Among the Most Easily Trained of All Breeds, this Dog is the Ideal Pet for a Child
The Newfoundland or "Newfie," as it is affectionately known, is a Mastiff-type of dog, as are the English Mastiff and Saint Bernard. The breed has short, stout legs for its size, but is a very massively built, large dog. Typically, adult males reach 130 to 150 pounds in weight, and females 100 to 120 pounds, standing 25 to 29 inches at the shoulder.
Despite its imposing size, though, there's nothing to fear about a Newfoundland. These gentle giants are so sweet and even-tempered that they have been called "Nanny Dogs," because they are incredibly docile and can handle even rambunctious children with aplomb. This trait defines this dog as the consummate child-friendly pet and excellent family companion. It's probably no mistake, for example, that the author of “Peter Pan,” James Barrie, chose the Newfoundland for the children's pet dog, Nana.
As its breed name suggests, the Newfoundland originated in the country of Newfoundland. Likely, the first Newfoundland dogs were bred with Mastiffs that Portuguese fishermen brought to the island during the 16th century. Many Saint Bernard dogs share Mastiff characteristics and have Newfoundland dog ancestry in their own pasts. Beginning in the 18th century, Newfoundlands were introduced to the Saint Bernard lineage to bolster the breed when the population was threatened with an epidemic of distemper. Newfies also share characteristics of mountain dog breeds like the Great Pyrenees.
In the 1880s, explorers and fishermen from England and Ireland came to Newfoundland and described two kinds of working dogs they found there. The larger of the two, the Newfoundland, was gigantic, with a long coat and heavy build. This dog was initially known as the greater Newfoundland, or the Newfoundland. The smaller working dog was of medium size and had a smooth coat. The lesser Newfoundland, or Saint John's Dog, is the predecessor to most modern retrievers.
Modern Newfoundlands also get part of their ancestry from the Leonberger and Moscow Water Dog, the latter of which is now extinct. Ultimately, the Newfoundland was brought to England and bred extensively there, which resulted in today's modern Newfoundland who has many ancestors in England as well as from its original home of Newfoundland.
The Newfoundland is a large, powerful dog who is as at home in the water as it is on land. Newfoundlands are excellent swimmers, which when combined with their inherent bravery and humane spirit, becomes the foundation for their skill as the perfect rescue dog. There are many stories of Newfoundlands rescuing drowning men thanks to a protective coat which is generally black, long, thick, and straight, with an oily sheen that repels water. A thick, woolly undercoat which is also oily is resilient to frigid temperatures as well.
The first thing you probably think of when you look at the Newfoundland is that this is a powerful giant – and indeed, this extremely strong and sturdy dog has been bred to work hard. With the stamina to pull heavy loads and perform many other difficult, physically-demanding tasks, this breed is utterly indefatigable in the face of hardship.
Standing nearly 30 inches high at the shoulder and weighing up to 150 pounds or even more in adulthood, its standard colors are black, brown, gray, and "landseer," which is a white coat with black markings. Although Newfoundlands typically have both an oily, straight outer coat and a thick, oily, woolly undercoat, any who live largely indoors year-round may lose their undercoats.
Newfoundlands have large, thick, droopy jowls similar to those of a Saint Bernard, and can have the same kinds of drooling traits typical of that breed.
There's a reason the Newfoundland is called the "gentle giant." Not just large, this dog is one who absolutely lives to please you. Besides being very obedient, this dog is also incredibly loyal, sweet-tempered and docile. Especially if training is started when Newfies are puppies, they are very easy to train and obey commands readily.
It should be noted that your pet is very sensitive, and will be highly attuned to your tone of voice as well. Many owners have said that all they have to do is to speak sharply to their pets to make them obey – if the Newfoundland is ever disobedient at all. This is among the most easily-trained of all dogs, one who is highly motivated to win your approval. Therefore, a firm and gentle demeanor is usually all that's necessary from an owner to ensure a well-behaved pet. Establish rules and enforce them calmly but firmly and your Newfoundland dog will be only too happy to oblige.
The Newfoundland is also one of the most intelligent breeds. This pet will instinctively know who is good and who is bad, and will serve as an excellent guard dog. However, since Newfoundlands are not violent attack dogs, these sociable, gentle canines are much more likely to use their massive bodies to block an attacker until you can summon help.
If you have boisterous children, the Newfoundland is the perfect pet. Your dog will be gentle and very patient with small children, although you should always be available to rescue a small child who may get knocked over by accident. Although the Newfoundland is not an unruly dog at all, its enormous size can prove problematic around very small children until your pet senses exactly how to navigate in tight quarters or when surrounded by little ones. When it comes to dogs as pets, you would be hard-pressed to find a breed more ideal for a young, growing family.
Surprisingly, the Newfoundland is complacent even in a relatively small apartment as long as you provide proper daily exercise. This dog is very quiet, gentle, and tame, and will not be a bit destructive even in the smallest of spaces. That said, of course, a large rambunctious family with a large house is also a perfect environment for this docile family member of the family.
Perhaps not surprisingly given its calm and gentle nature, the Newfoundland can become lazy and overweight very easily if not kept active enough. Therefore, it's imperative that you take your pet on a daily walk and give it plenty of chances to run, play, and even swim.
Newfoundlands are cold-climate dogs, and they don't like the heat. Give your pet plenty of cold water to drink, avoid particularly strenuous physical activity on hot days, and make sure there's a shady place to rest on hot, sunny days.
Newfoundlands can shed quite profusely, especially twice a year. In spring and fall, Newfoundlands who spend lots of time outdoors completely shed their thick undercoats, with the heaviest shedding occurring in the spring. Be sure to brush your pet with a hard brush very thoroughly at least once a day. Avoid bathing your pet if at all possible, since the protective oil coating will be stripped away if you do so. Dry shampoo is acceptable if you must bathe your dog.
Newfoundland puppies will grow up to be hardy, muscular, powerful, and sturdy dogs but, like most large dogs, they have relatively short lifespans. You can expect your pet to live 8 to 10 years on average. They are also prone to a genetic problem called sub valvular aortic stenosis (SAS), which is a heart valve defect, so be sure to visit your local veterinarian for regular checkups. Dogs with severe SAS can die suddenly at young ages. The actual disease is classified as mild, moderate or severe.
Dogs with mild SAS can live normal lifespans without complications. Unfortunately, although genetically inherited, it's difficult to detect through testing. Typically, in Newfoundland puppies a murmur may begin to appear at 6 to 8 weeks of age. If there is no murmur, Newfoundland puppies are considered healthy and free of SAS. There's also something called an "innocent heart murmur," in which a Newfoundland puppy will develop a murmur only to have it disappear at 12 to 14 weeks of age. These Newfoundland puppies, too, will be considered free of heart problems once murmurs have disappeared. Therefore, you can be relatively sure your pet will not develop SAS if it is free of heart murmurs by 12 to 14 weeks of age.