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  • Writer's pictureNicola Smith

5 Things to consider before getting a big dog in Toronto

First off, I’d like to begin by saying that, by no means am I trying to dissuade anyone from getting a big dog. In fact, throughout my life, I have only ever owned large breed dogs. I’m writing this for educational purposes, to those considering a large breed dog and to help them have a better understanding of what they are committing to. As a Toronto dog walking service we love dogs of all sizes, big or small.Sadly, too many dogs end up in shelters every day because people did not do their research and give enough thought to the needs of a large dog and whether, in all honesty, they could meet those needs.


1.  Training

Proper training is important for any size dog, but most emphatically for a large breed dog. When a Chihuahua or a ShiTzu jumps up on guests at the front door, it is a far different scenario than a lab or a German Shepherd doing the same thing. What about the dog pulling on the leash while walking; though unintentional, a large dog can easily cause injury to it’s owner. I can’t even tell you how many times I have heard of people pulling their back out or getting an injury from a fall when pulled by their dog. What about a dog biting; approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year. When compared to the population, we can calculate that one out of 69 people will be bitten by a dog. A bite from a large dog will be a far more serious matter. If you are seriously considering purchasing a large breed dog, be certain that you have the time and finances to commit to proper training and socializing.

2. Proper Exercise


Regardless of size, all dogs need exercise. How much exercise your dog needs can depends on the dog’s age, breed, size and overall health. Because large breed dogs are more prone to joint issues, it is even more important to maintain a regular exercise program to prevent them from carrying excess weight. Large breed dogs should be getting 60-90 minutes of exercise daily to maintain good health. If you cannot provide this, consider hiring a dog walker or consider getting a smaller dog that does not require such a high level of activity.

3. More Expensive

Naturally a larger dog is going to cost more to feed as they require more food than a smaller dog.  A small dog can cost less than $50 a month to feed where a larger dog can easily cost over $100. My Rottweiler who weighs close to 100lbs costs me approximately $100 per month to feed.

Yet, it’s not only the food that is more expensive but also the cost of  veterinarian care. 

For example, neutering or spaying your dog will cost more for a larger breed dog. Also, treatments prescribed for worms and fleas are based on the body weight of your dog, again making them more expensive.

The American Kennel Club did a survey of 1000 dog owners; interesting and crucial to know, their findings indicated that large breed dog owners spend on average $3,321 USD per year vs small dog owners who spend $1,831 USD. So please if you are getting a large breed dog, make sure it is within your budget.

4. Housing

If you do not  live in your own home and are renting, finding a place to live can be a challenge with a bigger dog. Many condominiums and apartment buildings have restrictions based on maximum weight of the dogs they allow in their residence. It is also not uncommon that individual landlords are not keen on the idea of renting to someone with a bigger dog. During my last hunt for a condo I was turned down by over 5 places I had applied for, only because I had a large dog. Pretty frustrating!


5. Travel

Did you know that if you have a small dog, most airlines will let you bring your small dog in the cabin with you? To do so, Air Canada states that, your pet and carrier combined must weigh no more than 22lb. If you have a larger dog, you have to pay more to have it ride underneath with the luggage. This type of policy usually applies to trains as well. If the dog is small enough to be carried onto the train, it is allowed to travel with you.

What about those of us who decide to board our dogs when we travel? While no preference may be given on the basis of size at a legitimate boarding facility, friends and/or family members may balk at the responsibility of caring for your large dog while you are away.

Personally, none of the reasons mentioned above could ever change my mind about having a big dog. The love and joy I experience in my relationship with my big baby render the work and extra expenses inconsequential. Also, if I were not boarding dogs all the time, I’d probably have a big dog as well as a little dog. More dogs, more love! Priceless!


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