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There are several theories about the origin of the Newfoundland, but the most generally accepted notion is that the Newfoundland is a close relative of the Labrador Retriever. Evidence for this belief is the fact that both breeds originated from the Newfoundland and Labrador coasts, as well there being strong similarities between the two breeds. This large, lumbering breed made a niche as a helper and partner of fisherman, hauling in nets, swimming in boat lines, and performing search and rescue of overboard and drowning victims. Newfoundlands were also used to pull cargo sleds, deliver goods, and carry packs.

NewfoundlandMost striking about the Newfoundland is the breeds natural affinity for and excellence in water rescue. As a result, many owe their lives to the heroism of the Newfoundland. In 1919 a gold medal was awarded to a Newfoundland that pulled a lifeboat filled with twenty shipwrecked people, safety. During World War II, Newfoundlands hauled supplies and ammunition for the Military in blizzard conditions in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.

Today, with safer ships and boats, as well as better communication and search and rescue technology, the Newfie’s role as a rescue dog has diminished. However, the breed’s passion for associated activities – swimming, hauling, pulling, etc – as is evidenced in its.

The Newfoundland is a giant dog with a large, wide head, wide muzzle, and large black nose. The ears are small, triangular and pendant, and the eyes small, almond shaped, and chestnut to dark brown. The feet are webbed for optimal swimming, and the tail that normally hangs downward is used as a rudder during swimming.

The long outer hair coat of the Newfoundland is straight and oily for water resistance, while the undercoat is similar but tends to be thicker and have a slight wave. The color is most commonly solid black, but some Newfies have white feet and a white spot on the center of the chest and sometimes on the end of the tail. Newfies are also known to come in brown, gray, or white with black markings.


Height: Males: 27-29 inches; Bitches 25-27.

Weight: Dogs 130-160 pounds; Bitches 100-120 pounds.

The hair coat should be brushed regularly to pull out shed undercoat. This is especially important to avoid matting during heavy shed periods of spring and fall. Bathing should be infrequent, avoided altogether is possible, as bathing tends to dry the coat out, which is intended to exist coated with natural oils.

Newfoundlands require moderate amounts of exercise. Special care should be taken to avoid overworking in warm or hot weather – this breed is very prone to overheating. During spring and summer months, it is important to have ample shade and cool water readily available for the dog. The Lord Bryon put it perfectly when referred to the Newfoundland as “Courage without ferocity.” Courage is clearly exemplified with the bravery the Newfoundland displays when rescuing people in danger, while being the first to put himself between an intruder and the family he loves with untiring devotion. A visitor with no ill-intentions, however, has nothing to fear from the Newfie, who would receive the friendliest of welcomes. A gentle giant, the Newfoundland is friendly but calm, and excellent and tolerant with small children and other animals.

Newfoundlands are very social animals and thrive in the company of people, making a family or single owner with a lot of free time to spend with the dog ideal. Huge but not very active indoors, they actually can do well in an apartment, provided that regular long walks are provided. Regardless of being a bit lumbering and slow, the Newfoundlands love of play makes a house with a yard. A pool is ideal for a Newfie, as they are passionate water dogs. While their immense size slows their movements on land, they are graceful and very effective swimmers.

Newfoundlands are prone to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, subarotic stenosis, and cranial cruciate ligament rupture. Therefore, If in the market for a Newfoundland puppy, it is a good idea to ask the breeder for documentation of pre-breeding screening for these diseases for the sire and bitch. Life expectancy is 9 – 11 years.


By: Roger L. Welton, DVM

Founder, Web-DVM

President Maybeck Animal Hospital

Author Canine and Feline 101

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