The Newfoundland Dog, justifiably known as the Gentle Giant, but not for the houseproud!
The Newfoundland Dog, justifiably known as the Gentle Giant, has the most gentle nature among dogs. The breed is wonderful with other animals in the household, and has a particular affinity with children.
In Victorian times, wealthy people would keep a Newfoundland Dog to protect their children and the original dog in Peter Pan was one of these magnificent creatures, despite him being portrayed in subsequent plays and films by a St Bernard. I have even seen him portayed by an Old English Sheepdog.
Nana from Peter Pan was J.M. Barrie's own dog, Luath, a Newfoundland Dog.
The Newfoundland Dog was bred for water rescue and is still used for that very purpose in some parts of the world, where the dog will aid lifeguards by swimming out to sea and giving the distressed person his huge body to cling to. Then he will swim them back to shore or to the lifeboat that is waiting.
Demonstrations of water rescue are carried out all over England by the
This breed has webbed feet, massive paws and is powerful enough to swim against sea currents to reach his goal.
They love water with an obsession and indeed, I have sometimes found it difficult to walk them past somebody's garden pond without them wanting to get in!
The Newfoundland dog has a natural instinct to rescue and has been known to react on his own volition when someone is in trouble. One of these dogs gained a medal in Canada for climbing out of his kennel and digging a child out of a snowdrift, all on his own initiative.
This dog is very big, weighing up to an average of 70kg, though the largest weighed 90kg. One of my dogs is 80 kg but I have seen bigger ones.
Their most common colour is black, sometimes with a white blaze, but they can also be found in chocolate brown and black and white, which colour is known as the landseer. The Landseer is considered to be a different breed in some countries, and I am told by someone who owns two as well as a black, that there are different characteristics.
The Landseer, for instance, is far more lively than the black Newfoundland dog.
These dogs are generally quiet and will sleep most of the time. They are very low energy dogs, and neither need nor want lots of exercise. When growing, their limbs are extremely delicate and they must be treated with great care.
Famous Newfoundlands include
who accompanied the first overland expedition across North America.
Another well known Newfie was
who saved the lives of several Canadian Soldiers during WWII.
For a healthy puppy from a good breeder, hip score certificates are essential, elbow score certificates are preferable as well as heart scans to reduce the risk of
subvalvular aortic stenosis.
This is a common condition amongst the breed and in fact Newfoundlands have the highest incidence of it amongst the giants.
As I have the privilege of living with two of these wonderful dogs, let me tell you about them. My Dogs are called Ferdinand and Joshua. Ferdie is 5 years old and Joshua is just 3. They could not be more different in character.
As a puppy Ferdie was particularly destructive. Do not forget how powerful these dogs are, even as babies, and they can chew their way through almost anything. He was also extremely mischievous, always going after things he knew he shouldn't have!
Joshua has always been extremely quiet. He has not chewed up much of the house at all and has never had a mischievous nature.
Unfortunately, Joshua was diagnosed with
in his front legs (his wrists) at the age of only 19 months. I was always very careful with him, but it happened just the same.
So now he cannot walk far, nor can he climb into the car. We have to lift him in, which is great fun as he is heavier than me! I cannot do that without help.
The Newfoundland is a wonderful dog to live with, but they are not for the houseproud. I have never seen a dog with so much fur, which is waterproof and sticks to everything. It is extremely difficult to remove from clothes and carpets.
The breed slobbers! I have heard of newfies who do not slobber, but it is rare. My two slobber everywhere, on the furniture, on the walls, on your clothes. It cannot be avoided.
Daily grooming is essential in this breed, all year round.
These dogs are very much people dogs and are never far from their humans. I have had to climb a ladder with a sheet of sticky wallpaper whilst they lay at the bottom of the ladder, refusing to leave me. They follow me about the house.
Do not even consider that you may get a newfie and keep him outside. He will be unbelievably miserable and depressed.
A puppy from a good breeder will cost around £1200 to £1400. Given the selective breeding, the health tests that need to be carried out and the expensive care of one of these dogs and her puppies, it is not a vast amount of money. Beware of much cheaper alternatives.
Like most giant breeds, low hip scores in the parents is essential to reduce the risk of
canine hip dysplasia.
They can also be susceptible to
For information on rescuing in the United Kingdom apply to
The Newfoundland Club
and in the United States
Newfoundland Dog Information
Newfoundland Dog History
From Newfoundland Dog to Giant Dogs
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