Breed of the Month: Newfoundland

Newfoundland (Canis familiaris) black adult portrait laying on rock

Description: Body Structure: This dog has large bones and is muscular. The body is longer than it is tall. Head: the skull is large and proportionate to the body. Face should be smooth and free of wrinkles. Ears: triangular and rounded, the ears are small. Eyes: are brown, small and set far apart. Muzzle: is broad and short. Teeth meet in an even or scissor bite. Tail: broad at the base and thick. When relaxed, the tail is carried straight down or with a curve. When excited, the tail is carried straight out but not even curled over the back. Feet: Are cat-like and toes are webbed. Legs: Muscular and heavily boned. Coat: The Newfoundland has a thick water resistant double coat. The outer coat is dense, oily, and somewhat long. The undercoat is thick and soft. The undercoat is shed in the summer months. Coat can come in black, brown, grey, and Landseer (white with black markings).

History: There is not much certainty when it comes to exact origin of the Newfoundland breed. Some believe the Newfoundland is a descendant of the Great Pyrenees with which they share many physical characteristics. Others say they were descendants from viking bear dogs or tibetan mastiffs. Whatever the case may be, these dogs thrived on the coast of Newfoundland where they were bred. Newfoundlands assisted fishermen to pull in fishing nets, pull carts, and even rescue fishermen from drowning.

Size: Males: 27–29 inches at the withers, weighing 130-150 pounds. Females: 25–27 inches at the withers, weighing 100-120 pounds.

Temperament: Newfoundlands are known best for their sweet demeanor and are often called gentle giants. These dogs rarely bark, are moderately easy to train, are very playful and loyal. The Newfie is known for their love of people, especially children. When these dogs are younger they can have a tendency to be clumsy and lean on people so supervision between the dog and children is a must. Along with being friendly towards strangers and children, Newfoundlands are also friendly towards other dogs and other animals. Newfoundlands can be protective if they sense a threat to their family. They only use aggression when absolutely necessary but would prefer to bark and keep the threat away from the family. These dogs take up more space in a home so more room is better. Having access to a yard and the house is idea for the Newfie.

Grooming: The Newfoundland requires brushing twice a week but will need to be brushed more frequently when they are shedding twice a year. These dogs should only be bathed when necessary as frequent bathing strips the natural oils from their fur.

Newfies do have a tendency to drool especially after they drink water and in the summer when they pant to keep cool.

Health: There are a few health issues to which Newfies can be susceptible. Hip and elbow dysplasia are common, as well subvalvular aortic stenosis, a deadly heart condition.

The Newfoundland also has a tendency to become overweight as owners will over-feed these dogs assuming they need more food to power their large bodies. However, adult Newfies need less food than adult Labrador’s.

Exercise: The Newfoundland needs daily exercise to stay healthy. As these dogs were bread to work in and around the water, swimming is a great form of exercise that these dogs can’t get enough of.

Lifespan: About 9 to 15 years.

Trivia: Robert F. Kennedy had a Newfoundland named Brumus. Lyndon B. Johnson had a Newfie named Charlie Erhart. Ulysses S Grant had a Newfoundland named Faithful. Composer Richard Wagner had two Newfoundlands named Robber and Russ. Russ is buried at the feet of Wagner in his tomb. J.M. Barrie, writer of Peter Pan, received his inspiration for the fictional dog Nana, from his Landseer Newfoundland named, Luath.