Everything You Need to Know About the Newfoundland Dog

Posted by TF Oren

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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.

While you research the Newfoundland puppy you should also be aware of any potential health conditions. This large breed has some recommended tests which should be discussed with breeders.

The American Kennel Club tells us that the recommended health tests from the National Breed Club are:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam
  • Cystinuria DNA Test

"Responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as elbow and hip dysplasia, cardiac disease, gastric torsion and cystinuria, which can cause stones to form in the urinary system."

They have a heavy, double coat that requires grooming.

There are many resources if you're interested in the Newfoundland dog including The Newfoundland Club of America, and Newfoundland breed rescue groups.

With all this in mind, these big dogs are excellent working dogs but they are off the charts when it comes to their affection level and are great family dogs.

Do you love giant breeds? Don't forget that the breed was memorialized in "Nana", the beloved guardian dog in J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan.

Hover over the image for more information.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).

Do you have a Newfie? Show us in the comments below!

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Everything You Need to Know About the Newfoundland Dog