What to Know About Getting a Large-Breed Dog

Large breed puppies and dogs have different needs than small dogs.

If you’re thinking about getting a dog soon and you prefer larger breeds, you probably know that they come with their own special needs—and we don’t just mean the extra-jumbo size bags of food, either. It’s important to be prepared for everything that might come your way with larger dog breeds, so we’ve put together a short list of some important things for you to expect.

They May Need Different Food

With large and giant breed dogs, it’s important they do not get too much fat or too much calcium in their diet. High fat/caloric intake can cause rapid weight gain, and if the dog’s bones and muscles aren’t developed enough to support the extra weight, they can injure themselves. Likewise, excess calcium can cause an increase of skeletal problems. Ask your vet what food is recommended for large dogs before you commit to a certain brand. Large breed puppies have specific nutritional needs, and it’s important for their development that they get the right amount of food and the right kind of food. In the same vein, it’s important to know how much food to feed your dog. Make sure you’re feeding the dog the right amount of food—not too much.

Vet Bills Might Be More Expensive

In addition to needing to buy more food for your Bernese Mountain Dog than you would need for a Chihuahua, the vet bills may also be more costly for the same reason—you need more of the product. Things like rabies shots and flea treatment may need to come in higher amounts or stronger doses to be able to account for the dog’s large body, and that can add up over time. Additionally, some large dogs can be predisposed to certain health issues like hip dysplasia, which can be expensive to treat. Talk to a vet about what you might expect from a certain breed over its lifetime.

They Need a Lot of Playtime

Big dogs need a lot of room to stretch out and a lot of exercise to maintain good health. If you live in a studio apartment, a Great Dane might feel a little cramped. Look into local dog runs, dog parks, or dog walkers, and ask around to different doggie day cares if that’s something you might consider for your dog. Ensuring that you large breed dog gets enough exercise is not only good for their health and wellness, but their temperament as well—exercised dogs are generally calmer and less aggressive than dogs who have a lot of energy but nowhere to use it.

They Have a Shorter Lifespan

It may seem like everyone’s got a story about the 20-year old Mastiff that grew up on their block with them, but the reality is that large and giant breed dogs live shorter lives than their purse-sized counterparts. Their bodies do more work than smaller breeds just to keep them awake, and over the course of their lives, this means more stress is put on their organs. Large breed dogs have a general lifespan of about 8-10 years, whereas smaller breeds live to be 12-14 years old, typically. Of course, this isn’t something you need to immediately worry about—it’s just something to be aware of for your future. A bigger dog is thought to be a senior dog after the age of six, so diet and health should be more closely watched thereafter.

Big dogs are great breeds for a lot of people—just make sure you do your research and know what you’re getting into before adopting the biggest one you can find!

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