6 big dog stereotypes busted

Person sleeping beside Bailey the bulldog
These large dogs remind us that every dog is unique. So, give big dogs a chance.
By Nicole Hamilton

If you think all big dogs have a lot of energy, allow us to introduce you to Bailey, a bulldog-couch potato mix who would much rather catch some z’s than a Frisbee. Think you can’t foster kittens if you live with a big dog? Not necessarily: Big dog Rigby is a pro at helping foster kittens. In fact, he’s one of the first in the family to welcome a new litter arriving at his home.

The truth is that every dog is different and common stereotypes about big dogs don’t always hold weight. Every dog, like every person, is wonderfully unique with different likes and needs. But all too often, people’s ideas about big dogs lead to larger shelter pups being more difficult to place in homes, and that means they’re more at risk if they end up in shelters.

In celebration of big dogs, here are some big dog stereotypes and the dogs who are busting them. We hope they inspire more people to give a big dog a chance next time they’re in the market to adopt a pet.

Stereotype No. 1: Big dogs have a lot of energy.

If you’re under the impression that big dogs require a mile-long walk or more a day, allow us to introduce Bailey, a nine-year-old big dog and cat nap enthusiast. “She’s the sweetest, sassiest, sleepiest bulldog on the planet,” says her person, Kim Clonch. Bailey likes to live life on the lowest gear. Sure, she’ll make a slow beeline to the kitchen for a treat or two but mostly, this big dog prefers to take it easy.

Stereotype No. 2: Big dogs can’t live in apartments.

For a big dog named Remington Steele (AKA Remi), living large has nothing to do with the size of his abode. Before Remi was adopted from Best Friends in Los Angeles, Tara McKenney fostered the big shepherd mix in her 650-square-foot apartment.

“He was great fun to spend time with and was a good boy in the apartment while I was absent,” says Tara, who would often put a baby gate at the front door so Remi could relax while taking in the outdoor smells and sunshine. Tara also balanced Remi’s indoor time with plenty of walks. In fact, today Remi’s adopters often ask Tara to hike with them.

Stereotype No. 3: Big dogs can’t live with cats.

Not only do many big dogs get along fine with cats, but some are naturals when it comes to fostering kittens. Take Rigby, for example. When Jill Williams and her family started fostering kittens, they noticed Rigby was very interested in the little squeaks and mews coming from behind a closed door. Slowly, they began to open the door, but with a gate between them and always supervised.

“We honestly never thought that cats and kittens would love him so much. But there must be some sort of magic that just emanates from his sweet spirit,” says Jill. Now, whenever they have a new batch of kittens, Rigby is the first to meet them.

“When you live with big dogs, the thought of fostering kittens might seem impossible,” says Jill. “But with the right approach and using caution and going slow, the friendship between big dogs and cats and kittens can be tremendously successful.”

Read more about Rigby and the Williams family

Stereotype No. 4: Big dogs have big behavior problems.

When Neville came to Best Friends in Los Angeles, he quickly earned a reputation for being a talented escape artist. He also tended to pull on the leash on a walk and had a tough time managing his separation anxiety.

The dog behavior team was able to help Neville turn some big corners. Still, they decided that change of scenery, coupled with assistance from a new team of trainers, could help Neville even more. So, they contacted Paws for Life K9 Rescue, which works to help dogs just like him.

That’s how Neville ended up at a California state prison, where dog trainers Anthony Martinez and Anthony Snead played a pivotal role in helping the big dog learn everything necessary to get to where he is now — home.

Read Neville’s story

Stereotype No. 5: Big dogs aren’t lap dogs.

The first time Kerry McKeel saw Bentley, he was a little bundle of fur in need of medical care at a Houston shelter. Today, Bentley is a healthy, goofy, loveable pup who’s busting all kinds of big dog stereotypes.

He’s friends with the kids and loves playing with two much smaller dogs in the McKeel household. “I think he thinks he’s one of them,” says Kerry. And never mind that he’s a big dog. All laps are fair game for this sweet dog.

Stereotype No. 6: Big dogs don’t mix well with little dogs.

Life is good these days for Stretch, a big dog with an adventurous soul adopted by Anna Zimmerman, who shares Stretch’s passion for the great outdoors. Not only has Stretch gone on camping trips and fantastic hikes with Anna, but he also logged 700 miles with her when she hiked the Appalachian Trail.

Recently, Anna adopted a little Jack Russell mix named Peanut, figuring it would be a new kind of adventure for Stretch as he learned to share his life with another dog. Peanut is Stretch’s mini-me — a mirror image, spots and all. These days, if Stretch isn’t on a trail, you can find him in his backyard, running with his new adventure buddy, Peanut.

Read Stretch’s story

Dog Big Dog Pet Adoption