Man’s best friend? Woman’s best friend? What about a child’s best friend? The Great Dane has been a beloved companion to a plethora of people throughout history such as hunters, royalty, teenage mystery solving gangs, suburban families, and many more.
Great Danes are wonderful with kids! Their loving, protective nature makes them a great choice for a member of your family. Although, because of their strength and playfulness, be cautious when bringing your Great Dane around children 4 and younger.
Great Danes are astounding when it comes to loving and protecting one’s family. These gentle giants will watch over your children with great care. Although, there are some precautions you should take when bringing a Great Dane into your home. Below, I’ve come up with a guide on how you can make sure your children have their ideal childhood pet!
Family Pet? You Bet!
The Great Dane is known primarily for its love of human companionship. If you are looking for a dog that will be an active and loving member of your family who will love and protect your children at all costs, this is the dog for you!
The Great Dane originates in Germany and England, where they were bred exclusively as companions to hunters and royal families.
Hunters were seeking out an animal that would accompany them in hunting elk, wolves, deer, and most importantly, the European Wild Boar. Because of its endurance, size, and strength, the Great Dane proved to be the perfect choice for hunters.
This was the basis on which Great Danes developed their protective nature, making them a symbol of security for households and families.
Additionally, due to their gentleness (when not hunting wild boars) and their compassion for humans, Great Danes were often owned by royalty and the elite upper class. After years and years of selective breeding, the Great Dane was normalized as a household pet and family member for all of society regardless of social class.
Today, Great Danes are typical household pets throughout the United States as well as the rest of the world. Your Great Dane will care for your family and love your children just as their ancestors did to the royal families of England.
Ensure that your children spend quality time with your gentle giant. This is crucial in keeping the emotional and mental state of both your children and your dog healthy.
I’ve taken the liberty of coming up with a list of 3 ways your children will benefit from having a Great Dane in their lives.
Bringing a dog into one’s home, especially a Great Dane, teaches kids immensely about responsibility. A dog requires care. It requires baths, walks, food, and affection.
Great Danes help children grow in this and develop a sense of responsibility because while they can be high maintenance, they are very responsible themselves. Great Danes sense that children are not adults, and they require patience, understanding, and love.
Some say that you’re not an adult until you don’t rely on your parents anymore. Some say that you’re not an adult until you have a college degree! Some say you’re not truly an adult until you have children of your own.
Taking responsibility for another living being is the biggest step we can take in our lives. Our human ability to create life is considered the closest thing we have to a “God-like” power!
Taking responsibility for another life is an incredibly tough thing to do, as any parent can admit. When a child has a huge dog to take care of, they will learn how to help living things grow as well as learn the consequences of what it is like when things are not taken care of.
2. Physical Health
Great Danes are big dogs! They may not be the kind of dog to accompany you on the Pacific Crest Trail, but the exercise they need will keep your kids busy, healthy, and away from the TV!
We all need exercise, especially these gentle giants! In order to maintain a healthy state and avoid any weakness of bones or muscle, Great Danes require walks every day lasting from half an hour to one full hour.
Their long legs allow them to walk at a pace faster than most humans, therefore they need a longer walk than my little chihuahua.
Today, many kids are too focused on television, tablets, phones, and computers. They need to get out of the house! For this reason, a family-wide decree that your children either accompany you on a walk or walk the dog themselves will ensure that they have some genuine, outdoor, human time.
Your Great Dane, believe it or not, will actually keep your children physically healthier! No extra work required!
As humans, we are at our most vulnerable during our first year of life. So, should you keep this big smelly dog around your baby? Well, just as long as you keep him clean! Studies have shown that during their first year of life, children exposed to dogs actually develop stronger immune systems!
Remember to be cautious when having your Great Dane around very young children. It is a very large, strong dog. Great Danes should not be left alone with children under the age of 4.
Studies have also shown that children often develop the first sign of asthma or respiratory issues during their first year of life. Children exposed to dogs within that first year have shown to be much less likely to obtain these issues later in life!
Lastly, we all love to have beautiful, clear skin! Although, why waste money on beauty products for your teenager when you can do away with these issues from the very beginning? Recent studies actually show that dogs actually help children’s skin develop and lower their risk of eczema!
Dogs truly are lifesavers, literally! Remember to be cautious when bringing your Great Dane around a very young child, but if trained and cared for properly, this will benefit your children for their entire lives!
3. Emotional/Mental Health
It is no secret that dogs are extremely therapeutic. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt all the stress of school, girls, or fights with my older sister just melt away through the comfort of Jazmin, my childhood dog.
Dogs are often protective and loving. The Great Dane specifically is known for being gentle, compassionate, and protective all while avoiding any reputation for being rough or violent with kids.
One of the biggest growing mental health problems in the United States is anxiety. More and more people are affected daily by anxiety. Unfortunately, this is not limited to humans. Great Danes thrive on human companionship.
Anxiety is a common issue in Great Danes if they are left alone for long periods of time or in small, cramped spaces. When a Great Dane grows a relationship with a child, it is much like having a child of its own.
When children go through issues such as stress or anxiety, the Great Dane can sense it and comfort the child just as it would his or her own.
Secondly, a Great Dane establishes a sense of compassion in young children. Dogs can’t speak! At least, mine didn’t. Because they cannot speak, it is up to us to determine their emotion through their actions.
Because of this, if a child is given a dog to care for at a young age, they learn to be compassionate to the dog! They have to understand that they must care for the dog and take time out of their day to put in the effort for a life that is not theirs.
Selflessness is a lesson learned through action, not just words.
Children affected by autism experience many obstacles in their lives such as emotional meltdowns, aggression, or trouble communicating. Unfortunately, nearly 2% of the entire United States population of children ages 2-17 are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Nonprofit organizations such as Good Dog! Autism Companions have shown the positive impact of introducing a therapy dog into the lives of autistic children. The Great Dane, because of its gentleness and understanding is a great choice to help an autistic child.
Below, I’ve come up with a list of ways that Great Danes would help a child affected by ASD.
- Decreases aggression and anxiety
- Provides a sense of security and safety
- Lessen likeliness and intensity of meltdowns
- Helps children face fears or fearful situations
- Helps verbal and emotional communication
When are Great Danes NOT Good With Kids?
Even as wonderful as Great Danes are, there are a few obstacles that you should be prepared to face when bringing in a Great Dane as part of your family.
When considering bringing a gentle giant into your child’s life, be sure to consider the following.
Great Danes are very powerful.
Most Great Danes realize that young children are, in fact, young children. They are small. They are fragile. Although like any other living thing with a mind and personality of its own, Great Danes can forget their size and strength.
It is for this reason that supervision is absolutely necessary when your Great Dane is playing or cuddling with a young child or children. The video attached at the top of this article is the more likely scenario, but accidents are called accidents for a reason!
Always stay vigilant when bringing your kids around your Great Dane. For the safety of your kids, do not leave children under the age of 4 with your Great Dane unsupervised.
Great Danes are big! They need space.
When watching movies, cartoons, or TV shows involving giants, how often do you see a giant living in a tiny little apartment or cottage? Very rarely. It is the same for these gentle giants!
Great Danes require space and lots of it! As mentioned earlier, Great Danes are prone to anxiety when left alone for long periods of time or in small spaces. Similar to humans, when Great Danes get anxious, they can get irritable, which can lead to violence.
It is for this reason that you should strongly consider whether your Great Dane will be given the proper space and/or care it needs.
Large homes or large yards are ideal for Great Danes. They require a lot of space to wander about, especially when left alone while Dad is at work or the kids are at school.
If you have or plan on having a small home, small yard, or an apartment, your Great Dane will require more outdoor activity and time commitment with you or your children.
If your children have school, soccer practice, piano lessons, and youth group all week consider how much quality time they will be spending with your dog.
A lack of attention or human connection can and will cause anxiety in your Great Dane. Violence is fairly rare with Great Danes, but you don’t want to be the rarity!
For the safety of your children, remember to take into consideration how much time they will be able to spend with the dog.
Beware of the zoomies!
Great Danes sometimes experience something commonly referred to as “the zoomies”! This sounds fun, right? Well, it can be!
Sometimes during their youth, usually within the first year of life, Great Danes will become absolutely overwhelmed with joy. The happiness becomes so intense that they will just lose control of themselves and end up leaping, spinning, and galloping with utter excitement!
This can be a very fun thing to watch or experience with your Great Dane, but you should take extreme caution if you have toddlers running around.
Just imagine a 140-pound, 32-inch tall bundle of joy jumping and rolling around your living room or yard! This does not happen all that often, but you should be cautious if it does.
Be careful with other pets!
Great Danes are pretty easy to get along with! They love their family.
When I say family, I mean those they are raised around. Most dogs are very territorial and competitive with other dogs. Great Danes, much like the biggest guy on the football team, is used to being the “top dog”, pun intended.
If you have a Great Dane, be cautious about introducing new pets into the home. A new pet, especially dogs, if already in adolescence or adulthood, can cause altercations and possible violence between the two, which you do not want around children.
If you do decide to bring a new pet into your home with your Great Dane, be sure to train them!
Training Your Great Dane to Be Around Children
Great Danes are most often thought of as well behaved family pets. Though, rarely does this come naturally!
Training is necessary with almost every dog. Jumping, biting, barking, tearing up couches, and attacking strangers are all examples of risks from an untrained literal or metaphorical dog off of its leash.
Great Danes are people pleasers! Great Danes are considered to be quite average intelligence-wise. Most Great Danes will respond to obedience training and can somewhat easily be taught basic commands and etiquette such as not jumping or biting, staying away from certain areas of the home, etc.
As mentioned, Great Danes are large, powerful animals. Sometimes they don’t know their own strength! Yes, most Great Danes are gentle and calm, but this does not mean every Great Dane is polite and calm all the time!
Since Great Danes grow much faster than humans, their first year of life is the best time to begin regular training. Months 3-6 are ideal times to begin.
If your Great Dane is rough or hyper, be sure to limit the amount of time spent around young children. Time spent with young kids can be slowly introduced as your Great Dane learns the proper etiquette of living with humans and being around or playing with children.
Keep in mind…
The simple answer is yes! Your Great Dane will love your children, care for them, and help them mature and grow to be physically and mentally strong people. Be cautious when bringing your Great Dane around infants or toddlers or new pets. Beware of the zoomies!
Lastly, above all else, love and care for your Great Dane just as it will for you!