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7 Things You Must Know When Taking Care of a Big Dog

Large dogs are awesome, but they have unique needs that you should consider when you are thinking about bringing a large dog into your family.

Here are 7 things that you must know when taking care of a big dog.

Large Dogs Need to Be Trained

Training is particularly important for large dogs because, well, they are large!

Large dogs are generally considered dogs that are over 50 pounds. They can be large or giant purebred dogs or mixed breed dogs.

Whatever the type, one of the most important things that you must know about caring for a large dog is that they need to be trained. Like all dogs, large dogs that don’t respond to basic commands like sit, stay, and come can put themselves in danger.

They might also jump up on people and have other negative behaviors if they aren’t trained correctly.

With a large dog, their sheer size means that negative behaviors can get out of control very quickly and be hard to deal with. That’s why training is so important for these large furballs.

Proper, dog training requires the person training the dog to be well versed in what works for dogs because dogs communicate differently than humans and have different social hierarchies.

The humane society has a great article on positive reinforcement training and there are great books and YouTube channels that are dedicated to this subject.

You can train your dog yourself or you can hire a positive dog trainer in a group class or one on one to help you. It’s also important to remember that some breeds are easier to train than others. You can look up each breed at to see how easy they are to train.

Enough Space Is Important for a Large Dog

Even large dogs that are lower energy, like Newfoundlands, need enough space to stretch and move around when you aren’t at home. Small dogs may be content to curl up on the side of your bed or the back of your couch, but large dogs can take up the whole couch and most of your bed!

It’s important to teach a large dog where they can and can’t be in your house. While some breeds can do well in small apartments if they get adequate exercise it’s better to have most large breed dogs in a home where they have plenty of room to move around.

Large Dogs Need A Lot of Exercise

While there are exceptions, most large dogs need a lot of exercise. This means at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. This can be accomplished with multiple walks and play sessions if you don’t have a large property for them to run around in.

When you are considering getting a large breed dog, it’s a good idea to look at the breed and see what their energy level and exercise needs are. Herding dogs like German Shepherds and Border Collies are notorious for not only needing a lot of exercise but also needing work and mental stimulation.

Large dogs often make wonderful pets but if they get bored and don’t get enough exercise they can get destructive. Case in point: our 70-pound Labrador mix got bored being left alone for several hours and managed to almost chew through the wooden leg of our fairly expensive dining room table.

Now imagine what a 125-pound Mastiff could chew through!

Be Prepared for Grooming

All dogs, regardless of the type of coat, need regular grooming.

For dogs with short coats, like Great Danes, that means an occasional bath and regular nail clipping. For dogs with longer coats, like Golden Retrievers, that means regular brushing as well as baths and nail clipping.

And dogs that have hair instead of fur, like Poodles, need to have their hair trimmed either at home or by a groomer on a regular basis to keep it nice.

You need to be prepared to either groom your dog yourself or have the budget to have someone else do it for you. Having a large dog groomed can be quite costly, so be sure to check prices before bringing a big breed dog into your home.

Making Sure Your Large Breed Has the Right Food is Critical

Large dogs have nutritional needs that are different than their small dog counterparts.

Feeding your dog a high-quality dog food that is formulated for large breeds and is appropriate for their life stage will potentially help to reduce health problems and veterinary bills down the line. Quality food means shinier coats and healthier dogs.

Puppy food for large breeds is more calorie-dense than small breed food because large breed puppies grow so fast. Large breed adult and senior food often contain joint supporting formulas to help counteract joint problems that are common in the larger breeds.

Always consult your veterinarian for the food that will work the best for your dog. This is an area where spending a little extra money can go a long way to contributing to your dog’s overall health and longevity.

Large Dogs are More Expensive Than Small Dogs

There is no getting around this. Large dogs are simply more expensive than small dogs.

  • They eat more food.
  • They need larger doses of medicine
  • They are more expensive to groom
  • They are more expensive to board

According to CNBC, the minimum cost for owning a dog ranges from $1,400 to $4,300 per year. Big breeds will of course be on the higher end of this range.

If you are going to commit to a large dog, please be sure that you budget in advance for how much the dog is going to cost.

Large Dogs Mean a Lot of Love

There is a reason that dogs have the reputation of being “man’s best friend.” Dogs are wonderful companions and are always happy to see their people.

When you have a large dog it means that there is a lot of dog to love. The work and the expense are more than what a small dog requires, but if you have the time and the money a large dog’s affection and protection can be well worth it.

They can be great companions and pets have been proven to lift mood and lower rates of depression. A dog will never judge you, is always glad to see you, and gives unconditional love.

Dogs are awesome to have as long as you understand the commitment you are making to them. Yes, big dogs cost more but they also give so much more.

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