December 7, 2021

Enormous 8st dog who stands at 6ft tall wears a bib and eats at the dinner table

Standing six feet tall on his ­muscular hind legs, blond ­bombshell Boris is a sight to ­behold, though like his namesake he looks like he needs a good brush.

The magnificent Pyrenean mountain dog weighs an incredible eight stone.

He maintains his physique with fine cuts of steak, lumps of lamb and half-hour walks with owner Susan Reilly.

And like all posh pups, award-winning Boris dons his bib twice a week to have a proper meal at the dining table.

He even has his own £30,000 tour bus parked outside in the driveway.

But four-year-old Boris is far from your average pampered pooch.

The gentle giant has given great-grandmother Susan a new lease of life after the death of her daughter Maria ­Woodhouse 15 years ago.

Pyrenean mountain dog Boris eats fine cuts of steak
Pyrenean mountain dog Boris eats fine cuts of steak

Susan, 61, says: “It’s as if he’s been sent from above to fill a gap that was there in my life. He came at a time when I needed something to get me up and out and give me a lease of life.

“Basically that’s what he’s done. That’s why I say he was sent from above.”

Susan and Boris are set to star in Big Dog Britain, a one-hour documentary airing on Channel 4 tonight.

Featuring families and their pets from across the country, the pup-mad programme ­celebrates everything there is to love about colossal dogs.

Award-winning Boris dons his bib twice a week to have a proper meal
Award-winning Boris dons his bib twice a week to have a proper meal

Viewers get hilarious insights into the reality of life with humongous hounds from gorgeous great Danes and Newfoundlands to hairy Irish ­wolfhounds and slobbery St Bernards.

The programme also reveals that as sales of little breeds such as French bulldogs have soared by 300% in the past year, the popularity of big dogs has plummeted. Great Dane registrations are at their lowest rate for 50 years.

While larger breeds might not be for everyone, for Susan, of Bracknell, Berks, Pyrenean mountain dogs have held a special place in her heart for years.

“For me and Maria, the dogs were a big part of our life,” she says. “Maria grew up with them. At one time I had 13 ­Pyreneans, and Maria had three. We’d walk them for miles, we’d take them everywhere, to all of the shows.”

Boris has his own £30,000 tour bus parked outside in the driveway
Boris has his own £30,000 tour bus parked outside in the driveway

Susan, also mum to sons Darren and Ivor ­Woodhouse, remembers the May weekend she lost her daughter.

“By then Maria was 25 and she had her own daughter, Jade,” she recalls.

“Jade would have been five or so, and we were over the moon that weekend because Maria had just got engaged. She asked me to have little Jade on the second May Bank Holiday so she could cook for her partner.”

It was that day that Susan got a call to say her daughter had been killed in a car accident. She says: “We were heartbroken. It was a tough, tough time. She left behind an absolutely magnificent daughter.”

Dog shows had been an immense part of their lives until the accident that took Maria’s life.

Boris is set to become the star of a documentary about colossal dogs
Boris is set to become the star of a documentary about colossal dogs

“It wasn’t that I couldn’t handle it,” Susan says. “It just didn’t seem the same any more. I was out of showing for about 10 years and even though I loved other dogs, I just couldn’t do it. I don’t think time is a healer, but you learn to live with it.

“Losing a child is probably one of the worst things you could ever think of. Maria wasn’t only my daughter, she was my best friend too.”

However, since Boris came into her life more than four years ago, Susan, who also owns German shepherd Lolly and 14-year-old moggy Mr G, says things have improved massively.

Maria’s daughter Jade – now 20 and a mum herself – is getting more involved with the big show dog life.

“From the day I picked Boris up at eight weeks old, we’ve loved each other,” says Susan, who lives with partner Warren Roberts, 56.

Susan Reilly pictured with her Pyrenean Mountain Dog Boris at home in Bracknell
Boris helped Susan get over heartbreak

“Jade is involved more and more. She’s been over with me nearly every day this week and, with her little girl Sophie getting to know Boris. That’s five generations of the family because my mum Shirley, who is almost 80, used to come to shows with me too.

“Maria would be so proud of Jade.

“Boris has been an amazing dog. Yes, he’s a bit spoiled, but that’s just because he wins me round and he only eats at the table two or three times a week. At one point I realised I was spending around £150 a week on his food, but I think it’s better not to think about all that too much!”

scrimping when it comes to her pet isn’t really an option, with a £30,000 trailer bought to take Boris – named after the man Susan calls our “blond and nutty” Prime Minister – to competitions.

“Owning a dog like Boris isn’t ­financially lucrative,” she says.

“But he’s only four and he’s already a ­champion in the UK and Ireland, although I couldn’t do all that without my wonderful friends and family. People tend to be put off by big dogs but Boris is so laid-back.

“I live in a middle terrace. It’s not huge and I’ve got two two-seater settees. I’ll sit up with my feet tucked under me and he’ll pop his chin on my hips. He’s so loving and he’s as good as gold. I’m 61 now so it’s nice to chill, and he’s the perfect dog for that.”

  • Big Dog Britain is on Thursday at 10pm on Channel 4. It will be available to stream later on All4.