Who was Nana?

Nana, played by Arthur Lupino in 1904

One of the most famous roles written for a dog is that of “Nana,” the doggie nursemaid in Peter Pan, but over time, there’s been considerable confusion about what breed of Nana actually is. In the original script, author, J. M. Barrie, specified that Nana is a Newfoundland, possibly because at home lived “Luath,” a Newf.  When Barrie first thought of Peter Pan, however, his dog was Porthos, a Saint BernardFor the very first production, however, “Nana” was played by a human, Arthur Lupino, who spend hours studying “Luath” at home to copy his movements.

Image: A studio ozalid print model sheet actually used in the making of “Peter Pan” in 1953 showing the model of Nana the nursemaid dog

8 thoughts on “Who was Nana?”

  1. I thought that nana the dog was originally a pitbull but changed the breed to newf because of the bad rap on pitbull breed.

    • We’ve not heard that, Victoria, but the breed was very popular in the day…

    • The dog was originally a Newfoundland, but the stage production of the play in 1904-1905 used a staffordshire terrier because that was the best-trained dog they had available to them. So no, originally, it was always a Newfie, but for a year, a Staffie stood in for the job.

  2. But what breed played Nanna in the live action movies? What dog was Nanna meant to be in the script?

    • In the script for the play, the author, Barrie, specified that Nana is a Newfoundland. Not sure about the live action movie.

  3. I guessed right with the Newfoundland… they are known for their sweet, loving & affectionate nature and to be wonderful with kids. The scene where Nana gets exiled to the doghouse outside breaks my heart EVERY time!

    • We hate that part, too, Katie. We watch movies with dogs – even cartoons – with trepidation because any sad little thing breaks our heart. Any more, we look for people who’ve seen a movie in which a dog has a part, and grill them about how the dog fares. We can only watch them if we know the dog does well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *