Channel 4 documentary Big Dog Britain features a number of large breeds and claims that their numbers are decreasing as people opt for smaller ones instead.
While French Bulldog sales in the UK are up 300 percent, registrations for Great Danes are at their lowest level in 50 years.
Big Dog Britain has some of the largest dog breeds: Great Danes, Newfoundland dogs, Saint Bernard dogs, English mastiffs, Irish Wolfhounds and Pyrenees Sheepdogs.
The program confirmed that large breeds are expensive to keep – one owner says her gentle giant costs £ 200 a week in food. They take up a lot of space, especially when you have TEN Irish Wolfhounds like a family in the documentary. And they are a great commitment.
An owner who is Brazilian but lives in London is asked what it is like to have her Great Dane on her lap. “A little pain,” she admits.
Another disadvantage is that large breeds can have complex health problems and don’t live as long as smaller dogs. Wolfhounds, for example, only live about seven years because they are prone to heart disease.
But the documentary also highlighted the advantages of having a big dog over a small one. It is generally accepted that they are not that loud. They can deter burglars. And if you drown in a river, you wouldn’t be comforted if the dog that saved you was a Chihuahua.
The owners in the movie give a number of reasons why they love their oversized pets, including they’re “funny”, “quirky”, “you know they’re there”, “they have a presence”, “their size” ”,“ Their looks ”and“ when you walk down the street, everyone stops ”.
Unfortunately, leaving behind is a huge problem for dogs, even in the UK, and perhaps more acute for the larger breeds. “People start with a lovely little puppy, but they’re not prepared for how big they get,” we are told.
With a bit of luck, anyone weighing the idea of a great race will see this broadcast and get a better idea of what they’re getting into.
The next episode is on July 1st, or you can catch up with Big Dog Britain on All 4.