This story is about one of the tallest dogs in the world!
From the moment they saw their puppy, Atlas, the Seay family of Navarre knew he was special.
The genuine German Harlequin Great Dane, purchased from a Missouri breeder, was the sole dog in his litter and had paws so enormous he could scarcely walk without sliding down.
The black and white spotted puppy just kept getting bigger as he grew older. Spencer Seay, his human mother, eventually had to stop taking him out to lunch or to public places.
“People would say, ‘Oh my God! Your dog is so big! Your dog is the biggest dog I’ve ever seen in my life!‘” she said Friday, sitting in her Navarre living room with her trusted companion by her side. “I could not eat my food, I’d have so many people lining up to take pictures with him.”
Atlas, who is 6 years old and weighs 225 pounds, is on his way to becoming the world’s tallest living dog, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. From his paws to his withers (the region in between a dog’s shoulder blades, which is the official measurement point for all Guinness world record-holding canines), Atlas is roughly 3 cm taller than the current live world-record holder, who stands at 101 centimeters tall.
Atlas’ Guinness record isn’t set in stone yet, since the evaluation process for such a prestigious honor is lengthy and time-consuming. For the last three years, the Seays have been in contact with Guinness executives.
They had to film him running on level ground numerous times, have him measured by licensed vets, and have those measures witnessed by persons who weren’t themselves or their known veterinarian. The witnesses were required to sign sworn affidavits, the veterinarians were required to create copies of their licenses, and the documents were all presented to Guinness authorities in Europe for final approval.
He’s so enormous that the Seay family had to reject down properties in Navarre two years ago when they were seeking to relocate from Atlanta because the hallways weren’t big enough for Atlas to fit through.
His collars, bandanas, and bow ties all have to be specially tailored to accommodate his enormous neck.
He’s grown so large that he can no longer fit comfortably in the car, and instead of coming to him, his veterinarian now has to come to him.
With a flick of his tail, he could easily knock down a large child, yet his kind personality and relationship with his human baby brother, Oliver, 16 months, would never allow that to happen.
The top of Oliver’s head is nearly the same height as the bottom of Atlas’ shoulder, and Seay refers to him as “Atlas’ baby.” The gentle giant normally takes up residence on the living room carpet, keeping a wary watch on outsiders who approach his infant and drooling with anxiety at the prospect of having humans in the house with whom he is unfamiliar.
Oliver stands on tiptoes to fix Atlas’ bow tie around his neck, then smiles and cuddles his massive leg with his small arms. Atlas waits patiently, his drooping eyes scanning the room for an opportunity to sit on his couch, where he sits erect like a human.
Seay, whose father raised Great Danes when she was growing up, said she’d always planned on getting a Great Dane as her first dog with her husband. She researched Atlas for two years before acquiring him, and she advises people to be well informed of what they’re getting into if they decide to buy or adopt a Great Dane.
“They have a short life span, typically they only last until around 7 years old,” she said, eyeing her 6-year-old aging pup. “They typically have hip issues, joint issues and many of them can get what’s called ‘bloat,’ which is when their stomachs flip a certain way and cuts off their airway and you have 10 minutes to get them to a hospital before it’s too late.”
She added Great Danes are typically very expensive, like many large breeds, and can have a lot of medical issues. Cancer is common in the breed. They love water. And though most Great Danes aren’t anywhere near as big as Atlas, most of them do have gentle personalities and actually make great “small space dogs.”
Atlas is a unique dog, whether or not he holds the world record. He makes everyone he meets happy, whether they are taller or shorter than him. Most importantly, he gives happiness to his family, who are savoring every moment they have with their gentle giant.