High-value treats are one of the most valuable tools for training. Plus, who doesn’t love a good treat?

But all treats are not created equally, especially for large dogs. It’s important to choose treats made of natural ingredients, are minimally processed, and are high in protein. That way, your dog is not getting too many calories from treats and rather is getting a nutritional boost with each treat.

We have a variety of training treats available that are healthy and delicious, making them the perfect high-value reward for your training sessions.

🐶 Spoil your pup with our full line of treats, chews, and toys. Shop our Large Dog Gift Guide here!


large dog lifestyle needs

Large breed dogs have specific lifestyle needs that will keep them happy and healthy. Read on for some additional things to consider.


While all dogs need adequate exercise for their physical and mental health, large and giant breed dogs typically need even more activity. For active breeds like German Shepherds, Weimaraners, and Bernese Mountain Dogs (among others), a simple walk around the block will not cut it.

There are exceptions to this; for example, Labrador Retrievers typically don’t require as much exercise as other large breeds, so it’s important to research your specific dog's needs.

Many large dogs need multiple moderate to intense daily exercise sessions to maintain an ideal weight and overall health. And since they have a high level of intelligence, they’ll need a lot of mental stimulation too – so you’ll need to vary the types of activities you do with your dog.


basics of large dogs

While different breeds (and individual dogs) have different preferences, there are a handful of activities your dog can do to provide the physical and mental outlet they need.

Many large dogs enjoy:

  • Hiking
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Agility
  • Camping
  • Nose work
  • Herding
  • Fetching/retrieving

Mix things up and give your dog various experiences to add mental stimulation alongside their exercise routine.


It’s always best to consult your veterinarian for specific diet, supplement, and medication recommendations.

But a good rule of thumb is to make sure anything your dog consumes is specifically meant for large dogs. These breeds have higher caloric needs and require different nutrient focus (ex: joint health), so giving them food meant for smaller breeds can cause malnourishment and nutritional deficiencies.

This is especially important during puppyhood, when large breeds double, triple, or even quadruple their birth weight over the first year. The rapid growth rate leaves them susceptible to nutrient imbalances that could lead to health issues.

The good news is that food and supplements designed for large breeds are readily available, so you should have no issue getting your dog the food they need.


grooming needs for small dog breeds

More dogs = more to groom. Many large breeds have thick coats that must be brushed, washed, and trimmed regularly to prevent matting. This may mean a significant time commitment or finding the right professional experienced with large dogs.

The same goes for other grooming needs like nail trimming and tooth brushing. Getting a large dog to be calm and behave during grooming can be a challenge. It’s helpful if you start getting them used to it as a puppy. It may also be helpful to trust a veterinarian or grooming professional who is experienced in grooming large dogs.


Sure, there are a few things to remember that are important for maintaining your dog’s health and happiness, but that’s true of any breed and size.

Having a big dog in your family means a loyal companion full of love – the bigger the dog, the bigger the heart!

What else do you want to know about the big dog life? Let us know in the comments!

🐶 Spoil your pup with our full line of treats, chews, and toys. Shop our Large Dog Gift Guide here!


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