The Newfoundland is one of five Canadian dog breeds.
The massive Newfoundland is a strikingly large, powerful working dog of heavy bone and dignified bearing.
The sweet-tempered Newfoundland is a famously good companion and has earned a reputation as a patient and watchful ‘nanny dog’ for kids.
Often called Newfs or Newfies, Newfoundlands make excellent working dogs but are also calm and affectionate companions.
In the past, the breed was used as a draft animal and as a companion to Canadian fishermen. Known for its ability to swim, the Newfoundland dog’s reputation as a water rescuer is unparalleled.
The dog is a symbol of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the subject of many stories and legends based on the breed’s bravery and loyalty.
The average lifespan of the Newfoundland is 8 to 10 years.
The Newfoundland is a very large dog breed, standing from 66 to 71 cm (26–28 inches) and weighing 45–68 kg (100–150 pounds).
The American Kennel Club standard colors of the Newfoundland are black, brown, grey, and white-and-black – sometimes referred to as a Landseer. Other colours are possible but are not considered rare or more valuable.
The “Landseer” pattern is named after the artist, Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, who featured them in many of his paintings. Fédération Cynologique Internationale 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.
Newfoundlands have webbed paws and a water-resistant coat.
Genome analysis indicates that Newfoundlands are related to the Irish water spaniel, Labrador Retriever, and Curly-Coated Retriever.
In 1802, when Lewis and Clark began their historic 8,000-mile trek across the American continent, a Newfoundland named Seaman was part of the expedition. He was useful as a hunter and guard dog, once saving lives by running off a rogue buffalo that was charging the camp. Today, Seaman is depicted in 10 different Lewis and Clark monuments across the country.
It is estimated that in 1824, as many as 2,000 Newfoundland dogs were working for their owners in the city of St. John’s, Newfoundland alone, being used to deliver milk and haul loads throughout the city.
The first recorded official showing of the Newfoundland was at the national dog show in Birmingham, England in 1860, (The show continues to this day and is considered the world’s oldest surviving dog show.). Six Newfoundlands were entered.
In the early 1880s, fishermen and explorers from Ireland and England travelled 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 water dog. The St. John’s water 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.
It has also been proposed that the original Newfoundland that lived on the island was smaller – in theory, the smaller landrace was bred with mastiffs when sold to the English, and the English version was popularized to become what we think of as a Newfoundland today.
By the 19th century, Newfies had become popular in England. Soon after, the breed arrived in the U.S. and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1879. Like many large breeds, their numbers suffered in the U.K. and Europe after the world wars but began a resurgence in the 1950s. There are many tales of Newfoundlands used as water rescue dogs, as well as impromptu rescues done by Newfoundlands when the dog has noted a person in distress.
A well-visited tourist attraction in England, where Newfoundlands have always been a great favorite, is a monument erected by Lord Byron at Newstead Abbey for his cherished Newf, Boatswain. The monument’s
inscription, devised by the great poet himself, eulogizes Boatswain, “Who possessed Beauty without Vanity/Strength without Insolence/Courage without Ferocity/And all the Virtues of Man without his Vices.” Such was Byron’s regard for his Newfoundland that Boatswain’s tomb at the abbey is larger than his own.
Most of todays Newfoundlands can trace their ancestry back to an English Show Dog named Siki in the 1920’s.
A 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.”
Gander was a Newfoundland dog posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal, the “animals’ Victoria Cross”, in 2000 for his deeds in World War II, the first such award in over 50 years.
Usually, the average cost of purchasing a pet quality puppy from a reputable breeder is about $1,700 to $2,500. However, for a Newfoundland puppy with top breed lines and a superior pedigree, you may need to pay between $3,000 and $4,000.