Newfoundland Dog Breed Information

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How is the Newfoundland with children?

The Newf is renowned for his gentleness, protectiveness, and love for children. He is tolerant of behavior by children far beyond that which would make other breeds snap or walk away.

Because of this, he is ideally suited to being a child’s companion, but the adult must accept the duty to protect the Newfie from abuse by the child. It is no accident that the Nana in the original Peter Pan was a Newfoundland.

The tranquil nature of the Newfoundland has been found to have such an excellent effect on hyperactive children that there was a clinical study done in the 1970s using Newfoundlands as a part of the therapy.

Are they protective of the home and family?

Yes, the Newfoundland, like other giant breeds, descends in part from the Tibetan Mastiff. Mastiff-type dogs have been guarding home and hearth for over 2,600 years of recorded history.

The Newfie is a little more laid-back in its protectiveness as compared to other breeds. He is less likely to put on a show of barking & growling, relying instead on his size and concerned watchfulness to send a message to an unwanted intruder.

It is very typical that a Newf will stand physically between his family and any stranger. He will not threaten nor growl, merely remain in a position which indicates that he is on duty.

He will not hesitate to act, however, if his family is physically threatened.

The Newf has sufficient intelligence to recognize a dangerous situation. There are many documented accounts of people being saved by the family Newfoundland from the gas leak, fire, and other dangers.

They are most well known for their powerful lifeguard instincts and have many hundreds of documented rescues to their credit. They have been known not to allow people into the deep end of the swimming pool until they are satisfied that they can swim well enough to venture in over their heads.

People with children and pools find that the Newf watches the children every second they are in the water.

What kind of exercise do they need?

The grown Newfoundland does not require a great deal of exercise. They can become couch potatoes quite easily but are willing and able to accompany you in more strenuous pursuits.

A Newf should never be allowed to become fat, as this will significantly shorten an already too short life span. Regular exercise (brisk daily walks on lead) is a must for adults.

Do they eat a lot?

During their first year, Newfoundlands grow from about a pound to over a hundred pounds. They require plenty of food to support such rapid growth. Once they reach adulthood, however, they have a very low metabolism, and Newfie owners find that their dog food bills are lower than those of friends with Labs or Shepherds.

Overfeeding a Newf puppy, in the hopes of growing a bigger dog, can cause serious orthopedic problems. Remember, a lean Newfoundland is a healthy Newfoundland.

Do they drool?

Yes, on occasion. Most Newfies drool less than a St. Bernard, for example, but when excited or hot they will drool. When resting and cool they will drool less. It is likely, however, that when a Newfie puts its head into your lap, you may be left with a damp lap.

Do they shed?

Yes. The undercoat is shed at least once per year, known as “blowing coat.” Grooming is extremely important at this time, as the dead coat must be brushed out or mats will form. It is possible to brush out a pile of hair which seems to be equal to the size of the dog being groomed, but this is not an ongoing condition.

About ten minutes per day of brushing (a little more during the few weeks of shedding per year) will keep the coat glossy & healthy. Nails should be kept to a short length to protect the feet from splaying. This is particularly important in a giant breed, as the feet support a significant load.

Most Newfoundlands shed a LOT in the Spring, and then again in the Fall. The Fall shed is usually less severe than the Spring one.

How long do they live?

Newfies are a short-lived breed, with 8-10 year survival about average.

What health problems are particular to the breed?

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a problem in the breed and can be crippling for a dog of this size. It is highly advisable to buy a puppy only from OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certified parentage or dogs who have had equivalent X-ray certification of their joints (hips and elbows are both a good idea).

Cardiac Problems

Cardiac problems also occur. Newfoundlands have a genetic predisposition for hereditary heart disease known as sub-aortic stenosis (SAS). This disease can result in the premature death of a Newfoundland.

Responsible breeders screen their puppies for SAS at 8-12 weeks of age by having a veterinary cardiologist listen to the puppy’s heart. All adult Newfs should be recleared of SAS before breeding.

Preliminary Care

Naturally, Newfies, like all dogs, must be properly inoculated (see FAQ). Remember that the entire series of shots must have been received before you expose your pup to any other dog or even any ground an unvaccinated dog may have walked on, as the effectiveness of the innoculations may have been blocked by the immunity provided by the mother for any or all of the shots given earlier in the series.

The only way you know that the pup is protected is when he/she has received the last shot of the series.

Are they just black Saint Bernards?

newfoundland dogNo, the Newfoundland is a separate breed, but many people compare him with Saint Bernard and to the all white Great Pyrenees. Newfoundlands actually come in solid Black, solid Bronze, solid Gray, and in Black & White (see the standard).

The Newfie’s head is a bit more square with a somewhat steeper ‘stop’ and deeper muzzle than the Pyr, but less of a severe ‘stop’ and pendulous muzzle that the Saint.

While the other two breeds are similar in ancestors, the Pyr has more herding instinct and the Saint is more of a dry-land rescue dog than the Newf. The Newf is the one who excels in water rescue and is a bit more mellow in temperament than the other two.

In fact, the Newfoundland was bred to Saint Bernard in the mid-nineteenth century with the goal of improving the coat and working ability of the Saint. The long-haired Saint is a product of this infusion of Newfie blood, as all Saint Bernards prior to that time had short hair.

The experiment was discontinued when the long coats were found to accumulate ice more quickly, but the log coat variety has remained in the Saint breed to this day.

The Newfoundland is in the Working Dog group, why?

The Newfoundland is a dog which has served man in many capacities. He excels as a companion, protector, babysitter, lifeguard, ship dog, draft animal, pack carrier, natural retriever and obedience dog.

In addition to breed and obedience shows, many Newfie owners compete with their dogs in water trials, weight pulls, carting, travois and backpacking events.

Why is the Newfoundland also called the Lifeguard Dog?

Similar to the Saint Bernard’s propensity for rescuing people in the snow, the Newfoundland is renown for its countless rescues of swimmers. In the 1800s two Newfoundland dogs were a required part of the Lifesaving equipment at each of the lifeguard stations around the coast of England.

Possessing an instinct for water rescue, the Newfoundland dog is physically well-suited to swimming, with its webbed feet, thick rudder-like tail, water-resistant double coat, and its powerful build, strength, and stamina.

When a swimmer is in trouble but conscious, the Newf will swim out to just beyond the person, then swim close by in the direction of shore (or the shallow end of a swimming pool), and allow the person to grab ahold of any part of his anatomy in order to tow the swimmer to shore with swift powerful swimming strokes.

Only in the case of an unconscious swimmer will a Newf grab the swimmer with its mouth, consistently taking the upper arm in its jaws for the tow to safety. This particular hold causes the person to be rolled onto his back with the head out of the water.

When a pair of Newfies are working a rescue they will instinctively each take a different arm.

A Victorian era painting entitled “Saved”, by Sir Edwin Landseer in 1856, and a similar picture “He is Saved” by Currier and Ives depict a Black & White Newfoundland (the black & white variety later came to be known as the Landseer variety) on a beach with a small boy who was just rescued by the dog from drowning, immortalizing this Newfie trait.

The Newfoundland was extensively featured in the art of the Victorian age, depicted by Landseer in many paintings and drawings, as well as by other artists. A later painting by Pierre Auguste Renoir in 1878 features a Newfoundland.

What does the Newfoundland do as a ship dog?

According to This is the Newfoundland, by Mrs. Maynard K. Drury:

“The useful work of the Newfoundland for a man at sea was so internationally recognized during the era of the sailing ship that reports of their enterprises come from many countries on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean as well as the Mediterranean Sea.

His powerful swimming ability plus his docility and intelligence were great assets to any ship’s company, and it became customary to take at least one web-footed Newfoundland on voyages as a ‘ship dog.’ The specific service he rendered was to swim ashore with a line, thus establishing communication with help on land.

Untold numbers of lives were saved because of the swimming help of the ‘ship dog’ and his ability to find footing on rough rocks in a heavy sea where the best of watermen might not survive. In less rough water he could also haul a small boat ashore by its painter.”

“In Holland, France, Italy, England, and the United States are early records of the Newfoundland in his role of ship dog.”

The Newfoundland ship dog played a role in the battle of Trafallgar in 1805. A Newf was aboard the Titanic at the time of its sinking. Another Newfoundland ship dog dove off the deck of a boat in the dark and rescued Napoleon Bonaparte when he fell into the water and could not be located by the crew on his return to France from Elba.

One Newfie, Tang, was credited with rescuing an entire ship full of people in 1919 and was awarded the medal for Metitorious Service by Lloyds of London.

What draft work did the Newfoundland do?

The Newfoundland functioned as a draft dog in England and Europe. The book This is the Newfoundland by Mrs. Maynard K. Drury states:

“As early as 1824 it was estimated that there were 2,000 Newfoundland dogs in the town of St. Johns and that they were constantly employed. They drew cut wood from the forests for fuel and building purposes, drew loads of fish from the shore and helped to pull in the heavy nets, and they transported all kinds of merchandise from one part of the town to another as well as delivering milk.

It has been estimated that during one month of the year 1815 these dogs furnished the town of St. Johns with labor valued at from $4,500 to $5,000 per day and that a single dog would, by his labor, support his owner throughout the long winter.

They were used singly and in teams. Three to five dogs harnessed to a sledge or other vehicle containing a load of firewood, lumber, or fish (280 to 450 pounds) would draw it steadily with ease.

This they would do without the aide of a driver if they knew the road, and having delivered their burden, would return to the home of their master for a reward of dried fish, their staple food. In addition to their less glamorous tasks, the dogs were also used to transport His Majesty’s mail from the outposts north of the railway to the railway junctions and from one outpost to another through a chain of settlements.

Teams averaging about seven pulled these sledges over frozen marshes, through thick woods, and over trails impossible for even a hardy pony. For this service to the King the Newfoundland dog was honored by having his head made the subject of a postage stamp for his native country.”

This working ability was put to extensive use by the Allied forces in World War II where the Newfoundland and Great Pyrenees hauled supplies and ammunition in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, even through blizzards.

Backpackers today find the Newf a willing and able companion. The only thing they should not carry is the sleeping bags, as their love of water could turn a stream-crossing into a cold and soggy evening.

What is the Standard for Excellence for the Newfoundland?

newfoundland dog

The Standard is the physical “blueprint” of the breed. It describes the physical appearance and other desired qualities of the breed otherwise known as type. Some characteristics, such as size, coat quality, and movement, are based on the original (or current) function for the dog.

Other characteristics are more cosmetic such as eye color, but taken together they set this breed apart from all others. The Standard describes an ideal representative of the breed. No individual dog is perfect, but the Standard provides an ideal for the breeder to strive towards.

Because of copyright concerns over the collection of all the Standards at any single site storing all the faqs, AKC Standards are not typically included in the Breed faqs. The reader is referred to the publications at the end of this document or to the National Breed Club for a copy of the Standard.

What is the AKC parent club of the Newfoundland?

The Newfoundland Club of America.

What does the application for NCA membership ask for?

The Application for Membership contains the following blanks:

Full Name:
Home Telephone:

Check the membership details here.

How does the color inheritance work in the Newfoundlands?

The Solid Black is dominant, or BB. The Landseer is recessive to the solid black, or bb, and is the result of the piebald gene, which places the self-color on a white background.

Solid Bronze is recessive to black, and the Solid Gray is dilute of black. Care must be taken when matching dogs with recessive genes, as the piebald gene will result in a solid color and white dog. Where the solid color is black, the Landseer results, which is a color allowed by the standard.

However, if dogs with Brown or Gray backgrounds are bred with a Landseer, the possible results are a Bronze and White or a Gray and White dog, both of which are explicitly disqualified in the standard. (Note that ‘solid’ color is considered by the standard to include some white.)

What about playing roughhouse with the pup?

DO NOT PLAY ROUGHHOUSE with your pup. It is so tempting, they look so much like little teddy bears & they can ‘take it’ and really enjoy it. The BIG PROBLEM is that your Newfie has no concept of his size or of growing larger.

While it is really cute to have your puppy wrestle with you, dash around & throw body blocks at 25-30 pounds, it is no fun for the next 10 years at 150 pounds! Treat a Newfie puppy like it is a rare piece of porcelain or crystal, they really are a much more precious treasure.

What about training?

Be sure to sign up for and participate in obedience classes. Your Newf would benefit from puppy kindergarten, too. Don’t expect him (her?) to have an attention span for the adult classes much before 6 months old. Definitely train him, however, well before a year.

You need to know how to communicate your wishes to him and he is a WORKING DOG & will come alive when he is in a position to please you by behaving.

It can be tough to get the highest marks in obedience trials, should you choose to go for the CD, CDX, etc., because the Newfies are not as ‘snappy’ on recall as the smaller dogs, but they do well and do really enjoy it.

Be sure to dabble in the other pursuits that Newfies are especially suited to & enjoy: Rig up a cart for him to pull the kids around in (be sure to have some rigid harnessing so that the cart can’t run up on his heels)– BIG hit with the kids.

Have them rig up an Indian-style travois & ‘rescue’ their friends. Make him a backpack & include him on all your hikes (just don’t let him carry your sleeping bags, if you are hiking near water they WILL get wet.).

Water trails are great fun & show your Newf’s inherited lifeguard talents.

If you love giant breeds or Mastiff-type dogs, you’d enjoy our article about:

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