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Bella our beautiful Bull Masitiff - Any success stories with giant breeds?
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Forum Posts: 4
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17 January 2011
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17 January 2011 - 9:01 pm
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Hi Guys,

I am new to the forum and am very relieved to have found a site with so much information about amputation.

Our beautiful 5yo Bull Mastiff Bella was diagnosed with osteosarcoma last week, I am sure you all know how shocked and devastated we feel, she is so young and we are still trying to work through it all. Yesterday we got the test results back to show that at this stage the cancer does not appear to have spread to her lungs. The recommended treatment is amputation (it is a front leg) and chemo and my husband and I are struggling with that decision.


Bella is obviously a large dog 45kgs (100 pounds), we live on a large property in Australia with horses (who she is very wary of!) and a four legged very excitable brother Baxter (black Lab). Bella is a very gentle, timid girl, she waits for everyone else to walk through a door before she will come in, she hides behind me when strangers arrive on the property etc but she has a wonderful life with lots of room to roam (although her preference is to sleep on the verandah most of the day) and most importantly lots of love.


I would really love to hear from others who have gone ahead with the amputation (preferably front leg) on a large/giant breed dog, how did it go, what were the challenges and do you have any advice for us battling this decision. Any information would be greatly appreciated. I have also downloaded the eBook which has been fantastic.


Thanks in advance for your help,


Clair, Michael & Bella

Here and Now

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18 January 2011 - 12:25 am
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Welcome, and thanks for joining. Jerry was a 75± front leg tripawd who lived a happy life on three legs for nearly two years after his osteosarcoma amputaiotn.

You'll find lots of recovery and care tips in Jerry's Required Reading List, and thank you for your feedback about the new Tripawds e-book Three Legs and A Spare.

Bedford, Indiana
Forum Posts: 45
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18 January 2011 - 2:33 am
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Hi Clair, Michael, and Bella,

    Welcome, and hello Down Under I have to say first! Bella is beautiful. There are many others on this site that have way more experience than me and have front amps but I can put my two cents worth in here. I have a Great Pyrenees but he is a back leg amp. I'm sure you will hear from many on here that have front leg amps. It seems the location of the leg varies greatly in different challenges. I will tell you to please even though after the amputation if she is feeling and acting very well, not to have her overdo it. I took Patou out to see his sheep and piglets way too early after his amp (3 weeks) and now he is struggling with back leg weakness. I'm not sure that is what did it as many seem to suffer from that remaining leg weakness but it sure does not help matters.  Please make sure she takes it easy for a good while. My Pyr Patou is having his second chemo treatment tomorrow (that is why I am still up and can't sleep) Your treatment plan is totally a personal decision, but amputation seems to be the universal option due to pain. (sounds funny to create pain to alleviate pain, but I have been told and seen first hand that bone cancer pain is very bad.) My Patou was also 5 yrs of age when they found his. He just turned 6 yesterday. He is 4 weeks post amp. You will find that dogs are VERY resourceful and can bounce back after experiencing great obstacles… much more than we can. I'll have to say that this whole experience has been way harder on me than him, and I would never wish him any harm. Good luck with your decisions and much luck and Godspeed in her recovery. Please rely on these wonderful people on this site as I could have never made it through all this without their wisdom and insight and advise.


  Janet and Patou

Greater Western Washington area
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18 January 2011 - 6:31 am
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Hello Claire,

Bella is beautiful!  My newfoundland mix was 115 lbs pre-amp and he is doing wonderfully.  He is a right front leg amputee and although it has slowed him down a bit, he still runs and plays with our Mastiff and our sheppard mix.

I am sorry about Bella's diagnosis, she is very young to be having to go through this, but her age will probably work in her favor as far as recovery and being mobile.

There are lots of big dogs on this site, it seems that is almost a precursor to this horrible disease.  The good news is, there are many of them that thrive after the amputation.  If you get a chance to read the blogs it may help ease your mind as far as the surgery goes.

Good luck and we look forward to hearing more about your pretty girl.

Elizabeth and Sammy

Diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the right front leg 8/23/10,

leg fractured 8/27/10,

leg amputated 8/30/10


I couldn't begin to say how special Sammy is to us.  Living and laughing with and loving this wonderful boy is priceless.

Bedford, UK
Forum Posts: 28
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18 January 2011 - 7:04 am
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Hi Clair, Michael, and Bella,

                                         Hello and Welcome.  We have recently also been in the difficult position as you with a giant breed, it is nearly 3 weeks since our Irish Wolhound Io had his front left leg amputated due to Osteosarcoma.  Below I have pasted an extract from our opening post as it details what we experienced during and after the difficult situation and decisions that you currently all face. 

Io was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in his left front leg shortly two days before  Christmas, Our Vets were absolutely fantastic and managed to arrange a ct scan the same day so that we could see if it had spread so that we could make a decision on how to progress as soon as possible bearing in mind the Christmas holiday were imminent.   The scan showed that the cancer was confined to the leg (although they did explain that the scan is not a 100% guarantee) and so we had at least had the option of amputation rather than the heartbreak of having him put to sleep.  I have to admit that I was not too keen on this option at this stage as Io is a very active dog and a bit clumsy at the best of times, he also has a touch of arthritis.  After some research and consultation (basically everyone telling me to “stop thinking of it in human terms –  he is a dog and will not dwell on the fact he has lost a leg” !!!) we decided to go ahead with the amputation.

Io was in the Vets for 3 days and we finally got him home this Saturday. The first 12 hours of having him home was a bit difficult as he was still affected by the drugs and trauma of the operation and so he was all over the place mentally and physically , It was fantastic to have him home but no matter how much we expected it, actually seeing the extent of the wound and him in a bit of a state from the drugs was not easy.

He has now been home for 3 days and the last 48 hours has actually been quite astonishing in the progress he has made. He is now up and standing with ease – particularly at the sound of anything like a dinner bowl being prepared, he gets himself in and out into the garden and has sorted out his balance for all toilet functions.  He even managed to almost do a spectacular wipe out yesterday when he heard the walking stuff being prepared for our other Wolfhound,  My wife says that he then proceeded to stand by the back door whining all the time we were out as he wanted to go too !.  The wounds are healing well although he does have the odd muscle spasm which can result in some yelping.

We are now 19 days past the operation and things are still progressing very well, Io is his usual self (sulking like crazy when our other wolfhound goes for her walk) and getting around and adapting incredibly well – if anything he has actually lost some of the clumsiness.  The only real problem we have had is exactly what Janet posted above – overdoing excercise as he gets used to life on three legs , which is pretty much what we did on Sunday when talking him out for a “very short walk” !.

We have started a blog for Io – http://iowolfho… – where we have tried to put as much information as we can as we go through recovery and chemo. We have had so much fantastic information and support form this site.

Best of luck to you all. Bella looks a real beauty !!

Io, cobweb, Rog and Mitch

18 January 2011 - 8:55 am
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Hello and welcome to Tripawds,

I'm glad you found us- lots of great information and support here.

My Tripawd was one of the smallest here- a rear amp pug, so I can't personally help with the big dog thing, but the first tripawd we met in person through this site was Cemil- a 150 pound Anatolian Shepard front leg amp.  Cemil and his mom Mary live in my town, and I see him often.  He has OSA and is doing great almost 2 years (this month!) past his amputation- you will probably hear from Mary soon.


In the mean time HERE is a link to Cemil's blog so you can see him in action.

Nova is a Great Dane, more than 2 years past her front amp.  HERE is her blog, you should hear from her mom Sue.

One more thing to look at- a video I put together last year of a tripawd party we had.  There are several front leg amps in the video including Cemil.


Karen and the pugapalooza

Forum Posts: 232
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18 January 2011 - 9:22 am
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Dante isn't a giant dog (shhh, don't tell him though, he thinks he is!) He's a pit bull mix, and 42 lbs. We think he will top out around 50, once he's done growing. However, he's a compact little guy, and small for as much as he weighs…so I assume the stress of his weight on his joints is more than that of a leaner, taller breed with the same weight. Similar to a mastiff build, just much smaller! He's a front leg amp as well, although not due to cancer. He was 8 weeks old when his leg was amputated – he's adjusted well, but the first few months were difficult for him. Much in the same way others have posted – over doing exercise (keeping a pit bull puppy calm? Ya, OKAY!). He had phantom pains, and you may find your girl (as other front leg amputees have noted) will move quicker, more of a gallop or run, because the momentum is easier for them, since most of their weight is in the front of their body. Dante doesn't have a walk. He has a painfully slow hop (hop one step, smell the flowers, hop another, smell the air, etc) or he's full speed ahead. No in between. 2 person job to walk all three of mine, simply because he's at a much different pace than the girls are. 

We've had many large/giant breeds on here do quite well with amputation. We adopted Dante 4 weeks after his amputation, so we didn't have to go through the terrible process of recovery, but from what I have read of others experiences, the first 2 weeks will be VERY tough, but it will only go up from there! 

Your girl is gorgeous! I just love those big old mastiff heads!

We do have at least one other mastiff here (that I can pull off the top of my head!)  – Hurricane Rosie, she has a blog. She was a pup when she lost her leg, but she's doing really well as she's grown and adjusted – quite the amazing big girl! She goes hiking, romping in snowy meadows, swimming, etc. Inspawrational for sure! Also makes a great purse when her mom has to strap her to her backpack!


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18 January 2011 - 9:54 am
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Our Tazzie was an English Mastiff and lost her RF leg to OSA at the age of 6 years old.  She weighed about 190 pounds pre-amp and she did very well.  There is a video of her on this website somewhere.  We used the Ruffwear harness to help her around and to get in and out of the van but she was hopping well and going to the bathroom normally within 4 days.  I did keep her in the hospital for 3 nights due to her large size and because she developed an infection (due to a pre-existing liver issue).

We did the chemo and she had no side effects other than a reduced appetite and softer stool for a day or two.  She lived 14 months which I consider pretty good for a giant breed but there are others here who have survived longer. The only thing we had to limit was access to steep flights of stairs, but she was able to play with our other dogs (Loki our 155 # Dogue de Bordeaux) without problems.


Here and Now

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18 January 2011 - 12:18 pm
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Success stories? For sure…

Here is our video interview with Pam and three-legged English Mastiff Tazzie.

Be sure to read about Nova and don't miss our video interview about Cemil's cancer diet and supplements.

And, while this community is deeply saddened by the recent lost of Fortis, we surely consider this Cane Corso one year osteosarcoma survivor a true hero.

Hope this helps… looking forward to hearing more about Bella.

Forum Posts: 50
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18 January 2011 - 12:49 pm
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Welcome Clair, Michael and Bella,

Let me begin by telling you how beautifull your baby is. And I'd also like to say, I know EXACTLY how you feel right now.

Our Great Dane, Alexander (Xander) was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his right front leg in July. He was 4 years old and 165 lbs, the cancer was only in his leg. The doctors told us that without amputation, the bone in the leg would become so brittle that even if he stepped wrong, he could break that leg and it would never heal, leading to amputation anyways.

My husband and I decided that we could not allow Xander to live with the leg, always waiting for it to break. Xander loved to play, he was always active and the idea of sequestering him in the house, with no life, while the cancer took him was unbearable. We had Alexander amputated on July 27th.

The first two weeks were horrendous. Xander went 9 days without eating. He was constantly lethargic. He had no interest in toys, us or even going out. Then, all of a sudden, one day he came hopping into the office while I was on the computer, and he layed at my feet. From that day on, he got progressively better. He went through four rounds of Chemotherapy and was declared in remission on November 17th.

Alexander is crazy happy! He still plays, runs, barks, gets in fights with his sister, does annoying things, gets on our bed, gets on our couch, and man is he strong…I still will never win a game of tug-o-war against him!

Since July, we have given Alexander 6 very full rewarding months. He has had the opportunities to do everything he loves to do. He is living his life in the best way possible!

Sadly, Last Wednesday, we found out Alexander's cancer is back, he has lung mets. We always knew that this would happen, tho never expected it so soon. He is still himself, very happy and playful.

I HAVE NO REGRETS!!! My husband and I did everything we could to fight this cancer. We gave Alexander the BEST chance possible. We will always do what's best for him, right up until he tells us it's time to say goodbye.

Please, feel free to PM me with any questions/concerns….I am happy to help in any way I can.

Alexander The Great Dane

Suspected Osteosarcoma July 12

Diagnosed Officially 7/16/2010

Amputated 7/27/2010

Became Spirit Xander 2/20/2011

The Rainbow Bridge

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18 January 2011 - 1:04 pm
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Clair, Michael and Bella,

First off, let me welcome you to Tripawds! Pardon my tardiness. Hope you don't mind but I moved your post here to this discussion, to make it easier for other pawrents of giant breed dogs to see your story.  And many thanks for downloading our eBook, we really appreciate it.

I know you've had some great advice and insight given to you already, and hope that by now you are filled with hope for your beautiful girl. If there is anything we can do or answer for you, please let us know OK? We're glad you're here with us, you are not alone.

P.S. We have some other Australian members you should look up! Storm and Koda, Rage and Zorion to name just a few. Maybe  you can be the first to organize a Tripawds pawty in Australia!

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Forum Posts: 4
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17 January 2011
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18 January 2011 - 3:10 pm
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Thank you all so much for your wonderful replies. I sat reading them with tears streaming down my face barely able to see the screen!

To receive such amazing support from people on the other side of the world who we have never met is overwhelming. Your strength and optimism are contagious

We will keep you updated on Bella's progress.

Linden, MI
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18 January 2011 - 5:07 pm
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Welcome to Tripawds!

Karen told you earlier about my girl Nova, a Great Dane, (aka Queen Nova) with a front leg amputation.  Nova is now 26 months post-amputation and still cancer free!  There IS hope for big dogs, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  Nova also has the added challenge of being blind (glaucoma) yet she still gets around great.  The first few weeks are the most trying, as others have already told you.

Her blog is at  There I have documented everything from Day 1.  Please, please do not hesitate to message me with any questions as your beautiful Bella starts this journey.  We wish you the best and are here to help.

Licks and Leans,

Sue and Queen Nova

Dane Mom Sue at and Mom to Beautiful Great Dane Queen Nova, a Blind Tripawd, who kicked cancer's butt from 11/08-03/13. The Queen is Spirit Nova now, but her legacy lives on here at Tripawds!

Mount Pleasant, Ia
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18 January 2011 - 5:18 pm
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Hi Clair , Michael and Bella.. welcome to our group. Cooper is a 117 pound newfie mix that is a left front leg amp.

He was not considered a good candidate for amputation by the first vet and the second vet had reservations , but was all for

trying, which we ultimately did, and Cooper has done very well. It has slowed him down a little , but we have no regrets at all. He will celebrate his 3rd month ampuversary on January 26th and he gets around well, goes up and down stairs for himself, and overall is just doing fine. The first 2- 3 weeks were very hard, but smoothed out quickly and we are so glad we didnt follow the advice of the first vet.

Cooper is also 10 years old. We sure look forward to hearing reports from you about Bella!


Coopers pack

Coopsdad/ Kenneth Blackburn

the monkeydogs only THINK they have invaded the tripawd state

Las Vegas, Nevada
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18 January 2011 - 11:32 pm
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Welcome Bella and family!

First let me just say, they sure do make them pretty down in Australia!  Bella is a beautiful girl!  Love the face!


You are going to get lots of help, advice and support here so try not to worry! 

Just remember, bone cancer is painful. Not just a little pain, but unmanageable pain!  A human can't even tolerate the pain.  So, the amputation is the best way to eliminate the pain.  The sooner the better.  Healing pain will be rough at first but this bone cancer pain is unbearable. 

I am very lucky, I am here with a three legged dog because of birth defect.  I've had her 12 years.  Granted she is just under 40lbs.  But having dealt with 3 legs for so long, I can promise you that 3 – legs isn't that big of a deal.  Cosmetically, yes.  But only to us humans!  Dogs can figure out how to get around and will.   And they really don't mind only having three legs.  It's a minor inconvenience to them.  It's a major shock to us human because we are visual.

Wishing you all the luck in the world for Bella,

Comet's mom


Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

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