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Great Dane at AKC Meet the Breeds
The easygoing Great Dane, the mighty “Apollo of Dogs,” is a total joy to live with—but owning a dog of such imposing size, weight, and strength is a commitment not to be entered into lightly.
  • Thinking about adding a giant dog to your life? There are many things to consider.
  • Larger dogs will usually require more time spent training and grooming.
  • Keep in mind housing and traveling — not all apartments or hotels allow dogs over a certain size.

From the Anatolian Shepherd Dog to the Tibetan Mastiff and all the giant breeds in between, these big dogs are some of the kindest and most hardworking dogs out there. From companions lounging on couches, to working alongside people, giant dogs excel at a variety of jobs and sports but not every home, family, or lifestyle is compatible with the giant responsibility that comes with these giant dogs. Thinking about adding a giant dog to your family? Here are some of the considerations and challenges to keep in mind.

Training a Giant Dog

While all dogs need and deserve training and enrichment, it’s essential that training begins early and lasts a lifetime when your dog outweighs members of your family. Giant dogs can weigh as much as some grown adults, so there is little margin for error when it comes to manners. There are things small, or even medium-sized dogs might get away with such as jumping on people that would be a significant safety concern if a giant dog did them. Having a giant dog means a huge commitment to daily training and making sure your dog has impeccable manners. Giant dogs might be big, but they are also sensitive. Like with any dog, training should be fun, positive, and reward-based.

Time Spent on Giant Dogs

In a lot of ways, the bigger the dog, the more time they take. Depending on what giant breed you choose and their coat type, many larger dogs have lengthy grooming requirements. In addition, as giant dogs are growing/developing, their bones and joints can easily be injured. You’ll need to be patient and avoid anything too strenuous (even long walks) or high-impact activities (like jumping onto furniture) until growth plates are sealed (usually well over a year in age).

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Like puppies? That’s good! With a giant dog, you’ll have one for a long time. In addition to being slow to physically mature, many giant dogs not reaching emotional maturity until they are between two and three years of age. Giant dogs also don’t generally live as long as smaller dogs. This is the hardest part of loving giants, but you can also use their shorter lifespan to inspire you to make every moment count: to do all the training you want to do, play all sports, take all the trips you can with these big dogs.

Traveling with Giant Dogs

Giant dogs will attract attention wherever you travel together but traveling with giant dogs can also come with some challenges. When you add a giant dog to your family, favorite vacation spots may be harder to visit because you may need more space for your dog (and their stuff) than can fit in a small hotel or cottage. In addition, many rentals have size/weight limits for dogs, so finding a vacation rental suitable for your dog may require a little more planning ahead.

Two Great Pyrenees dogs lying in grass, one in front of the other
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Caring for a Giant Dog

Giant dogs have giant care needs, and surprisingly not all dog-care services/providers will be equipped or competent to provide their care. Some vet clinics are not large enough to be able to provide surgery or x-ray procedures to giant dogs. Similarly, dog care professionals: pet sitters, dog walkers, and dog daycare providers also are not always comfortable or competent working with giant dogs. Before hiring a new provider, always ask about their experience with giant dogs.

Housing for Giant Dogs

With giant dogs, you’ll need a home large enough to comfortably fit not only the dog but also their belongings. Having a giant may inspire you to seek out a trendy open floor plan design for your home because it will give more room for your giant to play. If you do not own your home, renting with a giant dog can be extremely challenging as many landlords have size limits on the dogs that they accept. I always advise people to make sure their housing situation is very stable before considering bringing a giant dog home.

Driving with Giant Dogs

Having a vehicle that fits your dog doesn’t sound like it would be challenging, but when you have a giant dog it can be extra tricky. Not only do you need to fit your dog in your car, but you need to fit your giant dog and all of their gear which may involve needing to install roof racks to transport (collapsed) crates or purchasing a larger vehicle. Depending on the height of your vehicle you may also need to at least partially lift your giant dog in/out of the car or install a ramp or stairs so your giant can safely navigate getting in/out especially during puppy and senior years.

More To Love

Giant dogs might be a lot of work, but they are also a tremendous amount of fun. Giants may come with some specifically unique challenges, but a little bit of preparation goes a long way towards setting you and your future giant dog up for success!
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Selecting a Puppy

How do you know what breed is right for your family? How do you find a reputable breeder? What questions should you ask a breeder? Download this e-book for guidance on these questions and other important factors to consider when looking for a puppy.
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