Ultimate Guide to Large Dogs | Pupford
April 24th, 2023
Filed under Pet Parenting
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 a dream of yours all along for your largest family member to have four paws.
No matter how your large dog came into your life, there are things you should know 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: THE BASICS
To get started, let’s lay the foundation of what “large dog” really means – and what to know when adding one to your family.
WHAT DEFINES A LARGE DOG?
Depending on dog experience and preference, people may have differing opinions on what constitutes a “large dog.” 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 that weigh between 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.
WHAT BREEDS ARE CONSIDERED LARGE DOGS?
There are a total of 72 breeds that are considered large dogs. This doesn’t take into account 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 dogs and a little bit about them:
Are there any other breeds you’d like more information on? Let us know in the comments!
PROS AND CONS OF LIFE WITH A LARGE DOG
There are some wonderful benefits that come along with having a large breed dog, but there are also some things to carefully consider. Knowing the pros and cons of large dogs can help you make the best choices when it comes to 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, , etc. will be able to 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 make sure 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 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 associated with having a large dog breed, it’s enough to consider when deciding if a large dog is right for you.
TRAINING LARGE DOGS
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.
TRAINING TOOLS FOR LARGE DOGS
Good training starts with having the right tools. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A properly-sized harness designed for large dogs
- 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 .
Psst – you can get many of your training tools in one place. Check out one of our favorite training tool bundles .
WHAT BEHAVIORS TO TRAIN
While a well-rounded dog is best, there are definitely some areas to focus on when training your dog. Of course, we want to master the basics like:
But there are some specific behaviors that 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 when it comes to large dogs. It’s important to choose treats that are 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 available that are healthy and delicious, making them the perfect high-value reward for your training sessions.
LARGE DOG LIFESTYLE AND NEEDS
Large breed dogs have specific lifestyle needs that will keep them happy and healthy. Read on for some additional things to consider.
HOW MUCH PHYSICAL ACTIVITY DOES MY LARGE DOG NEED?
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 is not going to 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 the needs of your specific dog.
Many large dogs need multiple sessions of moderate to intense exercise per day 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.
WHAT ACTIVITIES DO LARGE DOGS ENJOY?
While different breeds (and individual dogs) have different preferences, there are a handful of activities that your dog can do to provide the physical and mental outlet they need.
Many large dogs enjoy:
Try to mix things up and give your dog a variety of experiences to add mental stimulation alongside their exercise routine.
FOOD AND MEDICATION FOR LARGE DOGS
It’s always best to consult your veterinarian for a 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 LARGE DOGS
More dogs = more to . Many large breeds have thick coats that have to be brushed, washed, and trimmed regularly to prevent matting. This may mean a significant time commitment or finding the right professional who is experienced with large dogs.
The same goes for other grooming needs like nail trimming and tooth brushing. It can be a challenge to get a large dog to be calm and behave during grooming. 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.
MORE TO LOVE
Sure, there are a few things to keep in mind 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!