Everything You Need to Know About the Newfoundland Dog

Posted by TF Oren
Black Newfoundland Dog Summer Meadow. Outdoor Close Up Portrait

Known for its sweet temperament, the Newfoundland (affectionately called the Newfie, or Newf) is a true working dog.

The Newfoundland is as comfortable working on land as it is in the environment for which it was bred: the water. Today the 36th most popular dog breed in America, the Newfoundland was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1886.

There is some disagreement as to the Newfoundland’s ancestry. The Great Pyrenees, the Boarhound, and the Mastiff are among the possible contributors to the Newfoundland’s genetics, and some contend that Basque fisherman were responsible for bringing the Newfoundland’s ancestors to the Newfoundland coast. What is certain, though, is that the Newfoundland’s predecessors were brought to the island of Newfoundland by fishermen who came over from Europe, and that the modern day Newfoundland, as we know it, originated on its namesake island.

The Newfoundland was originally bred to help fishermen with all manner of water-related tasks, including water rescue. However, their capacity as working dogs isn’t limited to the water; to this day, Newfies are used as draft and pack animals in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Although they are known for their loyalty and intelligence, a sweet temperament is the defining characteristic of the Newfoundland. Relatively easy to train, the Newfie is a gentle giant with an inherent goodness and an affinity for children, traits that make him a wonderful family dog.

The Newfie’s size and strength also render him an able guard dog, although potential owners need to be aware of the challenges that come with owning a dog of such large proportions. Newfies live between 8-12 years and, like all dogs, require daily exercise.

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General Appearance

The Newfoundland is a true, multi-purpose working dog. Thick-coated, deep bodied, and heavily boned, the Newfoundland's physical appearance reflects his capacity for work in multiple environments. He is docile, but not dull, and his expression is soft. Whether he is at work on land or in the water, the Newfie carries himself proudly.

Body

Males stand about 28 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 130-150 pounds, while females stand about 26 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 100-120 pounds on average. Slightly longer than it is tall, the Newfoundland has a strong neck and a broad, level, muscular back.

The chest is deep and full. Shoulders are well muscled, as are the heavily boned forelegs. The dog’s hindquarters are likewise heavily boned and muscular. The feet are webbed and proportionate to the size of the body. The tail is broad at the base and follows the topline; it hangs straight or slightly curved when the dog is at rest.

Coat

The water-resistant coat is thick and heavy, appropriate to the Newfoundland’s original role as a working dog in a marine environment. The coat has two layers: the outer layer is long and coarse, while the inner layer is soft and dense. The American Kennel Club recognizes four coat colors: black, brown, gray, and white and black.

Head

The Newfie has a broad, massive skull and dark brown, deep-set, widely spaced eyes. Small triangular ears are set at, or slightly above, skull level and fall close to the head. The muzzle is broad and about as long as it is deep. The expression is benevolent and reflects the sweet disposition characteristic of the breed.

Temperament

A sweet temper is the hallmark of the breed. Loyal and intelligent, the docile Newfoundland is a fast learner, and with proper training and socialization does wonderfully with children and other pets.

Health

The Newfie is a relatively healthy dog. Potential health concerns include hip and elbow dysplasia, cardiac issues, and Cystinuria (a hereditary disorder that causes bladder stones).

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Everything You Need to Know About the Newfoundland Dog