Breed Type: Molossers
Country of Origin: Canada (province of Newfoundland)
Popular Names: Newfie, Greater St. John’s Dog, Newf, the Gentle Giant
Size: Extra Large
Height: (At the withers) Males 69 – 74 cm, Females 63 – 69 cm
Weight: Males 59 – 68 kg, Females 45 – 54 kg
Best suited as: Pet, show, or working dog
Lifespan: 8 – 13 years
These are in the extra-large or Giant weight class. Some males have weighed over 90 kg at maturity – the largest Newfie weighed 120 kg and was over 180 cm from tail to nose.
These huge dogs have very large bones and large musculature. This gives them enormous size and power. Their huge lung capacity makes them capable of swimming long distances, and their special coat protects them from cold waters. Their feet are webbed to help them swim.
They have a water-resistant, fluffy double coat. The under coat is dense and sheds at the change of seasons. The outer coat is coarse, long, and can be wavy or straight. They come in black, grey, black and white, and brown. The black and white dogs are called Landseer, and have a white base with black markings on the head, saddle, and rump. The tail is white. Solid grey, black, and brown Newfoundlands can have white on the tip of the tail, toes, chin, and chest. Most have black noses but some brown dogs have brown noses.
These dogs have short square muzzles, triangular pendant ears, and a heavy, broad head. The eyes and face are expressive, with movable eyebrows. These dogs often look intelligent, dignified, and soft.
When a Newf is relaxed, his tail hangs straight or with a slight curve at the end. When excited, he carries his tail straight out. These dogs should be slightly longer than they are tall.
Some people believe these dogs descended from a cross between the dogs of indigenous peoples and the Pyrenean Mountain Dog. Other groups say that the breed descend from an ancient Tibetan Mastiff. Still another group believes that fisherman from the Dominion of Newfoundland crossed small Canadian dogs with large European imports like the Great Pyrenees and the Portuguese Water Dog. In any case, the breed as we know it today was well-established in Newfoundland in the 1700s.
The dog was bred to work on land or in the water. They worked as rescue dogs, and also helped haul nets full of fish from the sea, to the ship, and to the shore. They also hauled logs, pulled wagons, and acted as pack animals to carry supplies.
Newfies made their way to England and elsewhere on fishing boats and became quite popular there and in the United States. In 1919, a famous Newfoundland pulled 20 shipwrecked people to shore in their lifeboat and saved them. There are many instances of these dogs saving people or acting in a useful manner during wartime.
Now these dogs are kept mostly as companions, although some are still used for rescue or fishing work.
These are sweet dogs that love being around people. They need to be involved in family activities and get along great with kids. They are very patient and tolerant with children and make a perfect family pet; however, they are very exuberant as pups and that means they can be unintentionally dangerous around babies, toddlers, and frail elderly family members.
Their ease of training depends on each dog, but they tend to respond best to treats and praise. They love to please, so work on that basis. Never treat a Newfie harshly or else it will distrust you forever.
They can develop severe separation anxiety and the associated behaviours like chewing. They can become depressed and destructive when left alone for long periods of time. Families where at least one person is at home all the time is the best home situation for a dog of this breed.
Care and Grooming
Their long, fluffy hair attracts debris and dirt and must be brushed daily to keep clean and free from mats and tangles. They shed moderately year round, but they lose their entire under coats in the Spring and Fall. If they get brushed daily, these dogs should only need a bath every month or so. Otherwise, use a damp cloth to wipe away soiled areas and brush out debris as necessary.
Other regular care includes weekly ear inspections and teeth brushing. If the ears appear inflamed, irritated, or dirty, clean them with a vet-approved cleaner and cotton balls. See a vet if they appear infected. They need their toenails trimmed once a month if they don’t wear them down.
Newfoundlands don’t need daily runs, but they do need a couple of walks each day, and enjoy pulling a cart or wearing weighted backpacks. This helps burn off excess energy and gives the dog a purpose. They love to play in the snow, and they love to swim. They also enjoy competitive obedience, water trials, and carting competitions. An unexercised, bored Newfie can mean leave it with excess energy, which could translate into undesirable behaviours.
These giant dogs live to about 10 years on average, which is typical of most giant breeds. Some health concerns from which they suffer include callus dermatitis, bloat, dilated cardiomyopathy, cysteine urolithiasis, acquired depigmentation, patent ductus arteriosis, megaesophagus, cataracts, elbow and hip dysplasia, heat stroke, medial canthal pocket syndrome, eversion of the cartilage of the nictating membrane, ectopic ureters, subaortic stenosis, and entropion.
Suitability As A Pet
Because of their size, they are not recommended for a home with babies and toddlers, simply because as exuberant puppies they might knock them down and cause injury purely by accident. Otherwise, they are perfect companions for older children, and put up with a lot of abuse like being climbed on, hair being pulled, and general play by rambunctious children.
They make great watch dogs and are viewed as natural babysitters who will care for its charges.
They need plenty of exercise and hate being left alone all day, so people who are never home or who sit on the couch all day long should not adopt a Newfoundland.
Newfoundland Organisations in Australia
Newfoundland Club of NSW Inc
Newfoundland Organisations in the UK
The Newfoundland Dog Club UK
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