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Big Dogs and Little Kids

Updated on January 11, 2012

giant dog breeds - best dogs for kids

I love big dog breeds. In fact, I like really big dog breeds – giant dog breeds. I’ve owned and worked with many different dog breeds, but I just think there’s something really special about big dogs that makes them the very best dogs. The large dog breeds I’ve known personally have all been wonderful pets. They’re laid back and calm, with super sweet dispositions.

Most large breed dogs love their human families, and they dote on kids. They often seem to think it’s their personal responsibility to look after and protect their little humans. In fact, our big dogs also seem to think it’s up to them to keep the grandkids happy and entertained. When the grands are at our house, our giant dogs – Great Danes – just can’t get enough of the children.

I find it ironic that many well-meaning parents choose a small breed dog for their young children. I understand their thinking, of course – small kid, small dog. But that’s definitely not always the best strategy. Many small dog breeds have nasty attitudes, and some are snappy with kids. Oftentimes, it’s not really the dogs’ fault. Little dogs have to protect themselves with some kids. Let’s face it – little kids aren’t always exactly gentle with animals. An intentional or unintentional slap from a toddler might be painful to a Chihuahua, for example, while to large breed dogs, the slap would feel more like a love tap. Most giant dog breeds are extremely patient with kids, and the poking and prodding don’t seem to bother them at all.

Below, I discuss some of the best dogs for kids among the giant dog breeds.

The best family dogs:

Great Danes and kids - natural companions!
Great Danes and kids - natural companions!
Danes are my pick among giant dog breeds. In fact, they're my favorite of ALL dog breeds!
Danes are my pick among giant dog breeds. In fact, they're my favorite of ALL dog breeds!
From my experience, Danes make the best family dogs.
From my experience, Danes make the best family dogs.

Great Dane and baby:

Great Dane

Of all the giant dog breeds in the world, my number one choice is the Great Dane. I had Danes when my three kids were growing up, and I have Danes now, when I have young grandchildren. Danes are extremely affectionate, and as noted above, they’re totally devoted to their human kids. The Great Danes I’ve known will go out of their way to protect “their” children from danger – whether real or perceived. Like most puppies, Dane pups are playful, and some never really outgrow their playful attitude, although adults usually prefer a more “toned down” type of play.

Great Danes are tall dogs – often the tallest of all dog breeds. Males can measure more than 35 inches at the withers. The tallest dog in the world is a Great Dane named George, and he’s 43 inches tall at the shoulder.

Great Danes are clean and easy to potty train. Some members of the breed drool, while others don’t. We have two males, and one never drools. The other one drools only when he watches us eat. These big dogs shed throughout the year, but they shed more in the spring and autumn months. Their short coats are easy to take care of with just a few good brushings a week.

Mastiff and baby:


When it comes to the heaviest of large dog breeds, the Mastiff is usually at the top of the scale. They can weigh over 250 pounds. They’re not as tall as some of the other giant dog breeds, but they’re heavier of bone and muscle mass. Males usually measure thirty inches or so, while females are a bit shorter at the withers.

While Mastiff puppies might be very playful, adult dogs are generally quiet and very calm. These big dogs are affectionate and loving, and they’re very patient with children. In fact, you might find yourself having to protect the dog from the kids. A Mastiff might not let you know when a child is actually hurting it. They’ll often just “lie there and take it.”

The typical Mastiff is very protective, although it’s rarely aggressive. When the dog perceives a threat to its family members, it will usually place itself between the family and the threat. If the threat persists, the Mastiff might offer a deep, mincing-sounding growl. This reverberating growl, along with the immense size of the canine, is often enough to dissuade even the most ardent aggressor.

Irish wolfhound meets strange kids:

Irish wolfhound

Even though their name sounds rather threatening, Irish wolfhounds are among the most docile of giant dog breeds. Males usually measure over 32 inches tall and have an average weight of around 130 pounds. Historically bred as sight hounds, these big dogs are built for speed, with long, lean bodies. Although a few members of this dog breed might be clumsy, most aren’t. in fact, it often seems like they’re totally aware of their giant size and conduct themselves accordingly.

Wolfhounds are calm and quiet and are rarely aggressive. They thrive on love and affection from their human families, but they might be rather aloof with strangers. Easy going by nature, many Irish wolfhounds have a deeply ingrained protective side that will come out when a family member is truly threatened.

Irish wolfhounds are great with kids. Outdoors, they’re always ready for a game of chase, but indoors, they’re calm and quiet. Although wolfhounds are loyal and devoted, they can be stubborn. Because of their history as distance hunters, many members of the breed tend to think for themselves.

Newfoundland and baby:


The Newfoundland is usually included among giant dog breeds. A male is usually around 28 inches tall and might weigh more than 150 pounds. Newfies have a charming “teddy bear” appearance, and their temperament often matches. Newfoundlands are sweet, affectionate, and loyal. They’re especially good with children, too. Remember the dog in Peter Pan? Nana was a Newfie! More specifically, Nana was a Landseer, a black-and-white version of the Newfie.

Newfoundlands love humans, and they’ve been known to rescue people from drowning. They seem to have an innate desire to rescue and protect their human pack. They’re gentle and patient with kids and are usually friendly with strangers, as long as they don’t see the strangers as a threat to their family. Newfies are also smart and easy to train.

These big dogs have thick double coats that shed heavily in the spring. They don’t do well living outdoors in hot climates. On the “drool scale,” Newfies are moderates. They drool some, but they don't drool as much as some other large dog breeds and giant dog breeds.

Dogue de Bordeaux and toddler:

Dogue de Bordeaux

These large dogs have massive heads the largest in the canine world. Males are generally around 26 inches tall, weighing in at around 140 pounds. The Dogue de Bordeaux is powerful and strong-willed, so it might not be the best choice for inexperienced dog owners. If you don’t establish yourself as pack leader, these large dogs will try to assume the role themselves.

The Dogue de Bordeaux is a great watchdog, and it’s also very protective of its human family. They’re often aloof and suspicious when it comes to strangers, at least until they realize that their human pack isn’t threatened.

These large dogs are usually excellent with kids. They’re calm, quiet, and patient, and they’re usually laid back indoors. They can be stubborn, so early training is essential. Their short coats are easy to care for, but the Dogue de Bordeaux is a champion when it comes to drooling. Unfortunately, like some other giant dog breeds, these dogs have a very short life span – less than six years, on average.

Saint Bernard loves baby:

Saint Bernard

Perhaps the most iconic of giant dog breeds, the Saint Bernard comes in two coat types: long coat and short coat. A male might be more than 27 inches tall and weigh more than 170 pounds. St. Bernards have sweet temperaments and aren’t normally aggressive, but they’ll usually let you know when someone or something is approaching. Once the dogs recognize your friends, the Saints will welcome them into your home.

St. Bernards are very devoted to their human families, and most members of the breed live to please. Because of this, most Saints are easy to train. They usually catch on quickly to commands, but training should start early. Puppies are much easier to handle than huge adults are!

Like several other giant dog breeds, Saints love kids. They’ve very gentle and docile with little ones, and most of these large dogs are pretty unflappable. Saints drool some, but not usually as much as the real champion droolers of some of the other big dog breeds. This breed generally sheds twice a year, in the spring and fall.

Living with giant dog breeds

Most – but not all – members of the giant dog breeds discussed are great with kids. It’s important to remember, however, that not every individual dog of the large dog breeds mentioned will be good with children. All animals can be unpredictable, no matter how docile they might seem. Practically every dog has its tolerance threshold and will take only so much abuse. And kids can be abusive, often without meaning to be so. Teach your children to be respectful of dogs and other animals. You should never leave a small child unattended with any dog – large dog breeds, big dog breeds, giant dog breeds, or any dog breeds!


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    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Anna, I LOVE your comment! I talked to a Dane breeder in GA whose dogs are living about 14 years. And you're right about the Dane's hairs. We have no carpets or rugs in our house - all hardwood floors and tile. Also, the dogs aren't allowed on our fabric sofas. They have a leather couch in the office, so the shedding isn't a big prob. We're sort of thinking about a Mastiff, too, but I've owned such wonderful Great Danes that I'm thinking, "Why fix it if it ain't broke?" lol

      Also, we're very lucky about the drool. My fawn never drools at all, and the harl drools only occasionally.

      Great to meet another lover of big dogs!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Lifestyle!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I've owned small *rescues* and large dog breeds. My Danes were total ANGELS. Easy to train, easy to care for but, like most giant breeds do not usually live that long.

      I've had newfs who are also wonderful dogs but, a LOT more grooming than you might think. Almost as much as my Old English Sheepdog. *FANTASTIC DOGS* but, again, a ton and I mean a TON of grooming.

      Now a word about the short haired breeds like the Danes. My Old English Sheepdog and my Newf both shed...BUT the shedding is in the form of dust bunnies that can be just picked or swept up quite easily.

      The Dane like many short haired dogs that do shed, tends to have thousands of little needle hairs that will wind and thread their way into your carpets and despite the shortness of the hair are much harder to get totally out of everything and I do mean everything. Your sofa will have a fine matting layer of Dane needles quite easily so as far as house keeping went I really found the OES and the Newf both easier in some ways.

      My Dane did drool but, it's really not a big issue. What tends to be difficult is the famous Dane head shake when they have drool running down because that will sling clear up to your ceiling and you WILL be wiping down walls several times a week.

      Danes and Newfs do not need a ton of exercise but, they MUST have some. A good romp daily and a walk is sufficient.

      Most velcro dog I ever owned was the OES but, the most easy to live with and train was the Dane. I wish all these giant dears lived a lot longer. We're thinking of getting an English Mastiff next go round as they do seen a little tiny bit longer lived.

      I have RA now and I don't think I can keep up with another OES or NEWFS must almost become a professional groomer yourself to live with either of those two. That undercoat MATS very, very easily. It's a labor of love to groom them but, it IS labor so do not get any large double coated breed including some Saints if you cannot physically keep up with the work, or if you do not have time for it. You will be very, very sorry if you do. And the dogs deserve better. On the positive side if you do get a large double coated breed and can spend the time and effort you will have a bond with your dog like no other.

      What I would love to see with these giant breeds is a lot more effort to increase the longevity of these dogs. It's just so sad the short life span. Even looking at a breed like the Bernese Mountain Dog. That breed is dangerously short lived and what a sad story that is! Irish Wolfies are wonderful dogs but, again...they live so short a time! Heart breaking.

      Almost every breed I really love are heart breaker giants. btw, aygbtu, I like Goldens too but even they are having more health issues now...not really that laid back of a dog but, so dedicated.

      It is imperative when you get a dog to get it from the best possible breeder you can find. All pure breds are getting more and more illness. We must be responsible for this. These big sweethearts deserve for us to do much better by them.

    • LifeStylePets profile image


      8 years ago from Florida

      I love the family photos! Very cute touch!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      aygabtu, goldies are awesome! Congrats on the baby!

    • aygabtu profile image


      8 years ago

      We have a golden retreiver and an 8 pound pekapoo. They both have their advantages, but I prefer the big dogs. My wife is due in June, so we'll see how both do with a new addition to the family.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Daniel, what can I say? I'm convinced that Great Danes are the best dogs in the world!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Quester, it's always nice to hear about gentle giant dogs! Great Danes are...GREAT!! lol

    • profile image 

      9 years ago

      Danes are great - a friend had one that was way oversized to show, so they had a small saddle made for their babies to ride. Sheba was the largest Dane I have ever seen but truly a gentle giant. No one touched her babies unless she knew them

      Great hub! - up,up and way up!!


    • festersporling1 profile image

      Daniel Christian 

      9 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Second mention of your Danes in articles I am reading today. Great one and I feel much more educated. :)

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, random. I love big dogs and giant dog breeds, but I'mnot so sure they're for everyone.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Katharella, so sorry about your Rottie's cancer, but glad to hear she's getting around well.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      mb, I'm convinced that Great Danes are the comedians of the canine world. lol

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Anna, I have a friend who raises and shows bull terriers. Great dogs!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Eiddwen. There's something magical about kids and dogs, huh?

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      9 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great topic for a hub! This is so useful for anyone who is considering getting a dog and has young kids, especially for those without a lot of knowledge about dogs.

    • Katharella profile image


      9 years ago from Lost in America

      Hi lady! :) LOVE this hub! I taught my Rottie she cannot let a child pet her until she sits. Now she sees them her whole behind wags LOL! I think socializing them is just the best. They love kids cos kids want to PLAY endlessly! :) It's good to see you again! Sadly my girl's cancer has returned and the vet is afraid to put her under due to her age being so far past a Rotts lifespan. But she's getting around great, eating/drinking and getting very spoiled :) Hope the day finds you well! :)

    • mbwalz profile image

      MaryBeth Walz 

      9 years ago from Maine

      Great hub, as always. We have a great dane who lives behind us. I get such a kick out of the huge dog playing with the preschooler and watching the great dane gallop around the yard!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      habee this is a really great hub! Although they're not classed as 'giant dogs', my uncle and aunt breed award-winning bull terriers and they are fantastic with kids. Described as 'clownish', they just love being grabbed and sat on and wrestled with.

      It just goes to show, big and giant dogs are often the best with children, but also with fearful and elderly adults.

      Voted up!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      9 years ago from Wales

      Oh what an amazing hub ,it takes me back to the times when my Erin was small and if all was quiet in the living room most of the time she would be found cuddled up to Major our Dobermann.

      I love all those photos and I look forward to reading many more by you.

      A definite across the board here.

      Take care and have a great day.


    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      drbj, I love those videos, too! Thanks for visiting!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      ktrapp, thanks so much! I love all dog breeds, but the really big dogs have a special place in my heart.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      kerlynb, what about a short-haired St. Bernard? You could always get a Great Dane! Thanks for the vote up!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      9 years ago from south Florida

      Your point of view about big dogs with small children makes a lot of sense, Holle. And those marvelous, 'feel-good' videos emphasize the point. Thanks for finding them for us. Rated up!

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 

      9 years ago from Illinois

      Your terrific photos completely back up your point about big dogs being gentle with small children. I never thought about that before, but it makes so much sense. This is an awesome hub.

    • kerlynb profile image


      9 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      OK, I love dogs so much so I have to give this hub a vote up and a rate of beautiful! Your pics and videos say it all - big dogs are fun!

      I've always wanted a Saint Bernard but my vet says it might not be able to handle such warm climate in my country :( My dogs are medium-sized - love them just the same.


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