5 Giant Dog Breeds That Worry This Vet

Popularity Problems

Cane Corso. This Italian mastiff breed may be rising in popularity because of his recent recognition by the AKC and his large, imposing appearance. He is a protective breed who requires an experienced owner, but too often inexperienced people acquire one of these powerful dogs and find that they are in over their head. Cane Corso rescue groups and shelters are inundated with dogs surrendered by people who can’t keep them. Until they are no longer struggling to place unwanted dogs, I’d like to see fewer of them.

Rottweiler. These handsome black-and-tan dogs are the 10th most popular breed registered by the AKC. While I love them dearly, I’m concerned about their high registration numbers given the many Rottweilers and Rottweiler mixes that are found in shelters and rescue groups. Based on a quick look at the Petfinder website, nearly 2,000 are currently available for adoption nationwide. Folks, that’s just too many. For the most part, these are sweet and stable dogs, but negative media attention can make it difficult to find homes for them. I’d like to see fewer Rotties and more permanent homes for them.

What To Do

Many dog owners have had great experiences with one or more of these breeds, and lots of these dogs live healthy, happy lives. And many breeders of these dogs support research to reduce their breed’s health problems, while others work tirelessly to help take and place dogs who need homes.

You can do your part to help, too. Before you commit to a dog — particularly one with potential health issues — I would encourage you to educate yourself. Learn as much as possible about a breed before purchasing one to make sure it’s the right fit for your family. Make sure the breeder you buy from has proof of testing for heritable diseases and is willing to discuss openly any potential health problems — or consider adopting an adult dog from a shelter or rescue group.

My goal as a veterinarian is not only to care for your pet, whatever his breed, cross or mix, but also to seek improvements in canine health overall, including population health. None of us want to see dogs in shelters because they weren’t matched properly with their people. Let’s all do what we can to make things better for the dogs we love — all of them.

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