The Newfoundland dog breed is named after its place of origin in Canada. These large-sized working dogs have long been a favorite of the fishermen of the area. These highly intelligent and powerful dogs are frequently used for water rescue because of their natural swimming prowess. They are calm and loyal, and make great companions for people who like the outdoors, especially for those living close to large water bodies.
The Newfoundland dog breed has a long history with its origins allegedly traced back to Tibetan Mastiffs. It is not known how Tibetan Mastiffs reached Newfoundland, but the Great Pyrenees breed, considered one of the ancestors of the Newfoundland breed, is thought to be responsible for the Tibetan lineage. Besides the Great Pyrenees, Black English Retrievers and Husky are also involved in the development of this breed.
The Newfoundland breed became very popular as a working dog because of its great strength and stamina and swimming prowess. Newfoundland being a fishing center, these dogs proved extremely useful to the fishermen of the area because they could be used to haul heavy fishing nets in the icy waters.
The great strength and good nature of these dogs were noticed by Europeans who saw them at work in Newfoundland, and many dogs were brought into Europe. In the meanwhile, these dogs came down in numbers in their homeland, due to certain laws and taxes imposed on keeping and breeding them. But due to the efforts of breeders in Europe and the United States to develop this breed, they continue to be popular today.
The Newfoundlands are large sized Molosser type dogs. They are massive, weighing anything between 100 and 150 pounds, but some dogs maybe as heavy as 200 pounds or more. Their height at the withers range from 22 inches to 30 inches, but some dogs may be 6 feet long from nose to tail. Their ears are floppy with some amount of feathering, and the fluffy tail is long, hanging down between the legs.
These dogs are large-boned with a strong muscular body capable of swimming in powerful ocean currents. They have a thick double coat with an oily texture that offers protection from cold and wetness when swimming in the icy waters. Another adaptation for these water dogs is their webbed feet.
Black coat and a combination of black and white known as ‘Landseer,’ are the two distinct colors acceptable in Newfoundlands in their homeland, but brown and grey coats are also common in the United States and elsewhere.
The Newfoundland dog breed comes under the category of ‘gentle giants’ as these dogs, despite their intimidating size and appearance, display a high degree of calmness and gentleness. However, they are devoted to their family and would protect them at any cost.
They are generally friendly with all kinds of people and other pet animals they come across. Being intelligent, they are easy to train, and are often used as therapy dogs. These dogs are especially good with kids, but their size can be a problem for very young children who are at risk of being accidentally knocked down or stepped on.
Grooming and exercise
The Newfoundland dog breed with its long, profuse coat needs thorough brushing at least twice a week. They may need daily brushing during the shedding season.
Being working dogs, these large dogs need plenty of exercise. In addition to brisk walks, opportunities to swim or retrieve from water would keep these dogs in good spirits.
Coming from the cold environments of the Canadian coast, these dogs are at home even in extreme cold weather, but they cannot tolerate heat. If they are left in the yard during the day, ensure that they have easy access to a cool place to rest. They can live outdoors round the year in mild climates, but it is preferable to keep the dog indoors with the family at night.
Common health issues of Newfoundland dog breed
The Newfoundland dog breed has a number of health problems, some of them of a serious nature. For instance, gastric torsion is a life threatening condition that may lead to death in the absence of immediate medical intervention. Canine hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and cruciate ligament rupture are common in this breed. A heart defect called subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS) may occur in some dogs and is a cause of early mortality. The Newfoundland dogs are prone to developing urinary bladder stones. Common eye problems include cataracts, cherry eye, and ectropion.
Being a large breed, the life expectancy of Newfoundlands is relatively low, but with good care and timely medical attention, healthy dogs may live up to 10 years.