Are Big Dogs Harder to Take Care of?

When people are considering getting a dog one of the first things they need to address is whether to get a big dog or a small dog.

Big dogs are dogs that are in the large and giant breed purebred families or are mixed breeds over 50 pounds. When you’re deciding on what type of dog to get you should consider its personality, overall breed disposition, and the size of the dog.

Big dogs can be harder to take care of than small dogs are, but big dogs also come with their own set of advantages.

Thinking About Money

It may seem like money shouldn’t be a big consideration when thinking about the type of dog you get, but when you buy or adopt a dog you are making a major commitment and you should always think about the financial cost of that animal and if you can afford it before you bring a dog into your house.

The reality is that big dogs simply cost more money than small dogs.

Professional grooming is more expensive, food costs more money because they need more of it, and veterinary care will likely cost more than with a small dog. Boarding a large dog can also be a significant additional cost if you plan on going on vacations frequently.

A large dog will cost an average of $1,480 a year throughout their life according to the American Kennel Club. This compares to $1,003 per year for a small dog and $1,214 per year for a medium size dog.

Bear in mind that the cost can be higher depending on vet bills and events that you participate in with your dog.

Big Dogs Stay Puppies Longer

Another thing to consider when deciding on a big dog is that because they have bigger bones and therefore need more time to grow, they stay puppies for a longer time than a small dog.

Puppies have unique nutritional and healthcare needs and have their own set of behavioral challenges. That means that you will have an extended period of needing to buy more expensive puppy food as well as dealing with puppy behavior for longer.

Puppies chew things up, pee in the house (until housebroken), jump on strangers, and large breed puppies are big. They will look full grown, but will still act like puppies.

On the other hand, who doesn’t like a puppy?

You just need to be aware that you will be dealing with a longer puppy time period for a big dog versus a small dog.

Behavior Training

If you own a small dog you can usually get away with allowing your dog to do what they want when they want more often than if you have a big dog. We’re huge advocates for proper training and socialization for every dog, but with big dogs, it’s even more important

It’s one thing to have a 5-pound chihuahua jump on a guest at your house. It’s quite another thing when a 100-pound German Shepherd does it.

When a big dog is part of your family, being well trained is vital so that they don’t jump up on strangers, they have overall good manners, and aren’t aggressive.

You can’t just pick up a large or giant breed dog and walk away if their behavior is bad like you can with a small breed.

If you have never trained a dog before then it’s a very good idea to pay for professional training classes or one on one professional training.

It’s also important to pick a breed of dog that can be easily trained. Labrador Retrievers, for instance, are eager to please and almost always easy to train, but Airedale Terriers are notoriously stubborn and need more consistent work to train properly.

Where You Live Matters

When considering what size of dog to buy or adopt, it’s also important to consider where you live. Many large dogs aren’t typically happy in small apartments and can become destructive without enough exercise and stimulation.

If you want a large dog, particularly a dog that is bred to work, then you must give them plenty of exercise and room to run. Large breed dogs usually need at least 60 minutes of exercise a day and some breeds need more.

If you are going to get a large breed dog make sure you have the time and energy to commit to getting your dog enough exercise. That can mean running on a large property, throwing a ball for an hour, or taking them for walks several times a day.

Shedding and Grooming

Except for certain breeds, such as Poodles and Giant Schnauzers, big dogs shed and they can shed a lot. Even short hair large dogs like Great Danes will shed quite a bit. Dogs with longer coats like Golden Retrievers can shed even more.

Because of their size, it makes sense that big dogs will shed more than their small dog counterparts. If you want a perfectly neat and dog hair-free home, that will not be possible with most large breed dogs. Even Poodles and Giant Schnauzers shed a little bit.

If you truly want both a big dog and no shedding at all, there are a few hairless breeds that exist. Examples are the Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog) and the Peruvian Inca Orchid. However, these are rare breeds that are difficult to find and expensive when you do.

A lot of large dogs also benefit from professional grooming. Poodles, in particular, need to be groomed regularly and this can be quite costly.

Even if you are grooming your dog yourself, you need to account for the time it will take to brush and bathe and trim the nails of a large breed dog before committing to bringing it into your family.

Even Though Large Breed Dogs Take More Work Than Small Breed Dogs, It Can Be Worth It

There is no doubt that large breed dogs are more work and more expense than small breed dogs, but they also come with their own sets of rewards.

Large breed dogs are wonderful protectors. Even friendly breeds like Golden Retrievers that don’t know strangers will make a criminal think twice about attacking you or invading your home. Their bark is often enough to ward off trouble. Or even better, who’s going to mess with you when you’re accompanied by a 120-pound Rottweiler?

Many large breed dogs are gentle giants. While some large breed dogs like Airedales and Chows are more single-people dogs, breeds like Mastiffs, Labradors, Great Danes, Golden Retrievers, and Newfoundlands are wonderful with small children, families, and pretty much everyone else they meet.

Less barking. Most large breed dogs bark far less than their small breed counterparts. This is particularly true if they have plenty of exercise and stimulation.

Love to participate. If you’re the kind of person who loves to participate in outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and even kayaking then a large breed will go with you and have no trouble keeping up. Just make sure that you have plenty of water for both you and your dog.

More dog to cuddle. One of the biggest advantages to a large breed dog is that there is more dog to cuddle. Your companion can sit at your feet or by your side on the couch and will have a real presence.

They provide more exercise for you. Just imagine the upper body workout you’ll get after playing tug-of-war a few times per day with your big, strong dog!

They are best with cats. As odd as it may seem, big-breed dogs are the ones most likely to make friends with cats (and other small animals). Probably because they do not need to prove how tough they are!

They look great in photos. It’s super cool to see big, goofy dogs doing big, goofy things. This is why YouTube is loaded with videos of big dogs.

They may look goofy but they’re really smart. Some of the most intelligent breeds are large ones, including Labradors, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Standard Poodles. This is exactly why many service dogs are from the big breeds.

They are heroes. By far, the majority of dogs winning the American Humane Hero Dog Award are big dogs.

Scroll to Top