The Newfoundland is a large, strong dog breed from — wait for it — Newfoundland. He was originally used as a working dog to pull nets for fishermen and haul wood from the forest. He is a capable and hardworking dog, well suited to work on land or water. He is a strong swimmer and equally strong “pack horse.” Sweet-natured and responsive, he makes a wonderful family companion as well.
Roundly considered to be one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world, the Newfoundlander is an ideal companion. In addition to being an excellent pack carrier and guardian for children and families, the Newfie is unmatched at water rescues. In modern times, it is brought along for hiking and camping expeditions, but is also still held in high esteem by rural families in need of a working dog.
Surely you remember Nana, the fictional Newfoundland employed as a nanny by the Darling family in Peter Pan? Sweet-natured Nana was first introduced to the public by Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie in his 1904 play, Peter Pan, which later became the well-loved kids’ story we know today.
It’s true that Barrie’s fictional account of Nana as a round-the-clock babysitter stretches reality a bit. However, there is truth in the author’s characterization of the dog.
The Newfoundland really is a sweet dog who loves children. He’s naturally gentle and friendly with them, as well as protective. Fans of this breed say the Newfoundland really is a natural-born babysitter.
Originating in Newfoundland, Canada, located on the northeastern shore of that country, the Newfoundland, affectionately nicknamed “Newfie,” shares a birthplace with the popular Labrador Retriever. The breeds are similar in character, sharing a desire to please, intelligence, a strong work ethic, friendliness, adaptability and versatility.
The Newfoundland is a giant breed (about 100 pounds). Though relatively placid, he still needs daily exercise to keep fit.
Neat freaks need not consider the Newfoundland because his long, heavy coat is a mud-burr-dirt magnet. He is especially skilled at tracking dirt and debris throughout the house. You’ll need to keep up with quite a bit of grooming to minimize the damage. And he drools — a lot.
But when it comes to training, you’ll find the Newfoundland is an A student. He learns quickly and there is little this dog can’t do. Training should begin early because the breed gets big quickly and it can be tough to haul a 100-pound pooch off the couch.
All dogs have the potential for heroism, but it seems to be a hardwired into this naturally strong swimmer. There are many accounts of Newfoundlands rescuing people from the cold waters of the Atlantic following a shipwreck or plucking children from icy deep water — just in time.
Regardless of the purpose of the Newfoundland in your life, be it worker or companion, he will no doubt capture your heart.
- The Newfoundland is a big dog when full grown. Though mellow, he’s not your basic one-bedroom apartment dog and would probably be happier in a more spacious setting.
- He has has a strong work ethic, needs exercise, and mental stimulation. Ongoing training and dog sports are a perfect outlet for his working abilities.
- If you can’t stand dog slobber, the Newfoundland is not for you. This breed drools. A lot.
- To keep the Newfoundland’s thick coat looking great, he needs regular grooming. You can do it yourself, which is time consuming, or you can hire a professional groomer, which can be expensive.
- The Newfoundland thrives in cool climates, though he can adapt to living in warmer climates. To protect him from heat stroke, keep him near air conditioning or fans when it’s really hot.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a shelter dog, a rescue group, or a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they’re free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
- Newfoundlands make excellent lifeguards and can bring a drowning adult ashore.
- When living with a Newfie, drool is a part of life. Don’t believe breeders who claim to breed for “dry-mouthed” dogs.
- AKC group: Working
- UKC group: Guardian Dog
- Average lifespan: 8 – 10 years
- Average size: 99 – 155 pounds
- Coat appearance: Thick, long, coarse
- Coloration: Black, gray, brown and white
- Hypoallergenic: No
- Other identifiers: Broad-bodied; muscular, webbed feet; drooping jowls
- Possible alterations: No
- Comparable Breeds: Labrador Retriever, Great Pyrenees
- Adam: Seaward’s Blackbeard: 1984 Best in Show winner at the Westminster Dog Show
- Ava Marie : 2004 Best In Show aka “Josh” Granddaughter is a lifeguard in Goshen, NY
- Bashaw (Matthew Cotes Wyatt): The Earl of Dudley’s favourite dog, a sculpture by Matthew Cotes Wyatt can be seen at the Victoria and Albert museum in London
- Boatswain: pet of English poet Lord Byron and the subject of his poem “Epitaph to a Dog”
- Bilbo: lifeguard at Sennon cove beach in Cornwall
- Boo: saved a man both deaf and mute at ten months of age without any previous training
- Brumus: Robert F. Kennedy’s dog
- Brutus: first dog to complete the Appalachian Mountain Club’s “Winter 48”, climbing all 48 peaks in one calendar winter
- Bucky. Mascot of Columbia, MO-based rock band, “The Diet”
- Carlo: Emily Dickinson’s dog
- Charlie Erhart: Lyndon B. Johnson’s dog
- Darbydale’s All Rise Pouchcove (AKA Josh): 2004 Best in Show winner at the Westminster Dog Show
- Faithful: First dog of President Ulysses S. Grant
- Frank: Unofficial mascot of the Orphan Brigade during the American Civil War
- Gander: the Mascot of the Royal Rifles of Canada who was killed in action at the Battle of Hong Kong when he carried a grenade away from wounded soldiers. For this he was awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal retroactively in 2000.
- Hairy Man: The dog who helped Ann Harvey and her father and brother rescue 163 people from a shipwreck.
- Jeff: Wonderful gorilla-loving friend of Flagstaff, AZ; mascot of dream pop band the Sea Section
- Luath: Landseer Newfoundland pet of J. M. Barrie and the inspiration for “Nana”, the Darling children’s nurse in Peter Pan.
- Mas: first Newfoundland dog to jump out of a helicopter Ecurel B-350 in 1992 during a joint training exercise between Scuola Italiana Cani Salvataggio, SICS, and Aeronautica Militare.
- Morse: A Newfoundland/Saint Bernard cross breed, Morse was a popular contestant on Channel 4’s Superstar Dogs.
- Smokey: Lion-styled mascot of the East Coast Bays Barracudas.
- Plato: pet of John James Audubon.
- Pluto: pet of the Croatian operatic soprano Ilma de Murska, which used to dine at table with her and was trained to eat a cooked fowl from a place setting without dripping gravy on the tablecloth. Pluto lived in the 1860s.
- Robber: dog of Richard Wagner who accompanied him on his flight from his creditors from Riga on a fishing boat, which inspired the opera The Flying Dutchman.
- Russ: last dog of Richard Wagner, buried at the feet of his master in the composer’s tomb in the park of Villa Wahnfried in Bayreuth, under his own plaque: “Here rests and watches Wagner’s Russ.”
- Sable Chief: mascot of Royal Newfoundland Regiment
- Swansea Jack: Famous Welsh rescue dog identified as a Newfoundland, but had an appearance more like a modern Flat-Coated Retriever
- Seaman: companion of explorer Meriwether Lewis
- Yogi: John Madden’s Newfoundland