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Your Newfoundland and You

Updated on February 9, 2013

A large dog breed, Newfoundlands can be white, black, gray, brown or a combination of black and white. Originally, these dogs were bred and utilized as fishermen working dogs in Canada's Dominion of Newfoundland.

Known for their loyalty, calm disposition, tremendous strength and giant size, Newfoundlands excel at lifesaving or water rescuing because of their swimming abilities which are innate as well as their webbed feet, double thick coat and muscular build.

Legendary for its docile, calm nature, Newfoundlands are also known for their strength. They are incredible as work dogs and portray incredible loyalty. Because of this, the breed is sometimes referred to as a 'gentle giant.' In general, kennel clubs around the world claim that this breed has a temper which is sweet. Typically, if this dog starts young, it is easy to train.

It also has a bark which deep and is great with children. Due to their large sizes however, very small toddlers may get knocked down accidentally if leaned on.

Many Peter Pan fans remember this breed since this was the beloved guardian dog in the movie, named 'Nana.' Although their sizes create problems when untrained, Newfoundlands are generally great with other animals as well.

Also known as 'Newfies' or 'Newfs,' Newfoundlands have a coat which resists water and feet that are webbed. Females weigh between one hundred to one hundred twenty pounds and males weigh between one hundred thirty and one hundred fifty pounds.

This puts the breed in the weight range classified as 'giant.' Some dogs have been known to weigh more than two hundred pounds, with the record being a dog which weighed two hundred and sixty pounds.

The breed measures over six feet from the tail to the nose and this puts them in the same rank as the largest Molossers. At the shoulders, this breed can grow to become between twenty-two to twenty-eight inches tall.

The standards for this breed according to various Kennel Clubs permit only landseer, which is a predominant white color with black marks, brown and black. Kennel clubs in Canada permit only landseer and black. Landseer is considered part of the breed and got this name based on the dogs that were included in the paintings of Sir Edwin Henry Landseer.

The Newfoundland breed has massive bones with big muscles, enabling them to have the energy for swimming against powerful tides and rough waves in the ocean. They are able to swim long distances due to their great lung capacities.

The breed is protected from icy water chills by their double coat which is waterproof and oily. Its webbed paws let the dog propel itself powerfully in the water. The swim stroke is not just a regular doggie paddle but rather, a motion which can be considered a breaststroke that is modified; giving it accelerated power in each of the strokes.

There are many traits that Newfoundlands share with other mastiff breeds, like the English mastiff and the St. Bernard. This includes bone structures that are quite sturdy, massive heads and stout legs which are short. As a matter of fact, many St. Bernards have ancestry which includes the Newfoundland breed.

Essentially, this breed originated from a place called Newfoundland and are descendants from an indigenous island breed called St. John's Dog.

During the two thousand six national championships of Eukanuba, the Discovery Channel's Bob Goen did a report in which it was exhibited that the Newfoundland breed has quite a propensity for rescuing people especially when they are shipwrecked.

One dog of this breed had rescued sixty-three sailors who were shipwrecked. In the year nineteen ninety five, Boo, a ten-month old dog was responsible for saving a man who was hearing impaired from becoming drowned in Northern California's Yuba river.

The man had fallen in the river while looking for gold. The Newfoundland saw the man struggling as his owner walked him along the riverbank.

By instinct, the dog took a dive into the water, swam to the man who was drowning, took him by the arm and swam him to a safe place. According to the breeder of Boo whose name is Janice Anderson, no formal water training rescue was done by Boo.

The Discovery Channel also featured a dog that had saved ninety-two shipwrecked people in the twentieth century, when a ship sank during a snowstorm.

From the deck, a rope was thrown to the Newfoundland who swam in the turbulent waters and the dog brought the rope to the shore to persons waiting by the beaches. To the rope, a breeches buoy was attached and everyone on the sinking ship was able to reach the shores.

This breed is quite well-known and sought after in Italy, where they are utilized by the SICS which is the Italian School of Water Rescue Dogs along with the institutions of Civil Protection, the Police and the Coast Guard for saving lives and patrolling lakes, other bodies of water and open sea beaches.


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      Christine M 6 years ago

      Nicely done! They are wonderful dogs - I have one now, and had one before her, and even though they were never trained for any sort of rescue, they do have that instinct. You've described them beautifully. Thank you!