Newfoundland Dog Breed 101: Characteristics, Pros & Cons and Other Facts

a black Newfoundland dog

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Those who have Newfoundland dogs as companions are enthusiastic about their large pets. The Newfoundland dog breed features large, long-haired dogs. Their hair can be black, brown or even white and black. Newfoundland dogs’ origin country is Canada. This breed appeared from the fishermen’s need to have a work companion. Still, don’t be fooled by their size; they are very friendly and have a calm disposition.

a black Newfoundland dog

Characteristics of the Newfoundland Dog Breed

#1. Size

The first thing you notice about a Newfoundland dog is that they are really big. Females average 120-140 lbs, and males 140-175 lbs. They may be 22-30 inches tall at the shoulder. Also, they have a broad, heavy head with ears that flop over, a thick neck, and a strong, sturdy body. These friendly dogs have long, thick fur that is either black, black and white, brown, or gray. Their bark is loud and very deep.

#2. Origins

Newfoundlands originated near water in very cold areas, and have bodies that are specialized to stay warm and dry. Their fur is thick double coat which is a little oily. The higher oil on their fur helps the dog stay warm and is somewhat water-resistant.

#3. Swimming Abilities

Members of the Newfoundland dog breed are excellent swimmers. In addition to their specialized coat, they have webbed feet and a strong innate swimming instinct. Newfoundland dogs are excellent at water rescues and enjoy swimming with their people once they are sure the people are not drowning. They typically live around ten years, though some live as long as fifteen.

Could this type of dog be your perfect companion? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros & Cons of the Newfoundland Dog Breed

the head of a large gray Newfoundland dog

Newfoundland Dog Breed Advantages

1. Gentle and Calm

The Newfoundland dog breed – affectionately known as ‘Newfie’ – is truly made up of gentle giants, with peaceful, affectionate, calm dispositions. They are loving, loyal and intelligent. These beautiful animals attach to their families firmly and love to spend time with their owners, doing things together.

2. Sociable & Protective

They usually get along well with other dogs, though like all dogs, they should be socialized carefully and should be supervised with unfamiliar dogs. They also usually get along well with other animals and can become protective of other family pets. Newfoundland dogs do need to be taught how to manage their strength around smaller animals and people.

3. Intelligent & Easy to Train

They are intelligent and learn quickly. Training should start while they are quite young; it is a lot harder to pull a dog that outweighs you off the bed than to move a puppy. Their trainer needs to be calm, firm and consistent. This breed is very sensitive to the tone of your voice.

4. Working Abilities

The Newfoundland dog breed is a working breed; they have been used for many practical purposes. They have learned to pull a cart, or work a bellows, or haul in fishing nets, or otherwise help their humans.

5. Guardian Instincts

These large dogs have strong guardian instincts and are excellent with children. Children do need to be taught how to treat a dog. Do not allow children to ride a Newfoundland (or any other dog), as this could seriously hurt the dog.

Newfoundland Dog Breed Disadvantages

a large brown dog

1. Prone to Overheating

Because they are designed to stay warm, Newfoundland dogs are prone to overheating, even getting heat stroke, in the summer. You need to be sure they have shade and lots of fresh water at all times. Many people make sure their companion has a wading pool or cool place to retreat to when he gets hot.

2. Droolers

A characteristic of the Newfoundland dog breed that often concerns people is the amount of drool. Newfies drool a lot; dogs do not sweat, and this is one way their bodies offload the heat. If you keep your dog cool, it has less drool. Many owners in warmer areas just give their dog a bib, in addition to making sure he has lots of water, shade, and a cooler place to go.

3. Shedders

They also shed a lot. As the weather warms, the thick insulating undercoat thins out, and members of the Newfoundland dog breed shed fur by the grocery bag full; if fur gets stuck as it sheds, it can cause mats which create health problems. Owners need to stay on top of this by brushing their dog daily. (One plus of this hair is that, if you know someone who spins, it makes soft yarn.)

Their thick coats also tend to collect mud, dirt, leaves and other detritus – yet another reason to groom your Newfoundland daily.

4. High-Maintenance

Newfies are large. This is a breed characteristic, but often people fail to plan for the sheer size of the dog. Your dog will eat a lot of food – it is not a lot for his size, but is still more than a smaller dog would eat. Because of the large size of its stool, you will need to always clean up after your Newfoundland dog.

While it is possible to keep a Newfie in an apartment if you get him out for enough exercise, they can be a little awkward. Large, strong tails can sweep things off shelves and tables; an accidental bump can knock over a chair or end table.

5. Requires a Lot of Space

The Newfoundland dog breed is a strong, energetic breed. Your dog will need exercise, or that energy will come out somehow. They are usually pretty calm indoors as long as they get enough exercise. If you do not have a yard for them, you will need to take your dog out for exercise every single day. Running in a park, pulling your garden wagon, swimming in a pond, playing fetch, and training are all good exercises.

Other Facts About the Newfoundland Dog Breed

The Newfoundland dog breed has ancient origins. Skeletons of large dogs dating back to 5th century have been found in Newfoundland, and are possibly part of the ancestry. There are legends that another ancestor sailed with Leif Erikson on his explorations. The earliest confirmed written record is from 1732.

They are renowned for their acts of protectiveness and heroism in myth, legend, and stories. J.M. Barrie stated that Nana, the dog nurse in Peter Pan, is a Newfoundland. There are countless accounts of Newfoundland dogs rescuing people from the icy north Atlantic.

Bottom Line

The Newfoundland dog breed is the 35th most popular breed in the U.S. They have been the companions of people like John James Audubon, Emily Dickinson, Robert Kennedy, and Lord Byron. So, if your kids want a friendly and calm dog, this breed is definitely one to consider.
Image sources: 1, 2, 3

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