Just as with many of the toy breeds which are often misrepresented as snarly, snappy and yappy, giant breeds of dogs also get a bad rap for many aspects of their behavior. In fact, as with any size of dog, the difference between a well behaved, well mannered dog and an out of control pet has a lot to do with how the owners actually handle and train these dogs. If owners assume the responsibility to socialize the dog, provide routine obedience and interact with the dog on a regular, ongoing basis these dogs will be ideal companion pets.
Some of the most common myths and misunderstandings about the giant breed dogs are listed below. It is important to realize the term giant breeds doesn't mean these dogs have their own group within the Kennel Clubs, rather it is in relation to their height and weight. Typically most people consider giant breeds to have a minimum weight of about 75 pounds, many being up to 200, and a height at the withers of at least 21 inches. Consequently dogs may be listed on some rankings of giant breeds but not on others, just depending on how the specific author or group set their limits and size range.
It is also really important to understand that each and every dog within any breed is going to have his or her own temperament, behaviors and traits. Understanding the general traits and temperaments of dogs of this size range and also researching the specific breed provides more in depth information. Finally, last but definitely not least, be sure to see at least the mother and ideally the father in the breeding pair as well. If they are gentle, calm and well adjusted dogs it is much more likely that your dog will mature to be the same. If one of the parent dogs has a poor temperament, you may wish to consider another puppy as this can be an indication of a difficult temperament for your puppy as well.
Myth 1 Giant Breed Dogs Are Aggressive
Giant breed dogs are not aggressive by nature, however they are protective virtually to a dog. It is difficult to say if the perception of aggression in these dogs is because of their massive size and rather deep barks and growls. Most giant breed dogs are not prone to barking without reason and most, when trained and socialized, will not be noise or aggressive without provocation.
It is true that many of the giant breed dogs, especially intact males, may be dog aggressive. This does vary greatly between breeds, however they can be socialized and trained to minimize this problem. Neutering males and spaying females can prevent a great deal of this mating response types of aggression. Some giant breed dogs such as the Irish Wolfhound or the Scottish Deerhound can be very pack oriented and are happiest when living in a home with other dogs. They may still be dog aggressive towards strange dogs, but again this is very manageable with socialization.
Myth 2 Giant Breed Dogs Need Constant Exercise
In reality giant breed often require far less exercise than some of the smallest of the dogs. They do, like all canines, need daily walking and ideally some outside time in a fenced yard. This provides both the physical exercise they need as well as the mental stimulation to help the dog stay healthy and happy. Most giant breeds need to be restricted with regards to exercise, especially when they are under one year of age. This is because their rapid growth and heavy skeletal structure is very succeptable to stress related fractures and even breaks. Muscles and joints can easily be damaged with very heavy or intense exercise when the puppies are rapidly growing. Jogging with the puppies or even very rough play are strongly discouraged, as a any type of jumping or comparable training exercises or games.
Myth 3 Giant Breeds Cost A Fortune To Feed
While giant breeds are more costly than smaller dogs to feed, they are not unreasonably expensive if you compare them on a pound to pound basis. It is important for owners to carefully select the right type of food for these dogs to ensure their nutritional requirements are met. These are not a group of dogs that can be fed discount or low cost dog food since the amount they eat will be really cost preventative plus very unhealthy for the dog. Foods that have higher bulking agents or fiber are not recommended as they may lead to a life threatening condition known as bloat. Many owners of the giant breed dogs choose to feed raw or natural food diets. These foods include bones and lean cuts of meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruits and even small amounts of diary products and supplements. While these diets may seem cost prohibitive, dogs actually eat less but have a much higher quality diet.
Myth 4 Giant Breeds Aren't Suitable For Kids
This statement really is a myth as most giant breeds are patient, loving and very accepting of children of all ages. While typically not highly playful dogs they do enjoy being around children and simply love the attention that kids tend to lavish on these dogs.
It is important that giant breeds are raised with children from puppies so they learn to understand how to interact with children. It is essential to teach dogs of this size not to lean up against children and definitely not to jump up. Dogs may also need to be taught not to be too protective of children in the family to prevent problems with kids having friends over.
Myth 5 Giant Breeds Are Not Healthy Dogs
Giant breeds are just like any other type of dog, they are typically very healthy provided they have routine vet care, balanced nutrition, appropriate exercise and lots of attention from their owners. Conditions such as hip dysplasia, growth problems and pains, bloat and heart conditions are slightly more predominant in the large breeds. Always check the health of the parents and have the puppy or dog health checked before deciding if this is the dog for you.