Pretentious canine competitions like the Westminster Kennel Club reward dogs for namby-pamby traits such confidence, teeth alignment and lustrous, Pantene-pampered coats.
Nonsense. What about sheer enormity? Surely in the world of dog breeding, as in many other facets of life, size matters.
Thankfully, the good people at the Guinness Book of World Records have been keeping tabs on the dog-eat-dog-food world of Great Dane embiggening, and the stakes, like the dogs, just keep getting higher.
Harvey: A Trailblazer
The contemporary era of preposterously big dogs can be said to have begun with Harvey, a Great Dane born in 1993, who grew up (and up) in Wales with owner Charles Dodman. Once fully grown, Harvey stood 41.5 inches tall, measured from paw to shoulder (the standard measure for such beasts). Not much else is known about Harvey — he didn’t like to brag, presumably — and he was dethroned in 2004 by a more outgoing publicity-hound named Gibson.
Despite having only three legs toward the end of his life due to bone cancer, this Great Dane stood head and shoulders over the competition, clinching the title of World’s Tallest Dog in 2004. He towered at 42.2 inches and weighed 180 pounds, which would have made him eligible to fight in the middleweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (if his jiu-jitsu weren’t so sloppy). He could reportedly say “I love you,” though it’s likely he was actually saying something closer to “Row mow wow.” Gibson’s notoriety led to face-to-snout meetings with Jay Leno, Oprah Winfrey and Paris Hilton — the latter of whom may or may not have addressed him as “Nice horsey.”
Rise of the Titan
Following Gibson’s passing in 2009, the official title of “World’s Tallest Dog” (and unofficial title of “Holy Crap Look at That Thing!”) went to Titan, who equaled his predecessor both in size and hardships. Despite being deaf, epileptic and partially blind, this gentle giant had a notable run as champion, appearing on the Tonight Show with the also-absurdly-tall Conan O’Brien. Titan’s owners neither confirm nor deny that he was actually 14 greyhounds glued together.
The Reign of Giant George
From the comfort of his queen-sized bed, this Blue Great Dane from Arizona looked down his long nose at the competition as longtime king of the gangly pooches. Looming over the pack at an unprecedented 43 inches tall, Giant George prefers to be regally conveyed around Tuscon in his chariot — a golf cart driven by owner/servant David Nasser. As if in punishment for such hubris, George was dethroned in 2012 by a competitor of almost mythical stature.
Like his ancient Greek namesake, Zeus gazes down from the sky upon inferior beings. When standing on his hind legs, he ascends to seven-foot-four — the billed (i.e. exaggerated) height of Andre the Giant. Zeus clinched the title of World’s Tallest Dog in the autumn of 2012, and reportedly has no interest in relinquishing it. The 155-pounder eats 12 cups of food (an entire bag) every day, and stands a full inch taller his predecessor, George. Zeus was last seen atop the Empire State Building, swatting away helicopters and clutching a flailing Hollywood damsel in his mighty paw.