Dogs in GeneralLarge Dogs

What are the best large dogs for a family? My answer might surprise you!

Samoyed Dog

I’ve recently been taking a look at Google search to find out what people commonly ask for in relation to our lovely canine friends. What I discovered is that lots of people want to know what the best large dogs for a family are.

Samoyed DogI can completely understand this, as just like some people are cat people instead of dog people, some of us prefer larger dogs, whilst others prefer small breeds. And of course it’s completely natural if you are getting a dog for the first time, that you want to know how well a particular breed will fit into your family.

Mastiff DogHowever, my first answer to this question is not going to be a straight forward one. How could it be, when I don’t know you, your family or your personal circumstances. I can see there are loads of answers to the Google question, with lots of sites giving you a list of breeds that are suitable. However, I think this is a bit shallow! It really is a bit of a generalization, and something I don’t think you should put too much stock by.

It might help to make a comparison, so for argument’s sake let’s think about cars. If we’re buying a car, it’s also natural to research what other people are saying about a particular make and model of car. What are the specifications? How fast does it go? What fuel consumption are you likely to get? But with the best will in the world, you can research until you’re blue in the face and there’s smoke coming out of your computer, or phone – and you still might buy one of those cars that for whatever reason just seems to be plagued with problems. You’re in and out of the repair shop with it, you never seem to get the expected fuel economy and it ends up costing you a lot of time, money and frustration.

German ShepherdThe same can be said for dogs, in the sense that a lot of other people might have a good experience with a particular large breed, but that isn’t a guarantee you will. In my mind, there are many other considerations over and above what the majority of other people might think and feel. Don’t get me wrong, it might help you narrow down your choice by listening to what others say, but when it comes to actually making a decision, these are some of the things you need to think about:

  • How much room do you have inside and out of the house for a large breed dog?
  • How much time will there be for someone in the family to exercise your dog?
  • Is dog hair around your house going to be an issue – either for allergies or because it will annoy you?
  • How often are you prepared to groom your dog?
  • How much is it going to cost to feed a large dog?

These are just some of the questions you need to ask of yourself and your family before making a final decision on what large dog is best. Whilst a good first step is to shortlist the breeds you like the look of, I highly recommend you use this

==> Dog Selector Tool <==


to help guide you through a fuller list of lifestyle questions which will help match you with some well-suited dog breeds.

What dog breed is best for you?



Once you have decided on a type of large dog, you will need to think about where you are going to get your puppy from.

American Dog Breeders AssociationI can’t stress highly enough that you need to go to a reputable breeder. They should be registered with an official organisation or Kennel Club, with a registration number. Ask to go and visit them, before you even put your name down for a puppy. Many breeders will want to meet potential puppy owners first anyway, to ensure they are going to a good home.

Why do I think this is important? Two reasons:

  1. Registered breeders promote the right characteristics for that breed, which means you are less likely to have health issues further down the road. This is of particular importance for large breed dogs, where joint problems such as hip dysplasia can affect many dogs. It’s not a guarantee against health problems, but it’s a good step to try and minimize the chances of these occurring.
  2. Buying off general advertising sites on the internet helps promote puppy farming – and that’s a fact! I don’t mean don’t contact a breeder on the internet, but take particular care of buying any animal from a site where advertising is free or very cheap. Puppy farmers know there is a market for certain types of dog, and they can be very clever and disguising their operations, but puppy farming is a horrendous industry and a lot of animals suffer and lose their lives as a result. Buying from these people keeps the industry going, and I know it’s prevalent in the USA and right across Europe.


The importance of TRAININg

Tha Importance of Dog TrainingAnother thing to realize is your training will be key to building a good bond with your dog. This needs to start as soon as you bring a new puppy home. The sooner you set the ground rules, and your puppy knows what your expectations are, the happier you will all be. Remember, they love you and want to please you, but they need to know what you want them to do as well, so the onus is on you for the training side of things!

You’ve maybe heard about certain dog breeds being more vicious than others, but that’s not really true. Dog breeds do have certain characteristics and tendencies, but it is always a bad owner that makes a dog bad. This is important to remember when rescuing a dog too. You don’t know what their history has been and how they have been treated, and whilst a lot of dogs will be eternally grateful to their new owners for rescuing them, there will also be some dogs that may have certain triggers that cause them to get frightened and wee inside for example. For rescue dogs, that is why it can be a little trickier and training may take more time and patience than with a new puppy. A new puppy is a bit more of a “blank canvas”.

if you are worried about training, I have some other resources that may help you:

==> great dog training books available on Amazon

==> dog training article and online help

the role of exercise

It’s a logical progression that the bigger the dog, the more of everything they need. More exercise, more food, more grooming and a bigger bed! This is fine, as long as you’re prepared for it.

I love big dogs and have always had them around – from working dogs, to Golden Retrievers to German Shepherds. All of which LOVE their exercise!

Large Dogs Love Exercise

A dog who doesn’t get enough exercise is likely to feel under-stimulated and much more likely to get up to mischief. This can take many forms, some of which can be:

  • chewing on shoes, clothes or furniture
  • digging holes in the yard
  • anxiety when left alone
  • over-exuberance and jumping up when you get home

On the plus side, large dogs are great for getting you exercise as well. It’s a great way for people to keep fit. So pick your tools for the job, your walking shoes and enjoy the elements (rain or shine!)

(Visit my section on Collars and Leashes for large dogs too)

I hope this gives you some food for thought about large dogs and helps you make a decision about which one is right for you. I love them, and I’m sure you will love whatever one you end up choosing.

Happy Dog Days 🙂


2 thoughts on “What are the best large dogs for a family? My answer might surprise you!

  1. Hi Mara,

    What an excellent article, I was absorbed by the reading!

    I have two big dogs, and I love them, but If I had to begin all over again, I would have chosen smaller dogs. The problem with big dogs is that they really need proper training. If they are not trained well, then it makes it hard to control them, especially in the street when they meet other dogs. I never go alone with my dogs. I need someone to help me, and I don’t even enjoy being with them. However, these are my dogs and of course I love them, but more when they are at home:)

    A dog trainer is expensive, and I don’t have the time to do it myself. So I thought that buying a leash that stops them pulling would be a good idea. What do you say?

    Do you have something to suggest, please for a 20kg dog?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Daniella,

      Thank you for your comments and I’m glad you enjoyed reading this. I completely agree with you that dog training for large dogs is especially important, particularly so that they don’t end up frightening others when they are out and about. Dog training doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does take time and patience. You can opt for online help (there is a free mini course available in my article here) or you can also pay a little bit for some specially selected training books to help you.

      As for a leash to stop pulling, it’s a bit of a myth that a leash alone will stop a dog pulling. However, there are harnesses that do work to minimize your dog’s urge to pull on the lead. (My pick for you is the Arikon Heavy-Duty Adjustable Harness & Leash)

      I hope that you can find some help from some of these suggestions, as it should be an enjoyable time for you to be out with your dogs. Let me know how you get on, Mara.

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