Walking around the Dallas Farmers Market with the world’s tallest living male dog — a Great Dane named Zeus, according to Guinness World Records — garners a lot of stares, smiles, photo requests and one comment in particular.
“We counted 68 times once that we heard people say, ‘Whoa, that’s a horse,’” said his owner, Brittany Davis, a 36-year-old teacher and resident of Fort Worth, Texas. “It’s kind of a game now."
While it’s not an original comment, it’s understandable. Zeus stands tall at 3 feet, 5.18 inches — and stretches over 7 feet tall standing on his hind legs.
Plus, Davis is only 5’1” herself, which accentuates Zeus’ stature.
“The actions and reactions either way are usually pretty extreme,” she said. “Either people are super excited and they want to come over and take all the pictures and meet him, or they’re superscared and they go to the other side of the street and look at him from very far away.”
There’s more to 2 ½-year-old Zeus than being a world record holder, of course. He’s a laidback dog who enjoys spending time with the family, which includes her sons Jamison, 15; Kingston, 7 months; and three Australian shepherds: Zeb, Ellie and Finn.
But not on walks.
“Zeus requires one person to handle him. He actually will stay right with you and he walks really well, but he’s human-sized. He’s huge,” she said. “The Australian shepherds have a lot more energy. They’re faster; they’re zippy. They keep up with him OK, but they get tangled under his feet and then it’s chaos.”
The dog’s fans sometimes ask, “Can I ride him?” or “Does he have a saddle?” — to which Davis firmly answers “No.”
“He’s not a horse. He’s a dog. And he would not appreciate being ridden at all,” she said. “Most people obviously say it jokingly, but it’s definitely something we hear multiple times every time we bring him out.”
Other dogs inevitably react to Zeus as well. Since he has little dogs at home, he’s curious and tries to play with small pups. Some bigger dogs seem to feel threatened and bark at him.
Zeus takes it all in stride.
“He’s not aggressive at all. So when they do try to get in his face, he kind of just sits there,” she said. “I mean, he’ll growl a little if they really start going after him, but most dogs are fine. We’ve only had a few dogs that have tried to bite him because he’s so big.”
The world’s tallest dog eats 12 cups of food formulated for giant-breed dogs each day and glucosamine supplements to protect his joints. Davis asks her veterinarian for tips about caring for the big guy and makes sure to keep him healthy and lean to avoid hurting his hips.
Still, Zeus tries to augment his diet by stealing snacks off the counter and helping “clean up” after little Kingston, who recently started eating solid food, is done eating.
“He loves stealing the pacifiers off the counter. He won’t even chew them. He just puts them in his mouth and then when he gets in trouble, he spits them out,” she said with a laugh.
Zeus also enjoys chomping on ice cubes and carrots, drinking out of the sink and trying to be a lap dog.
“He has no idea how big he is. He thinks he’s a lap dog and can sit in your lap or lean on you and not knock you over,” she said. “But I just love his personality. He’s a good boy.”
To celebrate Zeus being named the world’s tallest living male dog by Guinness World Records, Davis offered him extra treats and attention, which he lapped up. She also brought him to meet her first-grade class, where students were a tad overwhelmed meeting a dog as tall as many of them and certainly taller than their own pets.
“I had to say a lot, ‘He’s really nice. He won’t hurt you. The scariest thing about him is his tail — it will whip you. But other than that, he’s a really, really good dog,’” she said. “He’s a really sweet boy.”