Well, I was a real dog person for a number of years. As some forumites may know, I had four Japanese Tosas, very "extreme" dogs. They were wonderful dogs. I loved them dearly and I grieved for them bitterly. None of them lived very long: Zuma died after bloat surgery, aged 3 years and 20 days; Jessie was put down for a full-torsion bloat, aged 5 years, 4 months; Dempsey was put down for heart problems and stomach cancer, aged 6 years, 7 months; Tessa was put down as she was dying of lymphoma, aged 5 years, 2 months.
At first I was inclined to attribute this to the fact that giant-breed dogs like Tosas are notoriously short-lived (although, curiously enough, the largest dog on record, an English Mastiff named Zorba who topped out at 345 pounds, lived to be 13 or 14). However, I have been hearing of so many dogs of all sizes and ages dying young, mostly of cancer. I was seriously thinking of a Staff Bull, as recommended by lefty above. Although some of the little guys do live to be 16, I have heard enough cases of Staff Bulls dying at young ages from one thing and another that I am somewhat put off by the idea of one. Aside from early death and its attendant heartbreak, so many more dogs just seem to have chronic problems--allergies, skin conditions, ear infections, etc. We often hear about dying and deformities among frogs being a warning that something is amiss on our planet. I sometimes wonder if it isn't more true among dogs than frogs!
In addition to all these health problems, the costs of veterinary treatment have just gone through the roof in recent years. This has become a real concern. It is much more of a deterrent to me than the cost of dog food. Back when I had my first Tosa (1995-8), a typical vet visit would run $60 or $70. In later years, anytime I got out of the vet's office for less than $200, I felt lucky. I really get a very dark and creepy feeling anytime I even see a vet's office these days. My dog Dempsey cost me about $5,500 in the last 16 months of his life, most of that going for treatment of an infected paw.
Having a dog is a chronic responsibility: It's very refreshing for my wife and me to be able to go out and about in an evening without having to hurry to feed and let the dog go out. It's nice on a cold, rainy evening not to have to walk the dog. Being rousted at three in the morning to take the dog out, especially in foul weather, is a royal nuisance. I sure don't miss that although it was only a problem with my dog Dempsey, who in other ways was the best of the four.
Some of the things people have cited like shedding, accidents on the carpet and yard clean-up, I don't regard as that big a deal compared to the love, companionship and joy afforded by a dog.
Still if I'm out taking a walk on a warm, moonlit evening, I really, really miss the companionship of a dog, especially something like a Tosa. There was a power, a majesty, a glory about those dogs that I basked in. They were almost demigod-like to me.
My stepson has been after me to get another dog. Probably he mostly wants it as a chick-magnet. I am very much of two minds about this. A good friend of mine recently bred two of his Tosas. If he has a good litter and offers me a puppy, I will probably accept it, despite considerable misgivings.