There’s absolutely more to the Newfoundland dog than its size, but its difficult for anyone to just get past that size so quickly. Its size is easily the Newfoundland dog’s most distinguishable quality. These dogs are massive and might get away with being called a teddy bear from time to time. These dogs are largely misunderstood and misinterpreted. Their size may be intimidating to those who are seeing or meeting them for the first time, but Newfoundland dogs are not the type of dogs to be scared of. If you’re meeting a Newfoundland dog for the first time, you’ll know exactly what intimidating feeling we’re talking about.
But you soon get over it and realize how good these dogs actually are. If you’ve heard them referred to as “gentle giants” before, it’s because that’s the simple truth. No larger canine is as gentle as the Newfoundland dog. As a matter of fact, one quick look into their eyes and you’ll find yourself gushing in delight. They have an almost sad look to their eyes, as if soliciting some type of emotion from you.
Their droopy faces are lovable, and only Newfoundland dog owners can tell you how great they are to snuggle and cuddle, especially during the cold months. There’s no other pet companion out there like the Newfoundland dog. You’ll get twice the love that you normally would get with a regular-sized dog, but just remember that you should be prepared to give twice the love as well. If you’re thinking of getting a Newfoundland dog as a pet, here are 20 cool facts to know about them before you do.
1. From Newfoundland
It isn’t unusual for dogs to carry their place of origin in their breed names. We’ve all heard of Boston terriers, Siberian huskies, German Shepherds, Italian greyhounds, and many more. What sets this breed apart is the fact that their full name is actually their place of origin—and that’s it. Newfoundland dogs are from Newfoundland. Originally, it was known as the Dominion of Newfoundland, and it was a British dominion from 1907 to 1949. Today, this place is part of the large and beautiful country of Canada. Newfoundland dogs originated from the country, but it was long before it was even considered part of Canadian territory.
2. Gentle giants
We mentioned earlier that these dogs were known to be gentle giants. Newfoundland dogs may be big, but these dogs are extremely sweet and loyal, especially to their owners or family. Don’t let their bark fool you either. Because of their size, Newfoundland dog barks are quite strong and loud. They may be barking just because they are happy or excited. It’s definitely something to adjust to, but it isn’t hard to.
As gentle as these dogs are, you shouldn’t underestimate their protective quality. They will get between you and a stranger to protect you if they detect any danger. It’s a win-win situation for you. On one hand, you have a big dog that’s extremely lovable and cuddly; on the other hand, you also have a big dog that can probably take down any assailant you might come across.
3. Great swimmers
Newfoundland dogs are known to be big-time water lovers. They can spend long periods of time in the water because they love to swim. Not only that, these dogs are actually great swimmers. They have naturally wide paws that are also webbed, much like duck feet, that help them paddle through water. Their big muscles help them stay afloat and navigate even in the roughest waters.
They also have a fur coat that is double thick and oily enough to repel water away. It acts mostly like a raincoat, keeping these dogs warm throughout a swim. Perhaps one of the best qualities that make Newfoundland dogs great swimmers is the fact that they can hold their breath for a really long time. It can very well be due to larger lungs or just through the makings of evolution.
4. Life savers
Their swimming skills have not gone unused or unnoticed throughout history. There have been many stories told about Newfoundland dogs saving their owners or family members from drowning in pools or beaches. Throughout maritime history, Newfoundland dogs have been the subjects of hundreds of stories about life saving. They have been known to save sailors that were stranded at sea after their ships have capsized.
These dogs are surely strong enough to be able to pull an adult through rough waters straight to safety. It’s an impressive ability to have, and that’s the reason why many Newfoundland dogs today are trained to be rescue swimmers. They are famous for pulling people out from various bodies of water, and they wouldn’t be terrible pets to have if you have children around water all the time.
5. Working dogs
Lifeguarding is not the only job that Newfoundland dogs have been known to carry. These dogs are actually bred to be working dogs to this very day. Their jobs have varied throughout the years, but most of the job duties have been related to strength. This breed is a popular choice for police dogs just because of their size. You can probably imagine a Newfoundland dog taking down a criminal any day. They’re also known to be great helpers for the deaf, the elderly, or the handicapped population. They’ve been known to live on fishing boats where they help bring in full fishing nets. They can even tow smaller boats into shore with just a rope. Many Newfoundland dogs also live in farms where they help with pulling heavy loads using carts.
6. Unclear ancestry
We know that these dogs came from Canada, but we’re not entirely sure what the exact lineage and ancestry is for the Newfoundland dog. Although there are several theories that have come about in the past, none of it is certain. Many believe that Newfoundland dogs come from the Mastiff family. Some say that they are descendants of the Tibetan Mastiff.
Some say that they are the product of breeding between Portuguese Mastiffs and St. John’s Dogs. There’s also another theory that states the origin of the Newfoundland dogs to be from a Viking ancestor. This theory says that when the Vikings came to Newfoundland in the early 1000s, they left their dogs behind. These dogs then bred with other species native to the area, possibly even with wolves, to create the Newfoundland dog breed we know today
7. Coat colors
There’s no doubt that Newfoundland dogs are beautiful dogs. They have really long hair and have a specialized doubled layer of it as well. These dogs come in only four recognizable colors: black, brown, gray, and a black and white mix, which we will discuss in detail later. Newfoundland dogs will require regular grooming. That means bathing a minimum of every other week and regular brushing as well. Because of their double coat layer, their hair has to be dried properly as well. This is the best way to achieve the healthiest and best-looking coat possible. Lack of care for Newfoundland dog hair can lead to the development of cobweb matting that can form close to the skin. This is completely avoidable by just proper care.
There’s a special name for black and white Newfoundland dogs, and that’s Landseer Newfoundlands. These dogs are named after a painter, Sir Edwin Landseer. In the 1800s, Landseer painted numerous works that featured black and white Newfoundland dogs. This eventually became attributed to the coat colors of the Landseer dogs. His artwork popularized the breed tremendously, but most of all, they showed how much he really loved the black and white Newfoundland dog breed. The titles of his most famous paintings then include, “Princess Mary and Favorite Newfoundland Dog” and “A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society.” Nowadays, when people think of Landseer dogs, they automatically think of the namesake artist that once loved the breed so much.
9. Official breeds
These dogs have been around for literally centuries. They have been working alongside humans, helping them out with daily living and serving as wonderful companions as well, long before they were even officially recognized by dog societies. Their first public appearance didn’t happen until 1860 when Newfoundland dogs were featured in English shows for the very first time.
And the American Kennel Club didn’t recognize and register the breed officially up until 1879. Four years later, the very first American Newfoundland Champion was crowned in 1883. These dogs have existed hundreds of years prior to their recognition, and it’s an odd thing considering how different these dogs are from other breeds. However, as soon as their first public showing, they immediately became recognized throughout the world for all their wonderful skills and truly amazing capabilities.
10. Messy breed
It’s common knowledge among dog owners that there’s always a possibility the dogs will be messy companions. It might not be easy to picture with smaller dogs that can fit on your lap, but you can imagine how difficult it must be to contain a dog that weighs more than 50 lbs. Well, Newfoundland dogs weigh a lot more than that, so if you can triple the mess that an average dog makes, you’ll figure out how much mess these dogs can actually make.
Because they’re so energetic and playful, Newfoundland dogs tend to track dirt all over the house, especially if they’re the kind of dogs that are allowed to go outside as they please. Their long and double layers of hair also tend to catch a lot of dirt, twigs, and even bugs when they’re outside. It’s always manageable, but you’ll have to be patient.
11. Great with children
There should be no surprise here. Newfoundland dogs are known to be great for children. Some parents may hesitate because of their natural size and strength. However, these dogs have proven time and again how gentle they are and how easy they are to be around with. As a matter of fact, Newfoundland dogs have a famous nickname: nanny dogs. During the Victorian times, many families trusted and used these dogs to watch and care for younger children. As big as these dogs are, children can rely on them to be great playmates. They’re fun and almost otherworldly to kids, especially those that are still much smaller than a full-sized Newfoundland dog. The image of these dogs around small children is almost a natural occurrence from that time.
12. Famous Newfoundland
With the subject of popularity when it comes to children, there’s one mental image that should come to mind straight away. Perhaps the most popular Newfoundland dog of all time happened to be a nanny dog. Remember Nana from Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie’s wondrous creation? Yes, Nana was a Newfoundland dog. Now you can picture it—his droopy eyes and face, his droopy ears, and this large body. Those are all descriptions of a typical Newfoundland dog. In addition, you can imagine how gentle Nana was to the Darling children. He was actually their caretaker, and he did an amazing job watching the children and doing simple duties for them. They say that everything in fiction has a basis in reality. Well, this is one prime example of that notion.
13. Brave dogs
We’ve talked about Newfoundland dogs and their abilities to swim and save lives from drowning. While there may be countless stories of these dogs involving water-related rescuing, you should also be aware that these dogs are known for just saving lives in general. Newfoundland dogs are known as rather extremely brave dogs. They will throw themselves in harm’s way, and nobody really knows why that may be the case.
They have a inclination to helping out those who are in danger, whether it’s someone familiar or someone who is a stranger. However, if it came down to saving its owner or a stranger, you should know whom the dog would save first. Newfoundland dogs are known to be great protectors, and this is also why they would be great companions for kids.
14. Famous quote
Famous author Henry David Thoreau once wrote about this wonderful dog breed. There’s a quote in Thoreau’s transcendentalist novel, Walden that depicted Newfoundland dogs in a great light. He wrote, “A man is not a good man to me because he will feed me if I should be starving, or warm me if I should be freezing, or pull me out of a ditch if I should ever fall into one. I can find you a Newfoundland dog that will do as much.” While the tone of the quote may not all be warm, it certainly is towards the Newfoundland dog. Not only does Thoreau highlight the breed’s capabilities; he also explains just the things that a Newfoundland dog will do for its owners or for people in general.
15. The largest Newfoundland
We’ve pretty much established that these dogs are huge. They’re some of the largest dog breeds in the world. For those who have never encountered giant dogs, it might be hard to imagine, but the numbers should help you greatly. On an average basis, Newfoundland dogs can easily weigh around 150 lbs. That is about the weight of an average human. However, it’s not unusual for a Newfoundland dog to weigh over 200 lbs. That number alone is kind of shocking. But wait until we give you the numbers for the largest Newfoundland ever to have been recorded. This dog was actually larger than an average human, and believe it or not, that must’ve been some sight to behold. The largest Newfoundland dog ever recorded weighed in at 260 lbs. and it measured over 6 feet from its nose to the tip of its tail.
16. Excellent droolers
If you look at pictures of Newfoundland dogs, you might notice that most of them are drooling. That’s because drooling is a natural thing for these dogs. In fact, drooling is actually a breed trait. While some may drool more than others, all of them drool. There is absolutely no such thing as a Newfoundland dog with a dry mouth. If a breeder happens to tell you that they can give you a Newfoundland that won’t drool, you’re being lied to. If a breeder is trying to intentionally change a natural breed trait, then that’s a different story and it’s not a good one. If you think that you won’t be able to handle the drool, you should probably think twice about getting a Newfoundland. We think that you should be able to handle it, just have a rag handy at all times. Or a mop.
17. Highly intelligent
Forget about the drooling that makes them look silly or about the droopiness that makes them look always tired; Newfoundland dogs are actually smarter than they look. These highly intelligent dogs are even referred to as the smartest breed of dogs there is. Most Newfoundland dogs can follow basic commands and manners easily; for this reason, they take to training really easily. Some people might think that these dogs are so smart that they seem to not need training at all. However, Newfoundland dogs will need training just like any other dogs. They may be highly intelligent, but they cannot train themselves.
18. Exercise needs
You have to remember that Newfoundland dogs are bred to be working dogs. That means that they are in constant need for activity. They need daily exercise that may include walking, swimming, hiking, and the like. If you let them just lie around doing nothing, they will do exactly that, and it’ll be terrible for their health. You should always initiate the activity with your giant dog. In addition to exercising their bodies, you shouldn’t forget to exercise their minds as well. These are the types of dogs who will learn how to open the fridge in order to get some food. Exercise their intelligence and you might be surprised at how much they can accomplish and learn.
19. Separation and socialization
Newfoundland dogs like company; they’re not the type of dogs to isolate themselves from humans or other animals. As a matter of fact, they probably need more companionship in comparison to other breeds. Newfoundlands don’t like to be left at home alone for more than a few hours. This is why some suggest for owners to have at least two of these giant dogs together at a time.
If they’re left by themselves for too long, they tend to get depressed. And one of the destructive ways they deal with their sadness is by chewing through everything. You should also teach your Newfoundland dog socialization early on. You’ll want them to develop their natural instincts and not be shy or suspicious around new people. Especially with its size, you want your Newfoundland dog to be confident, sociable, and happy altogether.
20. Life span
Much like any other giant, the life span of a Newfoundland dog is sadly short. These loving creatures live no more than 10 years. Because of its size, the Newfoundland dog tends to develop some serious health issues as it ages. A large number of these dogs suffer from crippling as brought on by joint or bone disease. The weight of these dogs that give them so much strength to save lives also tend to be too much for their bodies to bear long term. In addition, many of these dogs suffer from cancer around middle age on. It’s a sad thought how these loving and helpful creatures don’t get to live longer than that, but having a healthy lifestyle will certainly help Newfoundland dogs live their lives to the fullest. It might even help them live well beyond their life span; you could never know.
You can also read:
- The Five Most Popular Black Dog Breeds
- Newfoundland Puppies: 10 Tips For Taking Care Of Them
- A Complete Price Guide for the Newfoundland Dog
- 10 Dog Breeds Similar to the Newfoundland