Newfoundland

Big, bold, and sweet, this workaholic breed isn’t just a seaside helper, nope, the Newfoundland is also quite the hero.

With so many legends and stories maintaining this breed’s heroic legacy, it’s no wonder this large breed falls into the top 40 most popular American dogs.

They shed, they drool, but at the end of the day, their hearts are for and with you. This is a breed that defines the expression, “gentle giant.” 

So what else makes this breed such a popular choice for dog lovers? Are they the right breed for your family?

Here is what you need to know about the Newfoundland.

History

The Newfoundland is truly a dog by the water. They love it! Whether that be swimming, or hauling rope ashore, and sometimes jumping into dangerous waters to rescue a submerging ship. The point is, if there was ever a breed you could rely on when it comes to water, it is the Newfie.

As apparent as their size, this breed gets their name from where they originate, Newfoundland. A few floating theories historians postulate as to how the breed got to Newfoundland. 

One of the popular theories is that the breed is a cross between the Pyreness and Black retrievers. Historians claim that French fisherman brought Pyreness Sheepdogs with them during the 16th and 17th century, while English colonialists came with Black retrievers. 

Another theory is that the breed originates from black bear dogs brought by the Viking around 1000 A.D. This theory stems from skeletal findings of a large black dog in 1950, just as scientists found a Viking settlement.

Regardless, we do know that the breed was certainly in the eastern Province during the 1700’s. Sportsman, George Cartwright, began mentioning the breed in his diary and calling them after the land he was living during the late 1700’s. 

Likewise, in 1780, as the breed’s popularity would continue to skyrocket, Richard Edwards, the Governor of Newfoundland, made a decree to place a limit on how many Newfies households could have. As a result, each household could only have one Newfie, According to multiple accounts, this was due to promote sheep raising.  Ultimately, the law would fail, the people would rebel, and fanciers began breeding regardless.

Appearing in the 18th century in many paintings, journals and the classic, Jane Eyre, the Newfie couldn’t lose in the public eye. It is said that most ships wouldn’t travel, especially in the United Kingdom, without a Newfoundland aboard. This was because the breed had become  a legend and hero of saving people from drowning.

In 1860, the breed’s first appearance at a dog show took place in Birmingham, England in 1860. A few years later, the first club of this breed would form in England and the American Kennel Club gave the breed recognition in 1886.

Without question, the greatest popularity the breed would enjoy would be in England during the 1900’s. However, due to war restrictions, extinction nearly took the breed out. Luckily, fanciers and breeders kept breeding and promoting the breed. 

The United Kennel Club gave the breed recognition in 1919, and the Newfie could be found or seen with some of the most prominent political and cultural figures during the 20th century. Today, the breed still works the seaside lugging cargo haul, bringing out rope ashore, participating in rescue missions and the list goes on.

Additionally, they are also successful companion, who are the 35 most popular breed, according to the American Kennel Club.

Size

Large may be a bit of an understatement. The Newfoundland is one of the biggest breeds around. According to the breed standard, a male should stand at 28 inches, while a female should stand at 26 inches.

With regards to weight, the standard calls for males to range between 130 to 150 pounds. Females should weigh around 100 to 120 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

A Newfoundland takes some serious commitment. They are rather smart and do obey commands as puppies, just as they are eager to please. This strong and powerful working dog is dependable and faithful to whatever purpose you give them.

Gentle, docile and with good humor, the Newfie loves to be around their people. As a matter of fact, there aren’t many things they don’t love to be around. This is an all around gentle and sweet giant, that is wonderful with children and will look out for them. Protective of their family, you may find that a male Newfoundland is more aggressive than a female. With other dogs, however, this is a breed that enjoys the company and companionship of others. They are typically friendly with strangers. Although if someone crosses the boundary and issues a threat against the family, it will be the last thing they likely do.

Consistency is huge with this big breed. Bigger spaces and familiar faces ultimately will make this breed much happier and comfortable.  

They do like to be outdoors and to work. Whether that is ashore, or doing something as tedious as hauling carts, this is a working breed. The most important elements, though, is that their people are nearby.

All in all, this is an all purpose family dog that loves companionship and offers a copious amount of affection. They devote their energy to their people as faithful workers and companions. Great with children and animals, as well as friendly with guests. Take them swimming or to the dog park, and your Newfoundland will love like never before.

Health

In comparison to other breeds, the Newfoundland has shorter life expectancy of only 9 to 10 years. Some consider the breed to be healthy, while others maintain that the breed has an inkling for health complications.

That said, when you buy a Newfie from a breeder, do yourself a favor, and do some research about the breeder. Are they reputable? Have you heard or read reviews? Avoid puppy mill breeders, who breed unethically and cut corners. Additionally, you should ask and get health clearances and appropriate documents you need to make sure you’re getting what you paid for. On top of that, you will want to schedule regular veterinarian visits.

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals took a survey of over 17,000 Newfies and the evaluations put the breed 25th on their rankings for Hip Dysplasia. The malformation of the hip joint, which causes lameness, discomfort and pain, is quite common for bigger breed like the Newfie. With a 25.9 dysplastic rating, the Newfie ranks among the Amstaff Terrier, Lagotto Romagnolo and Bloodhound

Elbow Dysplasia isn’t much better for this breed. Ranking better than the Chow Chow and Pug, this breed has a 23.8 dysplastic rating for the 11th spot out of 8,000 evaluations. Elbow Dysplasia is a leading cause for elbow pain in dogs.

Cardiac issues remain a crux for the breed and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals places this breed 30th on their cardiac department. Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis is an obstruction for the heart to properly pump blood due to an abnormal tissue causing heart murmurs and heart to work harder.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy or DCM is a heart muscle disease producing weak contractions and not allowing the heart to fully function or properly pump blood.  DCM results in valve leakage and the possibility of heart enlargement or heart failure.

Cystinuria is a serious condition affecting this breed. Cystinuria is a disorder of the kidney tubules where the amino acid, cystine, enters the dog’s urine and can cause the formation of cystine calculi or stones. 

Your Newfoundland may have issues with Cataracts, which is the clouding of the crystalline lens. This can cause blindness during the night and lead to permanent loss of vision down the road. Most dogs live with this condition fine, but if you have a working dog, issues could arise from the lack of vision.

Finally, but not at the least, the big issue affecting large and rapid growing breed is Bloat. Bloat is fatal and serious. The good news is that owners can help reduce the chances of their dog’s suffering from this condition by reducing the amount of food they eat at once. Breaking their daily intake up into two or three meals usually suffices their dietary needs and keeps them away from Bloat. Since this breed is prone to encounter or suffer from Bloat, it is best to keep food portions in mind. Lethargy, incessant salivating, high temperatures, an increase in heart beat are symptoms. Bloat is an excess of air or gas that can’t leave the stomach properly and thus begins to distend causing fatal consequences.

Care

To own a Newfie you should have a bit of patience. You’ll need to be firm but the patience part is the most important. Newfoundlands are sensitive to tones and obey commands better when the tone is fair. Consistency and firmness will go a long way for this breed.

You can leave this breed alone and go to work but they much prefer close contact with family. If you have smaller children, you may want to watch out for them. The breed is large and may accidentally injure them without intending on doing so.

This is a breed that should have a job or role within the family. The Newfoundland was bred to be a worker and companion. These are two elements the breed performs well with. 

Temperate climate conditions are preferable but the breed does much better in colder weather than the hot climate. Apartment dwellers may want to reconsider getting a dog of this magnitude.

Check their nails regularly and trim to protect them from overgrowth and splits. This is a breed with long and droopy ears. You’ll want to check those as well for infections and bacteria. 

Feeding 

Clearly the Newfoundland needs to eat well and may be prone to obesity and Bloat. You can do your part in that by reducing the Newfie down to multiple meals per day instead of one big sum. Most owners recommend feeding them between 4 to 5 cups of top quality dry food per day. A high quality diet with a protein value of 22-24 percent is the best way to go for a breed of this caliber.

Meat first diet, as the first ingredient, chicken, turkey, lamb, veggies and fruit should suffice this breed’s requirements.

As always, you should provide the Newfoundland with fresh drinking water.

Coat

Bred to be by and in some events inside water, the Newfoundland has a waterproof coat. It is a double coat with a soft and dense undercoat. The outercoat is of good length, straight or slight wave and coarse. 

Weekly brushing is necessary for this breed of at least once or twice a week. This will help promote better coat health in the long run, while making your dog look great. Combing your Newfie’s coat will help prevent mats from developing.

According to the standard, there are four acceptable coat color options: white and black, gray, brown, black.

Fun Newfoundland Facts

  • President Rutherford B Hayes and James Buchanan both had Newfoundlands.
  • The Newfie ranks 46th among Stanley Coren’s most intelligent dogs list. This means they will obey commands 70 percent of the time and are above average workers.
  • In 1925, the Newfie was the only dog to grace a postal stamp.
  • Robert Kennedy, senator and brother of president John F Kennedy, had a Newfie by the name of Brummus, who historians say took care of his eleven children, thus giving the breed the name of “nanny dog.”
  • In 1832, a Newfie called, Hairy Dog, along with his owner, took part in a rescue effort thatwould 180 Irish immigrants, when their ship, Despatch, went down in a wreck. According to legend, this isn’t the first time, when Napoleon went overboard after an escape, legend claims, that this large breed came to the rescue.
  • The heroics don’t stop in the water: During the 8,000 mile Lewis and Clark expedition it is said that a Newfie was able to chase away a charging bull heading for their camp.

Closing Words

Don’t let their intimidating size fool you, this is a sweet and loyal breed, with a streak for the heroics. Aside from saving people out of the water and from bulls, the Newfie has proven to be one of the best and most popular household companions around.

And why not? When your heart is bigger than your huge frame, it’s no wonder people can’t get enough of the Newfoundland.