Modern Dog Breed Category #2: The Big Babies

Following up on the column from a few weeks ago about the need for new dog breed classifications, here’s the next category. As you might recall, the theory behind these new categories was that personality-based categorization was the most reliable way of measuring how well they conform to a standard.

The first category, the Greed Breeds, were the simplest of all the dog types to identify. Ruled by their stomachs and their noses, Greedies spend their life in pursuit of all kinds of delicious foods. This week’s category, the Big Babies, are equally uncomplicated, and chances are good you’ve met some before.

The Official Big Baby Breed Standard

There are two ways to recognize Big Babies. First of all, they are big or even huge. They are often Newfies, Great Danes, Pit Bulls, and Rotties. In fact, the comic strip Marmaduke was about the adventures of a Big Baby. Their heads are big. Their paws are big. Their tails knock things over. They are larger than much of the furniture in the house. Dogs in this category often seem oversized. In fact, one of the interesting things about a lot of Big Babies is that they sometimes resemble parade floats — larger scale versions of things you expect to be much smaller. If your large dog reminds you of a cartoon character, that’s a hint you might have a Big Baby.

Big dog small woman
Big Babies LOVE their humans, especially their moms. (Photo courtesy of Kathleen M.)

The second way you can recognize these dogs is because they are babies. Not in age, mind you, but in personality. They are motivated first and foremost by innocent love of their family, and even if they are disobedient in some matters, they seek their humans’ approval and affection above all things. Big Babies have the stubborness of two-year-olds, and their motivations are equally simple: “I want ________!” or “I don’t want_________!” They can be as intransigent as toddlers, too, so many Big Baby owners have found themselves in the embarrassing position of carrying or dragging a recalcitrant dog the size of a small pony away from something.

More About Big Babies

Big Babies are brilliant blusterers. They can bark loudly and ferociously and otherwise intimidate people they see as threats very effectively. However, in contrast with dogs that feel it is their job to protect, the Big Baby is all for show. They want to take care of their humans and their homes, and that’s it. They also can be very fussy and blustery in a showy way — that’s typically a bid for attention.

Another thing that it’s important to know is that Big Babies really think of their female humans as their moms. Any Big Baby owner knows what I’m talking about. Somewhere in the Big Baby’s mental scrapbook is a picture of his newborn littermates and his mom, and his memory has Photoshopped in his human’s head for his canine mom’s. Never mind that this shouldn’t make sense; Big Babies don’t think things through.

Big Baby owners are easy to recognize. If you meet one on the street and you compliment their dog’s impressive size and apparent toughness, they’ll acknowledge it, but if you look carefully, they almost always have very faint smirk while they do. That’s because they are thinking about that morning when they found their Big Baby snuggled up with her favorite yellow polka-dot stuffed monkey, snoring her fool head off.

In the show ring, Big Babies would be judged by their performance on these two tests:

Test One: A comfortable armchair is seated in the center of the show ring. The Big Baby’s human is seated at the armchair. If the Big Baby places his head on his human’s knee, he receives one point. If the Big Baby clambers up onto the chair, and gets part of his body on his human’s lap, he gets two points. If the Big Baby manages to get his entire body curled up on his human’s lap with no dangling legs or paws, he receives maximum points. Bonus points if the human is no longer visible at this stage.

Dog on lap
This big dog receives maximum points in the lap-sitting competition. (Photo credit: Martha Dixon)

Test Two: A Big Baby is placed in the middle of a show ring. A random Chihuahua off the street is placed in the ring with the Big Baby. If the Big Baby ignores the Chihuahua, she gets one point. If the Big Baby and the chihuahua snuggle together, she receives two points. If the Chihuahua immediately begins barking and hectoring the Big Baby and the Big Baby accepts this without protest, she receives maximum points.

Is My Dog a Big Baby?

As with Greed Breeds, Big Babies are easy to identify. However, here are a few questions in case you aren’t sure.

How do you calm your dog down when he is posturing?

  1. I say, “Stop being a baby.”
  2. I produce his favorite stuffed animal, Binky the frog.
  3. I don’t need to because my dog quickly forgets to be menacing and starts looking for treats and affection.

If you have other dogs in the house, who’s the boss?

  1. She is.
  2. The other dogs let her think she’s in charge, but we think they feel a little sorry for her.
  3. The smallest dog in the house, of course.
Big dog small dog
This reflects the nature of most Big Baby/toy dog relationships. (Photo from Small Things)

What does your dog see you as?

  1. The leader.
  2. A none-so-intelligent mark.
  3. His unfortunate-looking biological relative.

If you answered “C” to most questions, chances are your dog is a show-quality Big Baby.


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Moretta is a caring nurturer, a member of several 12-step programs, but not a licensed therapist. Her Twitter is

5 thoughts on “Modern Dog Breed Category #2: The Big Babies”

  1. I call my girl dog “giant baby” but she’s more than that, too. My guy, though, is this to a T. He just wants to be friends with everyone! He doesn’t cuddle quite as much as he used to before his sister came along, but I have pictures of him squishing himself into my lap in chairs that he shouldn’t fit in. “I’M SITTING IN YOUR LAP NOW”

  2. I think/hope my next dog will be a Big Baby. In fact, when it was time to replace my husband’s Civic, we got a Forester, primarily to accommodate my future Giant Dog. (Husband thinks we got the big car so we can haul big things from Home Depot, but he’s wrong.) We might end up with another Basset, but I think Great Danes and Mastiffs are the front runners. Hopefully it will be quite a few years before I need to make that decision (we have a 2 dog limit, we have 2 dogs, you get the picture…).

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