Newfoundland Dog
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Newfoundland Dog
Newfoundland dog Smoky.jpg
Newfoundland dog
OriginNewfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Weight Male 65-80 kg (143-176 lb)[1]
Female 55-65 kg (121-143 lb)[1]
Height Male 71 cm (28 in)[1]
Female 66 cm (26 in)[1]
Coat Thick and straight
Colour Black, white with black patches ("Landseer"), brown (not in Canadian standard), and grey (only US, not recognized by other standards)
Litter size 4-12 pups
Life span 8-10 years [1]
Classification / standards
FCI Group 2, Section 2.2 Molossian: Mountain type #50 standard
AKC Working Group standard
ANKC Group 6 (Utility) standard
CKC Group 3 standard
KC (UK) Working standard
NZKC Utility standard
UKC Guardian Dog standard
NotesProvincial mammal of Newfoundland
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Newfoundland dog is a large working dog. They can be either black, brown, or white-and-black (called Landseer). However, in the Dominion of Newfoundland, before it became part of the confederation of Canada, only black and Landseer coloured dogs were considered to be proper members of the breed.[2] They were originally bred and used as working dogs for fishermen in Newfoundland.[3][4] Newfoundland dogs are known for their giant size, intelligence, tremendous strength, calm dispositions, and loyalty. They excel at water rescue/lifesaving because of their muscular build, thick double coat, webbed feet, and swimming abilities.[5]


A brown Newfoundland dog


The Newfoundlands ('Newfs' or 'Newfies') have webbed feet and a water-resistant coat.[6] Males normally weigh 65-80 kg (143-176 lb), and females 55-65 kg (121-143 lb), placing them in the "Giant" weight range; but some Newfoundland dogs have been known to weigh over 90 kg (200 lb) - and the largest on record weighed 120 kg (260 lb) and measured over 1.8 m (6 ft) from nose to tail, ranking it among the largest of dog breeds. They may grow up to 56-76 cm (22-30 in) tall at the shoulder.[7]

The American Kennel Club (AKC) standard colours of the Newfoundland dogs are black, brown, grey, and white-and-black (sometimes referred to as Landseer). Other colours are possible but are not considered rare or more valuable. The Kennel Club (KC) permits only black, brown, and white/black; the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) permits only black and white/black. The "Landseer" pattern is named after the artist, Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, who featured them in many of his paintings. Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) consider the ECT Landseer ("European Continental Type") to be a separate breed. It is a taller, more narrow white dog with black markings not bred with a Newfoundland.[7]

Newfoundland dogs are well known for their even temperament and stoic nature.
Newfoundland dogs typically have dark brown eyes, but lighter eye colors are common for the brown or grey coated.

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 huge lung capacity for swimming extremely long distances and a thick, oily, and waterproof double coat which protects them from the chill of icy waters.[8] The double coat makes the dog hard to groom, and also causes a lot of shedding to occur. The droopy lips and jowls make the dog drool, especially in high heat.

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 giving more power to every stroke.


The Newfoundland dog is known for its calm and docile nature and its strength. They are highly loyal and make ideal 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.[6][9][10] It typically has a deep bark and is easy to train if started young. They are wonderfully good with children, but small children can get accidentally leaned on and knocked down. Newfoundlands are ideal companions in the world of therapy and are often referred to as the nanny dog. The breed was memorialized in "Nana", the beloved guardian dog in J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan.[A] The Newfoundland, in general, is good with other animals, but its size can cause problems if it is not trained.

A Newfoundland's good, sweet nature is so important, it is listed in the Breed Standards of many countries; dogs exhibiting poor temperament or aggression are disqualified from showing and should never be used to breed. The breed standard in the United States reads that "Sweetness of temperament is the hallmark of the Newfoundland; this is the most important single characteristic of the breed."[11]


A Newfoundland dog lying next to its combed-out seasonal undercoat.

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 (SAS). This is a common heart defect in Newfoundlands involving defective heart valves. SAS can cause sudden death at an early age. It is similar to having a heart attack. It is common that "Newfs" live to be 8 to 10 years of age; 10 years is a commonly cited life expectancy.[12] But, Newfoundlands can live up to 15 years old.[13]


Many tales have been told of the courage displayed by Newfoundlands in adventuring and lifesaving exploits.
Newfoundland river rescue unit's dog in action

The Newfoundland shares many physical traits with Mastiffs and Molosser type dogs, such as the St. Bernard and English Mastiff, including stout legs, massive heads with very broad snouts, a thick bull neck, and a very sturdy bone structure.[14] Many St. Bernard Dogs have Newfoundland Dog in their 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 on Newfoundland, and is descended from a breed indigenous to the island known as the lesser Newfoundland, or St. John's dog. DNA analysis confirms that Newfoundlands are closely related to other Canadian retrievers, including the Labrador, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Golden Retrievers, and Flat Coated Retrievers.[15] The Molosser-like appearance of the Newfoundland are a result of an introduction of Mastiff blood,[15] possibly from breeding with Portuguese Mastiffs brought to the island by Portuguese fishermen beginning in the 16th century.

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. Both breeds were used as working dogs to pull fishnets, 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 dog more adept at biting than rescuing.

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. 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 of England's founding circus acts, traveling throughout Europe. The circus dog was known as the "Thousand Guinea Dog Napoleon" or "Napoleon the Wonder Dog." The circus owner, G. Van Hare, trained other Newfoundland dogs to perform a steeplechase routine with baboons dressed up as jockeys to ride them. Nonetheless, his "wizard dog" Napoleon was his favorite and held a special position in the Magic Circus. Napoleon would compete at jumping against human rivals, leaping over horses from a springboard, and dancing to music.[16][17]

Napoleon the Wonder Dog became a wildly popular act in London from his debut at the Pavilion Theatre on April 4, 1862, and onward until his untimely death many years later when he slipped and fell during a circus practice session. At the peak of his fame, his performance was described in London's Illustrated Sporting News and Theatrical and Musical Review as follows: "Synopsis of his entertainment:-- He spells his own name with letters' also that of the Prince of Wales; and when he is asked what he would say of her Most Gracious Majesty, he puts down letters to form "God save the Queen." He plays any gentleman a game of cards and performs the celebrated three-card trick upon which his master backs him at 100 to 1. Also "The Disappearance," a la Robin. He performs in a circus the same as a trick horse, en liberté, giving the Spanish trot to music, also leaping over bars, through balloons, with numerous other tricks of a most interesting character." [18]

When Napoleon the Wonder Dog died, as a result of a circus accident at the age of 11 years old, his passing was announced in a number of British newspapers, including the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, which mentioned the loss on May 5, 1868, as follows: "DEATH OF A CELEBRATED FOUR-FOOTED ARTISTE. -- Mr. Van Hare's renowned dog, Napoleon, designated 'The Wizard Dog,' died on 24th ult., aged twelve years. He was a noble specimen of the Newfoundland breed (weighing near 200 lbs.) for which he took the prize at the first Agricultural Hall Dog Show. Besides his magnificent appearance and symmetry, he was the most extraordinary sagacious and highly-trained animal ever known. He is now being preserved and beautifully mounted by the celebrated naturalist, Mr. Edwin Ward. -- Era."[19]

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.[20]

William Withering, famous for his book on the use of Dropsy published in 1785, lived at Edgbaston Hall, Birmingham between 1786 and 1799. While there, he bred Newfoundland Dogs. There is very little else on his experiments with these dogs. His daughter Charlotte married a Beriah Botfield and they had a painting in Norton Hall by Samuel Cox of Daventry painted about 1830-1840 called "Portrait of Lion, a Newfoundland Dog, and Juba, a Pug Dog of Mrs. Botfield's. This hung in the north front of Norton Hall. This painting would have been made around the same time that Landseer painted his portrait of Lion, the Newfoundland Dog. (See 'Catalogue of Pictures in the possession of Beriah Botfield Norton Hall' published in London in 1848.


Many Newfoundlands are known to drool in excess, especially in warmer climates or on hot days.
An 8-week Newfoundland puppy

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. Many harbor boat tours in St. John's have a dog on board for local charm as well as for passenger safety.

  • 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.[21]
  • 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 Despatch.
  • In 1881 in Melbourne, Australia, a Newfoundland named Nelson helped rescue Thomas Brown, a cab driver who was swept away by flood waters in Swanston Street on the night of 15 November. While little is known about what became of Nelson, a copper dog collar engraved with his name has survived and 130 years after the rescue it was acquired by the National Museum of Australia and is now part of the National Historical Collection.[22]
  • In the early 20th century, a dog that is thought to have been a Newfoundland saved 92 people who were on the SS Ethie which was wrecked off of the Northern Peninsula of 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 including an infant in a mailbag. Wreckage of the ship can still be seen in Gros Morne National Park. E. J. Pratt's poem "Carlo", in the November 1920 issue of The Canadian Forum, commemorates this dog.
  • 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.[23]

Further evidence of Newfoundlands' ability to rescue or support life-saving activities was cited in a recent article by the BBC.[24] 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 Water Rescue Dogs, Scuola Italiana Cani Salvataggio, SICS, founded by Ferruccio Pilenga.[5]

Famous Newfoundlands

Napoleon the Wonder Dog with his Master, G. Van Hare, performing in Van Hare's Magic Circus, London, 1862.

Famous fictional Newfoundlands

Newfoundland Dog Stamp


The classic "Landseer" markings of the breed relate to paintings like this by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer: Lion: A Newfoundland Dog, 1824. Some people believe that markings such as this are indicative of a separate breed known as the Landseer in his honor.

"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)




  1. ^ Used as a nanny by the Darling family, Nana does not speak or do anything beyond the physical capabilities of a large dog, but acts with apparent understanding of her responsibilities. The character is played in stage productions by an actor in a dog costume. Barrie based the character of Nana on his dog Luath, a Newfoundland. However, in the animated Peter Pan Disney film, Nana was depicted as a St. Bernard. "Nana". neverpedia. Retrieved 2014.
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  3. ^ John Henry Walsh (1878). The dogs of the British Islands: being a series of articles on the points of their various breeds, and the treatment of the diseases to which they are subject. "The Field" Office. p. 173.
  4. ^ William Jardine, Charles Hamilton Smith (1 January 1999). The Naturalist's Library: Mammalia, Dogs. p. 132. ISBN 978-1-4021-8033-0.
  5. ^ a b "Bonewatch: The doggy lifeguards that leap from helicopters to save stranded swimmers". Daily Mail. August 27, 2010. Retrieved 2011.
  6. ^ a b Newfoundland Breed Standard Archived 2011-11-17 at the Wayback Machine The Kennel Club, 'Exceptionally gentle, docile nature' .. 'webbed' ... 'oily nature, water-resistant'
  7. ^ a b American Kennel Club (31 January 2006). The complete dog book. Random House Digital, Inc. pp. 349-350. ISBN 978-0-345-47626-5.
  8. ^ The Complete Dog Book (19 ed.). Foster City, CA: Howell Book House. 1998. pp. 276-277. ISBN 0-87605-047-X.
  9. ^ Newfoundland Breed Standard American Kennel Club, 'a sweet-dispositioned dog that acts neither dull nor ill-tempered' ... 'Sweetness of temperament'
  10. ^ CKC Breed Standards Canadian Kennel Club, 'The Newfoundland's 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.'
  11. ^ "Newfoundland Dog Breed Information". American Kennel Club. Retrieved .
  12. ^ Cassidy, Kelly M. (February 1, 2008). "Breed Longevity Data". Dog Longevity. Retrieved 2012.
  13. ^ Maniate, Peter. "Oldest Living Newfoundlands". Hannibal Kennels. Archived from the original on 2016-11-10. Retrieved 2016.
  14. ^ Dan Rice (1 March 2001). Big dog breeds. Barron's Educational Series. p. 220. ISBN 978-0-7641-1649-0.
  15. ^ a b Parker, Heidi G.; Dreger, Dayna L.; Rimbault, Maud; Davis, Brian W.; Mullen, Alexandra B.; Carpintero-Ramirez, Gretchen; Ostrander, Elaine A. (2017-04-25). "Genomic analyses reveal the influence of geographic origin, migration and hybridization on modern dog breed development". Cell Reports. 19 (4): 697-708. doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2017.03.079. PMC 5492993. PMID 28445722.
  16. ^ Fifty years of a showman's life, or, The life and travels of Van Hare. [G Van Hare; McManus-Young Collection (Library of Congress)]
  17. ^ "East London Theatre Playbills UK". Retrieved .
  18. ^ Illustrated Sporting News and Theatrical and Musical Review, Issue #28, September 20, 1862
  19. ^ "Death of a Celebrated Four-Footed Artiste". Sheffield Daily Telegraph. 1868-05-05. p. 6. Retrieved .
  20. ^ "The Newfoundland Dog Club UK - Breed History". Archived from the original on 2010-05-18. Retrieved .
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  24. ^ Beach rescue dog alerts swimmer, August 23, 2007, BBC.
  25. ^ "Lifesaving Sennen beach dog, Bilbo, dies". BBC News. 21 May 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  26. ^ Wallace, Donald Mackenzie; Prior, Sydney; Martino, Eduardo de (1902). The Web of an Empire: a diary of the imperial tour of their Royal Highnesses the Duke & Duchess of Cornwall & York in 1901. London, New York: Macmillan and Company, Limited. p. 433.
  27. ^ Harvey, Moses (1902). Newfoundland at the Beginning of the 20th Century: A Treatise of History and Development. Newfoundland: South Publishing Company. p. 57.
  28. ^ "The home-coming of the Duke & Duchess of Cornwall and York". Graphic. Vol. 64 (1667). England. 9 November 1901. p. 605. Retrieved 2017.
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  31. ^ "Gander: Canadian War Hero". Retrieved .
  32. ^ "'Much loved' Newfoundland dog Sergeant Gander honoured with statue". CBC/Radio-Canada. Retrieved 2017.
  33. ^ "Double Header: Radiohead and Talking Heads". Jackcentral. Archived from the original on 2013-06-15.
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  35. ^ FAMOUS PEOPLE AND NEWFOUNDLAND DOGS[permanent dead link]
  36. ^ Myers, Laurie (2002). Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog's Tale. New York: Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 0805063684.
  37. ^ Roger Danielsen (1912-04-21). "Rigel on the Titanic". Retrieved .
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Further reading

External links

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