Many people are intimidated by large dog breeds — often because of their preconceived notions about them. After all, big dogs can’t live in apartments and tend to be overweight and they’re not good with kids. Right? Not necessarily.
We certainly don’t want you to lose out on the love a big dog can offer, so we’re ready to help dispel some of the most common falsehoods about them. Check out the gallery below to learn the truth about these gentle giants.
Myth: Big Dogs Can’t Live in Apartments
It’s understandable to assume that a big dog requires a big space.
But luckily, it’s not always true! The important thing to know, writes
Dr. Marty Becker, is that almost any dog can be happy living in almost any
home — as long as you make sure he gets the exercise he needs. Once they've gotten their time in running (overall health permitting, of course), walking and
playing, many big dogs will be content to rest and relax — in whatever space you
Myth: Big Dogs Make Great Guard Dogs
“Tell that to the Lab or Golden Retriever
that helps a burglar haul goodies out of the house,” says Dr. Becker. If you’re
depending on one of these guys to protect you from an intruder, you might be
barking up the wrong tree. “I've personally seen a Wirehaired Fox Terrier chase
off a 200-pound bear while the 80-pound Lab ran away." He adds: "Some large dogs are great
guard dogs, and others are pooch pacifists." A lot of
it depends on the breed and the training. The Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherd, for example, are typically naturals at this job.
If you’re looking for a guard dog, Becker
recommends focusing on the bark — not the bite.
Myth: Big Dogs Are More Aggressive
This is a close corollary of the guard-dog myth — and with good reason. It’s quite common for people to be afraid of lumbering dogs like
Mastiffs or Great Danes, much more so
than with small dogs. But there’s no truth to the idea that they’re necessarily
more aggressive than their smaller peers. Many of these guys are gentle
giants. While it’s important to be careful around any dog breed, you don’t
have to be scared merely because of a breed’s larger size.
Myth: Big Dogs Aren’t Lapdogs
While this myth is technically true — after all, you might not want a Newfoundland or Great Dane actually in your lap — if you think big dogs aren’t big cuddlers, there’s a good
chance you just haven’t spent enough time with one. The Mastiff, for
example, has a reputation for being one giant wannabe lapdog. Despite the fact
that he can weigh up to 200 pounds, he has a penchant for leaning on his family
members and lying at their feet.
Myth: Big Dogs Aren't Good With Kids
Much to the contrary: Many large and giant breeds are great
with children. In fact, a dog’s personality is more important than his
size when finding a family dog. Sometimes, children can be rough with small,
fragile dogs, and there are some giant breeds, like the Irish Wolfhound, who
can inadvertently wipe out a kid’s board game or school project — or flatten the kid himself. Both
the children and the dog will have to be taught how to play safely together.
Like the famed Nana in Peter Pan, the
typically devoted to and protective of the children in her family. The Saint Bernard has a
heart of gold and can also be a good choice for the right family, as long as he’s trained
and socialized at a young age. The key is not to judge a book by its cover — or its size — when
figuring out what dog is the best fit for your family.
Myth: Big Dogs Tend to Be Overweight
“Many pet owners
think their large dog will eventually go from L to XL or even XXL,” Becker says. “It's no more true for a teacup Poodle and medium-sized Corgi
than a large Lab or a Great Pyrenees. Weight gain is primarily about how much
you feed (total calories including snacks) and how much you exercise
your pet.” You can keep your big dog (or any size dog) trim with “less food in
their bowls and more miles on their feet,” he says.
Myth: Big Dogs Are Ideal Running Companions
Although you might think large or giant breed dogs are more
athletic, some smaller dogs can actually make better running companions. Running
is a high-impact sport that can aggravate some orthopedic conditions like hip
dysplasia. Your vet should clear your dog for running before you begin. He might also have some recommendations about diet and supplements that can help make running better and safer for your dog. And no puppy, of any size, can start long-distance training from a young age. Here are a few important things you need to know before you decide to include your dog in your daily runs.