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Nanny Dog: Free Child-Care or Accident Waiting to Happen?

Many dogs love to tend to the children in their family's needs with plenty of affection and loyalty. Learn more about the potential safety of letting your pup watch over your children and which breed was the original "nanny dog" - the answer may surprise you!

Dogs that live with little ones are the target of a lot of rough play and torture, from a tugged tail to accidental (or purposeful) punches, and those are just the fun times - the screaming crying fits hurt our furry friends' uber-sensitive ears more than ours, even!

The majority of dogs take all of the abuse in stride, as they lovingly guide their sweet babies as they grow, ready to hop in to protect them at a moment's notice. 

Not all dogs love children as much as the next, and certain breeds have temperaments that mesh well with children, while others may be timid, anxious, or aggressive around the tiny human beings. 

Enter the nanny dog - only the best dog breeds with children earn this particular moniker, which indicates how fantastic they are around children. 

Learn more below about the history of nanny dogs and the top breeds to choose if you're looking to adopt a pup that will love and protect your children with glee!

What is a nanny dog?

A nanny dog simply refers to a dog breed that tends to do well around small children. 

They usually offer fiercely loyal protection and remain on high alert when their tiny humans are close to strangers or other potential dangers. They're even aware of our children before they're born - see for yourself if can dogs sense pregnancy here.

A nanny dog also tends to be highly affectionate, loving, and use a gentle hand (or paw) when handling children, as they have a good understanding of a child's physical fragility. 

There is a bit of a misconception and nanny dog myth - you can't just drop your child in front of your dog and go about your business. A nanny dog still requires supervision, especially around babies and toddlers. Dogs are still animals, and at the end of the day, they lack a complete understanding of what caring for a child entails. 

Ultimately, a nanny dog is a breed that will likely get along well with your children and fit perfectly into a big family!

Pit bulls & the history of nanny dogs

The history of nanny dogs in America is a little grainy, but it's no wonder people claim the Pit Bull as the original nanny dog from around the beginning of the 20th century. 

Though Pit Bulls have a terrible reputation among some these days, they're surprisingly great around small children. Pitties are deeply attached to their families, patient with children, and very affectionate - we hope you like dogs sitting on your toes and lots of slobbery kisses. 

There's a bit of controversy about the claims regarding the ultimate Pit bull nanny dog. The woman who famously made the claim, Lillian Rant, was the head of a Pit Bull Organization, leading many to believe that she made up the story to improve the breed's reputation.

So were they or weren't they nanny dogs? We may never know what is true, but one thing is for sure - Pit Bull Terriers love kids! 

10 top nanny dog breeds: Loving, affectionate, and protective 

#1 Newfoundland

This massive, Canadian water dog is a gentle giant - the Newfie is highly social, requires a strong companionship, and is very sweetly-natured. 

The Newfoundland is energetic yet quiet and well-behaved, and they expect the same for the kiddos in their family. 

#2 German Shepherd

German Shepherds are watchful guard dogs that will protect their families' lives before even their own.

These dogs are brilliant, alert, and get along well with children as long as they undergo adequate training. 

One note is that a shepherd requires lots of exercise and socialization to remain well-adjusted and well-tempered around others. 

#3 American Pit Bull Terrier

We've already discussed a few positives of this dog breed, which has an awful reputation thanks to poor breeding practices and bull-baiting histories. And while people tend to blame the breed itself when American Pit Bull Terriers attack, the cause lies in how owners train the dogs, not their genetics. 

It might be surprising that the Pit Bull Terrier is the second calmest dog breed next to the Golden Retriever, so they're quite good at accepting ear pulls with lots of patience. 

#4 Staffordshire Bull Terrier

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or Staffie, belongs to the same family of breeds as Pit Bull Terriers, though they have some distinct differences. 

Regardless, they also share many similarities that make both excellent nanny dogs - a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is also happiest spending quality time and providing strong, loyal affection to its loved ones. 

While all dogs have their silly moments, these dogs are massive goofs who love to play games with the kiddos all day long. 

We can only see one downside - a Staffie's stubborn nature means they're only going to listen to you if they want to. 

#5 Golden Retriever 

When we think of the ultimate nanny-type dogs, the Golden Retriever immediately springs to mind. 

They're almost eerily calm and quiet once they're fully-grown - you might even forget they're there if you didn't see tumbleweeds of their fur rolling around your floors. 

A Golden is incredibly trustworthy, outgoing, and ready to please your entire family. And though they're quiet, they still love to play with the kids around the home and yard. 

#6 Labrador Retriever 

A Labrador Retriever pup is one of the most highly-attached dog breeds, making them incredibly loyal to any owner, including kids. 

A Lab also has a friendly disposition and a lot of energy to burn - they'll want to enjoy playtime with the little ones as much as possible and will outlast even the most energetic of kids!

#7 Saint Bernard 

These massive bags of drool are extra-sweet and loving, especially around their favorite people. 

The Saint Bernard is calm, but don't be fooled - they're watching everything very intently, even when you think they're at rest (which is a lot!)

These dogs can handle the rough and tumble play a child will bring with the patience of a saint!

#8 Boxer

The Boxer breed also managed a reputation as a bit dangerous, but these sweet dogs are anything but!

They're courageous, intelligent, and loyal - they will ensure your kids get out of trouble at a rapid pace before anything has a chance to go down. 

Boxers don't require much upkeep or exercise, so they're an excellent breed for a big family that may not have the time to focus on long and intense daily walks. 

#9 Beagle

Beagles are a wonderful family dog breed that isn't as big as some of the others - this medium-sized pup fits better into apartments and smaller family homes. 

They love to play, especially with children, and their natural hunting traits make them keen to have some packmates with which they can romp around!

#10 Viszla

Haven't heard of this breed before? The Viszla is a tall breed that loves to roam outside, especially with a hunting pack, or a few kids, to keep them company!

The level of intelligence this dog displays is incredible - they're easy to train, which will help them to behave while making sure your kids do, too. 

Final notes: Worst breeds with children

Now you know a few of the best breeds to bring around your children; here are a few to avoid adopting if you intend on building a big family:

  • Chihuahua
  • Akita
  • Pekingese
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Siberian Husky
  • Shih Tzu

We hope you soon get to enjoy one of the sweetest things in life - watching your dog build an unbreakable bond with your little ones!

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