By Erin Shackelford
From huskies to shepherds, to hounds to marvelous mystery mixes, animal shelters and rescue groups all over the country are struggling to find homes for larger-breed dogs.
Big dogs can be a ton of fun. You might be surprised to learn that many need less space and exercise than you think.
Sadly, due to misconceptions about the space and care they require, these loveable goofballs don’t find homes as easily as their small- er counterparts.
This is true at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, too. Sometimes, a big dog’s length of stay* is longer than a small dog or puppy.
What is considered a “big” dog?
In addition to being cuddle buddies, bed warmers (and hogs), and premier walking or running partners, big dogs are generally identified as pups who weigh more than 50 pounds.
There are misconceptions about big dogs, their behavior, their temperaments and what they need to thrive in a home. Like all animals, big dogs are individuals. Each have a unique personality and preferences.
While some are giant couch potatoes, others require a lot of exercise. Some are independent. Others are glued to your side every chance they get.
Big dogs can make great companions for a variety of families. Below are some reasons large-breed dogs make wonderful pets:
• Big dogs usually bark less than small breed dogs.
• Big dogs tend to have milder personalities, greater self-control and higher tolerance for young children compared to small dogs.
• Some large dogs can make excellent pets for apartment living. Not every large dog requires a lot of exercise, so they can thrive in smaller spaces or without yards.
• Big dog breed Labrador Retriever has topped AKC’s “Most Popular Dog Breed” list for 31 years straight (until this year). Other big dog breeds also make the top 10 list.
• Many large breed dogs are great with children and make excellent family pets due to their gentle and patient nature.
• Big dogs are loyal and can be easy to train and assimilate into routines.
• According to a study by the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, big dogs are statistically better in three categories: obedience, aggression and excitability and anxiety and fearfulness.
Love is no small thing
While we want you to seriously think about adopting a big dog, there are some other aspects of adopting a larger dog to consider.
All animals require some exercise and mental stimulation every day, but some large breed dogs need more activity than others to live a happy, healthy, stress-free life. Definitely consider the dog’s activity needs and age when adopting.
Remember, adopting any dog regardless of size is a big responsibility and requires careful consideration of their needs and your lifestyle. Proper training, socialization and care are essential to en- sure a happy and healthy life for your furry friend.
Adopting from the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria
We have many incredible animals available for adoption, including large dogs! Thanks to a dedicated team of staff and volunteers, we are able to get to know our animals well, including their personalities, likes and dislikes. We also have some idea as to what type of environment we think they will flourish in.
Our adoption team makes every effort to work with potential adopters to find an animal that will fit their lifestyle.
While we’d love for you to “love large” and adopt a big dog, we have many other animals available for adoption, including rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, cats, kittens, puppies and small dogs.
*The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria does not euthanize for space or length of stay. Animals can stay with us for as long as needed to find them a suitable and loving home.