Living with a Giant Dog
Triton, a year old DireWolf Dog
Can You Really Handle a Giant-Sized Dog?
written by: Jennifer Stoeckl
February 17, 2020
Dogs come in many shapes and sizes. Most companion dogs are small in size. The American Alsatian dog is the first, and so far the only, extra-large breed of dog to solely and specifically be bred for family companionship and nothing more. We have a uniquely calm, confident, sweet, devoted, loving, intelligent, easy to train type of dog, but the giant size is not something that everyone is prepared to handle. Let’s take a moment to discuss some of the very real issues that can come with a dog with a Dire Wolf’s size.
A Common Puppy Experience
The air is crisp and the sky is clear on the beautiful spring morning that you venture out to the park with your giant four-month old puppy. Already standing twenty-three inches tall at the shoulders and weighing a good sixty pounds, your young American Alsatian puppy is now the average size of most adult dogs. You snap the leash onto your giant puppy’s collar and begin to leisurely stroll down the cement path that skirts the river near your home. Just around the next bend, a strange dog approaches straining on the leash as its desperate owner clings to the other end. The insensible owner gasps out a greeting in short, choppy breaths and asks if their dog can meet yours as the ill-mannered dog inches closer to you with each tug. You are not able to pick up your puppy to whisk it out of harms way. Instead, you must step in front of your giant sensitive puppy to protect it from the unruly, ill-mannered dog pushing forward. Rather than easily walking on from the situation with an average-sized puppy safely cuddled in your arms, you are now forced to briefly discuss with the stranger blocking your way forward that your puppy is in training and cannot meet the struggling, panting, tail-wagging creature on the other end of the stranger’s leash. This exchange usually ends awkwardly as the dog’s owner gives you a side-glance and pulls his/her ever-determined dog away from you to walk on down the trail.
The American Alsatian dog breed is a highly aware, alert, sensitive, calm, and serious type of puppy that does not appreciate the happy, energetic exchange of a strange dog that does not understand boundaries. Most owners of sensitive, highly intelligent puppies do not have giant ones and can easily pick up a young, impressionable puppy to save it from an unsafe event when out in public. But, a giant puppy cannot be picked up easily. The owner must be the puppy’s protector, stepping forward and in front of their puppy, to face the event head-on to keep puppy safe.
Furthermore, giant puppies look like they are adult dogs because of their size. A new owner may begin to treat their large-sized puppy as if it should understand all the rules of living in polite society. But, one should not be fooled. A giant puppy is still a puppy without the experience that its huge size suggests. This means that even though the puppy goes through growth spirts much more dramatic in nature than its smaller counterparts, one must never forget that its age still matches with that other puppy’s.
Stanley, a five month old American Alsatian DireWolf Dog
Large Growth Plates and Massive Growth
Giant puppies also have super-sized growth plates. These are the ends of the leg bones on either side near the gaps of cartilage. Bones grow from these epiphyseal plates. These plates produce large “knuckles” in our puppies, which can sometimes protrude out a great deal and cause some concern in a new owner. However, these “knuckles” are completely normal in a giant-sized puppy and help the puppy to grow to their full capacity.
Unlike a Chihuahua that only needs to grow a few inches in a year, a giant-sized DireWolf Dog must grow several feet in a year. This rapid growth means that a lot is happening in the young bones of an extra-large dog. For this reason, the increased activity at the growth plates means that this area can easily be damaged by too much exercise or stress. For this reason, it is advised that the new owner limit the amount of exercise placed on the bones of a giant puppy until they have reached full maturity in height and weight. This is usually around 14-18 months old. Until this time, the new owner should not run/jog with puppy for miles at a time and be mindful of rough play, especially with other more energetic dogs. It will be necessary to keep an eye out for physical strain to your American Alsatian puppy’s growing frame if your puppy experiences an excessive increase in physical stress to its body. Your puppy should have plenty of rest and time to relax after a strenuous time outdoors and not be allowed down excessively rough terrain, steep embankments, or slick surfaces where puppy can slip, tumble, or fall during his growing months. There is evidence that increased muscle around the hip joints help solidify good hip laxity, so exercise which develops muscle mass in the hip area is helpful, just do not overdo the exercise to the point of pain or stress on the puppy’s growing bone structure.
Shadow, a five month old American Alsatian DireWolf Dog
The Bull in the China Shop
The American Alsatian dog is bred to be calm and more on the serious side of life. This helps, but does not eliminate, the need for space when housing a giant-sized dog. Due to their Dire Wolf-sized bone and body structure, the new owner must take into account the lifestyle of living with a giant-sized dog. American Alsatian dogs typically stand 30-31 inches tall at the shoulders, close to the same height as a typical countertop would be in the kitchen. That means that the dog’s head will easily reach above the countertop able to see and sniff whatever is placed there.
Also, the American Alsatian dog stands almost six feet tall when on its hind legs. This means that our dogs are very long in body and require space in which to turn around. Along with that, imagine having friends or family over. Will your house accommodate them all plus your dog? Surely, it will be necessary to consider these giant-sized features if the new owner lives in a small home.
Along with that giant physical size comes giant physical strength. While American Alsatian dogs are generally submissive in nature and easy to train, their sheer size may be a factor for someone with less training knowledge. It will be necessary to teach your giant-sized puppy manners and obedience early so that one will not struggle with their 130-pound dog later in life. Living with an unruly dog is one thing, but living with a giant unruly dog is quite another.
And, if the new owner lives with someone who is elderly or has limited mobility, then special consideration should be taken into account. The American Alsatian dog is very affectionate and loving and with its size comes giant-sized hugs and heavy leaning and snuggling. An extra-large American Alsatian dog can knock over someone who is unsteady when walking or standing, even if they do not mean to.
So, be mindful of living with a giant unruly dog in a small space. Train your large puppy early and help them to become aware of their giant size when around those who need special care. Surely, it would be just like that bull in the China shop if one were not aware of the special circumstances required for living with such a large breed of dog.
Harpo, a three month old American Alsatian DireWolf Dog
Driving with a Giant Dog
Take a moment to remind yourself of a few facts:
Average Current Height: 28-31 inches tall
Average Current Length: 5'8" - 6' tall standing on hind legs
Average Current Weight: 95-130 lbs
Now, with these measurements in mind, think about your largest vehicle. Will it haul all of your groceries, your children, your other dogs, and one giant DireWolf Dog? Do you have room for a crate or other means of keeping your dogs contained while driving? Most crossover and SUV type vehicles have around 38 inches in height for headroom in the cargo area. That should be plenty for your American Alsatian dog, but think about a furry wet one that just came back from the beach or the lake. Take steps to teach your extra-large puppy how to have manners when riding in the car so that it will remain calmly away from the driver when the vehicle is in motion.
A 6 Week Old American Alsatian DireWolf Dog