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There are a great many considerations when you decide to bring home a giant breed puppy or dog. The most obvious is the amount of food that these dogs consume, which is not always what new owners expect. Another consideration and one that is often overlooked is one of simple logistics. A dog that weights upwards of 200 pounds is going to take up a lot of physical space. Stretched out on the floor some of these dogs can measure over six feet in length, more with the tail stretched out as well. In addition to just length, you are also looking at a distance of up to one yard from the tip of the toes to the top of the shoulder. Given this general measurement it really means that when a giant breed dog decides to really stretch out on his or her side to relax, they are going to need at least 18 feet, which is much more than the average human needs.
Surprisingly however, many of the giant breeds can adjust to relatively small living spaces as long as they have a place of their own where they feel comfortable and can relax. This needs to be an area where the dog won't be tripped over or stepped on, ideally in a quieter area of the house or apartment. As with any type of dog they do have a natural instinct for a den, however finding a crate or a container that will comfortably hold a 100 pound dog is not always as easy as it sounds. Many of the smaller members of the giant breeds can fit comfortably into the oversized or extra large crates that are now available. Having an "inside doghouse" is also an option and you can decorate the dog's space to match your décor. Any of these options work but you do need to think about the logistics of having one of these large animals in the house.
The amazing thing about most of the giant breeds is they really don't seem to understand that they are as large as they are. These dogs will happily crawl up, or at least attempt to crawl up, on your lap, your chair or even the couch. As can well be imagined they are simply too big and therefore they actually can end up taking over the space. One issue that training has to address with these dogs is what and where they can be and consider their item or their space, and what has to stay as "human" only areas.
The giant breeds are generally easy to train and they will quickly learn what is dog space and what is human only space. Many owners of these large breeds actually have a room that is designed and accessorized specifically for the dogs to give them a space of their own. However, like any dog, they would typically prefer to be with their owners rather than in a separate room. Striking a balance between time with the family and time in their own space can be a challenge but if started from the first day in the home they will quickly catch on.
Another consideration for living with giant breeds is early socialization of the puppy and continued socialization throughout the dog's life. Thankfully virtually all of the giant breeds with the exception of a very small number of uncommon or even rare breeds are naturally very gentle and calm tempered. This doesn't mean, however, that these dogs cannot be fiercely protective if they feel the family is being threatened. Early socialization and lots of obedience training helps dogs feel secure in their space and not respond to any situations as threats. Without this type of socialization and training there is the potential of any living condition being difficult with these dogs.
Along with their calm, even mannered temperaments giant breeds also are not typically high prey instinct dogs. While some large or close to giant breed dogs such as Afghan Hounds, Greyhounds and even Scottish Deerhounds and Irish Wolfhounds can trace their history back to hunting, most are not highly driven by the instinct to chase and hunt. With proper training these sighthound types of dogs can be taught to hunt, but in most modern households and family situations this type of training is rare. This means they will get along with other dogs, cats and pets that are already living in the house.
Surprisingly most giant breed dogs tend to be relatively low activity and low exercise intensive breeds. This doesn't mean that they don't need routine activity such as walking, swimming, jogging or just being outdoors in a large, fenced yard. These breeds need just as much routine walking and exercise times as large and medium sized breeds, but they don't need the very high level activity of some of the small breeds. You will find that a Jack Russell Terrier or a Toy Poodle requires more daily exercise than any of the giant breeds.
Outside time in a large, fenced yard is a must for all of the giant breeds. Most of these dogs have a genuine need to be outdoors, even if it is just sitting on the back porch or under a favorite tree in the yard. The dogs that are natural flock guardians and protectors such as the Great Pyrenees, Mastiff types, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Anatolian Shepherds and even the Newfoundland and St. Bernard do need routine time outside plus regular contact with their human family. They can learn to live as outdoor or outside dogs, however they need routine human interaction to stay happy and satisfied. Many owners keep these dogs outside in the day and inside at night, which seems to provide a nice balance for both dogs and people.
Having a large sized dog in a small space can work, however it is essential that owners stop and consider the dog's mental and physical health. In situations were the owners are committed to provide outside time, exercise and regular interaction this can be a living space option for the dog, but the owner has be consistent and structured in providing this additional space and time for the pet.
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