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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.