While not always true, it’s often the case that big and even giant dogs are often really gentle and friendly.
This might seem surprising or unlikely to some dog lovers, so why is this often the case?
Why Are Big Dogs Often Gentle?
Big dogs are often gentle for various reasons. One primary reason is their size means the world is less intimidating.
People and dogs are not as scary as they may be to a Chihuahua or a Yorkshire Terrier. Also, there are breeding factors, such as St Bernards being bred as rescue dogs.
The rest of this article will dive into further detail about the gentle tendencies of big dogs so that you can come to a better understanding of the behavior patterns of your canine companion.
NOTE – It is important to remember that while lots of big dogs can be gentle with humans and other dogs, this is not always the case!
Not only that, but if a large dog is aggressive to either dogs or people, it can be much more dangerous than a smaller one.
So please do not assume that all big dogs are always gentle.
Always take your time when getting to know a new dog or introducing them to yours.
NOTE – Click here to read a post answering the question: why are dogs gentle with eggs?
Larger Dogs Can Find the World Less Intimidating
Put yourself into the mind of a tiny little Chihuahua like the adorable pup in this photo.
Pretty much EVERYTHING apart from insects would feel big and scary to you. 99% of other dogs would be much bigger than you.
Most cats would make you feel small. Humans would seem like giants. Even young children would appear massive!
You might spend all of your time feeling intimidated and scared, and your response to this might be to be aggressive in the hope of protecting yourself.
Ok, so now put yourself in the mind of this huge Great Dane. Just take a second to look at how ginormous he is!
He is so big that even his owner is smaller when compared to his huge size.
Imagine how he interacts with the other animals and humans.
Cats would all be tiny. Most other dogs would be much smaller. Only big humans would be bigger, and even then, not a considerable amount.
In this scenario, it is easy to understand why a large dog might be less scared and aggressive and more likely to be gentle and friendly.
This is one of the main reasons why big dogs are often more gentle than smaller ones. Their size means they feel less intimidated by the world, and so they don’t feel the need to be aggressive.
NOTE – Of course, this isn’t always the case. Some big dogs can be timid and scared of even the most miniature dogs.
We can generally speak about the differences between big dogs and small ones, but every dog is different and should be treated as such.
Some Big Dogs Have to Learn to be Gentle
When a dog jumps on you, they usually have the best intentions, whether or not they are big or small. This behavior is rooted simply in their excitement to see you and means they want to be close to you.
However, when a large dog displays this sort of behavior– even with playful intentions– it can often be seen as frightening to the people around them, especially younger children or people unfamiliar with dogs.
This often leads to the dog being told off or scolded.
On the other hand, when a small dog breed such as a Miniature Yorkshire Terrier displays the same behavior, people don’t usually have the same reaction as they would with a larger dog breed since Yorkies are tiny and unintimidating.
Dogs are intelligent and can pick up on our behavior patterns as well. So larger dogs can learn from a young age that being gentle will allow them to receive more love and less scolding.
So if a big dog is seeking attention, it will quickly learn that being gentle will get its needs met.
STOP – Before you read any more of this post, take a look at this short but adorable video of a huge dog being super-gentle.
Just click the image to start playing:
NOTE – You might also like to read this post asking the question: Why Are Golden Retrievers so friendly?
Can You Train a Big Dog To Be Gentle?
You can train a big dog to be gentle with the right approach. You can coach your pet to behave the same way by using gentle training and positive reassurance.
However, alternative training methods might be better if the safety of you or your dog is in question.
One way to do this is to teach your dog the “gentle” command by coaching them to take offered treats gently.
This exercise teaches your pet pooch that gentle behavior will be rewarded in one way or another.
If your dog is prone to potentially dangerous aggression, you should seek the help of a professional dog trainer to help ensure that both you and your dog are safe.
NOTE – You might also like to read this post asking the question: why are dogs gentle with babies?
Why Are Somes Big Dogs Not Gentle?
While big dogs have gentle tendencies, every animal is different. So if your big dog isn’t as gentle as others seem to be, a few things may be causing this.
No two dogs have the same background, so it’s essential to keep some things in mind before assessing your dog’s behavioral issues.
Here are some factors that can determine your dog’s behavior:
- The Dog’s Background and History
- The Amount of Training the Dog Has Had
- The Individual Dog’s Personality
- The Dog’s Diet
- The Amount of Exercise
Let’s explore each of these points in more detail.
1. The Dog’s Background and History
A dog’s background is one of the most important factors to consider when figuring out why your dog behaves a certain way.
If you have a rescue dog or you got your pooch at an older age, it’s important to remember that they may have had some negative experiences in the past that caused them to act the way they do.
While we can’t communicate with our dogs verbally, we can take note of their behavior patterns to identify potential triggers and try and gain a better understanding of their emotional needs.
2. The Amount of Training the Dog Has Has
While this might seem like an obvious answer, it’s one of the most significant contributors to a dog’s behavioral habits.
Dogs are intelligent creatures, and these high levels of intelligence can make them very impressionable to human behavior.
However, this can be a downside if you’re inconsistent with your training or using training methods that don’t work with your dog’s background or personality.
For example, stricter training methods can often be frightening to a dog. This can trigger your dog’s natural instinct to defend themself if they think they’re in danger.
For an additional example, inconsistent training can confuse a dog and make them unsure of how to react to certain situations.
If you want your dog to behave gently, know they can do so, and give them the training they need to thrive.
3. The Individual Dog’s Personality
Any dog owner knows these lovable creatures are full of so much personality and individuality.
No two dogs are the same, which is especially true regarding character.
Some dogs might have bold, energetic, and stubborn personalities, while others might have calm, composed, and gentle temperaments. The combinations are endless.
To understand your dog’s behavioral patterns, you should try your best to identify and understand its personality traits.
By doing so, you can gain valuable information that will help you help your dog learn to be gentle.
4. The Dog’s Diet
Believe it or not, a dog’s diet has a vital role to play in your dog’s behavior.
When your dog is not fed a balanced diet, this can lead to certain behavioral tendencies such as anxiety, stress, and even aggression.
The best way to begin your journey to helping your big dog learn to be gentle is to ensure that your four-legged friend is fed a natural diet that provides them with all the nutrients they need.
Acting their best can only begin with feeling their best; diet is a big part of that.
5. The Amount of Exercise
Exercise is another factor that can determine why your dog may or may not be acting gently.
Taking your dog for daily walks is vital because it provides them with physical and mental stimulation. Without walks, your dog can get bored, frustrated, and stressed, often prone to rough behavior and, in some cases, aggression.
An easy solution to any dog’s behavioral issue is to ensure you’re meeting their needs, including providing enough exercise.
Final Thoughts On Why Dogs Are So Gentle
Big dogs are often known for exhibiting more gentle behaviors when compared to smaller dogs.
This is because bigger dogs are less likely to be intimidated by the world around them and less likely to react defensively by being aggressive.
Big dogs also learn to be more gentle. They see how humans and other dogs react to them and respond accordingly.
However, no two dogs are the same. If your dog isn’t gentle, this can be due to background, training, personality, diet, or exercise.
Ensuring your dog’s needs are met to the fullest is the best way to help them begin its journey to becoming a gentle giant.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!