Newfoundland

Breed At A Glance

Classification
Working

Personality
Patient, dignified, devoted, does not adapt well to new homes

Life Expectancy
10-11 years

Average Height
Males 27-29 inches; Females 25-27 inches

Average Weight
Males 130-150 lbs; Females 100-120 lbs

Coat Color
black, black with blue highlights, chocolate, bronze, brown, gray, or Landseer (white with black markings)

Coat Length/Texture
Heavy, coarse, water resistant outer coat, with soft dense undercoat

Shedding Propensity
Seasonally heavy, twice per year

Also known as Newf, Newfie

General Temperament

The Newfoundland is often described as a gentle giant; their imposing stature contrasts dramatically with their benevolent nature. This dignified breed is a lovingly devoted family companion, obedient with their master and extremely patient and gentle with children. They are protective without being aggressive, typically choosing to position themselves between their masters and the perceived danger, rather than attack. They often become so attached to their humans that they have trouble adjusting to a new home. The humanitarian Newfoundland is often used in water rescue, for which it is particularly adept. They also excel in obedience, cart pulling and weight pulling trials.

As a sociable and affectionate breed, Newfoundlands are likely to get along with almost anyone they find non-threatening, including strangers and other pets. Some male dogs, however, may be slightly aggressive towards other males. They are intuitive and capable of perceiving danger, and will protect their family if necessary.

Training a Newfoundland can be somewhat difficult. They are very sensitive to vocal tones and will not respond well to harsh methods. Positive reinforcement and lots of affection are the best training tools. Early socialization and patient training are well worth it: an adequately-trained Newfie can become a beloved and irreplaceable member of the family.

Newfoundlands can be happy living in an apartment, but they can be lazy creatures if not given proper exercise outlets. Life near bodies of water or hiking trails is ideal for this breed. They enjoy being outdoors and are ideal companions for owners who possess the same love of nature.

Breed History

The Newfoundland, as one would guess, takes it’s name from the country in which it was developed. It is certain that the breed descends from one or more of the dogs brought to Newfoundland by fisherman, although exactly which breeds were included is somewhat of a mystery; the Great Pyrenees, Boarhound, St. John’s Water Dog, Mastiff, or even the Husky are all possibilities. With it’s heavy water-resistant coat, webbed feet, and massive stature, the Newfie was perfectly adapted to it’s life on the cold Canadian Island. This breed was used by local fishermen to carry boat lines to shore and haul nets, as well as retrieve anything that fell overboard, including drowning victims. Drafting and hauling were also among the dog’s strong suits, which were put to use pulling mail sheds, delivering milk, and hauling lumber and carrying other various loads. But perhaps their greatest achievement was in water rescue: a great number of people owe their lives to this breed.

The Newfoundland was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1979.

Body Structure and Composition

The Newfoundland has a massive body, which is emphasized by the breed’s thick and profuse coat. Their large, broad head includes a forehead and brow ridge that drop dramatically to a near right angle at the muzzle. The ears are small in comparison to the head, and are set at brow level on the sides of the skull. This breed has a level topline, strong and heavily-boned legs, and a deep chest for increased lung capacity during swims. Newfoundlands have webbed feet, which also aid in swimming. The tail is broad and strong at the base. An effortlessly powerful gait that gives this breed a good reach and maximum ground coverage with minimal steps.

The water-resistant coat of this breed can be classified into two different types: solid color or “landseer.” The landseer type is described as a white base with black markings. Solid colors can be predominantly black, brown or gray, with or without white markings on the chin, chest, toes, and tail.

Medical Information

As a large breed, it is no surprise that the Newfoundland is prone to Hip and Elbow Dysplasia. These conditions occur when the head of the bone no longer fits into the cup provided by the joint socket, resulting in lameness and arthritis-like symptoms. Responsible breeders will have their breeding stock certified by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) prior to producing a litter in order to minimize the spread of these diseases.

Another prevalent problem for the Newfie is a condition called Cysturnia. Cysturnia is so named for the amino acid cystine, which is caused to build up in excessive amounts due to the kidney’s inability to reabsorb it. The cystine then amasses into kidney or bladder stones. This disease affects the Newfoundland with much more frequency than any other dog breed.

Newfoundlands are also prone to certain cardiac problems, such as Sub-Aortic Stenosis (SAS). A narrowing of the outflow tract leading from the left ventricle to the aorta causes the heart muscle to work harder to get more blood through the smaller opening, resulting in an irregular heartbeat and lack of sufficient blood being pumped through the heart. Unfortunately, the most common symptom of SAS is sudden death. The good news is that heart screening is available for adults that are to be bred, and reputable breeders will be able to provide this information on a puppy’s parents prior to purchase. (Please note however that breeding stock who have been cleared for this disease can still produce it.)

Eye problems such as cataracts, Entropion (inward-turning eyelids), Ectropion (outward-turning eyelids), “Cherry Eye” and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) are also present in some Newfoundland lines. Cherry Eye describes a mass in the corner of the gland of the third eyelid, which is typically treated by removal of the gland. PRA causes a gradual degeneration of the retina, resulting in eventually blindness, usually starting with night vision. The Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) offers certification of breeding stock to help prevent the spread of many inherited canine eye diseases.

The massive Newfoundland is also prone to Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV), also know as bloat/torsion. Excess gas trapped in the dog’s stomach causes “bloat,” and twisting of the stomach (volvulus or “torsion”) causes or is caused by said excess gas. GDV is an emergency condition requiring immediate veterinary treatment. Feeding a Newfie two or three meals daily (instead of one large meal) and avoiding heavy exercise following meals may help to prevent GDV.

A daily (or at least weekly) brushing is recommended to help maintain the Newfoundland’s thick coat. Bathe this breed only when absolutely necessary to avoid stripping the coat of it’s essential natural oils. It’s also important to closely monitor a Newfie’s eating habits as they have a tendency to become obese. Potential owners should also note that the Newfoundland has a strong tendency to drool, particularly when drinking.

Anecdotal Information

In the 1911 play Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, the character of “Nana” (the Darling family pet) was a Newfoundland. (In the 1953 Disney film version, Nana was portrayed as a St. Bernard.)

English poet Lord Byron owned a Newfoundland who was the subject of his poem “Ode to a Dog.”

American Poet Emily Dickinson owned a Newfoundland named Carlo.

Former U.S. Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, and James Buchanon all owned Newfoundlands.

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