Fast facts about Newfoundland dogs
Average height: Male: 71 cm; Female: 66 cm
Average weight: Male: 58 kg to 68 kg; Female: 45 kg to 54 kg
Average lifespan: 9 to 10 years
Coat: Water-resistant double coat
Colours: Black, grey, brown, and white with black markings
Group: Giant, working
The history of the Newfoundland
The Newfoundland breed originated in Newfoundland, Canada. Fishermen would bring these big dogs onboard their fishing vessels and trained them to save anyone who fell into the icy waters of the Atlantic.
Their bodies, after all, were perfect for the job. Newfoundlands are equipped with thick water-resistant fur that keeps them from freezing in cold water, their paws are partially webbed to help them swim better, the skin around their mouths are big and loose to help them breathe even with something (or someone) inside, and their size allows them to carry grown men to safety.
Aside from their lifeguard duties, Newfies were also trained to carry fishing nets ashore and pull carts like pack horses.
Because of their usefulness and easy-going temperament, Newfoundlands were favoured by a good number of men in history, from the explorers Lewis and Clark (who named their Newfie companion “Seaman”) to Lord Byron, who even penned an epitaph to his Newfie Boatswain.
Temperament of the Newfoundland
Despite their size and impressive lifesaving skills, Newfoundlands are big softies who love to spend time with people. They’re protective, sweet, and love to fulfil tasks – even showing a sense of “pride” at having done a trick or helped their owners out with something. According to the American Kennel Club, Newfoundland puppies are “outgoing, intelligent, and curious” and “never timid, skittish, or aggressive”.
All of this means that Newfies are, in fact, some of the best family dogs out there. Some folks even call these big guys “nanny dogs” because of their affinity for looking after and protecting children.
Newfoundland dogs and breeds of similar size are predisposed to back and hip problems. Some of the most common health conditions Newfies face are hip and elbow dysplasia, gastric torsion or bloat (also common in other large-chested dogs), ACL tears, epilepsy, Addison’s Disease, and a heart problem called Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis.
Newfies also have sensitive skin and can develop dermatitis from poor grooming, parasites, or allergies.
To avoid dealing with the cost of managing these conditions, purchase a Newfie puppy from a reputable breeder.
Caring for a Newfoundland
Because Newfies have such thick coats, they need brushing at least two to three times a week. Newfies’ coats also get dirty very easily, so you’ll have to wipe them down or bathe more often than most other dogs. Newfies shed twice a year, so be prepared to be surrounded by fluff every six months.
As they originated in Canada, Newfoundlands are accustomed to colder climates. Summers in Australia may prove to be too much for this thick-coated dog, so be sure to keep him indoors most of the time with enough ventilation. If you’re going to take your Newfie out for a walk, do so in a shaded area or at cooler hours of the day.
Feeding and exercise tips
Feeding a Newfie may be an intimidating task. How do you feed a dog that’s the size of a grown man? It’s important to feed a Newfie just the right amount, as overfeeding will lead to those health complications we discussed earlier. According to Dog Time, the recommended daily amount is “4 to 5 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals”.
When it comes to exercise, a Newfie puppy will enjoy running, but you need to make sure that they do so on soft surfaces (no hard concrete please) as their bones and joints are still developing. A Newfoundland’s favourite activity is swimming. If you live near a body of water or if you have a swimming pool in your yard, your Newfie will greatly appreciate getting to splash around now and then.