Does any one here own any giant breeds?

(47 Posts)
bendertherobot Mon 19-Nov-12 14:24:47

I would love to hear what people have to say about what it is like to live with/own a huge dog. I love St Bernards, but my favourties are newfoundlands. I would love to own a newfie (one day, atleast 5 years into the future), so I would like to learn as much as possible about them. Please come and talk about any massive doggies you own/have owned. Thanks. smile

Aquelven Mon 19-Nov-12 18:13:02

How big do you need?
I used to have Old English Sheepdogs (Bobtails)

Had a friend who kept a couple of Newfoundlands & know a chap in the next village who lives in a two bed bungalow that belongs to eight of them.

bendertherobot Mon 19-Nov-12 21:50:59

Aw love old english sheep dogs. Like dulux dogs?

The chap in the next village owns 8 newfoundlands?! My goodness! Has he had to move out of the bungalow to allow the room for the dogs?

laanndaaannanny Mon 19-Nov-12 22:06:43

I have a Weimaraner. She is the most beautiful dog ever in my eyes and all tiny little dogs are just annoyingly small and in the way in comparison after getting this monster of a dog. grin

DowagersHump Mon 19-Nov-12 22:09:33

My sister has had a succession of Bernese Mountain Dogs in her small house (and before that a flat). Big dogs don't tend to need much exercise but they are very easy to trip over!

I could never have a small dog - massive dogs are much cuddlier smile

ManyMomentsOfMadness Mon 19-Nov-12 22:26:36

I have St Bernards. They are a lovely breed to have as are most of the giant breeds really.
Please do your homework before you get one, you sound like you are giving yourself plenty of time to look into breeders (good and bad!). You could also join a breed club, you'll then have a network of like minded people.

Wolfiefan Mon 19-Nov-12 22:27:47

I want? Check out my name.

Catsmamma Mon 19-Nov-12 22:29:57

I have two massive gsds 45kg+ if that helps, one current sprawled on the chesterfield, the other one is curled up small on two thirds of the other sofa.

I like a proper dog! :D

I only fall over the labrador.....there's no way to miss the other two!

Catsmamma Mon 19-Nov-12 22:30:39

currently...not current!

bendertherobot Tue 20-Nov-12 10:34:26

Manymomentsofmadness, how many St Bernards do you have? I'm guessing that for the giant breeds, the vet bills are alot more? And the food bills? How much exercise do they need? Are they like couch potatoes? Yes, I am giving myself plenty of time to research owning a dog, plus we currently have a lovely cat who wouldn't be too happy if I got a dog while he was still around.

I love newfies because they're big and beautiful, I understand that they're wonderful with children and very trainable. They're great with other animals so I would be ok to have cats as well. smile

But I do want to know of the realities of owning a large dog. Thanks everyone. smile

kilmuir Tue 20-Nov-12 10:37:43

We have Great danes.
Wonderful nature, not keen on yippy little dogs, but to each their own.
Great danes are short haired, hairer breeds need a fair amount of grooming each day

Ephiny Tue 20-Nov-12 11:37:35

I'd love to have a Newfie too smile We've always had rotties, which are not 'giant' but they're the smallest dogs I can imagine having!

It's worth being aware that some of the large breeds sadly have short life-expectancy and are prone to certain health problems, and you need to be careful about feeding and exercise especially when they're young to look after their bones and joints - so make sure you're well-informed and choose your breeder (and insurer!) carefully.

bendertherobot Tue 20-Nov-12 12:19:23

Ephiny, I absolutely love rotties, but I wouldn't be confident enough to own one my self.

My friend had one and she was massive, she was like a bear (the dog, not the firend). She was also soppy as anything and just adorable in general. I walked her round to the local shops once, and I waited outside with the dog while my friend went in. There was a large group of hoodies outside the shop. Normally I would feel intimidated, but I felt so safe with the dog beside me, and I think the youths were a bit wary of me! haha I was just standing there, and I was not trying to intimidate them. It was such a nice feeling to feel safe. I have loved rotties since, but I know that you need to really know what you're doing to be a responsible owner of such a powerful animal.

Pagwatch Tue 20-Nov-12 12:23:55

We have an old english sheepdog (on my profile) and a bischon.

The big dog is less trouble than the little one to be honest. He needs less excercise for a start.
Our attempts to groom him ourselves were more trouble than they were worth so he is groomed once a month. He eats quite a lot but I don't think the vets bills are much different. He is incredibly gentle and great with the children.

I would get another one rather than a smaller dog any day.

HarlettOScara Tue 20-Nov-12 12:40:06

I have a Newfie. And a Rottweiler X.

MagiMingeWassailsAgain Tue 20-Nov-12 12:53:28

I have met several giant schnauzers recently and blimey they are gorgeous. Really amazingly huge though. I have a terrier (about 9kg) and a medium sized border collie - the collie seems big to me grin

Ephiny Tue 20-Nov-12 13:02:26

Oh don't be put off rotties by their reputation. Yes they're a guarding breed and can be assertive pushy types sometimes <glares at BearDog>, so they do need sensible owners to give them boundaries. But they have just the most fantastic personalities, and with the people they know and love they can be the most affectionate cuddly dogs you can imagine.

Newfies are great too. All the ones I've met have been real gentle giants, absolutely lovely temperaments. So big though. We met a 6 month old puppy a while ago, typical daft playful pup and adorable as anything, but OMG enormous. You must have to really get on top of things like teaching them not to jump up, pull on the lead etc at a young age, or you'd have a real handful shock.

BedsocksarenotsexybutIlovethem Tue 20-Nov-12 16:53:58

Love big dogs but can't handle the amounts of drool some of them produce! Yuck!

I love giant dogs, but I don't think my heart could take their short life spans. My DB's friend had a Great Dane called Merlin. Gorgeous beast of a dog, and gentle as anything. But he only lived to be 7 sad

SrirachaGirl Tue 20-Nov-12 17:05:52

I've never had big dogs but I do love them. This morning at the dog park we met a pair of four month old Great Dane pups. They were silvery blue, drop-dead gorgeous and SO calm (unlike other puppies I know <ahem>). Their owner says she goes through one of those giant bags of dog food every two weeks because they eat 7 CUPS A DAY! I didn't like to ask about the poop grin.

SrirachaGirl Tue 20-Nov-12 17:07:38

I didn't know that, Chickens sad.

MayTheOddsBeEverInYourFavour Tue 20-Nov-12 17:07:42

I have three giant breeds as well as six dc because I am obviously mad

One of my dogs is an old English mastiff, he is massive, we constantly get comments about him being a pony really grin despite being almost ten stone he is a big soppy baby and we love him to bits

Space wise they do take up a bit of room but actually not as much as you'd think, and our dogs do better with less exercise rather than more. Food wise they do eat more but there are ways of feeding them well but not too expensively (we but in bulk!)

We haven't really had any downsides of them all being so huge

HarlettOScara Tue 20-Nov-12 17:35:14

The biggest downside of owning giant breeds is the shorter lifespan. Most won't make it to 10 although there are always exceptions and ever advancing veterinary medicine and health screening by breeders is helping to increase longevity in many breeds.

The next biggest downside is the associated costs. Everything costs more than with a small/medium breed...feeding, vet bills (even if relatively healthy, they need larger doses of medication such as worming tablets etc), insurance etc. Even collars, leads and beds are much more expensive because you need the biggest size in everything. We even had to change our car as Newfie puppy had outgrown the boot of our hatchback by the time she was 4 months old.

Then there's the health concerns. Apart from the genetic conditions in many breeds(which good breeders are trying to breed out where possible), giant breeds just wear out quicker due to extra stress on joints and heart.

However, contrary to popular belief, you don't need a massive house; just enough space for them to lie down and stretch out comfortably. The average 3 seater sofa is just about the perfect sizewink My Newfie and large Rottie X live quite comfortably in our very average 3 bed semi and easily found space for the Bernese Mountain Dog who used to stay regularly.

JaquelineHyde Tue 20-Nov-12 17:43:16

We used to have a couple of Anatolian Karabash and I loved them.

If we were to get a dog it would have to be a large breed.

dwagdays Tue 20-Nov-12 20:49:00

I have wolfhounds and Danes, one of each at the moment. Have had a handful of each over the years. Wonderful, lovely dogs that die suddenly, painfully and too early. Before they do this they cost thousands in insurance, food and vet bills.

My dogs dictate my drive, my interior design, my lifestyle. Biggies are soppy and not dogs to leave alone for long. Also they can bloat so shouldn't be left unchecked for too long. Costs... At the moment 120 a month insurance, 150 food (raw fed but one eats three times what you might expect!), random excesses 75 a time, new beds 150 a year, heartbreak...expected at any minute.

We walk miles, I could arm wrestle an alligator thanks to their contribution to my bicep development and am never short of company on walks as we attract company. Those little six stone old ladies always want a cuddle from a dog weighing twice what they do.

Agree with harlett about space not being a huge need although some of mine have needed big runs and walks everyday and have bounced round the house with a complete lack of respect for the sleepy hound stereotype!

Blistory Wed 21-Nov-12 17:23:05

Living with my Bernese and DPs Leonberger. Have had OES, wolfhound and Newfie.

Bad bits - hefty insurance premiums, bathing, transporting, people intimidated by them, fur carpets, shorter life expectancy, suffocating cuddles, can knock over any attempts at Christmas tree protection, children used as skittles, need to be careful of slow growing big bones and joints. Snoring. Risk of bloat.

Good bits - cuddly big bears, my last Bernese made it to 12 without any health issues, current Leo is 9, don't need huge amounts of exercise, can curl up small when it suits them, don't eat excessively if good quality food, feel safe when out and about with them (even though I know it's just an illusion, others don't !), tend to be good with children, can't live without them. Tiny poos. Strangers now go out of their way to talk to me. No longer need a hot water bottle.

There's something special about all dogs but I'm a sucker for the gentle giant type.

bendertherobot Wed 21-Nov-12 21:54:50

Aw, there are some lovely posts about the gentle giant dogs on here. smile Thanks everyone.

Nuttyfilly Thu 22-Nov-12 00:34:32

I love my dobermans! You can't trip over them, stupidly soft and dare I say a little dim! I love big dogs! Food bill is pricey and so is the vets if they need it, but worth very penny and every waking moment, they are very loyal as well! When my dp tells them to do something they look at him and walk off! Then I say sit and they do it lol. And they are so very gentle round my son!

UterusUterusGhouli Thu 22-Nov-12 01:57:13

I do love bigger dogs.

I have a small Staffie atm, but I only because I have a small house, and wanted a big dog.

I want an Irsh Wolf Hound or a Deerhound. So much!
I was put off by a site that said you need a single matrress as a bed.
sad

One day!

UterusUterusGhouli Thu 22-Nov-12 02:01:06

Pagwatch, I read OED are dying out in the uk only 600 dogs here apparently!

HarlettOScara Thu 22-Nov-12 09:08:25

There were over 400 OES puppies registered with the KC last year. This years figures look on track to be about the same (just over 100 registered in each of the first 3 quarters) so while numbers aren't huge, they're not quite endangered yet (under 300 registrations is considered 'endangered') and puppy numbers annually appear quite stable so as long as they don't drop off then the breed should survive ok. That's not including puppies born that aren't registered with the kennel club, of course, of which there are bound to be tens of litters a year (if not more).

The Otterhound, on the other hand, is in dire straits with only 38 puppies registered last year. A gorgeous breed and such a shame that it may die out completely.

BlissfullyIgnorant Thu 22-Nov-12 16:13:06

My one and only criticism of having St Bernard's is the drool (See Turner & Hooch movie) but if you can cope with that...you're laughing. Bernard's are beautiful
Old English are becoming a rare breed so you would be doing the dogs a favour if you took one on.

charlearose Fri 23-Nov-12 10:36:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

charlearose Fri 23-Nov-12 10:39:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Primrose123 Fri 23-Nov-12 10:55:12

We went to a rescue centre to look for a medium or small dog, and left with two Bernese Mountain Dogs. They are not pure bred, but look just like them. They are the sweetest, most loving and gentle dogs I have ever met. One is so gentle that if you put your fingers in his mouth he will back away, doesn't chew or nip at all.

The only downsides really are that they smell, they really do. It's quite a strong smell. It would cost £30 each to have them bathed at the dog groomers, and we can't bath them in our bath as they would soak the house. In the summer we bath them in a tin bath outside and leave them to dry in the sun, but I wouldn't do that in the winter.

Also, they have big feet, and when the weather is wet they get muddy every time they go outside and make a huge mess when they come back in.

They are really lovely, and will be with us until they die, but I probably wouldn't choose to have such large dogs again.

bendertherobot Fri 23-Nov-12 20:05:17

Do newfies bark alot? As in excessive barking? Also, are they fun to play with, loyal and smart? dh likes dogs that you can have fun and play games with. Thanks. smile

HarlettOScara Fri 23-Nov-12 20:34:06

Do Newfies bark a lot? Depends on your definition of a lot I suppose. As a rule, they are not terribly noisy in the way that terriers typically are but they are good watch dogs and will generally bark if there is something to bark about like next door having their windows cleaned Mine also barks when she's excited and apparently walks are exciting as she announces her imminent departure to the entire neighbourhood every fucking evening without fail . When we had an attempted break-in, it was the Newfie who alerted us (while the bloody Rottie X slept through the whole thing) but then hid in the bedroom until it was safe to come out.

Fun to play with? Again, depends what sort of playing you have in mind. They are pretty trainable and generally biddable (sp?) and some (mine) love to play fetch games or search games (hide a toy and get them to find it). Others will give you this face hmm if you throw something and expect them to retrieve it. Physical games (roughhousing and wrestling type games) are not recommended with any large breed as they are extremely powerful and can easily inflict injury by accident.

They are incredibly loyal but then lots of breeds are.

We have done a bit of draught work with our (pulling carts) and there are several clubs across the UK where you can train them for this and also for water rescue. Above all else, Newfies are a water dog and they will take every opportunity to get wet. Swimming is also great exercise for them as it's non-weight bearing and therefore easier on the joints. However, you then have approximately 10 stones of very hairy wet dog on your hands (and sofa) and you do have to learn to accept that 'wet' is just a way of life. ANd any water is fair game...their water bowl, puddles, buckets, paddling pools, streams, rivers, oceans...they aren't fussy. Your floors will be wet. Your furniture will be wet. Your car will be wet. You will be wet. They're more of a lifestyle choice than just a family pet.

JessePinkman Sat 24-Nov-12 04:21:51

HarlettOScara do the Newfoundlands try to rescue swimmers? We live near a river and a lake that people take their dogs to but also lots of people swim there. Do you think a Newfoundland would interfere with people swimming?

IAmSoFuckingRock Sat 24-Nov-12 04:57:19

i love giant dogs. i have a golden retriever at the minute he's about 45kg and with my tiny house and dcs he's about as big as i could have right now. maybe when he's not with me anymore and the dcs have grown i'll get something bigger. he is such a gentle giant. had to put him out of my room at about 6 months though as he took up so much space and i couldn't move he was so heavy on top of me.

HarlettOScara Sat 24-Nov-12 05:14:22

Jesse, they might try. Mine tries to 'rescue' the ducks from the pond in the local park, much to the horror of the duck population.

IllageVidiot Sat 24-Nov-12 05:33:42

Our beloved Rottie was jokingly given the nickname by our family of #1 son, he really was an amazing dog, sadly missed. When our son was born he became nanny and would always sleep next to DS, if he had to go anywhere (had to being relative, he wasn't Batdog) the first thing he'd do when he got back was peer into the moses basket or try and get his head in the sling to check him out - I wonder if he thought I was up to this parenting lark! I once had to nip and get DSs book from upstairs and left the HV with DS in the basket - it turned out she had gone to pick him up and Superdog had nudged her back to the sofa and popped his head in her lap to keep her there, very gently but she clearly wasn't to handle his boy without permisson. He slept next to DS until his last day. Sorry, we're totally not over losing him evidently!
We have a Great Dane, a Great Dane x greyhound (probably, he's a bit of a mystery - but imagine that romantic interlude confused ) and a Flatcoat x Smooth Collie at the moment- the only thing I would change is oldest dog's way of thanking you for a meal which is to snuggle up to you and share a great, chewy burp right in your face. Vile creature.

I would say, with any giant breed you are thinking of getting - do your homework on their hereditary conditions, see what certification or genetic testing is in place to try and erradicate them and go to a breeder that uses these methods, is open and honest with showing you the results, pedigrees, dogs and answering your questions - good breeders want the best homes for their puppies so be prepared to answer some qustions of your own. If you have decided on a breed, talk to people involved with them, get them to recommend breeders and see if names keep coming up, some may be less reticent about giving you names to avoid but expect to read between the lines. Also don't limit your travel - if you only want to buy from your area you may end up with a dog from a commercial breeder, what may be called a puppy farmer, this rarely ends well due to various factors.

Take other factors into consideration too about day to day living - grooming time, a heavy coat on a giant breed is a lot more coat to comb than a small dog, if you are going for a jowly breed will you be happy to clean and dry their lip folds everyday, do you live near enough to a GOOD vet if you have a GDV. Do you have the money for things not covered by insurance - prophylactic treatments, vaccinatons, minor ops are very much more expense for large breeds. Insurance is another one - there are varying views on insurance, it does seem to be a little unfair when it comes to giant breeds but whatever you do you must have a contingency plan - if you don't pay into insurance (which with a good policy will pay on for meds and ongoing tx after initial condition has been treated) then you really should be paying the same kind of figure into an emergency bank fund - accidents happen and if you have a giant breed it will be many thousands by the end of treatment for a broken leg for example. Chronic conditions are also going to continue to be expensive - hundreds or thousands of pounds a year for something like a giant breed with Cushings.

Lifespan - if you go to a good breeder (bearing in mind genetics is a complicated thing), grow your puppy slowly and DO NOT over exercise it while it is growing (thus reducing the most common cause of skeletal issues which is incorrect nutrition and damage to growth plates and joints from over exercise leading to growth issues, cartilage damage and arthritis etc) so no up and down stairs, no walking miles till they drop because 'they're a big dog' etc then you can reduce the chance of some factors that lead to PTS for quality of life reasons. It is a reasonable expectation to get 12 years, some lines have dogs regularly reaching 15- in breeds that go earlier due to heart complaints, this is as an issue that is being countered with good breeding practice and health monitoring. If you are told that breeders dogs usually only reach 9 or 10- ask why. However some countering of these issues is being done by investing in slightly smaller dogs and breeding on with them - if you are going for the biggest dog in the world, you may have to accept it. That said, sometimes it will happen even with everything one could possibly do having been done - that's true of all of us really though.

That sounded very ranty, it wasn't meant to - but it is sensible to do as you're doing and get as much background as you can on the good and bad.
With all that said, I love my giant breeds and would never change them, we have not had any health issues and they don't take up much space - mine sleep on memory foam beds I got handmade from a small place online, I got their collars there too, that was hundreds of pounds cheaper than getting them fitted out in other places (I saved about £300) and they even gave me 3 free cat collars and they are lush! So not everything has to be expensive! Food racks up but when you work it out what I feed vs smaller breeds it's still good value. Actually, I say they sleep on their specially bought, shaped to fit in their cubby holes beds, right now they are on my bed, with me, one DH and 3 cats - not everyone is happy with pets on the bed but by gum I'm lovely and warm!
Plus - they're just the most awesome dogs- love them...just invest in a cork for the gas (DH assures me it's the dogs).

IllageVidiot Sat 24-Nov-12 05:34:57

Dear God - I'm so sorry that was a fecking novel!!

TL:DR - can I just state I'm not liable for any eyebleeding that takes place as a result of reading that!

McKayz Sat 24-Nov-12 05:45:53

My Mum has a Leonberger. He is the most amazing dog I've ever known. He's so gentle considering the size of him. He isn't bothered at all by my children, does have to sniff 5 month old DD every 2 seconds grin

He produces a lot of fur and I think the same can be said for Newfies and St Bernard's.

There are maybe 3 problems with mums Leo. 1. If he stands on your foot, you know about it. 2. He loves to lie in the doorway and 3. He always always lies down on my 2 sons train set, Lego etc when we're there grin

He's going to be 7 I think this year and I'm dreading him getting older.

JessePinkman Sat 24-Nov-12 10:48:27

Thanks Harlett. Poor ducks.
IllageVidiot your Rottweiler sounds like he was a lovely dog. I'm sorry for your loss.

MoreBeta Sat 24-Nov-12 10:56:01

We used to have an Irish Wolfhound - the biggest of the big.

Definitely agree with Blistory on all the good and bad bits. Loud loud bark, could run like a race horse and terrifying to strangers. Absolutely as daft as a brush, didnt know her own strength and would be more likely to accidentally knock you over and proceed to lick you to death than actually bite.

Sadly, like many Irish Wolfhounds she died quite young from a heart condition. You need a lot of space and a lot of time to excercise a big dog.

bendertherobot Sun 25-Nov-12 21:03:43

IllageVidiot - I enjoyed reading your post. smile You sound very lucky to me with so much love in the house.

The reality is that I might never be able to afford a dog, but I do love reading about them. Maybe one day I will own one.

Pongwiffy Tue 27-Nov-12 21:49:36

I was fortunate enough to have an otterhound beautiful, beautiful dog in looks and personality. I rescued her and she had awful separation anxiety. She couldn't cope when my baby arrived. Thankfully I know where she now lives and the person who has her is an expert on the breed, loved her when she was still mine, and is probably one of the most spoilt and happiest hounds around. I haven't seen her since she went as it broke my heart. Even though she's got a better life now I miss her like mad, am heartbroken that DD won't grow up with her and cry when I think about her. As she'd been mistreated she hated loud noises, she quaked in the kitchen whenever DD cried. Personality wise they are the best of all dogs. Incredibly gentle and intuitive. Happiest when cuddled up next to you. I miss her. One day I hope to have another one in my life.

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