Large Dogs for First Time Owners: A User-Friendly Guide

Large Dogs for First Time Owners

Large Dogs for First Time Owners

So you're thinking of welcoming a new furry friend into your home? More specifically, you have your heart set on a large dog, even though you're a first-time dog owner. This can be a thrilling yet daunting decision. But fear not, because this guide is designed to provide you with all the information you need to make an informed choice. Dive in to explore the world of large dogs for first-time owners.

Why Choose a Large Dog Breed?

The Fascinating Allure of Size

Large dog breeds are captivating creatures, known for their majestic and authoritative presence. Their substantial stature alone can serve as a formidable deterrent to potential intruders, thus enhancing the security of your household. However, their appeal extends far beyond their protective capabilities. Many large dogs exhibit gentle and friendly dispositions, making them ideal companions for families seeking both security and companionship.

Enthusiasm for Exercise and Active Living

For those who relish outdoor pursuits and an active lifestyle, large dog breeds often emerge as the perfect exercise partners. Whether you're into hiking through rugged terrain or embarking on vigorous jogging sessions, these dogs typically possess the energy and stamina to keep pace with your physical endeavors, ensuring that your active lifestyle is complemented by an enthusiastic four-legged companion.

Best Large Dog Breeds for Beginners

Choosing the right breed is crucial, especially when you're new to the world of dog ownership. this breed is suitable for firsttime owners why this breed that are known for their user-friendly attributes:

Golden Retriever

Size: 65-75 pounds

Temperament: Friendly, intelligent, and devoted.

Why They're Great for Beginners: Golden Retrievers consistently secure their position as one of the most approachable and adaptable breeds. Their eager-to-please nature facilitates straightforward training, making them an excellent choice for novice owners. Moreover, their affable disposition seamlessly blends with households containing children, ensuring a harmonious and joyful environment.

The History of Golden Retrievers:

Golden Retrievers have a rich history that dates back to the 19th century in Scotland. They were initially bred for hunting, particularly for retrieving waterfowl. The breed was developed by crossing the now-extinct Yellow Retriever with the Tweed Water Spaniel, Bloodhound, Irish Setter, and more. This careful breeding resulted in the friendly and versatile breed we know today.

Pros of Owning a Golden Retriever:

  1. Friendly and Social: Golden Retrievers are renowned for their friendly nature. They tend to get along well with people, other dogs, and even other pets, making them great for families and first-time dog owners.
  2. Intelligence: These dogs are highly intelligent and eager to please, making them relatively easy to train. They excel in obedience training and can quickly learn commands and tricks.
  3. Adaptability: Golden Retrievers can adapt to various living situations, whether you're in an apartment or a house with a large yard. They enjoy being part of the family and will thrive in most environments.
  4. Good with Kids: Known for their patience and gentle demeanor, Golden Retrievers are excellent companions for families with children. They are known to be protective and caring towards kids.
  5. Exercise Partners: If you're an active individual or family, Golden Retrievers make excellent exercise partners. They love outdoor activities like hiking, running, and playing fetch.

Cons of Owning a Golden Retriever:

  1. Shedding: Golden Retrievers have a thick double coat that sheds year-round. Regular grooming and cleaning are necessary to manage their shedding.
  2. Energy Level: While their energy can be a pro, it can also be a con for some owners. If not provided with enough exercise and mental stimulation, they can become bored and potentially destructive.
  3. Health Concerns: Like all breeds, Golden Retrievers are prone to certain health issues, including hip dysplasia, cancer, and heart problems. Regular veterinary care is essential to keep them healthy.
Large Dogs for First Time Owners

Labrador Retriever

Size: 55-80 pounds

Temperament: Outgoing, even-tempered, and gentle.

Why They're Great for Beginners: Labradors are renowned for their gentle nature and adaptability. They are typically easy to train, thanks to their keen intelligence and desire to please. Their amiable nature fits well with families, especially those with kids.

The History of Labrador Retrievers:

Originating from Newfoundland, Canada, they were initially called St. John's dogs. They helped fishermen with tasks like pulling in nets and retrieving escapee fish.

Pros of Owning a Labrador Retriever:

  • Friendly: Labs are known for their sociable nature. They are quick to make friends with humans and other pets alike.
  • Trainable: With their intelligence and desire to please, Labradors excel in training sessions.
  • Active: They love activities, especially those involving water, making them excellent companions for active individuals.


  • Shedding: Like Golden Retrievers, Labradors also shed throughout the year.
  • Chewing: Labradors, especially when young, can be notorious chewers.
  • Health Issues: Prone to certain genetic conditions like hip dysplasia.


Size: 50-70 pounds

Temperament: Fun-loving, bright, and active.

Why They're Great for Beginners: Boxers are known for their boundless energy and playful nature. Their loyalty to their family makes them protective and gentle with kids.

The History of Boxers:

Originating from Germany, Boxers were bred from the Old English Bulldog and the now-extinct Bullenbeisser. They've been used for hunting, guarding, and even as messenger dogs during wars.


  • Protective: They are known to be watchful over their families.
  • Energetic: Great companions for those looking for an active pet.
  • Trainable: Respond well to positive reinforcement training techniques.


  • Energy Levels: Their high energy levels require regular exercise.
  • Health Concerns: Can be prone to certain heart issues and cancers.
  • Temperature Sensitivity: Boxers are sensitive to extreme temperatures.

Bernese Mountain Dog

Size: 70-115 pounds

Temperament: Good-natured, calm, and strong.

Why They're Great for Beginners: Bernese Mountain Dogs are an excellent choice for beginners in dog ownership thanks to their calm and predictable temperament, making them easy to understand and train. Their loyalty and affectionate nature create strong bonds with their owners, providing companionship and emotional support. Overall, these majestic dogs offer a smooth and rewarding introduction to the world of pet parenthood for newcomers.

The History:

The Bernese Mountain Dog, hailing from the picturesque landscapes of Switzerland, boasts a rich historical background. These magnificent dogs were originally bred and employed as versatile working dogs in the rugged mountainous regions of Switzerland.

Their historical role was as draft dogs, where they assisted in hauling heavy loads and as drover dogs, herding livestock. This dual-purpose heritage reflects their impressive strength, endurance, and intelligence, all of which have contributed to their enduring popularity as beloved companions today.


  • Gentle Giants: Despite their size, they're known for their gentle nature.
  • Loyal: Extremely devoted to their families.
  • Good with Kids: Their calm nature makes them excellent with children.


  • Lifespan: Sadly, they have a shorter lifespan than many other breeds, often around 7-10 years.
  • Health Issues: They can be prone to certain genetic disorders.
  • Shedding: They have a thick coat that requires regular grooming.


Size: 100-150 pounds

Temperament: Gentle, sweet-natured, and patient.

Why They're Great for Beginners: Newfoundlands, often affectionately dubbed “gentle giants,” are an exceptional choice for beginners and families looking to welcome a new furry member into their homes. These remarkable dogs are renowned for their remarkable patience and deeply loving nature, attributes that make them a perfect fit for both novice pet owners and households with children.

The History:

Newfoundlands have a fascinating historical background that traces back to the rugged coastlines of Newfoundland, Canada. Originally bred as working dogs by fishermen and sailors in the 18th century, these dogs were tasked with performing a wide range of vital tasks. Their robust and muscular build made them excellent water rescue dogs, capable of pulling drowning victims to safety through powerful swimming.


  • Swimmers: They have webbed feet and love the water.
  • Protective: Natural guardians, especially when it comes to children.
  • Trainable: Quick learners and eager to please.


  • Drooling: Known to drool, especially after drinking or eating.
  • Size: Their large size might not be suitable for very small living spaces.
  • Grooming: Their thick coat requires regular maintenance.
Basset Hounds have a rich and fascinating history that traces back to France in the 16th century. Their name, "Basset," is derived from the French word "bas," which means low, reflecting their distinctive short legs and elongated body.

Basset Hound

Size: 40-65 pounds (Though not as tall as some large breeds, they're heavy-boned and solidly built.)

Temperament: Easygoing, friendly, and gentle.

Why They're Great for Beginners: Basset Hounds present an excellent option for individuals new to dog ownership due to their unique combination of characteristics. These charming hounds are renowned for their calm and composed demeanor, which can greatly benefit beginners in the world of pet parenthood.

The History:

Basset Hounds have a rich and fascinating history that traces back to France in the 16th century. Their name, “Basset,” is derived from the French word “bas,” which means low, reflecting their distinctive short legs and elongated body.


  • Affectionate: They love to be around their families.
  • Low Energy: Unlike some large breeds, Bassets are not overly active.
  • Sociable: They generally get along well with other pets.


  • Stubbornness: Can sometimes show a stubborn streak during training.
  • Health Issues: Prone to ear infections due to their floppy ears.
  • Grooming: Regular ear cleaning and grooming are essential.

Caring for Your Large Dog: Basic Needs and Training


Caring for a large dog comes with distinct nutritional considerations. To uphold their optimal health, it's imperative to provide your large breed dog with a meticulously balanced diet tailored specifically to their needs. Look for dog food formulations designed for large breeds to meet their unique dietary requirements, promoting longevity and vitality.


Although many large dogs tend to exhibit lower energy levels compared to their smaller counterparts, they still necessitate regular exercise to maintain physical and mental well-being.

Engaging in routine walks, playtime sessions, and activities that stimulate their intellect is fundamental to ensuring a fulfilling and healthy life for your large dog. Adequate exercise not only keeps them in peak physical condition but also fosters a harmonious and contented disposition.


Given their size and strength, large dogs may sometimes underestimate their own power, making early training essential. Commence training from an early age to instill obedience and social etiquette in your large breed companion.

Teach them fundamental commands to ensure their behavior is exemplary both within the confines of your home and in outdoor settings. Consistent training and positive reinforcement techniques are indispensable for cultivating a well-behaved and manageable large dog that enriches your life and community.

Common Mistakes to Avoid


One prevalent missteps among first-time large dog owners is overfeeding. Given their substantial size, it's easy to fall into the trap of providing excessive portions.

However, this practice can have detrimental consequences, including obesity and related health issues. It's essential to follow appropriate feeding guidelines and consult your veterinarian to determine the optimal diet to maintain your large dog's well-being.

Inadequate Socialization

While your large dog may possess a friendly disposition, they require socialization with both fellow canines and humans. Inadequate socialization can lead to behavioral problems and may heighten the risk of aggressive behavior.

Enabling your dog to interact with a variety of individuals and dogs helps them become well-rounded, adaptable companions, contributing to their overall mental and emotional health.

Neglecting Training

Emphasizing the importance of training cannot be overstated. Neglecting this crucial step or assuming your dog will naturally exhibit good behavior can be a grave error.

Large dogs, in particular, must undergo structured training to understand and respond to commands effectively. Consistency, positive reinforcement, and early training are fundamental components of nurturing a well-behaved and manageable large dog that enhances your home and community.

Inadequate Exercise

While it's true that some large dog breeds have lower energy levels compared to smaller breeds, neglecting their exercise needs can lead to various health and behavioral issues. Inadequate physical activity can result in obesity, restlessness, and even destructive behavior. Ensure your large dog receives regular exercise through activities like walks, playtime, and mentally stimulating games to keep them both physically and mentally fit.

Lack of Grooming

Large dogs often require regular grooming, depending on their breed. Neglecting grooming can lead to issues like matted fur, skin problems, and discomfort for your pet. Educate yourself about your specific breed's grooming needs, which may include brushing, bathing, and nail trimming. Regular grooming not only keeps your dog looking their best but also contributes to their overall health and well-being.

Ignoring Health Check-ups

Large dogs are prone to certain health issues such as hip dysplasia and bloat. Ignoring regular veterinary check-ups can result in undetected health problems that may worsen over time. Establish a consistent schedule for wellness exams, vaccinations, and preventive care to ensure your large dog's health is closely monitored and any potential issues are addressed promptly.

Tips for First-Time Large Dog Owners

  1. Research is Key: Before settling on a breed, research its temperament, exercise needs, and potential health issues. Not every large dog breed may be suitable for beginners.
  2. Prioritize Training: Start obedience training early. A well-trained large dog is safer and more enjoyable to be around than one that's unruly.
  3. Consistent Routine: Dogs, especially larger ones, thrive on routine. Set regular feeding, walking, and playtimes.
  4. Mind the Diet: Consult with a veterinarian to ensure you're feeding the right amount and type of food for your large breed.
  5. Socialize Early: Expose your dog to different environments, people, and other dogs early on to ensure they're well-adjusted and sociable.
  6. Regular Exercise: While some large breeds are less active, they still need regular physical activity. Find exercises that suit your dog's energy levels.
  7. Grooming Needs: Some large breeds require regular grooming. Brushing, nail trims, and occasional baths are crucial to keeping them healthy.
  8. Health Check-Ups: Large breeds can be prone to specific health issues, such as joint problems. Regular vet check-ups can help catch any potential problems early.

FAQs about Large Dogs for First Time Owners

1. Are large dogs harder to take care of than smaller breeds?

Large dogs come with specific considerations in their care. While the fundamental principles of dog care apply to all sizes, large breeds may have distinct needs in areas such as nutrition, exercise, and space requirements. Additionally, some large breeds are prone to specific health issues that necessitate careful monitoring. With proper preparation and attention, however, caring for a large dog can be just as manageable as caring for a smaller breed.

2. Is it more expensive to own a large dog?

Generally, owning a larger dog can be more expensive due to their greater food consumption, grooming needs, and potential healthcare costs. However, the exact expenses can vary significantly based on factors such as breed, individual health, and specific requirements.

3. Can large dogs live in apartments?

Many large dog breeds can adapt well to apartment living, provided they receive sufficient exercise and mental stimulation. It's crucial to conduct thorough research to identify breeds that are better suited to apartment life and ensure you can meet their exercise needs.

4. Are all large dogs high-energy breeds?

No, not all large dogs are high-energy. While some, like the Labrador Retriever, are known for their activity levels, others, such as the Basset Hound or Bernese Mountain Dog, tend to be more laid-back and relaxed. Breed characteristics play a significant role in determining energy levels.

5. How often should I exercise my large dog?

The exercise requirements for a large dog depend on their breed and age. Most large breeds benefit from daily walks and play sessions. It's essential to research the specific needs of your dog's breed and consult with your veterinarian for personalized guidance.

6. Do large dogs get along with children and other pets?

Many large dog breeds are renowned for their gentle and friendly nature, making them excellent companions for children and other pets. However, early socialization and proper training are crucial to ensure positive interactions and a harmonious household.

7. How much should I feed my large dog?

Determining the appropriate amount of food for your large dog involves considering factors such as age, weight, activity level, and overall health. Always refer to the feeding guidelines provided on the pet food label and consult with your veterinarian to establish the best dietary plan for your dog.

8. Are large dogs prone to specific health issues?

Certain large dog breeds may have genetic predispositions to particular health concerns. For example, many large breeds are susceptible to joint issues like hip dysplasia. Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to monitor your dog's health and address any potential problems promptly.

9. Do all large dogs require frequent grooming?

Grooming needs can vary widely among large dog breeds. While breeds like the Golden Retriever may require regular brushing to manage shedding, others might have lower grooming requirements. It's crucial to understand and meet your specific dog's grooming needs to keep them healthy and comfortable.

10. Is training more crucial for large dogs than for smaller breeds?

Training is a fundamental aspect of responsible dog ownership, regardless of size. However, due to their potential strength and size, training large dogs to be well-behaved is especially critical for safety and manageability. Investing time and effort in training can lead to a rewarding and harmonious relationship with your large canine companion.

Concluding Thoughts

Choosing to adopt a large dog as a first-time owner can be an incredibly rewarding experience. With the right breed and adequate preparation, you'll find yourself with a loyal, loving companion. Remember the importance of research, training, and care, and you'll have a flourishing relationship with your new furry friend.


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