The massive Newfoundland is a strikingly large, powerful working dog of heavy bone and dignified bearing. The sweet-tempered Newfie is a famously good companion and has earned a reputation as a patient and watchful “nanny dog” for kids.
- Height: 28 inches (average male), 26 inches (average female)
- Weight: 130-150 pounds (male), 100-120 pounds (female)
- Life Expectancy: 9-10 years
- Group: Working Group
About the Newfoundland
A male Newfoundland can weigh up to 150 pounds and stand 28 inches at the shoulder; females typically go 100 to 120 pounds. The Newf head is majestic, the expression soft and soulful. The outer coat is flat and coarse. Colors are gray, brown, black, and a black-and-white coat named for artist Sir Edwin Landseer, who popularized the look in his paintings.
The Newfie breed standard says that a sweet temperament is the “most important single characteristic of the breed.” The Newf’s sterling character is expressed in their affinity for kids. Trusting and trainable, Newfs respond well to gentle guidance. These noble giants are among the world’s biggest dogs, and acquiring a pet that could outweigh you comes with obvious challenges.
Canadian fisherman long relied on Newfoundlands as peerless shipboard working dogs who specialized in dramatic water rescues. Newfs are born swimmers, complete with partially webbed feet, and strong enough to save a grown man from drowning. Their prowess as rescuers is the stuff of legend: What the Saint Bernard is to the Alps, the Newfoundland is to the icy waters of the North Atlantic. Newfs also earned their keep by hauling fishing nets to shore and carting the day’s catch to market. Although the Newf’s career as a seagoing deckhand is mostly a thing of the past, the breed is still considered the premium water-rescue dog and is employed in that role the world over.
The Newf is one of the world’s most beloved breeds, and history is rife with examples of their dedication to humankind. In 1802, when Lewis and Clark began their historic 8,000-mile trek across the American continent, a Newfoundland named Seaman was part of the expedition. He was useful as a hunter and guard dog, once saving lives by running off a rogue buffalo that was charging the camp. Today, Seaman is depicted in 10 different Lewis and Clark monuments across the country.
A well-visited tourist attraction in England, where Newfs have always been a great favorite, is a monument erected by Lord Byron at Newstead Abbey for his cherished Newf, Boatswain. The monument’s inscription, devised by the great poet himself, eulogizes Boatswain, “Who possessed Beauty without Vanity/Strength without Insolence/Courage without Ferocity/And all the Virtues of Man without his Vices.” Such was Byron’s regard for his Newf that Boatswain’s tomb at the abbey is larger than his own.
A Newfoundland named Brumus burnished his breed’s “nanny dog” reputation by helping Senator and Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy look after their 11 children.
A high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and ideally formulated for large breeds should have all the nutrients the Newfoundland needs. Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. The breed is susceptible to bloat, a life-threatening condition where the stomach distends and twists. The causes of bloat aren’t fully understood, but experts agree that multiple, small meals per day and preventing vigorous exercise around mealtimes may help reduce the chances of it happening.
The Newfoundland’s heavy coat requires thorough brushing at least once a week. A thorough going-over with a slicker brush and a long-toothed comb will remove dead hair and prevent mats from forming. These will become daily sessions during shedding season, which generally occurs twice a year; however, spayed and neutered Newfs shed year-round and will probably need to be brushed out several times a week. As with all breeds, the nails should be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails can cause discomfort and structural problems.
The Newfoundland is a multipurpose dog, at home on land and in water. As well as being a devoted companion, he is adept at draft work and has natural lifesaving abilities. Newfoundlands need at least a half-hour of moderate exercise a day to stay healthy and happy. While they are definitely meant to live indoors with their human family, Newfs enjoy outdoor activities, especially swimming, and make great companions on long walks or hikes. Newfs enjoy pulling a cart, and some even participate in carting and drafting competitions. Other canine activities in which Newfs participate and excel include agility, dock jumping, flyball, herding, obedience, rally, and tracking.
The Newfoundland puppy is outgoing, intelligent, and curious—never timid, skittish, or aggressive. Daily human contact is absolutely essential for any Newfie. Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended and help to ensure that the Newfoundland grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion. A puppy who is going to be trained for water work should be carefully introduced to water by the age of 4 months. Newfs are eager to please and generally easy to train. They are also affectionate and trusting; they respond well to gentle guidance but don’t respond well to harsh corrections or training methods.
All purebred dogs, including Newfoundlands, are to some extent vulnerable to particular health problems. Conditions that sometimes occur in Newfs include elbow and hip dysplasia, cardiac disease, and cystinuria, which can cause stones to form in the urinary system. A responsible breeder will screen their breeding stock for conditions that affect the breed and make an effort to keep them out of their bloodlines. As with all breeds, a Newf’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection.