The Newfoundland, also known as the Greater St. John's Dog and the Newfie, is a large, loyal, long-haired breed with an uncertain ancestry. Whatever its heritage, the Newfie was (and is) remarkably well-suited to its island of origin. Its heavy coat provided protection against the long winters and frigid waters of Newfoundland Island. Its partially webbed feet made it a strong swimmer and an easy traveler over marshes and shores. It great size added to its physical prowess as a water-dog and fisherman's assistant, and its calm disposition made it attractive to all whom it met. The Newfoundland was accepted into the American Kennel Club's Working Group in 1886.
The mature male Newfoundland stands about 28 inches at the withers and normally weighs from 130 to 150 pounds. The adult female stands about 26 inches in height and weighs on average from 100 to 120 pounds. Larger size and weight is preferred, but not at the expense of balance or breed type. The Newfie's dense double coat is flat, oily and water-resistant, having a coarse, long outer coat and a soft, thick undercoat. The tail and backs of the legs are fully feathered. Recognized colors are black, brown, gray and black-and-white. The white Newfie with black markings is called the "Landseer."
History & Health
There is much debate about the exact origin of the Newfoundland breed. Some people believe that they descended from a cross between indigenous Indian and/or Eskimo dogs and the Pyrenean Mountain Dog type (now the Great Pyrenees) that came to the Canadian coast with Basque fishermen. Others say that Newfies go back to ancient Tibetan Mastiffs that came across the Polar region with migrating tribes, or to dogs brought by the Vikings to North America. A careful survey conducted by a British naval officer in 1768 revealed that the Indian tribes of northeastern Canada had no native dogs of any kind. However, by the end of the 1700s, Newfoundlands were well-established in that region. British fishing vessels were common visitors to the Maritime Islands starting in the 1600s, and the sailors often usually brought dogs with them on their ships. Modern thought is that local fishermen started breeding small native Canadian dogs with the large European imports as soon as they arrived in their fishing ports. The Portuguese Water Dog and Great Pyrenees are still presumed to have been part of the mix, which ultimately led to the Lesser St. John's Dog (which developed into the Labrador Retriever) and the Greater St. John's Dog (which developed into the Newfoundland).
Regardless of its precise heritage, the Newfoundland was bred to be a true working dog, equally at home in water and on land. Records show that brave Newfoundlands saved many men, women and children from drowning at sea by carrying lifelines to shipwreck survivors off the harsh Canadian coast. Newfoundlands helped fishermen haul fish-laden nets from sea to ship to shore – a role less spectacular than sea rescues but equally valuable to their owners. Newfies excelled in performing land tasks as well, such as pulling carts filled with fish to markets and packing sheds, hauling logs for lumbermen, dragging wagons laden with fuel from forest to village in the winter and carrying supplies as a pack animal. They powered blacksmiths' bellows and turners' lathes. They acted as couriers between fishing boats at sea. They were large enough, strong enough and bold enough to plunge into the icy ocean unaided and carry drowning adults to land. They developed sufficient lung capacity and coat protection to survive and swim great distances in freezing waters. The tasks asked of Newfoundlands were among the most demanding and arduous of anything ever required of a domestic dog, yet they performed their duties reliably, without hesitation or complaint.
Eventually, Newfoundlands found their way to England, probably on fishing boats, where they were extensively bred and became quite popular. Thereafter, they were brought to America. In 1804, a Newfie named Seaman accompanied Meriwether Lewis up the Missouri River. In 1919, a single Newfie rescued 20 shipwrecked people by pulling their lifeboat to shore. Newfoundlands served in World War II by hauling supplies in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. The Newfoundland Club of America was founded in 1930 and is the parent club of the breed in this country. In America today, the Newfoundland is primarily a companion dog, used infrequently for fishing or rescue work. He excels in backpacking, water trials, competitive obedience, weight pulling and carting competitions. He is an impressive presence in the conformation show ring and is a capable guardian and watch dog. Newfies are known to be protectors and playmates of children, with whom they are exceptionally gentle.
The average life span of the Newfoundland is about 10 years, similar to other giant breeds. Breed health concerns may include bloat (gastric dilatation and volvulus), cystine urolithiasis, dilated cardiomyopathy, patent ductus arteriosis, acquired depigmentation, callus dermatitis/pyoderma (especially over hock and elbow joints), heat stroke, megaesophagus, entropion, ectropion, eversion of the cartilage of the nictitating membrane, medial canthal pocket syndrome, cataracts, ectopic ureters, elbow and hip dysplasia and subaortic stenosis.
Temperament & Personality
According to the AKC Standard, "Sweetness of temperament is the hallmark of the Newfoundland." This is a vibrant breed who adores being around people, and wants to be included in all aspects of family life. Newfoundlands are best served by active people who love being outdoors, as these dogs are at their happiest when engaged in activity with a purpose. They get along fabulously with children, remaining patient when kids want to climb all over them, whether at play, or simply to snuggle up to relax in the evening. Perhaps the most famous Newfoundland was Nana, the dog from Peter Pan, who watched over the Darling children. Most owners agree that the characterization the Newfoundland as a natural babysitter who looks out for the well-being of her charges was right on the money.
The Newfoundland doesn't need much time to run, but they do need lots of daily walks, and if possible they should wear a weighted backpack or have something to pull. This helps expend maximum energy, and also makes the dog feel like he has a purpose. Two of the Newfoundland's favorite things to do are play in the snow (pulling kids on a sled can occupy him for hours), and swim. A Newfoundland who is not properly exercised is a handful. This breed experiences an extended puppyhood, and they are very bouncy. Having a full-grown, rambunctious Newfoundland can mean household objects and people could to flying across the room.
People who love the outdoors will get along wonderfully with this breed. They are excellent camping buddies, will accompany you on hikes and can even make themselves useful by carrying some of your gear and acting as a guard dog while you sleep. Though they don't need daily runs to maintain health, Newfoundland are good joggers and can keep up with you on bike rides, as well.
This breed is far too large to live comfortably in an apartment or condominium. Large houses with yards or farms are much more suitable locations for a Newfoundland.
Training a Newfoundland can vary from easy to difficult, depending upon the individual dog, but once they get the hang of it, there isn't much this breed can't learn. The best way to keep training on the easy side is to start them off young. They respond best to lots of excited praise and treats, as even a stubborn Newfie possesses the desire to please. Treating a Newfoundland harshly will cause him to become mistrustful of you, so it's best to stay away from discipline, and stick to reinforcing good behavior.
Newfoundlands were originally used on fishing boats where they hauled equipment and were tasked with saving those who fell overboard. Today, they are still used as water rescue dogs and will instinctively jump into water after a person in peril.
Newfoundlands can develop severe separation anxiety. They adore people and become anxious and depressed when left alone for long periods of time, which they express by chewing destructively. While proper exercise can help minimize anxiety, it is best that they not live with people who have hectic work schedules, and families with a stay at home parent are the ideal.
Newfies experience an extended puppyhood and are very bouncy and rambunctious. While they are excellent with children, they aren't recommended for homes with toddlers. An excited Newfoundland is a bull in a china shop, bouncing here and there, sending things flying around the room, which can include people. A small child could get hurt by a well-intentioned Newfie.
The Newfoundland is a sweet-dispositioned dog that acts neither dull nor ill-tempered. He is a devoted companion. A multipurpose dog, at home on land and in water, the Newfoundland is capable of draft work and possesses natural lifesaving abilities.
The Newfoundland is a large, heavily coated, well balanced dog that is deep-bodied, heavily boned, muscular, and strong. A good specimen of the breed has dignity and proud head carriage.
The following description is that of the ideal Newfoundland. Any deviation from this ideal is to be penalized to the extent of the deviation. Structural and movement faults common to all working dogs are as undesirable in the Newfoundland as in any other breed, even though they are not specifically mentioned herein.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Average height for adult dogs is 28 inches, for adult bitches, 26 inches. Approximate weight of adult dogs ranges from 130 to 150 pounds, adult bitches from 100 to 120 pounds. The dog's appearance is more massive throughout than the bitch's. Large size is desirable, but never at the expense of balance, structure, and correct gait. The Newfoundland is slightly longer than tall when measured from the point of shoulder to point of buttocks and from withers to ground. He is a dog of considerable substance which is determined by spring of rib, strong muscle, and heavy bone.
The head is massive, with a broad skull, slightly arched crown, and strongly developed occipital bone. Cheeks are well developed. Eyes are dark brown. (Browns and Grays may have lighter eyes and should be penalized only to the extent that color affects expression.) They are relatively small, deep-set, and spaced wide apart. Eyelids fit closely with no inversion. Ears are relatively small and triangular with rounded tips. They are set on the skull level with, or slightly above, the brow and lie close to the head. When the ear is brought forward, it reaches to the inner corner of the eye on the same side. Expression is soft and reflects the characteristics of the breed: benevolence, intelligence, and dignity. Forehead and face are smooth and free of wrinkles. Slope of the stop is moderate but, because of the well developed brow, it may appear abrupt in profile. The muzzle is clean-cut, broad throughout its length, and deep. Depth and length are approximately equal, the length from tip of nose to stop being less than that from stop to occiput. The top of the muzzle is rounded, and the bridge, in profile, is straight or only slightly arched. Teeth meet in a scissors or level bite. Dropped lower incisors, in an otherwise normal bite, are not indicative of a skeletal malocclusion and should be considered only a minor deviation.
Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is strong and well set on the shoulders and is long enough for proud head carriage. The back is strong, broad, and muscular and is level from just behind the withers to the croup. The chest is full and deep with the brisket reaching at least down to the elbows. Ribs are well sprung, with the anterior third of the rib cage tapered to allow elbow clearance. The flank is deep. The croup is broad and slopes slightly. Tail--Tail set follows the natural line of the croup. The tail is broad at the base and strong. It has no kinks, and the distal bone reaches to the hock. When the dog is standing relaxed, its tail hangs straight or with a slight curve at the end. When the dog is in motion or excited, the tail is carried out, but it does not curl over the back.
Shoulders are muscular and well laid back. Elbows lie directly below the highest point of the withers. Forelegs are muscular, heavily boned, straight, and parallel to each other, and the elbows point directly to the rear. The distance from elbow to ground equals about half the dog's height. Pasterns are strong and slightly sloping. Feet are proportionate to the body in size, webbed, and cat foot in type. Dewclaws may be removed.
The rear assembly is powerful, muscular, and heavily boned. Viewed from the rear, the legs are straight and parallel. Viewed from the side, the thighs are broad and fairly long. Stifles and hocks are well bent and the line from hock to ground is perpendicular. Hocks are well let down. Hind feet are similar to the front feet. Dewclaws should be removed.
The adult Newfoundland has a flat, water-resistant, double coat that tends to fall back into place when rubbed against the nap. The outer coat is coarse, moderately long, and full, either straight or with a wave. The undercoat is soft and dense, although it is often less dense during the summer months or in warmer climates. Hair on the face and muzzle is short and fine. The backs of the legs are feathered all the way down. The tail is covered with long dense hair. Excess hair may be trimmed for neatness. Whiskers need not be trimmed.
Color is secondary to type, structure, and soundness. Recognized Newfoundland colors are black, brown, gray, and white and black.
Solid Colors--Blacks, Browns, and Grays may appear as solid colors or solid colors with white at any, some, or all, of the following locations: chin, chest, toes, and tip of tail. Any amount of white found at these locations is typical and is not penalized. Also typical are a tinge of bronze on a black or gray coat and lighter furnishings on a brown or gray coat.
Landseer--White base coat with black markings. Typically, the head is solid black, or black with white on the muzzle, with or without a blaze. There is a separate black saddle and black on the rump extending onto a white tail.
Markings, on either Solid Colors or Landseers, might deviate considerably from those described and should be penalized only to the extent of the deviation. Clear white or white with minimal ticking is preferred.
Beauty of markings should be considered only when comparing dogs of otherwise comparable quality and never at the expense of type, structure and soundness.
Disqualifications-- Any colors or combinations of colors not specifically described are disqualified.
The Newfoundland in motion has good reach, strong drive, and gives the impression of effortless power. His gait is smooth and rhythmic, covering the maximum amount of ground with the minimum number of steps. Forelegs and hind legs travel straight forward. As the dog's speed increases, the legs tend toward single tracking. When moving, a slight roll of the skin is characteristic of the breed. Essential to good movement is the balance of correct front and rear assemblies.
Sweetness of temperament is the hallmark of the Newfoundland; this is the most important single characteristic of the breed.
Any colors or combinations of colors not specifically described are disqualified.
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Sources: American Kennel Club