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Tips for Training, Raising, and Grooming Big Dog Breeds

Four large dogs in a field

While many dog owners favor teacup and small dog breeds, it’s time to give some love to the most popular large dog breeds. If you’re interested in adopting a larger dog like an Akita or Saint Bernard, or you already own a large sized dog breed, you may have some training, raising, and grooming questions. Are big dogs harder to train than smaller dogs? How expensive is it to raise a large or giant dog? What kind of grooming needs do larger breeds have? Wonder no more. We’ve got tips for raising large, big, and giant dog breeds.

Are Large or Giant Dog Breeds Harder to Train?

Large dogs present a few issues that their diminutive counterparts don’t. The sheer size and weight of larger breeds can make for some precarious situations if your pet isn’t properly trained. Imagine, a 100 pound (or more) dog that doesn’t know he shouldn’t jump on visitors; his sheer weight can throw your guest to the ground. Add the physical characteristics of a larger breed with a stubborn or independent personality and you can find training a larger dog like the dalmatian or Great Dane frustrating.

Here are a few tips that can help make training large dogs a bit easier:

  • As with any dog, especially large breeds, start training and socialization early! This initial experience with your commands and exposure to sights, smells, sounds, and sensations of the environment can help a puppy become a friendly, disciplined, confident adult dog. 
  • Although many large dog breeds, including the German shepherd and Doberman pinscher, grace the AKC “most trainable” list, training any dog requires time, patience, and consistent corrections.
  • Use a firm tone when training. Never yell or scold your dog as this may cause him to become confused, fearful, and may even encourage bad behavior (aggression) on his part.
  • Use positive reinforcement with high-quality treats and praise immediately upon your dog successfully performing a task. 
  • Since larger breeds can come up to an adult’s waist or chest area, be sure to place treats in a pouch or one hand behind your back as they may distract your dog if you hold them in front. 
  • Make the training sessions fun, interesting, and short for larger breeds like the Mastiff, which doesn’t require a significant amount of daily exercise. According to the AKC, this breed can become bored so fast with repetition, that you may find him snoring mid-training.
  • The best bark control for large dogs is the BarxBuddy Ultrasonic training device with a “quiet” command and plenty of praise and treats. 

How Expensive Is Raising a Large Dog?

The cost of raising a large dog is not quite as expensive as raising a child; however, you go through enough 50-pound bags of dog food to make you feel like you’re raising a few teenagers. There are a plethora of expenses to consider when buying or adopting a dog of any size such as:

  • Toys
  • Collars and leashes
  • Beds
  • Food and treats
  • Grooming
  • Training
  • Veterinary care
  • Medications and supplements

Because everything is amplified with larger breeds, it’s essential you’re prepared for the cost of raising a big dog. According to Forbes you can expect to spend about $22,000 over a 12-year lifespan. Even though you should expect the unexpected when raising a dog, there are a few things you can do to make the expenses of owning a large breed a little less painful:

  • Look for durable products like fetch or tug toys, dog beds, and grooming supplies
  • Buy or price compare your pet’s meds online
  • Brush your dog’s teeth regularly to prevent expensive dental care
  • Use vet-recommended flea and tick treatments to prevent your dog from becoming ill
  • Spay or neuter your dog (which can ensure you don’t have to care for a litter of dogs)* 
  • Buy food and treats in bulk
  • Better yet, make your dog’s treats
  • Don’t overfeed your dog. Many larger breeds don’t require a lot of exercise, and as such don’t require as much food as you think they do. Talk to your vet about an appropriate diet for your pet. If you’re a math wizard The Ohio State University has a Pet’s Calorie Calculator that can help determine your dog’s calorie needs.
  • Groom your pet at home. You can bathe, brush, and trim your dog’s nails with the proper tools like the BarxBuddy self-cleaning dog brush and BarxBuddy dog nail clippers.

*According to Brown University, spaying reduces the occurrence of breast cancer and eliminates the possibility of uterine and ovarian cancer in female dogs, while neutering male dogs reduces the prevalence of prostate cancer).

What Grooming Needs Do Larger Dog Breeds Have? 

Large dogs have the same grooming needs as smaller canines, except larger breeds have more hair to brush, bigger teeth to clean, and larger nails to trim. And, even though dogs don’t all shed like crazy, it’s best to regularly brush your big dog to ensure he doesn’t leave behind big piles of dog hair. Not sure if your pet is a shedder? Check out the BarxBuddy Guide to Shedding Breeds and look for deshedding tools for large dogs. Maintaining your dog’s oral health is essential as it can prevent other issues such as heart and kidney disease. Here are a few tips to make grooming your large or giant breed at home doable:

  • Get an assistant. You never know when you might need someone to help hold onto your dog or hand you supplies.
  • Use a kiddie pool as a makeshift outdoor tub.
  • Keep your pet on a leash if you bathe him outside. This will help keep him from running too far with shampoo in his hair.
  • If you want to bathe your dog inside, use a walk-in shower so you don’t have to lift him into a tub.
  • Use the hairdryer (on a cool setting) to speed up drying your dog’s coat. 
  • Have extra towels around for drying your extra-large dog breed and to keep your grooming area safe and dry.