Large Breed Dogs: Top Tips
Imposing, scary, and uncontrollable. These are some of the common myths that surround large breed dogs. While these claims are not true in most cases, some dogs do fit into the menacing mold that they are often portrayed to be. In many movies, you will see Mastiffs or Rottweilers play the part of foaming-mouthed killers. The average moviegoer is meant to think “Wow, that breed is scary, I should stay away.”. The reality, however, is that some of the biggest dog breeds are the smartest, most gentle dogs on the planet. Saint Bernards, for instance, are on the whole great with kids and are even known to take in orphaned kittens as their own.
Being a large dog doesn’t automatically mean they are more or less dangerous than any other breed, the difference is in destructive power. Many small breed dogs have very violent tendencies, but nobody cares to ban them because they are unable to do much damage to a human. Large breeds, on the other hand, are usually calmer but are demonized because bad owners do not take the time to train them properly. This results in a larger number of deaths associated with large breeds.
I own small, medium and large breed dogs, and let me tell you once you go big you never go back. My Rottweiler (One of my favorite breeds of dogs.) is a great, energetic family dog who loves to be wherever I am. Even though he takes up most of my bed, I love cuddling with him at night. If you are looking to get a large breed check out my article 11 Best Family Dogs: Top Breeds for Parents With Kids. I included some large breed dogs that make great pets for any owner.
If you already have a big dog and you want some tips then look no further. Here are my four biggest tips for owning a large breed dog:
The main reason big dog breeds are stigmatized is due to irresponsible owners who fail to teach their dogs acceptable behavior early in the dog’s life. Owning one of these giants is a huge (get it?) responsibility which is not for the faint of heart. It is imperative to train these dogs early and correctly to avoid problems later in life.
Establish yourself as the alpha. Many large breed dogs will try to assume alpha status soon after you get them. This is unacceptable, as it encourages your dog to take the dominant role, which will make him more likely to disobey or even ignore simple commands. A dog who sees itself as alpha will usually pull on the leash when walking, rummage through the trash, or act aggressively toward its own family.
To discourage this sort of behavior, set boundaries early on in the relationship. Simple things such as making your dog sit before you feed him or crate training will help your dog understand who is in charge.
Training your dog to walk as a puppy is a small investment now, to prevent a huge headache in the future. If you properly train your pup to calmly walk beside you neither his size nor yours will matter. Seriously, with proper training, anyone can walk a large breed dog!
A dog who doesn’t spend time with other dogs or strangers is a potential danger to itself or others. Dogs learn social cues through trial and error. Puppies usually learn their behavior by interacting with other members of their litter. When they bite too hard the other puppy yelps, conveying that biting is a no-no. It is important to spend time introducing your dog to new people and pups early so that when they get bigger they are more likely to stay calm, and not get aggressive when they misread playful fighting as an actual attack. Dogs that are not used to meeting strangers tend to get defensive and protective of their owners. A protective dog is not a bad thing, but a dog that is unable to recognize a person giving you friendly handshake from an actual threat can prove dangerous.
Large breed dogs are some of the best, cuddliest dogs out there! However, their large size can prevent some problems in the health department. Big dog breeds grow from playful puppy to bumbling behemoth very quickly. The downside to this is a common trait among some of the largest dog breeds: Joint problems. Joint problems are prevalent in large dogs due to quick growth cycles leading to bone malformations. Elbow dysplasia, Hip dysplasia, and Degenerative joint disease are some of the most common joint problems in big dogs. This is often a genetic condition but there are nutritional elements that can cause a puppy to develop these sorts of problems.
Proper nutrition can help prevent, and in some cases, reverse some of the symptoms of dysplasia in dogs. Make sure you talk to your vet about what diet your dog should be on to make sure he stays healthy and joint problem-free.
Giving your dog a bath sounds simple enough, but when you use an entire shampoo bottle just to get him clean you will realize you got more than you bargained for with a large breed dog. Grooming is important for any dog, especially when they are a long-haired breed. Add on top of that more body mass and you are dealing with a lot of excess fur when brushing. It is important to get your dog used to regular grooming early on. A dog that doesn’t like baths and won’t sit still for brushing can make grooming feel like a strenuous chore. However, if you teach your dog that grooming is a good thing and that his patience will be rewarded, he will be happy to comply for as long as you need.
Don’t let any of the negatives I mentioned make you turn away from owning a large breed dog. These are loving creatures who just want a good home and a good family. That being said, if you are not able or willing to put the time in to train these dogs, perhaps this isn’t the size for you. All dogs are only as disciplined as their owners. That applies from the smallest to the biggest dogs. There is no excuse for irresponsible owners who make the rest of us look bad.
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