Big Dog Britain

Photograph: Channel 4
Rating 7.2
Streamer All4
Seasons 1
Episodes 1 x 60 mins

There are few things that bring humans joy as much as their four-legged friends. Walking in the door to a bounding ball of fluff, wagging their little tails at us and instantly relieving the stress that Janet from accounts has given us that day, or that chump driver who pulled out in front of you on the way home. So why not maximise that dog-related joy, by getting yourself a hound that’s almost as big as a horse, with paws the size of frying pans and snouts as long as an anteater’s?

That’s what these people have done, and now they’re featured in another documentary from All4, that dog-lovers are sure to go mad for. We’re meeting the owners of Britain’s biggest dog breeds, who are going against the current trends which have made tiny little sausage dogs the most spotted mutts in London, and instead opting to go big, or go home.

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And for one family featured in this film, they’re probably going to need to go big on their home too – Cilla and Jason Moorhouse love Irish Wolfhounds so much they’ve now got ten. For context, the average male Wolfhound is about seven-foot-tall when standing on its hind legs, and weighs about 120 pounds. Imagine trying to house all them in your living room… Anyway, we also meet a couple who have five Newfoundlands, and the owner of two Great Danes who we’re told comforted their owner when she was poorly.

Over the course of the hour, this emotional side to dog ownership slowly reveals itself, with all the owners sharing stories on how their giant pets had helped them through a difficult patch, with some of them even claiming to have been saved by their dog’s companionship and love. No doubt there will be people reading this and going “what a load of sentimental rubbish,” but we imagine those who have had the joy of dog ownership will completely understand the emotions behind these stories.

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Clearly The Times’s Carol Midgley is a dog lover, as she gave this documentary four stars and saying “I love big dogs; they are heart-stealers and gentle giants,” having a particular affection for “Dumbo (renamed Duke), who had been a street dog in Greece, beaten, shot and cut by monstrous villagers. Despite the pain inflicted on him he was still gentle, still loving. We really don’t deserve them.” And Anita Singh of The Telegraph thinks the film was well complimented by its director Richard Macer’s “slightly bemused voice drifting over from behind the camera,” saying he “has a good eye for a comic set-up.”

First shown July 2021.

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