experience with large and xtra large dogs - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-05-2011, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've always wanted a large lazy dog. Large = its back up to my hip.

We first thought a Dane and after doing extensive research learned these dogs don't do well in cold ... we're moving to Northern Vermont.

Then we thought a Newfoundland ... but we're intimidated by the hair upkeep.

We've finally decided that a English Mastiff has everything we want in a dog. Our neighbor has one that we've had over a few times so we know how big xtra large is :)

 

In doing research about English Mastiffs I read that 2 miles a week in their prime is more than sufficient. I'm wondering what other people's experience is with this. We are moving to the family farm to work the farm and I envision having the dog by my side all day every day - and a lot of walking back and forth and up and down hills and around trees, lol. Will this be a problem for the mastiff?
I'm really nervous about getting a dog that is too high energy or isn't gentle and patient with our well behaved but young children. The mastiff seems perfect!

Alternatively we could leave the dog home for part of the day - people would frequently be in and out ... but it sounds like the mastiff would prefer to be with its people and we'd prefer that too!

We don't envision being in a position to add a dog for another year or so but want to make sure we're making the best decision we can when we ARE ready - so we're researching extensively now.

 

Thanks!


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Old 02-05-2011, 12:11 PM
 
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A mastiff would be fine for that kind of work.  I have a friend on another forum who has a mastiff as a service dog so obviously she goes everywhere with her.  Just make sure to find a really reputable quality breeder or rescue and they should be able to find a pup or dog that fits your needs.  With giant breeds while they are young you dont want to do forced exercise, but letting them romp and play and walk with you at their own pace is fine.  I am assuming there will be frequent breaks for the dog to lay and snooze etc, so really should be fine.  

 

(Oh and while danes dont do great in the cold, they definitely can....Many many danes I know live in canada, new england, even Alaska.  You wouldnt want to leave them outside, but a mastiff wouldnt be good for that either...a coat and they are good for hanging out if its supercold during the day while you do your chores etc)


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Old 02-05-2011, 12:14 PM
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Don't get a Great Pyr, just for the record.  There's a reason their nickname is "disapyr."

 


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Old 02-05-2011, 12:29 PM
 
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My ds's bf's mom has one on a "gentleman's farm" and honestly he is the best dog ever. Good with the horses and chickens and the constant stream of people. He is intimidating when be greets me in their lot by putting his paws on my front window but once you know him you know he just wants you to scratch his back- he knows your not a box of snacks ;-). He stays on their land and never wanderss.

......and this is in the foothills of Colorado
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Old 02-05-2011, 02:53 PM
 
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I'm a large dog lover myself (we just got a rottweiler puppy, although, I don't think that one would fit your needs, as they do need substantial amount of exercise); and as much as I love the look of mastiffs, one thing I know for sure about mastiffs is that they drool. A lot. bag.gif

 

I think Swiss Mountain Dog, or Akbash would fit your needs as well. Maybe I'm projecting my own fear of drool, then just disregard my post. lol.gif

 


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Old 02-05-2011, 03:29 PM
 
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lol.....rotts drool too!  ;)

 

If you are looking for a good actual farm dog vs a companion dog who just lives on a farm, yeah, there are other options too.  Anatolians are very nice dogs in general.  


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Old 02-05-2011, 05:42 PM
 
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We have a mastiff mix(he's mixed with St. Bernard). He's super mellow, but playful when the situation is right. He never seems tired, but he does sleep a lot. But if there's stuff going on, he'll be right there with you! 

 

Oh, and he doesn't drool. He does drip a little when he drinks water, but I don't think that's a big deal. 

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Old 02-06-2011, 07:28 AM
 
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I was also going to post about the drool.  Otherwise, wonderful dogs!

 

Had two Danes, hated the cold.  Hated the rain.  They would have hated having to be out in that weather.

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Old 02-06-2011, 08:07 AM
 
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I love large breed dogs.  I love working with them at the hospital too.  People are intimidated by them...but really I worry about the little guys....9 times out of 10 it will be that little lap dog who wants to try and tear you apart.   I just want to put a reminder out though.  Large breed dogs have a much shorter lifespan than a smaller breed. Google -english mastiff predisposed conditions  under google books.  The first book "Breed Predisposisitons...." is a great one.  It will give you the exerpt on mastiffs.  The most common issue I have seen with them over the years is joint issues.   ....

 


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Old 02-06-2011, 08:20 AM
 
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I love large dogs!

 

We fostered a Great Pyrenees for awhile and she was so lovely, calm and friendly but ANNOYING! 

 

My favorite breed at Bernese Mountain dogs, and we have a Bernese mix. They are so gentle with kids, and so wonderfully huge and beautiful. 

 

 

You know what is a great dog? Shiloh Shepherds! Here's some information - http://www.shilohshepherd.com/

 

They are huge, beautiful, amazing with children, good protectors and don't have the hip issues that German Shepherds do. REALLY awesome dogs! 


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Old 02-06-2011, 01:09 PM
 
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I have a 7 month old male Mastiff and he is an absolute dear. As he is a pup, I don't take him for long walks, just around the neighborhood, but  he spends quite a bit of time outside, I think what you suggest is fine once the dog is an adult, but you might want to limit the exercise while a puppy. I am so glad we got a Mastiff, our dog was super easy to house train, has a wonderful temperament and is super tolerant of the children, mine are older though at 13.5 and 11. Oh, and he isn't a big drooler.

 

ETA: here is a link to a great documentary on English Mastiffs:

 

Mastiff - A Gammonwood Tale (Part 1.1)

Mastiff - A Gammonwood Tale (Part1.2)

 


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Old 02-06-2011, 05:14 PM
 
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We have two Newfoundlands.

Super great with little kids.

Not hyper. Content to laze. Want to be where ever you are.

The hair ... You could get them clipped down a couple of times a year to reduce the brushing. That,s what we do. But you do have to groom more than a short coated breed.

They are very smart. And sweet. But need lots of attention and care.


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Old 02-06-2011, 05:35 PM
 
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I was a groomer for years so I was able to interact with lots of different dog breeds. My favorite large dog breed is the bernese mountain dog. Mellow but not a slug, friendly and while they have a long coat, none that I knew were ridiculously thick.

 

I also loved Newfoundlands, however, they do have thicker coats and seem to blow more hair, and the two we groomed drooled so bad, I just don't know that I could deal with it. Very very lovely dogs though. We had one newfie customer who came in every 4 weeks for grooming, and he was a hair nightmare for each visit! He didn't get a clip though,a bath and brush out, if he was just clipped short it would be more control able in the summer.

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Old 02-06-2011, 06:59 PM
 
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Research the Bernese Mtn Dog.  They are bred to be working dogs and love the cold.  They can pull carts and help on the farm.  BMD are in the puppy stage for about 18 mos but with decent training you wont have any problems.  BMD's are around 100 lbs, lots of love and could be what you are looking for.  My roommate has one and FINALLY got the dog some much needed training.


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Old 02-06-2011, 10:20 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovermont View Post

In doing research about English Mastiffs I read that 2 miles a week in their prime is more than sufficient. I'm wondering what other people's experience is with this. We are moving to the family farm to work the farm and I envision having the dog by my side all day every day - and a lot of walking back and forth and up and down hills and around trees, lol. Will this be a problem for the mastiff?
I'm really nervous about getting a dog that is too high energy or isn't gentle and patient with our well behaved but young children. The mastiff seems perfect!

Alternatively we could leave the dog home for part of the day - people would frequently be in and out ... but it sounds like the mastiff would prefer to be with its people and we'd prefer that too!

We don't envision being in a position to add a dog for another year or so but want to make sure we're making the best decision we can when we ARE ready - so we're researching extensively now.

 

Thanks!


I think it depends on how exactly you are envisioning farm life and what your dog will be doing. I could see mastiffs being outside and lazing around and watching you work, maybe getting up to follow you at a leisurely pace to your next location, where they might then nap while you do chores.

On the other hand, if you expect them to be actively engaged in farm life- running circles around you, hauling wagons of hay, constantly begging you for a game of fetch etc, I think you might need a different breed.

Most mastiffs I know much prefer to lay down and nap. If you just want the dog near, but are ok with them not being actively engaged, then it could work. Another thing to consider is how big of a farm are you thinking about. A huge ranch with hundreds or thousands of acres, it wouldn't be fair to expect a mastiff to keep up. I'm assuming you are talking about a small family farm where you can easily walk to most spots on the property, and it might not matter so much if the dogs decided to say, stay by the barn and nap while you went over the hill to feed, because the two places would still be fairly near each other.

I see some folks have recommended Berners, which could be a good fit, but they do have long hair (although not quite as much as a Newf). Depending on the farm, long hair might not be ideal- it catches hay, burrs, and heaven forbid they roll in something. If Berners interest you, you might check out Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs. They look sort of like Berner/Mastiff crosses. They are larger than Berners, very mastiff like in size and build, have short hair, and are normally tri colored. They are a swiss drafting breed, historically used on farms.

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Old 02-07-2011, 02:04 PM
 
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Growing up, close friends of my parents had a mastiff.  It seemed like a great companion dog.  They had a small farm (a hobby farm with goats, horses, a few sheep) and he trotted about whenever we visited.  The same dog also went to work with his people everyday at their rather busy retail store.

 

Our best friend has had two Bernese Mountain dogs.  Both were awesome, mellow and good natured.  These were also "shop" dogs that went to work with him at his store everyday.  I know he keep them groomed but I don't ever remember hair in his house, car or most importantly, on me when I loved them, being an issue.  Sadly, he lost both to cancers at around 5yo.  I think the breed may be known for this health issue.


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Old 02-07-2011, 02:16 PM
 
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Bernese are definitely known for health problems.  Some lines are doing better, but they have one of the shortest life expectancies which considering they are not a giant dog is pretty bad.  Not that that should be the only deciding factor, but it definitely is something to consider.


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Old 02-07-2011, 04:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This (quote below) is exactly what I'm envisioning.

Great to see that mastiffs are still in the running! I AM concerned about their short life span, their health issues, and slightly about the drool. We were looking into breeders but there don't seem to be many (any?) nearby. We started looking at rescues and a mastiff mix might be preferable, in our opinion. NOT a mastiff lab mix (there are several of those every time we look) but a mastiff dane mix or mastiff shepherd mix...

We're not interested in a pyr. We probably will get them at some point - but as LGDs.

Thanks for all the suggestions of other breeds! I begged and begged my parents for a dog and was finally able to get one late in high school. I knew I wanted large and rescued a lab. She was nuts and I was inexperienced. I don't want to make the same mistake again. At the time I didn't even KNOW about danes/mastiffs/newfie's/etc. So thanks for all the additional suggestions!
Any additional info more than welcome!

 

eta: the farm is hilly 300 acres - but all can be walked easily
 

Quote:
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I think it depends on how exactly you are envisioning farm life and what your dog will be doing. I could see mastiffs being outside and lazing around and watching you work, maybe getting up to follow you at a leisurely pace to your next location, where they might then nap while you do chores.

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