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the Dog Blog

What You Need to Know About Raising a Large Breed Dog

A large breed dog that has been raised with good health and nutrition.

When it comes to finding your best friend, some pet parents are looking for more to love. Whether you’re looking for a jogging partner, a guardian or a cuddle buddy, large breed dogs can fill your home with love, but also come with unique responsibilities. Large breed dogs are typically classified as dogs that are 55 pounds or larger at adulthood. These breeds include Great Danes, Mastiffs, Boxers, Dalmatians, German Shepherds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Greyhounds, and more listed in our dog breed library.

If you’re the dog parent of a large breed dog or are thinking of becoming one, here are some considerations when raising your big buddy to ensure he is happy and healthy.

Large Breed Dog Food and Nutrition

Come feeding time, it’s important pet parents understand that large breed dogs have different nutritional needs than smaller breeds. You’ll want to feed your best friend the right food for his size, while ensuring he maintains a healthy weight. Large breed puppies grow fast, but if you feed them too much, they may potentially gain too much weight as they grow. This is bad for your four-legged friends health and can put additional pressure on his muscles and joints.

Start your large breed puppy with a specially formulated, high-quality food like Bil-Jac Large Breed Puppy Food. Once your best friend is 12-18 months old, you can switch to Bil-Jac Large Breed Adult Food to help him maintain a healthy weight.

Common Large Breed Health Issues

Due to their size and weight, hip and joint issues can be an issue among large breed dogs. Typical warning signs for these concerns include if your dog is running less, moving slower, or avoiding stairs. Consider adding a product like Bil-Jac BreakThru® Joint Health Formula that is specially formulated to support your best friend’s hip and joint health, as well as providing probiotics for immune function.

Bath Time for Big Dogs

No matter the size of your dog, grooming and bath time is a key part of their care. With a large or giant breed dog, bathing can be a bit more challenging. It’s important to train your large breed to behave in the tub from an early age. If your home doesn’t have room in the bathtub, or the weather gets too cold for an outside bath, try looking for a Dog Wash to make the job a little easier. Of course, groomers can accommodate large dogs and can be of great help for bath time and keeping their nails trimmed.

When bathing your dog, it’s important to note that some large breeds, like Bernese Mountain Dogs and Golden Retrievers, are double coated, which essentially means more fur to keep groomed. It can be a little tricky to get the soap into their fur and rinsed out completely.  If this is an issue for you, you may want to consider diluting your dog shampoo with water to make it more manageable to wash and rinse. Because there’s so much fur, your best friend may need your help drying off with a towel or a grooming blow dryer.

Additionally, be sure to brush your dog’s coat every couple days, no matter the length of his coat. Many large breeds have long hair that can easily become tangled or knotted, so you may need to brush more frequently to remove loose hair and prevent mats.

Titanic Training Tips

Proper training is a key element for every dog, as dogs that are well trained are more likely to be happy and have happy pet parents. As your large breed puppy grows to rival you in weight, it will be critical to have him respond to commands, understand expectations, and respect you early in the process. The time investment in a training class will be helpful in training the basics and socializing your dog to know how to act when encountering other dog friends.

Basic commands include sit, lay down, and stay, but you’ll also want to consider other behavioral training for your large fur baby. For example, allowing your large breed puppy to jump on you or others can present a big issue as he grows. Come and drop it are also important skills to know for your dogs safety.  Dog treats like Little-Jacs (small for lots of training) or Bil-Jac Original Recipe Treats (for big rewards) can keep training interesting and your pup motivated for success.

Enormous Exercise Needs

While many large breed dogs are more than happy to relax all day, your best friend will still need to exercise regularly, as obesity and inactivity may increase the risk of health concerns. Large breed dogs are big in size and your puppy may look like an adult, his frame, but when playing and exercising, don’t let your dog jump around too much or go overboard on high-impact activities. Your vet can give you some advice as to how much activity would be appropriate for your dog’s breed mix and age.

Toys and Gear Made for Big Buddies

No ordinary products will cut it for your large friend. Look for toys, leashes, bowls, nail trimmers, and beds specially designed for larger dogs. You want to make sure your harness and leash are strong enough, your dog bed is big enough, and your toys are durable enough for your big buddy.

Larger Ways to Care for Your Large Breed Dog

One of the greatest rewards of having a large breed dog is the huge amount of love they give. Want more ways to keep your buddy happy and healthy? Join our Best Friends Club today to receive our exclusive email newsletter with helpful articles, dog care tips, and members-only discounts on Bil-Jac products.

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