A Guide To Big Dog Breeds

Big Dog BreedsWelcome to Big Dog Breeds 101. This site exists in the hope to educate and help people who are interested in getting a dog, more specifically a big dog. Making the decision to get a dog is not something that should be done without a lot of thought and research. But obviously if you are reading this you are doing your research and want to find the dog that best suits your lifestyle.

The interactive chart below of big dogs breeds and the bios on each dog will help you decide which dog is the right one for you. Considering that fact that you may be a first time dog owner, the list below is of big dog breeds suggested for first time dog owners.

Big Dog Breeds Comparison Chart and Key

  • Dog Breed with link to detailed bio.
  • If the breed is good with children/families.
  • Dog breed’s overall personality with strangers.
  • Grooming needs.
  • The breed’s activity level.
  • How easy it is to train the breed.

*You can click on any of the columns to sort the information to help make your decision easier.

Good w/ Kids
Bluetick CoonhoundYesFriendlyLowModerateModerate
English FoxhoundYesFriendlyLowHighModerate
Irish WolfhoundYesFriendlyLowLowModerate
Scottish DeerhoundYesFriendlyModerateHighModerate
Bulldog – AmericanYesFriendlyLowModerateModerate
Poodle (Standard)YesFriendlyModerateModerateEasy
Chesapeake Bay RetrieverYesFriendlyLowHighEasy
Clumber SpanielYesFriendlyModerateModerateEasy
Flat Coated RetrieverYesFriendlyLowHighEasy
German Shorthaired PointerYesFriendlyLowHighEasy
Giant SchnauzerYesFriendlyModerateHighEasy
Gordon SetterYesFriendlyModerateHighEasy
Labrador RetrieverYesFriendlyModerateHighEasy
Spinone ItalianoYesFriendlyLowModerateEasy
Bull TerrierYesFriendlyModerateHighEasy

Want to see more breeds? Click here to use our Dog Breed Comparison chart.

What is a Big Dog Breed?

A dog breed is considered to be big when they weigh 50 lbs. or more as an adult. It is important to know that most big breed’s require plenty of room to move and exercise and generally do best in houses with yards, instead of apartments or condos. That’s not to say that you can’t have one if you do live in an apartment, but these breeds need room to move around and need exercise to maintain an even temperament. You need to be dedicated to making sure they receive the proper amount of exercise regardless of your living situation.

How Do I Choose a Breed and Where Do I Start?

There are over 60 different breeds of big dogs, each with their own personalities, temperaments, trainability, exercise and grooming needs. Those are the most important factors you need to consider along with what your lifestyle is and what you think it could be in the future. Never, and I repeat NEVER choose a dog just because you think it is cute or a popular bread.

Your dog is going to live at least a decade or more. This means you must not only consider your current lifestyle and desires in a dog, but you must also consider what may lie ahead, in your future and how it may impact your desire or ability to invest the time, environment, energy and necessary for dog ownership. Before even beginning your research you must be committed to the dog’s training, socialization, basic care and activity requirements.

You should begin by researching a variety of breeds so that you will know what characteristics are hardwired into each one. Every pure bred dog has characteristics that are a given with that specific breed. Knowing those traits can help you decide if a certain breed type may be a good match for you and your lifestyle. Even if you decide on a mixed breed, knowing what breed characteristics it may have will also be in your favor.

You should search this site and read breed specific books for information on breed standards and the huge variety of breeds that are available. You will eventually start to get an idea of what different breeds are like and what ones will fit most likely fit in with your lifestyle. For example, certain shepherding dogs where originally bred to herd livestock. They have it in them to be able to run and work for hours, barking and nipping at the heals of the herds to control them in the pastures. So, if you live in an apartment with small kids and have a job with long hours, a dog that needs a lot of exercise and is inclined to try and herd your children by chasing and nipping at their heals is probably not a good fit for your home. You would probably want to consider a calmer dog that will get a long better with your children and your lifestyle.

By researching different types of breeds you will be able to better assess how much time and money you will need to invest as well. Breeds with significant grooming needs will require regular trips to the groomer; while others you can easily groom yourself at home. Some breeds need a lot of exercise and a lot of time from you. Dogs that need a lot of exercise can form separation anxiety and become destructive when you leave the house if those needs aren’t met. Some breeds are also assertive, such as terriers and working breeds, which is more than likely not the best choice for a first time dog owner because they will require more training and socialization.

Many people enjoy the excitement of having a cute new puppy in their house, but don’t realize the needs of what basically is a baby in your house. Puppies require a puppy proof home, house training, socialization and basic training to grow into calm, even temperamental adults. This takes a lot of time, patience and effort on your part. If you have a busy, hectic life, then a puppy is probably not the best choice for you. Adopting an adult dog would be something to consider, as there are many advantages. Adult dogs are already house trained, as well as probably having obedience training from the previous owner or owners. They also have an established personality that you can observe and does not require as much exercise and physical work as a puppy, although all dogs do require daily exercise.

Once you have narrowed your selection down to one or two breeds there are a few places you can look to help you find a dog. First you can ask acquaintances, you can visit the American Kennel Club site (www.akc.org) for breeder information in your area, contacting the national and local sections of the breed club and asking for breeders in your area and contacting a breed-specific rescue organization. If you decide on a mixed breed you can search petfinder.com or visit your local animal shelter to see if a certain dog meets your needs.

If you are not comfortable with the idea of choosing your own dog, you can solicit the help of a professional trainer or behaviorist. Most dog professionals are more than happy to help you choose the dog that is right for you. Choosing to get the help of a professional will help ensure you have selected a breed that goes well with your family and lifestyle.

How Do I Find A Breeder?

Once you decide on a breed, and knowing you want a puppy, it may take some time to find the right breeder. Reputable and ethical breeders do not breed often. They will only breed when they have found a pair of dogs who have been proven to have the ideal health and combined temperaments required to insure they will have the healthiest, well tempered offspring possible. Breeders may decide to cancel a planned breeding when test results or anything may indicate that any offspring may not produce the same. Also, reputable breeders will breed only when they have a sufficient number of homes, evaluated and deemed appropriate, awaiting their puppies.

Finding a breeder can be a long, somewhat arduous, process, but necessary when searching for a healthy and even temperamental pet. There are several types of breeders, like puppy millers, which you SHOULD NOT buy from, back yard breeders, show performance breeders and reputable hobby breeders. Roughly 99% of people looking for dogs are just looking for pets, not show dogs, and so do not be impressed if a breeder does participate their dogs in the show ring. A reputable breeder should be concerned only with health and temperament.

It is important to know what kind of breeder you are dealing with and the consequences of your selection of one. The knowledge, thoroughness, and integrity of the breeder, and the quality of dogs they breed, will make all the difference in the world, in regards to your dog’s health and temperament, as well as your experience as a first time dog owner.

A responsible breeder will have both dogs tested for every genetically transmitted disease, and will have comprehensive knowledge of the pair’s ancestors and have detailed knowledge of their lifespan, temperament and health issues. They should be able to go as far back as three generations, and have same detailed information on any other litters that may have been produced by this pair previously.

Even if a breeder tells you that there were no problems, you should ask for details, like how long has this or that dog lived. You should also do your own independent research. You can ask for contact information for both owners of the dogs in the pedigree. You should make sure and ask both regular pet owners, as well as competitive/show owners. Also ask for professional references from any breeder you may be considering, which may include the veterinarian they use and any clubs or organizations they are affiliated with.

A reputable breeder will also want to know about you as well. First of all, they will not sell breeding animals to people. You will more than likely have to sign a contract or agreement that you will spay or neuter your pet. This is not an insult, they understand that there is an overpopulation problem, and know that there are many potential and serious problems that you and your dog may endure, if you are a beginner, and decide to breed your pet.

They will also screen their potential puppy owners carefully. They will want you to have a secured yard, considering you know the care requirements of the breed you selected. They will more than likely want you to attend puppy kindergarten and basic obedience. At a minimum they will want to feel assured that your lifestyle, resources, and level of commitment, currently, and in the foreseeable future, will provide loving, caring and secure environments for their puppies. You shouldn’t be offended by this, it is a sign that the person you are dealing with is more than interested in the welfare of their puppies than making a sale. Also, they will require owners to return their dogs to them in the event a placement does not work out. Reputable breeders are responsible for their puppies their entire lives. Don’t be surprised if the breeder stays in close contact with you and asks for updates on how their puppy is doing; it’s because they care. A responsible breeder will want to do everything possible to arm with you with sufficient knowledge and support so as to best insure a successful and loving, lifetime relationship, between you and your dog.

Additional Resources

The Art of Raising a Puppy

How to Raise the Perfect Dog: Through Puppyhood and Beyond

American Kennel Club Breeder Search