The Newfoundland Dog



Description: If you ever saw a Newfoundland dog, you must have fallen in love with it. With its big size and sweet nature, it conquers everybody's heart.

Also called "the bear dog", the Newfie is literally as big as a bear cub. The breed was meant to be strong and well balanced, to help fishermen to bring ashore their boats, the filled nets or, most important, save drowning people. That’s why the Newfoundland dogs (called also “Terranova”) are working dogs, still used for work and not only as pets.

On the beach of the Italian city of Iesolo (near Venice), the rescue swimmers also have Newfoundland dogs in their team. Of course, they are the darlings of the tourists. I was there once, in a group of curious people who kept asking the master about the dog. All this while, in shallow water, a dad was teaching his one year old son to swim. The baby splashed a lot and had a good time. The Newfie kept warching them, on a "get ready" position. For him, all those splashes meant someone was drowning, and he was ready to save him.

When the child was finally out of water, the dog relaxed. He never got bored, nor disturbed, he didn’t as much as have a look at all the people around, admiring him. He was a dog on a mission! That’s why the Newfoundland dog is also called the Saint Bernard of the water.


Group: Working. Guard dog and water rescuer.

Physical characteristics:

Height: Dogs 27-29 inches (69-74 cm). Bitches 25-27 inches (63-69 cm)

Weight: Dogs 130-150 pounds (59-68 kg). Bitches 100-120 pounds (45-54 kg).


Temperament: The Newfoundland dogs are a very docile breed, well balanced, polite and gentle, this is why it's recommended for families with kids, even with the smallest ones.

The dog tends to get well both with people and other pets, and the naughty mice, the parrot and the cat of the family are perfectly secure when left home alone with the responsible Newfie.

The Newfoundland dog has a natural life-saving instinct that makes it the friendliest breed of all. They protect the owners and place themselves between them and any perceived danger.

They do not bark if not necessary, and the level of aggression is at minimum. This courageous breed is a delightful companion that will overwhelm you with its discreet way of loving. If the Newfoundland dogs have to change the owner, they will deeply suffer, and, even if polite with the new owners, their heart is broke forever.


Health: The breed is generally a healthy one. What working people have you heard complaining of all sort of ailments?

Because the Newfoundland dog tends to be inactive indoors, if overfed and insufficiently exercised, it might get fat and become prone to heart diseases.

The puppies should be checked for subaortic stenosys at the age of 8-12 weeks.

Even if it is a large breed, it does not have problems with the joints and hips (swimming is a good sport to prevent that, isn't it ?). As puppies, the Newfoundland dogs should not be over-exercised, in order to prevent joint problems. As well, when working, dietary supplements can be recommended, but for young puppies, they can do more harm than good.


Maintenance/Grooming: The Newfoundland dog has a heavy double coat, water resistant and meant to resist in the cold winters of Terra Nova Island. It has an dense undercoat, which tends to mat, even if the owner combs the top layer of the coat regularly. The matt rakes and a wide comb is a must. The grooming should start with the undercoat.

Before bathing, remove as much as possible the shed hairs from the undercoat. The operation should be repeated after the bath.

Taking into account the size of the dog, its working nature (in all sort of waters, from wetlands to salt waters) and the fact that it is a heavy shedder (mainly in spring and fall), you will understand that grooming a working dog like this, daily or at least twice a week, is not an easy task.


Training: This intelligent and resilient breed is easy to train if the trainer is well-balanced and relaxed. Otherwise, the Newfoundland dogs are very sensitive and will feel mistreated if the training is too harsh. But, with a firm loving and calm voice, they will do what you want, because they are very people-oriented. They do well in water trials, carting, weight pulling and back packing.


Breeding, puppies: The litters varies a lot in size, from 2 to 15 pups, with an average of 8. They grow rapidly, so giving them supplements is not a good idea.


Varieties: Generally black, but they can be also brown, gray and white and black. As well, the dog might be black with blue highlights, may have white on its chin, tail tip, chest and toes.


Famous dogs: The breed in itself is a legend. The literature mentions the heroic Newfoundland dogs of the Second World War that hauled supplies to the Armed Forces, and the real life heroes that have rescued people from their watery graves. As well, the canine literature mentions a Newfie who came ashore with a boat of 12 people from a shipwreck.

Nana, the family dog in Peter Pan, Boatswain - pet of Lord Byron.


For Newfoundland dog pictures, click here.

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