Newfoundland (dog)

Newfoundland (dog)
A typical black Newfoundland
Nicknames Newf, Newfie, The Gentle Giant
Country of origin Canada / England
Weight Male 75–80 kg (157–176 lb)
Female 50–70 kg (110–154 lb)
Height Male 75 cm (30 in)
Female 68 cm (27 in)
Coat Thick and straight
Color Black, brown, black-and-white patches ("Landseer") and gray (the rarest)
Litter size 4–12 pups
Life span 8–13 years
Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)
A Newfoundland dog lying next to its combed-out seasonal undercoat.

The Newfoundland is a breed of large dog. Newfoundlands can be black, brown, gray, or black and white. They were originally bred and used as a working dog for fishermen in the Dominion of Newfoundland, now part of Canada. They are known for their giant size, tremendous strength, calm dispositions, and loyalty. Newfoundland dogs excel at water rescue/lifesaving due to their muscular build, thick double coat, webbed feet, and innate swimming abilities.[1]




Newfoundlands ('Newfs', 'Newfies') have webbed feet and a water-resistant coat.[2] Males weigh 60–70 (130–150 lb), and females 45–55 kg (100–120 lb), placing them in the "Giant" weight range. Some Newfoundland dogs have been known to weigh over 90 kg (200 lb). The largest Newfoundland on record weighed 120 kg (260 lbs) and measured over 6 feet from nose to tail, ranking it among the biggest Molossers. They may grow up to 22–28 inches tall at the shoulder.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) standard colors of the Newfoundland dogs are: black, brown, gray, and landseer (white dog with black markings) Other colors are not rare, and not recommended due to breeding double recessive genes; The Kennel Club (KC) permits only black, brown, and landseer; the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) permits are only black and landseer. Contrary to popular belief The Landseer is named after the artist Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, who featured them in many of his paintings. AKC, CKC, and KC all treat Landseer as part of the breed. Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) consider the ECT Landseer to be a separate breed; as do the AKC, and the CKC. It is a taller, more narrow white dog with black markings not bred with a Newfoundland.

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, which can be seen as a modified breaststroke. This gives it more power with every stroke.


The Newfoundland dog is legendary for its calm and docile nature and its strength.They are incredibly loyal and make incredible 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.[2][3][4] It typically has a deep bark, is easy to train if started young. It is exceptionally good with children, but due to 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 dog guardian in Peter Pan. The Newfoundland in general is good with other animals, but their size can create problems if not trained. Like all dogs, there are great examples.


Newfoundland Dog Stamp

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. This is a common heart defect in Newfoundlands involving defective heart valves. SAS can cause sudden death at an early age.


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

The Newfoundland shares many characteristics with other mastiffs, such as the St. Bernard and English mastiff, including short, stout legs, massive heads with very broad snouts, a thick bull neck, and a very sturdy bone structure. 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 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.[4] 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, including the Labrador Retriever. 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 greatest circus acts, traveling thoughout Europe. The circus dog was known as the "Thousand Guinea Dog Napoleon" or "Napoleon the Wonder Dog". [5][6]

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.[7]


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.[8]
  • 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 Dispatch.
  • In the early 20th century, a dog that is thought to have been a Newfoundland saved 92 people who were on a sinking ship in 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.
  • 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.[9]
  • Further evidence of Newfoundlands' ability to rescue or support life saving activities was cited in a recent article by the BBC.[10] 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 Canine Lifeguard.[1]


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

"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)

8-yr-old "Brandon"

Famous Newfoundlands

Statue of York and Seaman on Quality Hill in Kansas City, Missouri
  • Adam: Seaward's Blackbeard: 1984 Best in Show winner at the Westminster Dog Show
  • Boatswain: pet of English poet Lord Byron and the subject of his poem "Epitaph to a Dog"
  • Bilbo: lifeguard at Sennon cove beach in Cornwall
  • Brumus: Robert F. Kennedy's dog
  • Brutus: first dog to complete the Appalachian Mountain Club's "Winter 48", climbing all 48 peaks in one calendar winter
  • Carlo: Emily Dickinson's dog
  • Darbydale's All Rise Pouchcove (AKA Josh): 2004 Best in Show winner at the Westminster Dog Show
  • Faithful: First dog of President Ulysses S. Grant[11]
  • Frank: Unofficial mascot of the Orphan Brigade during the American Civil War[12]
  • Gander: the Mascot of the Royal Rifles of Canada who was killed in action at the Battle of Hong Kong when he carried a grenade away from wounded soldiers. For this he was awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal retroactively in 2000.[13]
  • Hairy Man: The dog who helped Ann Harvey and her father and brother rescue 163 people from a shipwreck.
  • Luath: Landseer Newfoundland pet of J. M. Barrie and the inspiration for "Nana", the Darling children's nurse in Peter Pan.
  • Pluto: pet of the Croatian operatic soprano Ilma de Murska, which used to dine at table with her and was trained to eat a cooked fowl from a place setting without dripping gravy on the tablecloth.[14] Pluto lived in the 1860s.
  • Rigel: pet of first officer William Murdoch aboard the RMS Titanic. Murdoch went down with the ship but Rigel swam for three hours next to a lifeboat until it was rescued by the RMS Carpathia. Rigel is renowned as a hero alerting the ship's captain of the weakened survivors before the ship hit them. Rigel was adopted by crewman Jonas Briggs.[15]
  • Robber: dog of Richard Wagner who accompanied him on his flight from his creditors from Riga on a fishing boat, which inspired the opera The Flying Dutchman.[16]
  • Russ: last dog of Richard Wagner, buried at the feet of his master in the composer's tomb in the park of Villa Wahnfried in Bayreuth, under his own plaque: "Here rests and watches Wagner's Russ."
  • Sable Chief: mascot of Royal Newfoundland Regiment
  • Swansea Jack: Famous Welsh rescue dog
  • Seaman: companion of explorer Meriwether Lewis
  • Bashaw: The Earl of Dudley's favourite dog, a sculpture by Matthew Cotes Wyatt can be seen at the Victoria and Albert museum in London

Famous fictional Newfoundlands

  • Carl: pet of Teddy Armstrong of Anne Of Windy Poplars, by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
  • Crusoe: main character of The Dog Crusoe and His Master (1860), by R.M. Ballantine.
  • Curly: a minor character in Jack London's Call of the Wild
  • Jakob: hero and one of the main characters in the 1977 Slovenian movie Sreca na vrvici
  • Lou: companion to Officers Mahoney and Shtulman in the 1985 movie Police Academy 2
  • Mother Teresa: major canine character in the movie Must Love Dogs
  • Nana: The 'nurse' dog of Wendy, John and Michael in J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan
  • Pilot: pet of Edward Fairfax Rochester in Charlotte Brontë's classic novel Jane Eyre (1847), first described in chapter 12
  • Pollux: pet of Lieutenant William Babbington in Patrick O'Brian's novel Desolation Island
  • Rollo: Effi and Geert Von Instetten's dog in Effi Briest, by Theodor Fontane.
  • Sirius: hero and companion of Maggie in Star in the Storm by Joan Hiatt Harlow
  • SONAR: The naval mascot, was “recruited” into the Canadian Forces Maritime Command in 2010 as part of the Canadian navy’s centennial celebrations.[17]
  • Tiger: companion of Arthur Gordon Pym in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, a novel by Edgar Allan Poe (1838)


  1. ^ a b "Bonewatch: The doggy lifeguards that leap from helicopters to save stranded swimmers". Daily Mail. August 27, 2010. Retrieved January 15, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Newfoundland Breed Standard The Kennel Club, 'Exceptionally gentle, docile nature' .. 'webbed' ... 'oily nature, water-resistant'
  3. ^ Newfoundland Breed Standard American Kennel Club, 'a sweet-dispositioned dog that acts neither dull nor ill-tempered' ... 'Sweetness of temperament'
  4. ^ a b CKC Breed Standards Canadian Kennel Club, 'The Newfoundlands? their 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'
  5. ^ Fifty years of a showman's life, or, The life and travels of Van Hare. [G Van Hare; McManus-Young Collection (Library of Congress)]
  6. ^ "East London Theatre Playbills UK". Retrieved 2011-11-14. 
  7. ^ "The Newfoundland Dog Club UK - Breed History". Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  8. ^ Shewmake, Tiffin. Canine Courage: the Heroism of Dogs. [Portage, MI]: PageFree Pub., 2002. pg. 75
  9. ^ "Guard Dogs: Newfoundlands' Lifesaving Past, Present". 2010-10-28. Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  10. ^ Beach rescue dog alerts swimmer, August 23, 2007, BBC.
  11. ^ "– first dogs – Retrieved November 15, 2007". Retrieved 2011-02-19. [dead link]
  12. ^ Lady Twylyte (1904-02-27). "Civil War Company Mascots". Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  13. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Roger Danielsen (1912-04-21). "Rigel on the Titanic". Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  17. ^ "SONAR". Retrieved 2011-02-19. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Newfoundland dog — Newfoundland New found*land (?, often ?), prop. n. 1. An island on the coast of British North America, famed for the fishing grounds in its vicinity. [1913 Webster] 2. A Newfoundland dog. Tennyson. [1913 Webster] {Newfoundland dog} (Zo[ o]l.), a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Newfoundland dog — noun a breed of very large heavy dogs with a thick coarse usually black coat; highly intelligent dogs and vigorous swimmers; developed in Newfoundland • Syn: ↑Newfoundland • Hypernyms: ↑dog, ↑domestic dog, ↑Canis familiaris * * * noun see …   Useful english dictionary

  • Newfoundland dog — n. breed of dog with a long straight back and a dense oily coat …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Newfoundland — usually refers to either: Newfoundland, the former name of Newfoundland and Labrador, a Canadian province in the eastern part of Canada Newfoundland (island), an island that forms part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador Newfoundland may …   Wikipedia

  • Newfoundland — New found*land (?, often ?), prop. n. 1. An island on the coast of British North America, famed for the fishing grounds in its vicinity. [1913 Webster] 2. A Newfoundland dog. Tennyson. [1913 Webster] {Newfoundland dog} (Zo[ o]l.), a breed of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Newfoundland — /nooh feuhn leuhnd, land , feuhnd , nyooh ; nooh fownd leuhnd, nyooh /, n. 1. a large island in E Canada. 42,734 sq. mi. (110,680 sq. km). 2. a province in E Canada, composed of Newfoundland island and Labrador. 557,725; 155,364 sq. mi. (402,390… …   Universalium

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  • Dog grooming — For other types of grooming see Groom A Newfoundland dog lying next to its combed out seasonal undercoat. Dog grooming refers to both the hygienic care and cleaning of a dog, as well as a process by which a dog s physical appearance is enhanced… …   Wikipedia

  • Newfoundland — n. (in full Newfoundland dog) 1 a dog of a very large breed with a thick coarse coat. 2 this breed. Etymology: the name of a Canadian province, an island at the mouth of the St Lawrence river …   Useful english dictionary

  • Dog Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador — Dog Bay was a small place in Fogo district in the late 1960s. Dog Cove 47°36′38″N 57°08′11″W / 47.61056°N 57.13639°W / 47.61056; 57.13639 was a locality northeast of Ramea …   Wikipedia

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