This is a giant breed that is part of the Working Group. They are commonly referred to as Newfs
or Newfies. Their average lifespan is 10 years with most Newfs living between 8 and 13 years.
There is some dispute about the origin of the Newfoundland breed. Everyone agrees that the
breed originated in Newfoundland.
There are three prevalent theories:
1. Vikings who visited Newfoundland around 1000 AD wrote accounts of large retrieving
dogs that worked side by side with the natives. The Vikings themselves brought large
black bear dogs that may have interbred with these indigenous dogs.
2. Some experts contend that the breed traces to the American Black Wolf or Tibetan
Mastiffs who are believed to have entered into North America from Asia.
3. Other experts believe that they are a mixture of 15th and 16th century English explorer’s
dogs. These breeds were likely Mastiffs, Pyrenean Sheep Dogs and Portuguese Water
The true origin of the breed may never be known.
The breed as we know it today was developed in England. The island of Newfoundland nearly
legislated the breed to extinction in 1780 by making it illegal to own more than one dog. Some
Newfoundlander’s ignored the decree, keeping the breed alive on the island, while some dogs
were shipped to the States where the breed became popular. In the 1920’s, a magnificient
speciman named Siki became the most famous show Newf in history. Most Newfoundlands in
the conformation ring today can trace their pedigree to Siki.
Newfoundlands were working dogs with an exceptionally heavy coat and webbed feet. They
worked the fishing nets, served as lifeguards, draught animals and pack animals. There are many
legends of Newfs that saved potential drowning victims by carrying lifelines to sinking ships.
Newfs served as ship dogs, “manning” the "dog walk" on sailing ships. A Newfoundland named
“Seaman” accompanied the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific Northwest. And the
children's "nurse" Nana in the original Peter Pan, was a Newfoundland.
Newfoundland males are up to 28 inches high while females are up to 26 inches. Males are 130
to 150 pounds and females are 100 to 120 pounds.
Their coats are either black, brown, grey or black on white. The black on white dogs are called
They are double coated with a soft, dense undercoat and a coarse, moderately long and straight
outer coat. They are physically well-suited to swimming, with webbed feet, a thick rudder-like
tail, water-resistant double coat and a powerful build, strength and stamina. They are strong
enough to pull a drowning man from rough seas and they make an imposing guard dog.
Newfs do not tolerate heat well and some are sensitive to anesthesia. Due to their already large
size, Newfs should not be allowed to get overweight. It can significantly shorten their lifespan.
There are three major health concerns:
1. SAS (Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis ) is a congenital heart problem
2. Cystinuria is a kidney disorder that can result in stones in the kidney and bladder. These
stones can cause serious illness.
3. Hip dysplasia is a disorder that affects how the top of the femur sits in the hip socket.
Breeders should have puppies hearts tested for SAS at 8 to 12 weeks of age. Both hip dysplasia
and cystinuria are easily detectable through standard tests.
Newfs have a tendancy to eyelid problems (entropion and ectropion), von Willibrand’s disease
(which may cause problems with bleeding), cataracts, ligament rupture and gastric torsion (or
Despite their size, Newf’s are known for their tranquil and benevolent personality. Their soft
expression matches their calm, patient, easygoing and amiable demeanour. They have been
called Nature’s Babysitter because they are so tolerant of children’s behaviour. In fact, the calm
nature of this breed was found to have an excellent effect on hyperactive children in a clinical
study done in the 1970’s. Newf’s are so tolerant that it’s important that the adult guardian
takes care that their children don’t injure the dog.
Newfoundlands are faithful guardians that have an instinct for water rescue. In the 1800's in
lifeguard stations around the coast of England, two Newfoundland dogs were a required part of
the lifesaving equipment. When a swimmer is in trouble but conscious, a Newf will swim out
beyond the person, then swim back towards shore or the shallow end of the pool, coming close
enough for the swimmer to grab some part of them so they can tow the swimmer to shore. If a
swimmer is unconscious, a Newf will grab the swimmer with its mouth, consistently taking the
upper arm in its jaws to tow them to safety. This particular hold causes the person to be rolled
onto his back with the head out of the water. When two Newfies are working a rescue they
instinctively each take a different arm.
What it’s like to live with a Newf?
Newf’s need daily exercise to stay healthy. They love to swim and pull (a common activity for
Newfs is carting). They are more active in cold weather. Some maintain that Landseers are more
active in general and need more exercise than solids.
The Newfoundland is a true family dog and does best when it has access to both the house and
the yard. Newf’s need a lot of space to stretch out in the house. They drool profusely, especially
in warmer weather, they are known as very messy drinkers and they shed a lot.
It is very typical for a Newf to stand between his family and a stranger. He won’t threaten or
growl but will remain in this “on duty” position until satisfied there is no threat. If his family is
physically threatened, he will not hesitate to act.
The Newf is intelligent enough to recognize dangerous situations. There are many documented
accounts of people being saved by the family Newfoundland from gas leak, fire, and other
dangers. They are protective of people around water and Newf’s have been known to not allow
people into the deep end of the swimming pool until they are satisfied that the person can swim
well enough to stay afloat in water that’s over their head. People with children and pools find
that the Newf watches the children every second they are in the water.
The full grown Newfoundland does not require a great deal of exercise. They can easily become
couch potatoes, but are delighted to join you for brisk daily walks or even more strenuous
pursuits. Regular exercise is key to good health.
Puppies grow quickly and tend to tire quickly. Moderate exercise is best until the Newf is full
During their first year, Newfoundlands grow from about a pound to over a hundred pounds.
They require plenty of high quality, well-balanced food to support their rapid growth. However,
it’s important not to overfeed puppies or health problems can ensue.
Once they reach adulthood they have a very low metabolism, and Newf owners find that their
dog eats less food than a Lab or a Shepherd.
The Newfoundland’s undercoat is typically shed twice per year. This is known as "blowing coat."
Most Newfs shed alot in the spring, while the fall shed is often less severe.
Grooming is extremely important during the shed. If the dead coat is not brushed out, mats will
form. During the spring shed, it is possible to brush out a pile of hair the same size as the dog.
During the rest of the year, their coat needs brushing at least twice per week to keep it glossy
and healthy, but ten minutes per day is preferable. It’s best to avoid too many baths as it tends
to strip too much of the natural oil from the coat.
Their nails should be kept short to protect the feet from splaying. This is particularly important
for a Newf, as their feet support a significant load.
Newfs are excellent companions, protectors, and babysitters. They have been bred to lifeguard,
retrieve, pull and carry. In addition to conformation and obedience showing, many Newfie
owners compete with their dogs in water trials, weight pulls, carting, travois and backpacking
What it’s like to train a Newf?
Newfs require a calm, but firm, confident and consistent trainer. They have an independent
streak and must be taught manners. They are very sensitive to tone of voice. Use treats and
praise as heavy-handed corrections tends to make them skittish and distrustful. Due to their
physical strength and power, hands on corrections that work with smaller breeds may be
ineffective. Dominance aggression is not a common issue in properly socialized dogs but some
males may be aggressive to other male dogs.
Because their huge body tends to move rather slowly on land, don’t expect lightening fast
responses. Newfoundlands live to please their guardians so coaching can be an effective training
approach for this breed. Females tend to be most willing to please while males can be a little
D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D. Encylopedia of Dog Breeds, 2nd Edition, Barron’s Educational Series, 2005
Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada, http://www.newfoundlanddogclub.ca
Sharon Hope, K9 Web – Newfoundlands, http://www.k9web.com/dog-
Ozzie Foreman, Dog Owner's Guide Profile: The
Dog Breed Info Center, Newfoundland (Newf) (Newfie),