7 Myths You Shouldn’t Believe About Big Dogs

Many people are intimidated by large dog breeds — often because of their preconceived notions about them. After all, big dogs can't live in apartments and tend to be overweight and they're not good with kids. Right? Not necessarily.

We certainly don’t want you to lose out on the love a big dog can offer, so we’re ready to help dispel some of the most common falsehoods about them. Check out the gallery below to learn the truth about these gentle giants.

Big Dog Misconceptions

Great Dane


Myth: Big Dogs Can’t Live in Apartments

It’s understandable to assume that a big dog requires a big space. But luckily, it’s not always true! The important thing to know, writes Dr. Marty Becker, is that almost any dog can be happy living in almost any home — as long as you make sure he gets the exercise he needs. Once they've gotten their time in running (overall health permitting, of course), walking and playing, many big dogs will be content to rest and relax — in whatever space you have.

German Shepherd


Myth: Big Dogs Make Great Guard Dogs

“Tell that to the Lab or Golden Retriever that helps a burglar haul goodies out of the house,” says Dr. Becker. If you’re depending on one of these guys to protect you from an intruder, you might be barking up the wrong tree. “I've personally seen a Wirehaired Fox Terrier chase off a 200-pound bear while the 80-pound Lab ran away." He adds: "Some large dogs are great guard dogs, and others are pooch pacifists." A lot of it depends on the breed and the training. The Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherd, for example, are typically naturals at this job. If you’re looking for a guard dog, Becker recommends focusing on the bark — not the bite.

Mastiff sleeping


Myth: Big Dogs Are More Aggressive

This is a close corollary of the guard-dog myth — and with good reason. It’s quite common for people to be afraid of lumbering dogs like Mastiffs or Great Danes, much more so than with small dogs. But there’s no truth to the idea that they’re necessarily more aggressive than their smaller peers. Many of these guys are gentle giants. While it’s important to be careful around any dog breed, you don’t have to be scared merely because of a breed’s larger size.

Large breed dogs lapdog


Myth: Big Dogs Aren’t Lapdogs

While this myth is technically true — after all, you might not want a Newfoundland or Great Dane actually in your lap — if you think big dogs aren’t big cuddlers, there’s a good chance you just haven’t spent enough time with one. The Mastiff, for example, has a reputation for being one giant wannabe lapdog. Despite the fact that he can weigh up to 200 pounds, he has a penchant for leaning on his family members and lying at their feet.

Large dog and girl reading


Myth: Big Dogs Aren't Good With Kids

Much to the contrary: Many large and giant breeds are great with children. In fact, a dog’s personality is more important than his size when finding a family dog. Sometimes, children can be rough with small, fragile dogs, and there are some giant breeds, like the Irish Wolfhound, who can inadvertently wipe out a kid’s board game or school project — or flatten the kid himself. Both the children and the dog will have to be taught how to play safely together. Like the famed Nana in Peter Pan, the Newfoundland is typically devoted to and protective of the children in her family. The Saint Bernard has a heart of gold and can also be a good choice for the right family, as long as he’s trained and socialized at a young age. The key is not to judge a book by its cover — or its size — when figuring out what dog is the best fit for your family.

Lab eating food


Myth: Big Dogs Tend to Be Overweight

“Many pet owners think their large dog will eventually go from L to XL or even XXL,” Becker says. “It's no more true for a teacup Poodle and medium-sized Corgi than a large Lab or a Great Pyrenees. Weight gain is primarily about how much you feed (total calories including snacks) and how much you exercise your pet.” You can keep your big dog (or any size dog) trim with “less food in their bowls and more miles on their feet,” he says.

Golden Retriever running


Myth: Big Dogs Are Ideal Running Companions

Although you might think large or giant breed dogs are more athletic, some smaller dogs can actually make better running companions. Running is a high-impact sport that can aggravate some orthopedic conditions like hip dysplasia. Your vet should clear your dog for running before you begin. He might also have some recommendations about diet and supplements that can help make running better and safer for your dog. And no puppy, of any size, can start long-distance training from a young age. Here are a few important things you need to know before you decide to include your dog in your daily runs.

More on Vetstreet:


Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!