By Shannon Lane @SHANNONROSELANE
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Videographer / director: Marius Anderson
Producer: Shannon Lane,
Joe Thompson lives with his three English Mastiffs and his family in Duluth, Minnesota.
The largest of the three dogs – two-year-old Harrison – weighs a whopping 250lbs, while his housemates Ringo and Paul weigh 218lbs and 170lbs respectively.
English Mastiffs are renowned for being the world’s heaviest dogs and Joe’s pets are in huge demand for breeding – charging up to $3000 a time.
Joe told Barcroft TV: “I got Ringo six years ago when my dad was diagnosed with cancer. My wife felt it would be very beneficial that I have another dog in my life. She knew that it would help me get through things with my father.”
Jo was attracted to the breed because of its huge size and good nature.
He said: "What drew me to the breed was having the best of both worlds, a protection dog that I didn’t worry about hurting my kids or having that unpredictability.
“I’m very prone to large breed dogs because they fit me, I am a big person and they fit my lifestyle. I like to see the muscles in them because working them is something I really enjoy doing.
“They are extremely predictable and they fit in as a part of the family as well as a protection dog. I do not worry about anybody coming; I leave my doors open and I am not worried at all.
“They are very smart and confident, and a confident animal does not need to bite or do things like that. They don’t have anything to prove."
As Joe’s relationship developed with Ringo, the family decided to begin breeding them, and added to their family.
He explained: “Originally we were only going to have Ringo but then we started this studding stuff.”
Ringo then fathered both Harrison and Paul.
Joe said: “My largest boy is Harrison. He is 27 months old and 250 real solid working-dog, everyday-fit pounds. Ringo is 218 pounds, he is the sire of both Paul and Harrison. Paul is right around 170 pounds, I haven’t had him weighed recently but that is the closest to my estimation and he is ten months old.
"My wife came up with the theme of the Beatles. Ringo and Harrison's relationship is so similar to me and my dad's that it's almost scary. Ringo reminds me a great deal of my dad, his demeanour, temperament.
“And I guess I feel like I was a lot like Harry when I was younger, too. And their bond is so evident all of them really.”
“If I had to classify them as sports individuals, Ringo would be a boxer, Harrison would be a wrestler and Paul would be the basketball player.
Joe’s dogs have become a huge hit with both his kids and the family’s friends.
He said: "My two sons really love their boys. That gives them a lot of - for lack of a better term - bragging rights with friends.
“A lot of their friends like to come and see them. It's a great icebreaker for them and they're very active in helping me work these dogs because - let's face it - kids have a lot more energy than us older parents.
“So I use them to my advantage as much as they can and they really, really love their doggies."
The three giant mastiffs not only keep Joe and his family company but they are also in huge demand as stud dogs around the world.
Joe said: “My boys, the fur-Beatles are some of the most wanted studs on the planet. They are wanted overseas.
"My stud fee for Harrison is $3000, for Ringo it is $2500, and Paul is undecided; it really depends on how much he is wanted. You know fawn is usually the most desirable colour. So I'm thinking Paul will be around $3000."
Joe regularly walks his dogs in the woods surrounding his house, and they even swim in the heavy current of the river.
He said: "One of our main exercises is retracing steps me and my father had done all of our life. We've had a hunting shack up in the woods which has been there since 1947, I believe. And that's a place I like to go and stay with my dogs quite a bit, sometimes for a week to work them, get photos, bond with them, train them.
“The upstream swimming is amazing to see because you or I or any human being, an Olympic swimmer couldn’t hold ground in these kind of current and these guys actually slowly gain ground."
The giant dogs have even had some close calls with the local wildlife.
Joe said: "On several occasions when we are out in the field running with nature it is inevitable. It happens, but nature is self-governing and doesn’t allow animals to get into fights or get hurt so generally speaking they avoid us.
"But on occasion we will run into bears or bobcats. On my phone several years ago I happened to catch on video Ringo treed a bear and I actually called him off.”
Joe doesn’t know what he’d do without his three monster mastiffs, and can’t imagine having any other breed.
He said: "I love them more than you could ever really say in words. And they're unlike any breed of dog that I've ever had experience with.
"The feeling of being away from home and reunited is real similar to your own kids. You miss them when you're gone, or when you have a bad day at work it's nice to come home and have real genuine love that's not conditional in any way.
"They will love you no matter what kind of mood you're in. So really it's a huge part of my life.”