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.

Breed of the Month: Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard With Owner Barry Brault

Description: The Saint Bernard is a giant muscular dog. The ears sit higher on the head and are droopy. The tail is broad, powerful, and long. Its nose and lips are black, it possesses a short broad muzzle, and has dark colored eyes. This dog has long legs. Coats are predominately white with brown, fawn, black, and brindle markings. The face and ears are typically black or brown in color.

History: The Saint Bernard dog and the Saint Bernard Pass are both named after the founder and Augustine monk, Bernard of Menthon. In 980 A.D. Bernard of Menthon established the monastery and hospice along a treacherous 49 mile long pass in the Swiss Alps which is located 8,000 feet above sea level.

Experts believe that the Saint Bernard dog can trace its ancestry to approximately 1660 A.D. when monks at the Saint Bernard Hospice started to breed the dogs. However, these first Saint Bernard dogs didn’t resemble the dogs of today, as these dogs had shorter hair, were smaller in stature, and had a longer tail.

These dogs were primarily used as rescue dogs, assisting lost and injured travelers. When Napoleon and his 250,000 soldiers crossed the alps between 1790 and 1810, soldiers professed the heroism and courage of the Saint Bernard dogs that helped save the lives of many comrades.

In the winters from 1816 to 1818, many of the rescue dogs were killed due to severe weather and avalanches, which nearly killed all the dogs at Saint Bernard Hospice. Consequently, the remaining Saint Bernards were bred with Great Danes and English Mastiffs to rebuild the strain of dogs.

Around this time, monks bred the stock of Saint Bernard dogs with Newfoundlands in attempt to create a Saint Bernard that could withstand even colder temperatures and more vicious storms. What they created was a Saint Bernard with long hair which collected snow and ice, eventually weighing down and incapacitating the dog. It was an experiment in futility and the remaining long haired dogs were given away to farmers in the valley of the Swiss Alps.

For over 200 years the Saint Bernard dogs have saved over 2,000 travelers of the Saint Bernard Pass. The most recent rescue by a Saint Bernard rescue dog occurred 1897 when a dog tracked down a lost twelve-year-old boy who nearly froze to death along the pass.

Although the Saint Bernard has since been replaced by more modern and effective means of rescuing lost and stranded travelers, a few of the dogs still inhabit the Saint Bernard Hospice as a tribute to the breed.

Size: Males and females: 25–27 inches at the withers, weighing 110–200 pounds.

Temperament: The Saint Bernard is a very friendly and easy going dog. This breed is slow moving and tolerant of children however, their large size and ability to knock over small children may make them somewhat of a danger. Since Saint Bernards get big fast, socialization and training at an early age is a must. While this breed is typically very affectionate and friendly, any kind of behavior issues can become extremely difficult to overcome with a dog of this size. Even a strong adult man can have difficulties in handling a Saint Bernard. Overall, this breed is loyal, loving, and mild mannered which makes them a good family pets.

Typically the Saint Bernard is friendly towards all humans but their giant size and deep bark can be intimidating for intruders, making them a moderately good guard dog.

Grooming: Depending on the type of Saint Bernard, the breed can either have a short coat or a long coat. Whether the dog has a short or long coat, the dog will shed heavily twice a year. Comb or brush this dog frequently to minimize shedding and bathe only when necessary.

The Saint Bernard is prone to watery eyes which will need to be washed frequently to avoid tear stains.

Health: The Saint Bernard grows at very fast rate and as a result, faces some health consequences. If not properly exercised and fed, growing adolescents can experience bone deterioration. Osteosarcoma or bone cancer has also been observed in Saint Bernards. Along with most other larger dogs, hip and elbow dysplasia as well as bloat are common amongst this breed. One major issue in the breed standard are the eye conditions entropion and ectropion, where the eye lid folds inward or outward. Saint Bernards are genetically susceptible to the heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy where the heart becomes enlarged and and loses efficiency in pumping blood.

Exercise: Like all dogs, the Saint Bernard requires a daily pack walk and exercise. Saint Bernard dogs live comfortably in an apartment as they are fairly inactive indoors. Puppies grow large quickly and due to their growing bones, shouldn’t be over exercised. Short play sessions until the age of two years old should be adequate.

Lifespan: About 8 to 10 years.

Trivia: Barrry, a Saint Bernard living at the Saint Bernard Hospice between 1800 and 1812, is credited with saving the lives of over forty travelers.

The 1992 comedy movie Beethoven featured a Saint Bernard of the same name. The book and film Cujo portrayed a rabid Saint Bernard named Cujo. While the book Peter Pan portrayed the dog Nana as a Newfoundland, the animated movie portrayed Nana as a Saint Bernard.

While many movies and cartoons portray Saint Bernards with a small cask of brandy around their necks, no dogs were ever documented as having wore these casks; this is likely a work of Hollywood produced fiction.