If you could cross a dog with a mermaid, you'd probably get the Newfoundland. Their fans call them Newfs or Newfies. But whatever you call them, it's clear these dogs were born to be on the water. This enduring, majestic breed makes for great swimmers: their strong tails act like a rudder while they're swimming and their feet are fully webbed like a duck's! It's no surprise then that many Newfoundlands work in water rescue — they're strong and hardy enough to break through ice and withstand frigid water temperatures.
Nana, the canine nanny in J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, was a Newfoundland, but we can't hold her responsible for Wendy, John, and Michael's trip to Neverland. After all, she was bred to swim, not fly!
Originally from the Newfoundland Province in Canada, this large-sized and medium-energy breed can grow to between 100-150 pounds and lives an average of 8-10 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Working group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Water Rescue
Breed Group: Working
Average Lifespan: 8-10 years
Size: Extra Large
Bark Factor: Moderate
AKC RANKING 46
FAMILY livestock dog, sheepdog, mastiff
AREA OF ORIGIN Canada
DATE OF ORIGIN 1700s
ORIGINAL FUNCTION all-purpose water dog and fishing aid, draft
TODAY'S FUNCTION water rescue
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 28 Weight: 130-150
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 26 Weight: 100-120
OTHER NAME none
Energy level Low energy
Exercise needs Low
Playfullness Moderately playful
Affection level Very affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Very friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Very friendly
Ease of training Moderately easy to train
Watchdog ability Medium
Protection ability Very protective
Grooming needs Moderate maintenance
Cold tolerance High tolerance
Heat tolerance Low tolerance
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A NEWFOUNDLAND'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
There's just so much to love with a Newfoundland. They are devoted, sweet, patient, and affectionate. These loving dogs have a go-with-the-flow demeanour and are often great with kids. Strangers—whether human, canine, or other—are simply friends your Newfie hasn't met yet.
WHAT IS NEWFOUNDLAND BEHAVIOR LIKE?
Newfoundlands can be a protective breed, especially toward children. They are somewhat active and will enjoy long romps and space to explore. They also excel in dog sports, including agility, tracking, drafting, conformation, carting, obedience, and—of course—water tests.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A NEWFOUNDLAND?
Newfoundlands are a very trainable breed — you could say these dogs are teacher's pets. This breed learns quickly and is eager to please. Be gentle with this sensitive soul. She'll respond very well to food rewards.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO NEWFOUNDLANDS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
A Newfoundland's double coat is durable and water resistant, with a fine, soft undercoat and long outer coat. Newfs are heavy, seasonal shedders. All that hair will need regular brushing. You also might want to keep a pet-safe wet nap or towel to hand to deal with the slobber.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO NEWFOUNDLANDS HAVE?
This is a fairly sturdy breed. Some of these dogs are prone to heart disease and hip dysplasia; others suffer from kidney stones.
Feeding your baby Newfoundland a growth food for large-breed puppies will slow their rate of growth but not diminish their adult stature which may help prevent or reduce the impact of adult-onset hip dysplasia. Some adult Newfies tend toward pudginess, so be mindful about meals and snacks.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE NEWFOUNDLANDS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Newfoundlands among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and allergy-aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, so they produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as massive as a Newfoundland! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT IS A NEWFOUNDLAND'S BEST DAY?
Whatever else happens, this dog wants to be in or on the water, preferably playing with any children she's decided are hers.
SHOULD I ADOPT A NEWFOUNDLAND?
There are a few things to keep in mind when you're considering whether to bring a Newfoundland home. These are great cold-weather dogs, but they wilt in the heat. If you're living in Arizona, you should probably find another dog to love unless you live in a giant, highly air-conditioned mansion with several pools. And if you're a particularly fastidious housekeeper, they're not a great choice. Newfoundlands are long distance droolers — unless you've seen them in action, you might not appreciate just how big this dog's “splash zone” is. They also shed a fair amount. But for folks who want a big, loyal, smart dog who will love joining your kids as they learn to swim, you can't do better than a Newfoundland.
Have you decided that a Newfoundland is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.