Description: Viral image / Hoax
Circulating since: April 2007
Status: Fake / False (see details below)
Email contributed by Shelby B., April 10, 2007:
Hercules: The World's Biggest Dog Ever According to Guinness World Records
Hercules was recently awarded the honorable distinction of Worlds Biggest Dog by Guinness World Records. Hercules is an English Mastiff and has a 38 inch neck and weighs 282 pounds.
With "paws the size of softballs" (reports the Boston Herald), the three-year-old monster is far larger and heavier than his breed's standard 200lb. limit. Hercules owner Mr. Flynn says that Hercules weight is natural and not induced by a bizarre diet: "I fed him normal food and he just grew".... and grew. and grew.
Analysis: Thanks to some clever Photoshop manipulation, the dog pictured above (which is actually a Neapolitan mastiff as near as I can tell, not an English mastiff as claimed) looks roughly twice its natural size. It's an obvious hoax.
It is true that back in 2001, Joe Flynn, owner of a 282-pound English mastiff named Hercules (see photo), was told by the Guinness World Records folks that his was the world's "heaviest" dog at the time.
This is not that animal.
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Update #1: While I remain one hundred percent convinced that the above image is a hoax, I'm obliged to acknowledge that a few folks have written to tell me they think the size of the dog is plausible. I don't see how that can be, given that Neapolitan mastiffs top out, according to breeders, at around 29 inches tall at the shoulder and 165 pounds in weight. Maybe the people and the horse in the photo are abnormally small. Maybe the snapshot was taken in an alternate universe, who knows? In any case, I find it interesting that neither the photographer nor the owner of the behemoth canine has surfaced to validate its authenticity.
Update #2: World's Largest (Tallest) Dog... for Real, This Time - April 2, 2008: A harlequin Great Dane named Gibson is the current Guinness World Record holder.
Update #3: World's Tallest Dog, R.I.P. - Aug. 13, 2009: World's Tallest Dog Gibson has died of bone cancer.
Update #4: Is 'Giant George' the World's Tallest Dog? - Feb. 2, 2010: Giant George, a blue Great Dane in Tucson, Arizona, stands .375 inches taller than the current Guinness World Record holder, another Great Dane named Titan.
Update #5: 'Giant George' Enters Record Books as World's Top Dog - Feb. 22, 2010: Guinness World Records confirms that Giant George is the world's Tallest Living Dog and Tallest Dog Ever (BBC News).
Update #6: Great Dane 'Zeus' Named World's Tallest Living Dog - Sep. 13, 2012: The 2013 edition of Guinness World Records names 44-inch-tall Zeus, a Great Dane in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the World's Tallest Living Dog.
Sources and further reading:
Neapolitan Mastiff Information
Dog Breed Info Center
English Mastiff Information
Dog Breed Info Center
Legend of World's Largest Dog Lives On
Salem News, 13 March 2008
World's Largest Dog Weighs 284
CNN Saturday Morning News (transcript), 9 June 2001
New Record for Largest Dog in the World?
DogsInTheNews.com, 9 June 2001
Hercules Puts Bite on Title as World's Largest Dog
Boston Herald, 8 June 2001
Last updated: 10/12/13