The idea of actually wanting a big dog is something that small dog people will never understand, but if you have the space, the time, the budget, and a giant dog-shaped hole in your heart (as opposed to a tiny chihuahua-shaped hole), it might be time to take the plunge. But before you do, there are some things to know before getting a big dog. Knowing you need a collar and food and water bowls isn't going to cut it.
There are a few things to think about when getting any sort of dog: Can you afford it? Are you allowed to have one in your home? What will happen if you go on vacation? How many times a day will you be able to walk it? All of these questions apply when you're deciding whether or not to get a big dog, but there are some more specifics to think about, too. Big dogs take up more space, eat more, might need more exercise, and in some ways can just be a bigger responsibility.
Whether you're just starting to think about adopting a big dog, or are almost ready to go for it, here are nine things to consider.
Where You're Going To Live — City vs. Suburbs vs. Rural
You can have a big dog and live in a city, but there are factors to take into account. Will you have a yard? Will you live near a park? Do you have a car or use public transport? All of these things have an effect on whether a big dog is the right choice. For instance, if you live in New York City and need to take your big dog to the vet, how are you going to do it? A Saint Bernard definitely isn't fitting in a bag you can carry on the subway.
Where You're Going To Live — Rental vs. Owning
If you rent your home, obviously you need to know if your landlord allows dogs, and if so, what size they can be. But you also need to have an idea of what what your future looks like. If you are someone who moves around a lot, it might not be a good idea to get a big dog since it's pretty common for apartments to not allow them.
And if you own your home, you aren't necessarily in the clear, either. If you live some where that has a homeowner's association, they might have restrictions about what size dogs or types of breeds are allowed.
How Much Exercise They Need
Many large dog breeds need more exercise than other breeds. According to PetMD, "Breeds in the hunting, working, or herding groups (e.g., Labrador retrievers, hounds, collies and shepherds) will need the most exercise. If your dog is in one of these groups and is in good health, she should be getting at least 30 minutes of rigorous exercise along with her 1-2 hours of daily activity."
That said, there are some large breeds that don't need strenuous exercise everyday. Basically, just know what you're getting into, because a dog not getting enough exercise can affect other aspects of their health and wellbeing.
That They Need More Food
Bigger dogs need more food, and more food means more money. According to PetMD, a small dog might need more calories per pound than a big dog, but if we're talking about a 10-pound dog versus a 100-pound dog, the 100-pound dog is still eating a whole lot more.
What Health Issues Are Common
There are some health issues that are more common in large breeds than in smaller ones. PetMD lists a few issues that are common for "giant dogs," including hypothyroidism, and hip and elbow dysplasia.
That They Have Shorter Lifespans
It's sad to say, but larger dog breeds have shorter lifespans.
What You'll Do With The Dog When You Travel
If you travel often — or at all, really — you should know what you'll do with your dog when you go on a trip. For instance, according to Bring Fido, while some airlines will allow small dogs to be carried on to flights, this isn't the case for big dogs, who would have to ride in the cargo area for a fee, if allowed, or left behind. Leaving the dog behind could also be an added cost, if you don't have a friend to family member to watch it, since keeping it in a kennel requires a fee, too.
What Your Day-to-Day Schedule Looks Like
Dogs need to go outside for exercise, yes, but also to relieve themselves. If you work full-time and outside of your home, will you come home to walk your dog? Will a significant other/friend/roommate help you? Will you hire a dog walker? Will the dog go to doggy daycare? Will you train them with pee pads? I know what you're thinking: All of this applies to small dogs, too. Well, just know, if you want to use pee pads, a big dog will fill that pad up quicker.
Your Financial Situation
Anyone getting a dog should be aware of whether they'll be able to handle the costs that come along with it, but since large dogs eat more food and have shorter lifespans, they could easily end up being more expensive to own than a small dog.
Dogs are wonderful, so this isn't about convincing yourself not to own one if you want to. Instead, it's about thinking everything through before deciding to take care of a very big living creature. And if everything sounds good, then it might be time.