Hot Topic 6 Large Breed Dog Myths – Busted!
By: Sonia Singh
Those of us who love large dogs know that it’s a different lifestyle than having other types of pets – even other types of dogs. People have a lot of misconceptions, which often leads to unnecessary fear of big dogs. So let’s bust a few of those large breed dog myths, shall we?
Myth 1: Large dogs are aggressive.
Part of the appeal for many of us big dog owners is that big dogs sound and look more imposing than small dogs. They help us feel safe. But that doesn’t mean that large dogs are naturally aggressive. Their size gives them a quiet confidence when meeting strangers that many small dogs do not share. So even if a big dog barks less than the small dog next door, the big dog’s booming voice is what gets noticed. Most dogs need to get to know you to show you their softer side, and big dogs are no different. Some are actually big babies in much larger packages.
Now you may have heard more stories about large dog bites. Why? That’s the kind of story the mainstream media wants to tell. I once spoke to a county shelter information officer and they told me reporters call asking for news of attacks by specific large breeds. By law, the shelter is required to answer those questions. The truth is, it only sounds like there are more large dog attacks because a Chihuahua attack just doesn’t make a lead story.
Myth 2: Large dogs are happier outdoors.
All dogs need exercise so yes, big dogs enjoy being in a large space where they can run. That doesn’t mean they’re perfectly fine living outdoors all the time. They’re social animals and they want to be with their family. They’re not satisfied living exclusively outdoors.
Additionally, not all breeds are meant for all climates. For example, Huskies are built for withstanding cold weather, but it’s not fair to leave them outdoors in extremely hot climates without providing some cool refuge from the heat. The reverse is true of greyhounds, with their thin coats and nearly fat-free bodies. They aren’t built to handle the cold.
Myth 3: Big dogs are not city dogs.
Many people assume that only small dogs are suitable for small space, big city living. It’s simply not true that large dogs can’t live in apartments or condominiums. The truth is that it depends on a dog’s temperament, not size. A mellow Mastiff would do just as well as a Maltese in a smaller living space. On the other hand, as high-energy dogs, a Labrador and a Jack Russell terrier would go equally stir-crazy in an apartment. Just remember that all dogs need a daily walk and enough exercise, whether they live in an apartment or a house with a yard.
Myth 4: Big dogs shouldn’t be around kids.
Many large dogs are fantastic with kids! For example, did you know that fifty years ago pit bulls had the well-deserved reputation as a nanny dog? Dogs and kids need to be taught how to treat each other, but that goes for dogs of any size. Dogs should be taught how to be gentle around kids and that they’re not sheep to be herded. Kids need to be taught not to poke eyes or pull ears and tails, and that live dogs can’t be treated like their stuffed animals.
With the right education, big dogs and little kids can provide each other limitless love and devotion. I grew up with a German Shepherd mix from birth and loved it. She was gentle, protective, and loving. Perhaps most importantly, she inspired my lifelong love and respect for animals.
Myth 5: Some large breeds have locking jaws, making their bites more dangerous.
Based on dog anatomy, it’s impossible. If an animal has a locking jaw, it’s not a dog. Case closed.
Myth 6: You can’t cuddle a large dog like you can a small lap dog.
Large dogs are just bigger cuddle bugs. Sure, there are some dogs – large and small – that are more like independent cats than affectionate dogs. But for the most part, big dogs are just as affectionate and snuggly as any other dog. They curl up at your feet; they make wonderful bed-warmers; they lay their head in your lap, even if the rest of their body won’t fit. And of course, there are the 100-pounders that do try to fit in your lap like they did as puppies! You can always train that habit away if you’re not a fan of it.
Question: Are any of you big dog owners????
Sonia Singh is a dog supplies expert. She writes about the big dog lifestyle on the Dog Blog at PawPosse.com.