The Newfoundland: A Gentle Giant


Some say that he is related to the Great Pyrenees dogs, introduced to Newfoundland by the Basque fisherman. Others claim that this gentle black giant can be traced back to husky bloodlines, while still others will tell you that the Newfoundland descended from some variety of anonymous “French Hound,“ possibly the French Boarhound. Regardless, while no one is certain of the true ancestry of the Newfoundland, it is generally accepted that he developed on the island which he is named for and that the breed has, throughout many generations of breeding, evolved into something that is perfectly suited for this kind of lifestyle and living conditions.

A massive dog, the Newfoundland is powerfully built and perfectly designed as the draft animal that he is quite often employed as. Capable of working as a strong pack animal, he is also used to pull carts and is capable of helping his master drag in the heavy fishing nets as needed. Additionally, the Newfoundland seems to have natural lifesaving abilities, and stories abound of this noble companion rescuing drowning children and saving shipwrecked sailors by carrying life lines out to capsized vessels. Large and strong enough to drag a drowning man from the icy sea, his coat is thick and dense enough to allow him to brave the chilling waters and his massive feet are webbed, helping to make him a dog that is just as comfortable in the water as he is on land. Even the Newfoundland’s lung capacity is large, granting him the endurance needed to swim great distances, as needed.

The Newfoundland is usually fairly easy to identify; standing an average of about 28 inches at the shoulder, and weighing 130-150 pounds as an adult, he is a large dog with a prominent head and boxy form. While most recognize them as being large black dogs, it is also interesting to note that the Newfoundland breed of dog actually comes in several color varieties, including black, gray, brown, and white and black. They can appear in solid colors, with limited white markings, or they can also come in a variety known as “Landseer,” which is a white base with black markings. When breeding or exhibiting the Newfoundland, however, very little point value is placed upon the dog’s coloring, with the majority of points going towards the dog’s being built for the jobs that he was bred to do. Above and beyond all else, he is to be broad and strong, with powerfully-muscled shoulders and hindquarters, and his body is to be proportioned well, slightly taller than he is long.

Surprisingly, while the Newfoundland’s sheer size makes them an intimidating guard dog, at first glance, they are actually very sweet-tempered and affectionate, with a gentle nature that prompts many to refer to them as the “teddy bears” of the dog world. Newfoundland dogs get along well, not only with other dogs, but with various other pets, as well as small children, and are known for their patience and understanding towards the smallest masters of the house. In addition to being gentle and kind, the Newfoundland is also determined to please and a very courageous animal. If you have the room to enjoy a dog of this size, the Newfoundland is a wonderful addition to any family.

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2 comments

  1. There’s a couple in our town who walk their two Newfies around with large Hershey’s Syrup bottles at their sides, all year round, and the dogs drink right from the spout – they are a slobbery bunch

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