Coming across a dog in your travels may put a smile on your face, but sometimes, a dog will elicit a "holy cow." Big and tall dogs are magnificent creatures, leaving people awestruck at their sheer size. Often, large breed dogs are gentle giants because of their sweet personalities.
According to Guinness World Records, a Great Dane from Michigan is the tallest dog in the world. Zeus stands 44 inches tall, from his paw to his shoulder, and weighs a whopping 155 pounds. He is just one of a number of Great Danes to claim the "world's tallest" title from Guinness. Zeus earned the honor in 2012, after 43-inch tall Giant George was named the tallest dog in 2010. Giant George was just large enough to inch out Titan by 3/4 of an inch. Titan replaced Gibson, yet another Great Dane. If Zeus decides to stand on his hind legs, he'll tower over most people at more than 7 feet tall. These guys are taller than average Great Danes, which usually reach a height of "only" 28 to 32 inches.
Though Great Danes dominate the record books, as a rule, the Irish wolfhound is considered to be the tallest breed of dog. These big guys average between 31 and 34 inches from paw to shoulder and hit the scales between 110 and 180 pounds. Mastiffs often weigh more than Irish wolfhounds and Great Danes, between 130 and 200 pounds, but they're a little shorter, about 30 inches tall. Saint Bernards are big fellows, ranging from 27 to 35 inches and carry a lot of weight, too, weighing between 160 and 240 pounds. Other breeds reaching up to 30 inches or more include the Anatolian shepherd, the Scottish deerhound and the Great Pyrenees.
Newfoundlands, with their massive heads, thick coats and large builds, present an imposing image. They reach an average height of 28 inches, and despite their commanding presence, "Newfies," as their fans call them, have a calm disposition. Though they don't quite measure up to the tallest of the big guys, black Russian terriers and Leonbergers are also statuesque dogs, averaging between 27 and 30 inches in height and 28 and 31 inches, respectively.
It's easy to understand the appeal of big, tall dogs. They offer an intimidating presence for security's sake, often combined with a sweet, laid-back disposition. However, there's a cost to all that size. Of course, a 30-inch, 120-pound dog requires more food than his smaller pooch pals, and vet bills can be significant. Saint Bernards are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, and Great Danes can be vulnerable to bloat. Veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker notes bone disease such as panosteitis is common in large breed dogs. She recommends a slow growth diet, low in grains and carbohydrates, for large breed puppies so they don't grow too fast. Proper exercise for big, tall dogs is important, to minimize jumping and limb trauma while their bones are developing, up to a year old.
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