🦴 Updated on July 14th, 2023
They’re one of the most enormous and imposing-looking breeds on earth, but there is much more to these gentle giants than meets the eye. Most are loveable couch potatoes, but are Great Danes good with kids?
Often referred to as The Nanny Dog, having a Great Dane with kids seems like a no-brainer. But there’s a big difference between a school-aged child and a toddler. Many would-be Great Dane owners have concerns over whether a Great Dane is a good idea for a household with a newborn or infant, given their massive size.
Today, we’ll cover everything you need to know about these adorable oafs so you can decide if adding a Great Dane to your household is a wise decision.
Are Great Danes Friendly? See More About Their Disposition
Great Danes are among the most massive dogs on earth, with the average Dane weighing in at well over 100 pounds and standing nearly three feet high. While these pups were initially bred as hunting dogs, they’ve proven even more adept at serving as a trusted and lovable guard dog for your family than as a hunting dog.
Most Great Danes have an exceptionally loving disposition, and they love to hang around on the couch all day. They like to get in some exercise here and there, but for the most part, they’re usually docile. Even though they don’t have lots of exercise requirements, their large size means they’ll need access to a yard or park for activities.
Great Danes are among the most kind and loving dog breeds. Unlike breeds like huskies or golden retrievers, Great Danes like to spend most of their time lounging and relaxing. You’re far more likely to find a Great Dane spending the afternoon on the couch than you are to see them running laps around the dog park.
Great Danes are generally very affectionate, and they’re happy to meet new people. Danes are also unwaveringly loyal to their families, and they may react aggressively if they feel that a member of their family is in danger.
One of their most endearing characteristics is that they seem to think they’re the size of a lap dog. If you’re sitting on the couch enjoying a movie, it won’t be long before your Great Dane joins you and sits right on your lap.
While this behavior is usually adorable, it can be concerning when you have tiny children, as they could be injured under the dog’s weight. Great Danes are also notorious for leaning on you when you’re showing them affection; the dog is trying to get closer to you to show their love, but with toddlers and infants, this can be potentially hazardous.
Are Great Danes Good Family Dogs?
Great Danes are among the most loyal and lovable companions on earth (remember the well-known phrase “Gentle Giant” in the dog world), and they make excellent family dogs, regardless of whether you have children in the home or not.
Many of the characteristics of this dog breed seem to defy conventional thinking. Given their vast size, you may think they need a tremendous amount of space and lots of exercise. While Danes require two hours of daily exercise, they’re much more interested in lounging around than running laps around the yard.
Families who live in an apartment, condo, or small home will have no trouble keeping a Great Dane happy and healthy.
A Quiet and Watchful Family Pet
Great Danes are also relatively quiet, something you may not expect of a large dog. The breed rarely barks, and it’s exceedingly rare to see a Great Dane become agitated or menacing unless they feel that they or their family is in danger.
While they stay quiet for the most part, they’re quick to alert you when something is out of the ordinary. For this reason, they make superb watch dogs and exceptional nanny dogs. In addition to watching the home, they’re also mindful of the little ones. The Great Dane is truly a great family dog that your kids will definitely love and have an amazing time with.
This video of a Great Dane keeping his little buddy from playing on the stairs is the perfect example of their watchful behavior.
Does Your Great Dane Get Along with Children?
With their loving disposition and protective nature, it’s no wonder that Great Danes are such a popular companion for families with children. Before you add a Great Dane puppy to your family, you’ll want to consider a few essential factors.
Great Danes make ideal companions for families with school-aged children. The breed is exceptionally patient, and they seem to recognize that they must be gentle when playing with the children. Young kids and Great Danes are a perfect pair because they provide each other with plenty of entertainment, exercise, and playtime.
Families with infants or toddlers will want to exercise some caution when considering dog breeds. While Great Danes make excellent companions who love children, their sheer size does make them somewhat of a liability around very small kids.
Are Great Danes Dangerous?
Like any breed, Great Danes are prone to excitability, and it’s common for them to get a case of the “zoomies” now and again. A Great Dane on the loose can be dangerous, as they may accidentally tackle a small child while they’re playing. The breed also has a mighty tail, and they can hurt a small child if they accidentally smack them with their tail.
As with any dog, you’ll want to closely supervise them when they’re together and avoid leaving the dog alone with an infant or toddler. While it’s exceptionally rare for a Great Dane to react aggressively, especially with a child, children can sometimes overstep their boundaries, and even a slight nip from a Great Dane can seriously hurt a child.
Once both dog and baby are comfortable with each other, families can feel comfortable leaving the child and baby alone together. Until then, it’s best to supervise playtime or crate your dog when you can’t keep an eye on them.
Great Dane and Baby: What You Need to Know
Great Danes are generally excellent pets and companions for children, but what about babies? While most dogs (especially Great Danes) act as guard dogs and treat the baby as a member of their pack that must be protected, you’ll always want to be cautious when you have a baby around dogs and be sure never to leave the dog and baby unsupervised.
Establishing a Routine
One of the most important things to do as a new parent is establishing a routine with your pup. If you’re still expecting, the best time to get your routine in order is before the baby arrives.
A new baby means your schedule is constantly going to be in flux. You’ll need to respond to the baby’s needs, and the routine you’ve already established with your pup is sure to change. By incorporating variety into their new routine, your pup will experience less abrupt change, and they’ll be better equipped to deal with those changes without acting out.
Tips for Training Great Dane and Baby
As you introduce your new baby to the dog, some simple tips can help make the process easier so your Great Dane and baby can establish a loving relationship.
- Familiarize the dog with all baby equipment and toys and teach them how to behave appropriately around the baby’s things.
- Take your dog for walks with the stroller even before the baby arrives, so they become familiar with their new walk routine.
- Find videos of baby noises on YouTube and play them for your pup to familiarize them with the sounds of a baby.
- Rub a small amount of baby lotion on surfaces like the car seat, baby carrier, and toys so the dog begins to connect to that scent.
- Schedule a vet visit before the baby’s arrival to ensure everything is in order with your dog.
- Never leave the dog and baby unattended together. Even for a second.
- If there’s a knock on the door or the phone is ringing, always bring either the dog or the baby with you when you answer it.
- Don’t leave your baby on the floor when they’re interacting with the dog.
- Don’t allow the dog and baby to have face-to-face contact.
- Provide regular exercise time for your dog each day and use that time to focus exclusively on your dog.
- Provide the dog with their own space, complete with their favorite dog toys, blanket, and bed.
- Keep your baby off the floor when the dog is around.
- Only use positive reinforcement when training your dog. Never scold them, especially in front of the child. All of the interactions you have with both dog and baby should be positive.
- Exercise additional care when your baby is playing with moving items, such as swings or rockers. Dogs tend to become excited by these objects and mistakenly think it means it’s time to play.
- Consult with a professional if you have any concerns about how your dog and baby are behaving together.
Training Your Great Dane to Be Around Children
A bit of dog training goes a long way in establishing an excellent relationship between your adult Great Dane or a Great Dane puppy and the kids. If you’ve ever trained a dog before, you know it’s far from easy, but putting in the time necessary to train your new dog will pay dividends for the whole family.
Great Danes are reasonably intelligent, ranking in the middle of the pack of smartest dog breeds. Still, they can be stubborn in training sessions, especially if they aren’t trained properly.
This dog breed needs lots of praise and positive reinforcement to let them know they’re doing a good job. If your dog senses you’re frustrated or upset with them, they’re more likely to resist training.
With some patience and plenty of positive reinforcement, you’ll be able to train your Great Dane to be around children in no time. In obedience training, you must establish yourself as the pack leader and make it clear to the dog that the children are not their equals and that they must treat the children with care and understanding, even if the children are misbehaving.
Hopefully, your dog already responds to basic commands. If not, you’ll want to begin showing your dog the basics as quickly as possible. You’ll want to start with simple commands like sit, come, and down.
As your dog masters these commands, it can move on to the slightly higher-level concepts that will be critical as your dog interacts with a baby or child.
As you train your dog, you’ll need to have plenty of training treats on hand to give your pup the positive reinforcement it needs to master the commands it’s learning. As you feel confident with your dog’s ability to listen, you’ll want to introduce some new commands that are especially important during interactions with the children.
Training Methods with 2 Basic Commands
“Leave” is an important command that helps to establish boundaries between the dog and the child. This command provides the dog with a healthy way to react in situations where they may otherwise respond aggressively. Here’s how to teach this command:
- Hold a treat in your hand, and command the dog to leave.
- If the dog begins to retreat backward, praise them with “good boy” or “good girl.”
- Throw a treat several feet behind them, so they complete the action of leaving.
- Reinforce this command often, so your dog is ready to respond when you issue this command in an actual situation.
“Let go” is another crucial command for your dog to follow. Dogs will often mistake the baby’s toys for their own, damaging the toys and setting up a potentially hazardous situation where the dog and baby are vying for the same toys.
Begin training this command any time your Great Dane takes one of the children’s toys or something else they shouldn’t have.
- Get the dog’s attention by calling its name.
- Command the dog to let go.
- As soon as the dog leaves the object alone, praise them and give them a treat.
How to Introduce the Baby to a Great Dane Dog
When bringing a newborn home for the first time, it’s vital to ensure positive human interaction between the dog and the baby.
When you return home for the first time, enter the home alone, and take time to greet your dog. You can expect the dog to be full of energy and excited to see you, so it’s best to keep the baby away from the dog entirely during the first few minutes.
If your dog’s energy level is incredibly high, take them for a long walk before introducing the baby so that they can burn off some energy.
Introducing a New Family Member
As you begin the process of introducing the baby, you’ll want to do so slowly. Keep the dog and baby separated, and as the dog displays a calm and relaxed demeanor, gradually introduce them. Give the dog time to sniff the baby and speak softly and reassuring tone to continue to put your Great Dane at ease.
As the dog and baby become more acquainted with each other, it’s essential to provide positive reinforcement with each interaction. Show appreciation for your Great Dane as it approaches the baby, and let them know they’re doing good when they’re gentle around the child.
Never scold the dog around the baby, as the dog may internalize negative feelings toward the child due to negative interactions.
Great Danes and Jealousy
Great Danes are an exceptionally loving breed, and like most breeds who establish such a close bond with their family, they’re prone to jealousy. Often, their jealous behavior manifests itself in adorable ways, like in this video of Bagira the Great Dane. But, jealousy can manifest in other ways that can be potentially dangerous.
The best way to avoid jealousy in your dog is to provide them with the attention they’re craving, especially when the whole family is together. The dog must learn that they aren’t always the center of attention, but if you don’t pay them any attention at all, they may begin to act out or behave aggressively.
Great Danes and Babies: Signs Your Great Dane Is Jealous
If your Great Dane has issues with jealousy, they’ll show you they’re jealous in several ways. Here are telltale signs that your dog is jealous of babies or children.
- Crowding around you – Great Danes often show their jealousy by crowding your personal space. They may try and lay on you or use their paws to try and get you to pet them.
- Aggression – Aggressive behavior, such as biting, grunting, nibbling, or even hissing, is typical among Great Danes when they’re jealous of another person or dog.
- Using the bathroom inside – Some Great Danes will do their business inside the home as a way of showing you that they’re jealous.
- Withdrawal – In some cases, the dog may leave the room or keep its distance from family members if they’re jealous of the attention you’re showing to the child.
Is a Great Dane a good family pet?
Yes, a Great Dane can make a good family pet. They are generally gentle and good-natured, and are known for their loyalty and affection towards their family.
Are Great Danes safe for kids?
Yes, Great Danes can be safe for kids if they are properly trained and socialized.
Are Great Danes good for first-time owners?
Great Danes are not generally recommended for first-time dog owners because they can be difficult to train and care for. They are a large and energetic breed, which can be overwhelming for people who are new to dog ownership.
Are Great Danes ever aggressive?
Like any breed, they can exhibit aggressive behavior if they are not properly trained and socialized, or if they are mistreated or neglected.
Are Great Danes good with babies?
Great Danes are generally good with babies and children. They are gentle and patient, and are known for their affectionate and protective nature.
Are Great Danes easy to train?
Great Danes can be challenging to train due to their size, intelligence, and independent nature. They are known to have a stubborn streak and may require consistent, firm training and positive reinforcement to be obedient and well-behaved.
Are Great Danes Good with Kids? The Final Words
When it comes to the question of “are Great Danes good with kids,” you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more loving or affectionate breed.
The Great Danes are gentle and generally excellent with children, and they’re lovely family pets. Be careful when introducing the dog to a new baby, and follow the tips above when the dog and child are interacting.