5 Giant Dog Breeds This Veterinarian Would Like to See Less Of

As a veterinarian, I’ve met my fair share of giant dog breeds — and I love each and every one of them. These are big dogs with even bigger hearts! That being said, there are certain giant breeds I wish I didn’t see so often. Not because they are bad breeds — there’s no such thing — but because certain giant breeds are prone to health problems or are overpopulating rescue groups and animal shelters. I’m a huge fan of the big breeds below (I can't stress that enough); I just wish their quality of life could improve, so they could live the happy, healthy lives they deserve.

Big Dog Breeds That Worry Me

Bernese Mountain Dog

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Bernese Mountain Dog

As wonderful as these majestic Alpine dogs are, Bernese Mountain Dogs often have tragically short life spans of only seven to 10 years. What’s even more upsetting is that Berners are prone to a number of serious health issues, including aseptic meningitis, bloat, multiple types of cancer, cataracts and other eye diseases, degenerative myelopathy, elbow and hip dysplasia, and other orthopedic problems, as well as von Willebrand disease, a bleeding disorder.

Saint Bernard Standing in Grass

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

St. Bernard

Generally calm, gentle and patient, the furry St. Bernard is easy to fall in love with. According to 2015 AKC registration stats, the breed ranks 50th in popularity out of 184 registered breeds. But considering all the health issues St. Bernards can suffer, the breed’s high level of popularity is worrisome. Some common health problems include entropion and ectropion (eyelids that roll inward or outward), hip and elbow dysplasia, osteochondritis dissecans, bone cancer, bloat, epilepsy and heart disease.

Irish Wolfhound Dog Breed

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Irish Wolfhound

Weighing in at 105 to 180 pounds and standing nearly three feet tall, the Irish Wolfhound is one of the biggest breeds around. Unfortunately, you may not get to spend that much time with him. His life span is a mere six to eight years, and he’s prone to bone cancer (osteosarcoma), heart disease and bloat, joint problems, progressive retinal atrophy, seizures and more. Despite all this, the breed is growing in popularity. In 2015, the AKC ranked him as the 69th most popular breed, up from 81st in 2008.

Cane Corso

Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

Cane Corso

Recognized by the AKC in 2010, the Cane Corso has quickly climbed the charts to become the 35th most popular dog breed in America. This wouldn’t be such a problem if there weren’t so many Cane Corsos overcrowding rescue groups and shelters. This is a large and protective breed who needs an experienced owner. Unfortunately, too many first-time owners bring home these powerful dogs and realize that they’re too difficult to manage and give them up.

Two Rottweilers in Grass

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography


I’m a total softie for this handsome black-and-tan dog, but, unfortunately, there are just too many Rottweilers in need of forever homes. He’s currently the ninth most popular dog breed in America, and in one of my recent searches on Petfinder, there were nearly 2,000 Rotties in need of forever homes. Until his adoption numbers go up, I’d like to see less of this breed.

What You Can Do to Help

Before you commit to getting a dog — whether its breed on this list or not — do your research. Learn as much about the breed as possible and find out which health issues to watch out for. Ask the breeder for proof of testing for heritable diseases and make sure he is willing to discuss any potential health problems. You should also consider adopting an adult dog from a shelter or rescue group. And if you’re still hoping for a giant dog breed, you may want to consider these five big breeds I’d like to see more of.

More on Vetstreet:


Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!