Other names: Newfie
The Newfoundland Dog is truly unique, both in terms of its impressive size and lovely temperament. This dog is very affectionate, protective without ever getting aggressive, sociable with everyone, loyal, trustworthy and docile. ‘Newfies’ have so many qualities that make them the ideal pet, for both children and adults. They are very intelligent, which makes their training and integration into our lives very easy. Excellent sea rescue dogs, they are always willing to put their lives in danger to save others.
Key facts about the Newfoundland
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Origins and history
Some say that the Newfoundland descended from the big bear dogs introduced to America by the Vikings. Another theory is that the Tibetan Mastiff (father of all the molossoids) arrived in America from the Bering Strait, the Aleutian Islands, and Alaska, with the ancestors of the American Indians: The Newfoundland Dog therefore came from the ‘big black dog’ from the Algonquins and Sioux. This dog was used for hunting, fishing, pulling sleds, guarding, as well as keeping children company, as Professor Otis Mason recounts in his "American Indian Handbook". It is likely that these two theories are valid: the blood of Viking dogs could have been crossed with that of Indian dogs to create the Newfoundland’s ancestors.
Physical characteristics of the Newfoundland
Female : Between 25 and 27 in
Male : Between 27 and 29 in
Female : Between 110 and 132 lb
Male : Between 132 and 154 lb
There are three different standards for this breed: those of the FCI, the US and Canada. Between these, it’s mainly the coat colour that changes. Therefore, depending on the variety, the coat can be black, brown, or Landseer (white and black).
Type of coat
The coat is medium-length.
The fur is flat, dense, thick and slightly oily, which makes it completely waterproof.
The eyes are dark brown for individuals with black and white coats. For those with brown coats, the official standards accept lighter eyes.
This dog is very impressive, particularly in terms of its physical strength and high level of activity. It has a strong build, but doesn’t look intimidating. It has a large head with a subtle stop. The muzzle is small, square and covered in short, fine hair. The skull axes run parallel, while the eyes are small, brown and deep-set. The ears are small, set quite far back and flop down to frame the face. The body is robust, while the limbs are strong and muscular. The medium-length tail falls just below the hocks: it is often left down when the dog is relaxing, but more raised when it’s moving.
Good to know
The Newfoundland Dog is a great swimmer and loves being in water above all else. A very good rescue dog at sea, it has earned the nickname of the St. Bernard of the seas.
Their courage, love for others and physical abilities allow Newfies to excel in this area. Indeed, Newfoundlands have webbed feet and waterproof coats that give them unprecedented protection against cold and moisture.
This big dog is often mistaken for the Landseer, which is definitely its closest cousin. However, it’s necessary to distinguish between them as they are two separate breeds in their own right. The Landseer is taller, slimmer and has a white mark on his head.
This big dog is definitely one of the friendliest and gentlest of its species. Newfoundlands are very close to their social group, and will greet anyone they come into contact with in their lives with the same affection. There aren’t many dogs that are as attentive towards humans as Newfoundlands.
Newfoundland Dogs love to play. They are very joyful and get on perfectly with children. They are an excellent companion for the whole family, and their ‘joie de vivre’ and good nature just oozes out of them.
Gentleness is one of this breed’s defining characteristics. This fortunate trait means that the Newfoundland Dog will be perfectly happy in a variety of different contexts of life.
This dog really does have it all; affectionate, playful, calm, gentle with children, and intelligent. Newfies can adapt to a number of different lifestyles, learn easily, and quickly understand what is expected of them.
Their intelligence and courage makes them an excellent rescue dog - they will very readily risk their own life to save others.
The Newfie’s ancestors were used principally as hunting dogs. While some underlying predatory instincts may persist in this dog, rescuing someone ranks much higher in its priorities than hunting prey.
Therefore, their hunting instinct is far from uncontrollable, especially if their environment doesn’t encourage this.
Fearful / wary of strangers
This big Canadian dog is never aggressive; it welcomes anyone that enters into his family circle with open arms. Stemming from its instinct to protect, a Newfie might occasionally seem wary, but will quickly and accurately analyse the potential danger level of the situation.
Their openness to strangers is confirmed by their enthusiasm for sea rescue; regardless of if they knows the person, they will show just the same willingness to save them. Indeed, they will even sometimes come to the rescue of people that are simply enjoying a swim!
The Newfoundland Dog is very much a pet that depends on humans. They will follow Man around wherever he goes, mainly to protect him, should the need arise.
Behaviour of the Newfoundland
The Newfie will not be at ease unless its in the presence of, or at least close to, its loved ones. Time alone is definitely not something Newfies cherish, they much prefer to be surrounded by people.
Easy to train / obedience
These dogs are a pleasure to train, since they very easily understand commands and have the sole objective to please their master.
With quite a strong character, it is nevertheless important to start training this dog from when it is a puppy, so that it’s not too much to handle once it reaches its adult size.
Make sure you train this dog in a way that is respectful of the principles of positive reinforcement - an overly strict, or even violent, approach will only serve to scare this sensitive pet.
Patience, coherence and diligence are the keys to making this lovely dog your ideal life companion.
Despite its impressive size, this dog is very discrete and very rarely barks.
Tendency to run away
Very loyal, attached to, and protective of its social group, it would never occur to the Newfoundland Dog to stray far from its family.
This big dog is able to stay calm when it’s in the house. Newfies can be a bit restless during their younger years, but once they reach adulthood, they won’t feel the need to destroy things to keep themselves occupied.
Greedy / Gluttony
This big dog won’t ever turn down a bowl of food or a treat, but is not excessively gluttonous.
Newfies will very much appreciate a treat following good behaviour, and food can therefore serve as a good motivator during training.
Moreover, a Newfie won’t beg at the table - it will be perfectly happy waiting in its bed while its masters eat, especially if it has been taught to share space and resources at a young age.
A great guard dog, a Newfie knows how to scare off intruders without getting aggressive. Its altruism and protective instinct over its loved ones allows the Newfie to quickly analyse the potential level of danger in any situation.
Newfies are very brave and loyal towards their social group, and would put themselves at great risk to protect it.
This dog’s unique and exceptional temperament, paired with its calmness and constant good mood are likely to mean that should you choose a Newfie as your first dog, you won’t regret it!
That said, its lovely personality and majestic beauty shouldn’t minimise the fact that this is still a big dog that you need to know how to look after and control.
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Newfoundland in a flat
The Newfoundland Dog is able to adapt to life in a flat, notably thanks to its calm and discrete nature. However, this still isn’t an ideal environment.
This big dog needs its space and will thrive in a life in the country, near water, with the possibility to explore the great outdoors.
In any case, if your Newfie has access to a garden or not, it should be walked every day to satisfy its needs - whether physical, mental, social or sensory.
Need for exercise / Sporty
The Newfie doesn’t need a lot of exercise but still requires a minimum of daily outings to get some fresh air.
Newfies are happiest in water, so they will welcome regular walks along the river with open arms (or legs!)
Travelling / easy to transport
Despite its calm and discrete nature, this dog still remains very large and imposing, and is therefore difficult to take places.
In a car, the boot must be big enough to accomodate this big ball of fur. In town, the narrowness of certain public transport options makes the process challenging. If you’re traveling by plane, you’ll need an adapted cage that conforms to the airline’s rules, and this will most likely incur a certain cost.
Newfoundland and cats
Very sociable, this dog gets on very well with cats, especially if it’s grown up with them from a young age.
Newfoundland and dogs
Proper socialisation is necessary to guarantee a good relationship between Newfies and their canine counterparts, but they are naturally very sociable with their peers.
Newfies will never seek out conflict and will appear more or less indifferent when threats from other dogs arise.
Newfoundland and children
This big teddy bear loves children: it loves spending time with them and will protect them with its life.
House rules should nonetheless be established, despite the patience and extreme friendliness of this dog, to avoid any possible incident and to lay the groundwork for a calm, safe and harmonious cohabitation.
Newfoundland and the elderly
Everything about this dog corresponds perfectly with the mature age bracket. Since Newfies constantly seek out the presence of their masters at any cost, and are not particularly at ease when alone, retired people are just what they need.
However, their masters should still be physically capable of taking them for long walks on a daily basis. If not, it might be necessary to look to a professional dog walker to satisfy these needs.
The price of a Newfoundland Dog varies depending on its origins. You should budget around £1185 registered with the KC.
This big dog’s needs can get quite expensive; costs can reach up to £80 a month to cater to its food and grooming needs.
The grooming needs of the medium-length hair can get tedious, because it tends to moult a lot. Several brushes a week will sometimes be necessary.
When your Newfie has been in water, you should wash and dry him properly, which can also take some time.
However, you should never shampoo this keen swimmer, as its coat will lose its protective and waterproof qualities.
It will be necessary to pay close attention to the ears, especially if your dog regularly goes in water.
The Newfie’s amount of hair loss is particularly high during the annual shedding periods, in spring and autumn.
Nutrition of the Newfoundland
This dog’s daily rations should be aligned with its size, age, level of physical activity and health.
A traditional diet of raw meat is ideal for a Newfie, but good-quality dry food can also do the job.
Due to its impressive size, it is advised to split up your Newfie’s daily ration into two, giving him a light meal in the morning and a more sizeable portion in the evening.
It’s a good idea to put the bowl on a raised surface to facilitate your dog’s digestion.
It is recommended for a vet to track your Newfie’s progress while it is still a puppy, to ensure it develops into a strong and healthy dog.
Health of the Newfoundland
The lifespan is around 11 years.
Strong / robust
This is undoubtedly a robust dog, if not for a few delicate months during puppyhood. After this, its health is generally good, so the Newfie has a relatively high life expectancy for a dog of its size.
The thick fur makes Newfies relatively susceptible to overheating. It’s therefore important not to leave them in the sun for too long, especially during the summer.
The double-coated fur makes this dog exceptionally well-equipped for the cold and humidity. The oily fur means that it can swim in freezing temperatures without getting cold.
Tendency to put on weight
If their diet is adapted to their physical condition, if they aren’t overfed and are sufficiently exercised, these sensitive dogs won’t be prone to obesity.
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Chondrodysplasia (cartilage development disorder)
- Neoplasia (formation of new tissue: benign or malignant tumour)
- Myasthenia (chronic neuromuscular disease)
- Cystinuria (formation of kidney stones)
- Primitive ciliary dyskinesia (respiratory disease)