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Newfoundland Dog Breed Information

General Information:

Average Height: 26-28 in
Average Weight: 120-150 lbs
Average Life Span: 8-10 yrs
Coloring: Black or Brown; some white and grey markings allowed. In Landseer variety, the base coat is white with black markings
Area of Origin: Newfoundland, Canada
Similar Breeds: St. Bernard, Bernese Mountain Dog, Tibetan Mastiff, Labrador Retriever, Great Pyrenees, English Mastiff, Leonberger

History and Origin:

The Newfoundland dog’s ancestor was a mix between a Mastiff and the domesticated dogs of the indigenous people of Newfoundland Canada.  Their dogs were originally known as the St. John’s Dog.  When Mastiff dogs were brought over to Canada either by Viking traders in the ninth to tenth centuries, or by Portuguese fishermen in the seventeenth century, the resulted breeding with the local domesticated dogs helped to shape the lineage of today’s Newfoundland dogs. By the nineteenth century, two types of Newfoundlands were evident: the larger, heavier dog was used to carry nets, pull equipment, and rescue drowning fishermen, and a smaller water dog that would become the Labrador Retriever. While technology has eliminated the need for a utility working dog such as the Newfoundland, it remains popular as a search and rescue dog, and is known as the “St. Bernard of the water.”

Personality and Temperament:

The Newfoundland is a courageous, loving, and loyal breed, fantastic with children. Not an aggressive dog, it will willingly protect its family, frequently by using its massive size to pin an intruder down instead of attacking. It loves to swim, and will happily lie in water – no matter where it finds some! The Newfoundland is typically very friendly with other dogs, but early socialization and confident leadership will help insure that it matures into a calm and patient family companion. If confident, a first-time owner will do well with a Newfoundland.  Even though the dog is a gentle giant, a poorly-raised one can develop behavior problems.

Exercise & Training:

A fairly lazy breed, the Newfoundland’s primary goal in life is not to be constantly on the move. This being said, it needs a daily walk to keep it happy and healthy. Giving it opportunities to swim is ideal, as it is a water dog, and usually has a great desire to be in the water. If given ample exercise and mental stimulation, the Newfoundland is content to live in any size home. Even though the Newfoundland possesses low energy, it still excels at sports such as water trials, weight pulling, and backpacking. While fairly intelligent, it can be difficult to train at times, and is extremely sensitive to a human’s tone of voice. Calm, gentle, but firm leadership is needed to ensure the dog’s attention is on its owner at all times.


The Newfoundland’s double coat requires frequent brushing to keep it free of tangles and to remove dead hairs. The undercoat sheds out excessively during the spring and the fall, and extra care may be needed to ensure all of the loose hairs are eliminated. The Newfoundland’s coat contains essential oils that keep it clean and waterproof; only bathe when necessary to avoid damaging the fur and skin.

Similar Breeds:

The Newfoundland is a molosser, and as such is related to other Mastiff breeds. It is likely that the dogs brought over to Canada were direct descendants of the Tibetan Mastiff, and as such, the Newfoundland shares close relations to the St. Bernard, Great Pyrenees, and the Bernese Mountain Dog. Originally, the Labrador Retriever was simply a small Newfoundland, and still carries many of the larger dog’s characteristics today. The Newfoundland was also essential in the development of the German Leonberger.

Interesting Facts about the Newfoundland:

1. In the eighteenth century, the Newfoundland was introduced into St. Bernard breeding stock in order to revive the breed from extinction due to a distemper epidemic.

2. The Newfoundland is used in many water search and rescue teams internationally, including the Italian School of Water Rescue Dogs.

3. The Newfoundland was used in wartimes to haul supplies and artillery in cold climates; Newfoundlands have also performed extreme feats of bravery in war, such as Gander, the mascot of the Royal Rifles of Canada. At the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941, he carried a grenade away from his injured comrades, saving them but dying in the process. He was awarded the PDSA Dicken Medal for his actions in 2000.

Organizations dedicated to the Newfoundland:

Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada
Newfoundland Dog Club of America
Newfoundland Dog Rescue
NCNE (Newfoundland Club of New England) Rescue and Referral Service

Breed Information Newfoundland

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • John allan
    September 27, 2014, 4:53 pm

    A very informative report of the breed. It may be helpful to add in the down side of owning Newfies however so new owners understand the mess owning a Newfie can cause to their home. Drool/mud/hair and the like this only makes sure that the correct people own a Newfie. Also a be a good idea for average height for male and female dogs measured to the shoulder. A very small point though is not all Newfies like water so if someone does purchase a Newfie for the first time not to think there is something wrong with their dog if it does not like swimming. But all in all a very informative report.

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