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What Kind of Dog Is Nana from Peter Pan? The Interesting Answer!

Ashley Bates

By Ashley Bates

Nana from Peter Pan (1953)

Our beloved childhood Disney cartoons have a special place in the hearts of many. If you’re a dog lover, you probably paid attention to all the great canines in these films. If you love Peter Pan, you know Nana well. So, what kind of dog is she?

Author J. M. Barrie has said that Nana is a Newfoundland, though later Nana came to be depicted as a Saint Bernard as well. Let’s go over the story and tell you what we know.

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Nana from Peter Pan: Who Is She?

Peter Pan first debuted in 1953, having Nana as a main caretaker for the Darling children. She is considered a nursemaid in this tale—presumably caring for these kids while their parents are off for the evening.

Nana might be one of the most beloved dogs in any movie Disney has to offer. Her motherly, doting energy will just warm your heart. Nana is exactly what her name implies, a caretaker. If Nana reminds you of a grandmother figure, this gorgeous Saint Bernard really fits that image.

She’s always ensuring Wendy and her siblings are taken care of and that the family is in good order.

Controversy Around Nana’s Role

Leave it to adulthood to ruin childhood classics for us. Sometimes, when you get older and put dots together, things don’t really start adding up.

Nana’s role was to take care of the Darling children, but what you might not remember is that she gave the Darling children medicine every night. This medicine was to help calm and control the children to put them peacefully to sleep.

While we all hoped that it was something as mild as melatonin, it’s speculated that it was a tonic closer to morphine. This was not an unheard of occurrence. With the dark history of Peter Pan brought to light in later years, we can’t say that it surprises us.

Fun Facts About Original Film Ideas

According to fandom, Nana was originally supposed to travel with the Darling children to Neverland after she chased Tinkerbell. It was also an idea tossed in the air that she was the narrator of the entire film.

These ideas were put to rest, placing Nana at the beginning and end of the Peter Pan film. Even though she played a significantly less prominent role, she’s still warmed the hearts of dog lovers everywhere with her intensely sweet demeanor and motherly personality.

Nana from Peter Pan (2003)
Image Credit: Characters by  The Walt Disney Company.  All rights reserved to the copyright owners.

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References to Nana’s Breed

Some sources you will come across say that Nana is a brown Newfoundland. But most references point to the fact that she is a Saint Bernard. While these large dogs are similar in both looks and temperament, they are entirely different breeds.

Since Nana is a cartoon, it is a little up to interpretation unless it was written directly in Walt Disney’s script – and she’s been depicted as both. They have many similarities and are caretakers by nature of their human families. We will discuss both breeds so you can understand what they are like.

Newfoundland Characteristics

Newfoundlands are notorious for being wonderfully friendly family companions. They are considered gentle giants, falling into family roles with ease. These large dogs are very trainable and gentle, making them ideal for children of all ages.

So it’s no wonder that a Newfoundland was cast as the nanny for the children in this film. These dogs are classically caretakers by nature, and while they might not have the human characteristics of Nana, their personality and general character remain the same.

If you are interested in getting a Newfoundland for yourself, you should know that these dogs are curious, amiable pets that acclimate so well to various lifestyles.

Even though they’re not really designed to be a jogging buddy or intensively active, they are playful, outgoing, and always ready for snuggles. Because of their general demeanor, adopting one of these dogs can work for various family situations.

They generally adapt well to multi-pet households and even those with tiny children. Despite their size, these dogs tend to be careful and docile with every living creature.

So, if you’re looking for a dog that you can guarantee is as doting as Nana’s character, this is definitely a correctly depicted version of the breed.

brown newfoundland
Image Credit: Utekhina Anna, Shutterstock

Saint Bernard Characteristics

Saint Bernards are classically friendly dogs as well. Despite being pegged as severely fierce thanks to movies like Cujo, these are gentle, wonderful family dogs with tons of slobbery kisses to give.

Saint Bernards are typically peppy in their younger years but tend to mellow out as they age. Because they’re so rambunctious as puppies, it’s best to have a hardy kid on hand that can take the hits.

We recommend Saint Bernards for kids that are about six and older. Apart from their goofy temperament and giant size as juveniles, they end up being doting, spectacular adults who can sometimes act like Nana’s character. Like the Newfoundland, Saint Bernards are considered gentle giants, and people rely on them to be watchdogs, protecting the family at all costs.

Saint Bernard is a top-rated dog in the United States, so if you’re interested, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding one. You can adopt, rescue, or purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder.

Saint Bernard sitting in meadow
Image Credit: rokopix, Shutterstock

Which Is Which?

We must agree that Nana looks a lot like a Saint Bernard. But she also shares all of Newfoundland’s personality characteristics and general appearance. Regardless of the depiction, Nana is definitely modeled after dogs of this caliber.

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Final Thoughts

So now you know that Nana is a gentle giant and either breed perfectly depicts her loving personality. Nana is a real sweetheart and will continue to warm the hearts of younger generations for years to come.

Peter Pan will always be a classic, no matter how dark the backstory might be. We all enjoyed it as children, and we can continue to keep the best characters close to our hearts as adults.

Featured Image Credit: Characters by  The Walt Disney Company.  All rights reserved to the copyright owners.

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