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Newfoundland (dog)

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Title: Newfoundland (dog)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Working Group (dogs), United States presidential pets, List of individual dogs, Dog grooming, Epitaph to a Dog
Collection: Dog Breeds, Dog Breeds Originating in Canada, Lifesaving, Molossers, Mountain Dogs, Working Dogs
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Newfoundland (dog)

A typical black Newfoundland
Nicknames Newf, Newfie, The Gentle Giant
Country of origin Newfoundland / England
Weight Male 60–70 kg (132–154 lb)
Female 45–55 kg (100–121 lb)
Height Male 75 cm (30 in)
Female 68 cm (27 in)
Coat Thick and straight
Color Black, brown, beige, black-and-white patches ("Landseer") and gray (the rarest)
Litter size 4–12 pups
Life span 8–10 years [1]
Notes Provincial mammal of Newfoundland
Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Newfoundland is a working dog. Newfoundlands can be black, brown, white and black (called Landseer) or gray. However, in Canada, the country of their origin, the only correct colours are black (including black with white markings) and white and black (Landseer). [1] They were originally bred and used as a working dog for fishermen in the Dominion of Newfoundland (which is now part of Canada).[2][3] They are known for their giant size, intelligence, tremendous strength, calm dispositions, and loyalty. Newfoundland dogs excel at water rescue/lifesaving because of their muscular build, thick double coat, webbed feet, and innate swimming abilities.[4]


  • Description 1
    • Appearance 1.1
    • Temperament 1.2
  • Health 2
  • History 3
    • Rescues 3.1
  • Famous Newfoundlands 4
  • Famous fictional Newfoundlands 5
  • Quotations 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9


A brown Newfoundland dog


The Newfoundlands ('Newfs' or 'Newfies') have webbed feet and a water-resistant coat.[5] Males normally weigh 60–70 kg (130–150 lb), and females 45–55 kg (100–120 lb), placing them in the "Giant" weight range but some Newfoundland dogs have been known to weigh over 90 kg (200 lb) - and the largest on record weighed 120 kg (260 lbs) and measured over 6 feet (1.82 m) from nose to tail, ranking it among the biggest Molossers. They may grow up to 22–30 inches (55–71 cm) tall at the shoulder.[6]

The American Kennel Club (AKC) standard colors of the Newfoundland dogs are: black, brown, grey and white and black (sometimes referred to as Landseer). Other colors are possible, but are not considered "rare" or more valuable; The Kennel Club (KC) permits only black, grey, brown, and white/black; while the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) permits only black and white/black. The "Landseer" pattern is named after the artist Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, who featured them in many of his paintings. Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) consider the ECT Landseer ("European Continental Type") to be a separate breed. It is a taller, more narrow white dog with black markings not bred with a Newfoundland.[6]

Newfoundland dogs are well known for their even temperament and stoic nature.

The Newfoundland's extremely large bones give it mass, while its large musculature gives it the power it needs to take on rough ocean waves and powerful tides. These dogs have great lung capacity for swimming extremely long distances, and a thick, oily and waterproof double coat which protects them from the chill of icy waters. The droopy lips and jowls make the dog drool. In the water, the dog's massive webbed paws give it maximum propulsion. The swimming stroke is not an ordinary dog paddle. Unlike other dogs, the Newfoundland moves its limbs in a down-and-out motion. This gives it more power with every stroke.


The Newfoundland dog is known for its calm and docile nature and its strength. They are highly loyal and make ideal working dogs. It is for this reason that this breed is known as "the gentle giant". International kennel clubs generally describe the breed as having a sweet temper.[5][7][8] It typically has a deep bark, and is easy to train if started young. They are wonderfully good with children, but because of their size at a very young age, small children could get accidentally leaned on and knocked down. The breed was memorialized in "Nana", the beloved guardian dog in Peter Pan book by J.M. Barrie.[upper-alpha 1] The Newfoundland in general is good with other animals, but their size can create problems if not trained.


A Newfoundland dog lying next to its combed-out seasonal undercoat.

There are several health problems associated with Newfoundlands. Newfoundlands are prone to hip dysplasia (a malformed ball and socket in the hip joint). They also get Elbow dysplasia, and cystinuria (a hereditary defect that forms calculi stones in the bladder). Another genetic problem is subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS). This is a common heart defect in Newfoundlands involving defective heart valves. SAS can cause sudden death at an early age. It is common that "Newfs" live to be 8 to 10 years of age; 10 years is a commonly cited life expectancy.[9]


Many tales have been told of the courage displayed by Newfoundlands in adventuring and lifesaving exploits.

The Newfoundland shares many traits with other mastiffs, such as the St. Bernard and English mastiff, including stout legs, massive heads with very broad snouts, a thick bull neck, and a very sturdy bone structure.[10] In fact, many St. Bernard Dogs have Newfoundland Dog ancestry. Newfoundlands were brought and introduced to the St. Bernard breed in the 18th century when the population was threatened by an epidemic of distemper. They share many characteristics of many mountain dog breeds such as the Great Pyrenees.

The Newfoundland breed originated in Newfoundland, and is descended from a breed indigenous to the island known as the lesser Newfoundland, or St. John's Dog. The mastiff characteristics of the Newfoundland are likely a result of breeding with Portuguese Mastiffs brought to the island by Portuguese fishermen beginning in the 16th century.

The speculation that Newfoundlands may be partly descended from big black bear dogs introduced by the Vikings in 1001 A.D.[8] is based more in romance than in fact.

By the time colonization was permitted in Newfoundland in 1610, the distinct physical characteristics and mental attributes had been established in the Newfoundland breed. In the early 1880s, fishermen and explorers from Ireland and England traveled to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, where they described two main types of working dog. One was heavily built, large with a longish coat, and the other medium-sized in build – an active, smooth-coated water dog. The heavier breed was known as the Greater Newfoundland, or Newfoundland. The smaller breed was known as the Lesser Newfoundland, or St. John's Dog. The St. John's Dog became the founding breed of the modern retrievers. Both breeds were used as working dogs to pull fish nets, with the Greater Newfoundland also being used to haul carts and other equipment.

Because of that, they were part of the foundation stock of the Leonberger (which excelled at water rescue and was imported by the Canadian government for that purpose); and the now extinct Moscow Water Dog, a failed attempt at creating a lifesaving dog by the Russian state kennel—the unfortunate outcross with the Caucasian Ovcharka begat a biting and not a rescuing dog.

Many tales have been told of the courage displayed by Newfoundlands in adventuring and lifesaving exploits. Over the last two centuries, this has inspired a number of artists, who have portrayed the dogs in paint, stone, bronze and porcelain. One famous Newfoundland was a dog named Seaman, who accompanied American explorers Lewis and Clark on their expedition.

The breed's working role was varied and another famous all black Newfoundland performed as the star attraction in Van Hare's Magic Circus from 1862 and for many years thereafter in one England's founding circus acts, traveling throughout Europe. The circus dog was known as the "Thousand Guinea Dog Napoleon" or "Napoleon the Wonder Dog". Van Hare trained other Newfoundland dogs to perform a steeplechase routine, with baboons dressed up as jockeys to ride them. Nonetheless, his "wizard dog" Napoleon was his favorite and would compete at jumping against human rivals, leaping over horses from a springboard, and dancing to music.[11][12]

The breed prospered in the United Kingdom, until 1914 and again in 1939, when its numbers were almost fatally depleted by wartime restrictions. Since the 1950s there has been a steady increase in numbers and popularity, despite the fact that the Newfoundland's great size and fondness for mud and water makes it unsuitable as a pet for many households.[13]


Many Newfoundlands are known to drool in excess, especially in warmer climates or on hot days.

During the Discovery Channel's second day of coverage of the AKC Eukanuba National Championship on December 3, 2006, anchor Bob Goen reported that Newfoundlands exhibit a very strong propensity to rescue people from water. Goen stated that one Newfoundland alone once aided the rescue of 63 shipwrecked sailors. Today, kennel clubs across the United States host Newfoundland Rescue Demonstrations, as well as offering classes in the field.

  • An unnamed Newfoundland is credited for saving Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815. During his famous escape from exile on the island of Elba, rough seas knocked Napoleon overboard. A fisherman's dog jumped into the sea, and kept Napoleon afloat until he could reach safety.[14]
  • In 1828, Ann Harvey of Isle aux Morts, her father, her brother, and a Newfoundland Dog named Hairyman saved over 160 Irish immigrants from the wreck of the brig Despatch.
  • In 1881 in Melbourne, Australia, a Newfoundland named Nelson helped rescue Thomas Brown, a cab driver who was swept away by flood waters in Swanston Street on the night of 15 November. While little is known about what became of Nelson, a copper dog collar engraved with his name has survived and 130 years after the rescue it was acquired by the National Museum of Australia and is now part of the National Historical Collection.[15]
  • In the early 20th century, a dog that is thought to have been a Newfoundland saved 92 people who were on the SS Ethie which was wrecked off of the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland during a blizzard. The dog retrieved a rope thrown out into the turbulent waters by those on deck, and brought the rope to shore to people waiting on the beach. A breeches buoy was attached to the rope, and all those aboard the ship were able to get across to the shore including an infant in a mailbag. Wreckage of the ship can still be seen in Gros Morne National Park. E. J. Pratt's poem, Carlo, in the November 1920 issue of The Canadian Forum commemorates this dog.
A Newfoundland puppy
  • In 1995, a 10-month old Newfoundland named Boo saved a hearing-impaired man from drowning in the Yuba River in Northern California. The man fell into the river while dredging for gold. Boo noticed the struggling man as he and his owner were walking along the river. The Newfoundland instinctively dove into the river, took the drowning man by the arm, and brought him to safety. According to Janice Anderson, the Newfoundland’s breeder, Boo had received no formal training in water rescue.[16]

Further evidence of Newfoundlands' ability to rescue or support life saving activities was cited in a recent article by the BBC.[17] The breed continues in that role today, along with the Leonberger, Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever dogs; they are used at the Italian School of Water Rescue Dogs, Scuola Italiana Cani Salvataggio, SICS, founded by Ferruccio Pilenga.[4]

Famous Newfoundlands

Statue of York and Seaman on Quality Hill in Kansas City, Missouri
Newfoundland Dog Stamp

Famous fictional Newfoundlands


"The man they had got now was a jolly, light-hearted, thick-headed sort of a chap, with about as much sensitiveness in him as there might be in a Newfoundland puppy. You might look daggers at him for an hour and he would not notice it, and it would not trouble him if he did." Jerome K. Jerome Three Men in a Boat

"Newfoundland dogs are good to save children from drowning, but you must have a pond of water handy and a child, or else there will be no profit in boarding a Newfoundland." Josh Billings

"A man is not a good man to me because he will feed me if I should be starving, or warm me if I should be freezing, or pull me out of a ditch if I should ever fall into one. I can find you a Newfoundland dog that will do as much." Henry David Thoreau Walden

"Near this spot are deposited the remains of one who possessed Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, and all the Virtues of Man, without his Vices. This Praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery if inscribed over human ashes, is but a just tribute to the Memory of Boatswain, a Dog." George Gordon, Lord Byron, Epitaph to a Dog.

"That boat, Rover by name, which, though now in strange seas, had often pressed the beach of Captain Delano's home, and, brought to its threshold for repairs, had familiarly lain there, as a Newfoundland dog; the sight of that household boat evoked a thousand trustful associations..." Herman Melville Benito Cereno

"Your fatuous specialist is now beginning to rebuke "secondrate" newspapers for using such phrases as "to suddenly go" and "to boldly say". I ask you, Sir, to put this man out without interfering with his perfect freedom of choice between "to suddenly go", to go suddenly" and "suddenly to go". Set him adrift and try an intelligent Newfoundland dog in his place." George Bernard Shaw, letter to the Chronicle newspaper (1892)


  1. ^ However, in the animated  
  1. ^
  2. ^ John Henry Walsh (1878). The dogs of the British Islands: being a series of articles on the points of their various breeds, and the treatment of the diseases to which they are subject. "The Field" Office. p. 173. 
  3. ^ William Jardine, Charles Hamilton Smith (1 January 1999). The Naturalist's Library: Mammalia, Dogs. p. 132.  
  4. ^ a b "Bonewatch: The doggy lifeguards that leap from helicopters to save stranded swimmers".  
  5. ^ a b Newfoundland Breed Standard The Kennel Club, 'Exceptionally gentle, docile nature' .. 'webbed' ... 'oily nature, water-resistant'
  6. ^ a b American Kennel Club (31 January 2006). The complete dog book. Random House Digital, Inc. pp. 349–350.  
  7. ^ Newfoundland Breed Standard American Kennel Club, 'a sweet-dispositioned dog that acts neither dull nor ill-tempered' ... 'Sweetness of temperament'
  8. ^ a b CKC Breed Standards Canadian Kennel Club, 'The Newfoundland's expression is soft and reflects the character of the breed—benevolent, intelligent, dignified but capable of fun. He is known for his sterling gentleness and serenity.'
  9. ^ Cassidy, Kelly M. (February 1, 2008). "Breed Longevity Data". Dog Longevity. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  10. ^ Dan Rice (1 March 2001). Big dog breeds. Barron's Educational Series. p. 220.  
  11. ^ Fifty years of a showman's life, or, The life and travels of Van Hare. [G Van Hare; McManus-Young Collection (Library of Congress)]
  12. ^ "East London Theatre Playbills UK". Retrieved 2011-11-14. 
  13. ^ "The Newfoundland Dog Club UK - Breed History". Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  14. ^ Shewmake, Tiffin. Canine Courage: the Heroism of Dogs. [Portage, MI]: PageFree Pub., 2002. pg. 75
  15. ^ "Nelson the Newfoundland's dog collar, National Museum of Australia". 2011-12-05. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  16. ^ "Guard Dogs: Newfoundlands' Lifesaving Past, Present". 2010-10-28. Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  17. ^ Beach rescue dog alerts swimmer, August 23, 2007, BBC.
  18. ^ "– first dogs – Retrieved November 15, 2007". Archived from the original on 29 Dec 2008. Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  19. ^ Lady Twylyte (1904-02-27). "Civil War Company Mascots". Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  20. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  21. ^
  22. ^
  24. ^ Roger Danielsen (1912-04-21). "Rigel on the Titanic". Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  25. ^ "SONAR". Retrieved 2011-02-19. 

Further reading

  • Kosloff, Joanna (2006). Newfoundlands: Everything about Purchase, Care, Nutrition, Diseases, Breeding, Behavior, and Training. Hauppauge, NY: Barron's Educational Series.  

External links

  • Newfoundland at DMOZ
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