NEW YORK, N.Y. - Life with Suzzane Kelleher-Duckett's dogs has required a few adjustments. Getting rid of the coffee table, for one.

Stashing things in the microwave or on top of the refrigerator if she wants to keep them out of the dogs' reach, since they can easily grab items off the counter and stove. Buying a minivan — and taking out the middle seat so they can fit.

But after 16 years of owning Great Danes, Kelleher-Duckett wouldn't live without one.

"As big as they are, they love that big," the Santa Clarita, Calif.-based breeder said Tuesday as one of her two Danes, a 3-year-old, 134-pound female named Vendetta who's 34 inches tall at the shoulder, eyed her owner's sandwich after the breed's competition at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.

Story continues after slideshow.

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  • Ernesto Lara, Banana Joe

    Ernesto Lara celebrates with Banana Joe, an affenpinscher, who won Best in Show, during the 137th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Teddy, a Gordon Setter, is groomed before judging at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 12, 2013 in New York. STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

  • Cash, an English Setter, gets a blow dry from BJ Parsons, with other English Setters before judging at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 12, 2013 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

  • Barry, a Komondorok, at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 12, 2013 in New York. STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

  • Cole, a Komondorok, is groomed by Val McNellis at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 12, 2013 in New York. STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

  • US-ANIMALS-WESTMINSTER-DOG SHOW

    Cash, an English Setter, gets a blow dry from BJ Parsons before judging at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 12, 2013 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A St. Bernard takes a nap at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 12, 2013 in New York. STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

  • Great Pyrenees Sky (L) and Gem (R) with Joan Hanover (C) at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 12, 2013 in New York. STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

  • A row of Samoyeds are groomed at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 12, 2013 in New York. STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

  • US-ANIMALS-WESTMINSTER-DOG SHOW

    Paisley, a Wheaten Terrier, sits on a grooming table before judging at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 12, 2013 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Colton Johnson shows off Swagger, an Old English Sheep Dog with the hearding group during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York.(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Colton Johnson shows off Swagger, an Old English Sheep Dog, with the hearding group during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • A Pembroke Welsch Corgi is judged with the hearding group during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Swagger

    Colton Johnson shows off Swagger, an Old English Sheep Dog and winner of the hearding group, during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • A rough collie waits to compete in the hearding group during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Honor

    Honor, a Bichon Frise, and winner of the non-sporting group, is held by handler Lisa Bettis during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York.(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Fiona, a 2-year-old Red Dilute Brush Coat, waits in the benching area before competing in the 137th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Caroll Geiser, of Rochester, N.Y., grooms Eva, a 3-year-old Old English Sheep dog, during the 137th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • A Smooth Coat Chihuahua looks up at it's handler while being displayed in the ring during competition at the 137th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • A Bichon Frise rests before competing in the The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York.(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Angel, a 2-year-old Toy Poodle from Houston, is groomed prior to competition during the 137th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • A Shih Tzu is inspected by a judge during competition of the 137th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Craig Garcia grooms Fire, a 2-year-old Shih Tzu from Cape Town, South Africa, during the 137th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Michelle Ridenour, of Novi, Michigan, grooms Tigger, a 3-year-old Pomeranian, during the 137th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Linda Scott, of Odessa, Texax, grooms Pink a a 2 year-year-old bulldog during the 137th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Jewel

    Jewel, an American Foxhound and winner of the hound group, leaves the competition area during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Banana Joe

    Banana Joe, an Affenpinscher and winner of the the toy group, is shown by Ernesto Lara during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • A Yorkshire terrier is judged with the toy group during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Banana Joe

    Banana Joe, an Affenpinscher and winner of the toy group, is shown by Ernesto Lara during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Banana Joe, an Affenpinscher and winner of the toy group, is shown by Ernesto Lara during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • A handler places a smooth coat Chihuahua on the table for inspection during competition at the 137th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • A smooth coat Chihuahua waits in his cage in the benching area during the 137th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Colton Johnson shows off Swagger, an Old English Sheep Dog, with the hearding group during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Honor

    Lisa Bettis, shows, Honor, a Bichon Frise, of Indiana, and winner of the non-sporting group, during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York.(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • A Pembroke Welsch Corgi is judged with the hearding group during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Swagger

    Swagger, an Old English Sheep Dog, is posed for photographs after winning the hearding group during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Russell Terriers are held during a news conference in New York, on Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. Russell Terriers are one of two breeds competing for the first time this year in the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which is scheduled to begin on Feb. 11. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

  • A pair of Neopolitan Bull Mastifs named Paparazzi and Ruben ride the elevator with their owners after checking into the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, in preparation for the Westminster Dog Show, which is Monday and Tuesday. The hotel is located directly across from Madison Square Garden, where the show is held. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • Handler Ernesto Lara poses for photographers with Banana Joe, an affenpinscher who won best in show during the 137th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Matisse

    Matisse, a Portuguese water dog and winner of the working group is shown during the 137th Westminster Kennel Club dog show Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York.(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Eddie Boyes shows Adam, a smooth fox terrier and winner of the terrier group, during the 137th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Oakley

    Oakley, a German wirehaired pointer and winner of the Sporting group, is shown during the 137th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2013, file photo, Aristocrat, a St. Bernard, attends a news conference about the 137th annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York. Caring for a large dog has demands not associated with having smaller breeds. Large breeds eat more, need more living space and can have health issues not seen in smaller breeds. Although they can require more of a commitment that their smaller counterparts, large breeds remain popular among dog owners and the general public alike. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

Whatever dog wins America's most prestigious canine competition, giant breeds can't help but make a big impression on spectators who snap pictures of small children reaching up to pet huge dogs and ping the owners with queries: How much does he weigh? How much does she eat? What's it like to live with one?

Here's what it's like for Chris Boltrek and Ashley Erlitz, who share their Sound Beach, N.Y., home with Huxley, a 190-pound mastiff who's nearly 2. He plays with tree branches, not sticks, and with balls designed as horse toys.

He eats 10 to 12 cups of food a day, he'll get spit on the walls if he shakes his head, and he outweighed the petite Erlitz when he was 9 months old and has knocked her over on walks a few times.

Take the imposing-looking mastiff on a walk, and "either people gravitate toward him because of the anomaly of a large dog . or otherwise they walk on the other side of the street," Boltrek said as Huxley lazed in his grooming area, accepting pets from passers-by, after his breed's contest.

But for all the challenges — which can include health considerations — particular to massive dogs, their owners say they're drawn to animals that can inspire both awe and awwwww.

The Irish wolfhound is considered the tallest among the 175 breeds currently recognized by the American Kennel Club, but the lanky hound isn't necessarily the heaviest breed. (The Guinness World Record for the individual world's tallest dog belongs, at the moment, to a Michigan-dwelling great Dane named Zeus, who measures 44 inches from foot to shoulder — and 7-foot-4 when he stands on his hind legs.)

A Scottish deerhound, a breed similar to the Irish wolfhound, won at Westminster in 2011, but there have been fairly few giant winners in the show's 100-year-long history. (Doberman pinschers, which are large, have won several times.) The diminutive Pekingese was top dog last year.

Lynne Hamilton would be the first to admit that good dogs can come in small packages. Her pets include a miniature dachshund and two medium-sized dogs, a smooth fox terrier and a springer spaniel.

But the moment she saw a college roommate's Newfoundland, "I fell in love with the big breed," said Hamilton, who has since owned Newfoundlands for 32 years. Her latest, 2-year-old Ares, was in his breed's competition at Westminster on Tuesday.

Caring for the 130-pound, heavy-coated Ares involves dealing with "lots of hair, lots of slobber" and keeping her Enola, Pa., home at 58 degrees year-round, she said, "because you don't want that panting in your face."

Many dog breeds, big and small, are susceptible to certain health problems. Giant breeds can be prone to orthopedic troubles, heart problems and what's known as bloat, a dangerous stomach condition. And in general, smaller dogs tend to live longer than huge ones.

Also, temperament and training are perhaps even bigger priorities for giant dogs than others because the big breeds' size and appearance can be off-putting if they're not well-behaved.

"You want to be able to look them in the face and have it be inviting," said dog handler Melody Salmi, who showed the St. Bernard best-of-breed winner, Aristocrat (or, formally, Jamelle's Aristocrat V Elba), Tuesday at Westminster. He's owned by Linda and Edward Baker of Hopewell, N.J.

Afterward, Aristocrat snoozed placidly in his crate.

Oftentimes, "I sell a puppy to people, and they say, 'Oh, it's so big,'" said Aristocrat's breeder, Michele Mulligan of Diamond Bar, Calif. But a year later, the same owners will say fondly, "They're not so big," she said.

"They just grow on you."

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