I love my family—my sister, my mother, and two male dogs. My life is dedicated to helping animals. I love that, too.
Large Dog Breeds
I have always been a fan of big dogs. They are beautiful and can be surprisingly sweet. They usually make great companions, as they were bred to be working dogs as herders or pulling wagons.
Like big people, big dogs can suffer from some special health issues. Their joints, skeletons, and hearts take a beating carrying all that weight around. If you own a big dog, keep your eye out for any signs of wear and tear in your big, furry friend! If you're interested in getting a big dog, read on to learn more about several specific breeds:
- Great Dane
- German Shepherd
- Irish Wolfhound
- Scottish Deerhound
- Alaskan Malamute
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Doberman Pincher
- Giant Schnauzer
- Great Pyrenees
- Neopolitan Mastiff
- Saint Bernard
1. Great Dane
Great Danes appear in movies, such as 101 Dalmatians and Oliver and Company. They come in many different colors, including blue, black, black and white spotted, merle pattern, harlequin pattern, silver, fawn, brindle, and tan with black. They can stand anywhere between 30-34 inches high and weigh between 120–200 pounds.
Great Danes are known as the gentle giant of big dogs for many reasons. They are very good with children, they love to be around people, and they do not bark much. They will be aggressive, however, if they believe it is needed. They need to be trained as puppies not to jump or lean on people because they can do harm as they get older and bigger.
Surprisingly, these big dogs do okay living in apartments as long as they have plenty of space and get lots of exercise. It is not recommended to jog your puppy. Wait until they are about one year old.
Great Danes live to be only about 10 years old. But with a healthy breeder and healthy diet and lifestyle, some can live to be 12 and even 14. They are prone to hip dysplasia, bloat, tail injuries, tumors, and heart disease.
Bullmastiffs are very similar to Mastiffs, but they are also very different in many ways. The Bullmastiff is a massive, powerful dog. They have a short, dense coat that is sometimes slightly rough. They come in fawn or red with black on the face. They never have white on them, but some are brindle.
Bullmastiffs are devoted guard dogs, but will rarely attack. They like to catch an intruder, make them freeze, then hold them there. They are affectionate, docile, and almost always good-natured. They are fearless if they are provoked. At the same time, they are tolerant of children. These dogs are calm, loyal, and very trainable. The thrive on human leadership. They do need a firm master because of their physical strength. They are very bad droolers and they slobber and snore a lot.
They can live well in an apartment but must be exercised. They don't like to be active indoors, so they at least need a small yard. Bullmastiffs have an instinct to migrate, so they do need new places to go. If they have a schedule and go to the same places year after year, it will result in behavior issues.
A Bullmastiff's height can range from 25 to 27 inches. Their weight will be between 110 and 133 pounds. They do need a lot of space and a lot of food.
Like many big dogs, Bullmastiffs are prone to hip dysplasia. They may contract eyelid problems, cancer, tumors, and boils on their lips. They also are prone to bloat and gain weight really easily.
Sadly, they live under 10 years. They can have up to 13 puppies in a litter, but average eight.
The Old English Mastiff is one of the first mastiffs bred for their size and the original dog given the name "Mastiff." Why, you ask? Look at its size! These are massive dogs. They were first used in 3000 BC as arena gladiators and for bull baiting, bear baiting, and dog-on-dog combat. They became more popular in England, where they were used as bodyguards. Caesar once said, "A lion is to a cat as a Mastiff is to a dog." Today, they are still used as working dogs for the military and police, and as watchdogs, guard dogs, rescue, and weight-pulling dogs.
They come in golden fawn, light fawn, apricot, silver, tiger, or brindle. As their name states, they are powerful and muscular dogs. Like Great Danes, they are known for their "gentle giant" personalities. They will defend their territory to the death. They are silent guards, giving no warning that they are there. Like the Bullmastiff, they will hold the intruder at bay, or trap them in the corner, rather than all-out attack. They are patient and considered excellent with children. All they need is gentle but firm training. They drool very badly and snore extremely loudly.
They can do okay in an apartment, but it's not recommended. They don't like to be active indoors, but a free-roaming yard will suit them fine. They should always be leashed when in public.
Mastiffs can grow to about 30 inches in height. They are known to be one of the heaviest breeds, with some exceeding 200 pounds.
They are prone to bloat and hip dysplasia. They can get gastric torsion, ectropion, vagina hyperplasia, elbow dysplasia, and cardiomyopathy. They sadly only live about 10–12 years.
The Rottweiler, or as I like to call them, Rottie, has a massive, powerful mind and body. They descended from the Italian Mastiff, which accompanied the herds that the Romans brought with them when they invaded Europe. They were used as messenger dogs, draught dogs, police, herders, and guards.
They almost became extinct in 1800 but made a come-back when breeders in Rottweiler, Germany began producing them. They now are used for tracking, police work, blind guiding, schutzhund, competitive obedience, and as guide dogs and watchdogs. They always come in black with distinct tan markings.
They are calm yet courageous. Powerful yet devoted. Protective yet trainable. They will do anything to keep their family and particularly children safe. They seem to be highly immune to pain. They are confident, strong-minded, and massive. They know when it's time to be playful and loving and when to be brave and even-tempered.
Rottweilers are not recommended for apartment life, but they can handle it as long as they have somewhere to free roam safely and are walked frequently. These are great dogs for chucking a ball in the countryside. Most of them love to swim, so that's a very good exercise.
Rotties can grow to 24–27 inches high and weigh between 95–130 pounds. Due to their heavy weight and stocky size, they can have hip dysplasia. They are also prone to entropion and can over-eat. They tend to snore loudly.
They live 10–12 years and have very large litters, ranging between 10–12 puppies.
5. German Shepherd
The German Shepherd Dog (GSD), or German Shepherd, is a sturdy animal. They are elegant but solid. The coat is often black with tan, sable, or all-black. They can also come in blue, liver, and white but they will be a fault according to breed standards. White is not acceptable for the German Shepherd but is being recognized as a separate breed named the American White Shepherd.
In Karsruche, Germany, dedicated breeders produced obedient, handsome, and responsive GSDs. In 1889, they had three separate Shepherds: the short-haired, the long-haired, and the wire-haired. The breed got its name from a famous Shepherd, called Deutsche Schaferhunde, which means German Shepherd Dog. This was an all-around show dog, shepherd, family pet, and protector. They are alert, cheerful, serious, keen, and clever. GSDs are very brave and are among the best canine learners. They are very weary of strangers and should be watched around them.
They are not suggested for apartment life, but well-exercised in a large running area once a week they should do fine. They are very active, and love a good challenge in training. They can get anxious if they don't have proper activities.
GSDs reach between 24–26 inches in height and weigh around 77–85 pounds. Some GSDs reach around 100 pounds, which is not good for their hips.
They can get bloat, epilepsy, chronic eczema, keratitis, dwarmfism, flea allergies, blood disorders, digestive problems, hip and elbow dysplasia.