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Newfoundland Dog Breed Overview: Gentle Giants for Families - PawSafe

Newfoundland Dog Breed Overview: Gentle Giants for Families

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

Newfoundland dog breed

The Newfoundland dog, affectionately known as the Newfie, is a breed known for its giant size, gentle temperament, and deep loyalty. If you’re considering adding a Newfie puppy to your family, it’s important to understand what makes this breed unique. From their thick double coats that protect them from icy waters to their webbed feet perfect for swimming, every aspect of their build is a nod to their origins as working dogs adept at water rescue. Renowned for their sweet nature, these dogs often make excellent family pets, and their calm demeanor makes them a good match for calm households.

Selecting a healthy Newfie puppy from a reputable breeder is a key step in ensuring your dog will lead a happy and healthy life. When looking for the right Newfie, it’s not just about the puppy’s cuteness; you’ll want to focus on finding breeders who prioritize health and temperament. A comprehensive guide to Newfoundlands can help you understand what to expect in terms of purchase, care, nutrition, behavior, and training. This knowledge will be invaluable in raising your Newfie from a playful pup to a serene and steadfast companion.

As with any dog breed, gathering the right information is essential to ensure that you and your Newfie enjoy each other’s company to the fullest. You’ll want to look into a detailed dog breed information guide that covers all aspects of living with a Newfie. Remember, a well-informed owner is the best kind, ensuring that the unique needs of this gentle giant are always met with love and understanding.

Canada and Heritage

Originating from the Canadian province of Newfoundland, the Newfie was initially bred to help fishermen. With webbed feet and a muscular build, these dogs excelled at water rescue and hauling nets. 

Your encounter with a Newfoundland Dog might remind you of a bear, due to their size and strength. Historically, they were smaller, had a more slender body, and a sharper muzzle, an evolution that can be traced back through texts like Lewis and Clark’s journals.

Famous Newfoundland Dogs

Nana, the caring and protective canine nanny in J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, is one of the most notable literary references to the Newfoundland dog. These dogs have not just been fictional heroes; they’ve served alongside figures like Lewis and Clark, where a Newfie named Seaman accompanied the explorers on their legendary expedition. 

The breed has been celebrated in history by famous people such as Lord Byron, who wrote an epitaph for his beloved Newfoundland dog named Boatswain, highlighting the breed’s noble and loyal nature. The black and white variety, known as Landseer after the artist Sir Edwin Landseer, often features in his paintings to exemplify this majestic breed.

A Newfoundland Dog is a culmination of gentle nature and historical prominence, interwoven in the tapestry of Canada’s heritage and celebrated worldwide for its heroism and heart.

Newfoundland Physical Characteristics

chocolate brown giant adult Newfoundland dog standing in park

When you’re looking at a Newfoundland, you’re meeting a gentle giant with a characteristic rugged build. Their impressive physical features reflect their working heritage, making them standout companions both on land and in water.

So, let’s look at the Newfie Breed Standard.

Size and Weight

So, how big do Newfies get?

Male Newfoundland Size:

  • Height: Average of 28 inches
  • Weight: 130 to 150 pounds

Female Newfoundland Size:

  • Height: Average of 26 inches
  • Weight: 100 to 120 pounds

As a giant breed, the Newfoundland’s size is noteworthy, with males appearing markedly more massive than females. However, it’s important that their large size doesn’t compromise their balance and movement.

Coat and Colors

  • Flat, water-resistant double coat
  • Outer coat: Coarse and either straight or slightly wavy
  • Undercoat: Soft, dense, seasonally less dense

Color Varieties:

  • Black;
  • Brown;
  • Gray; and
  • White and black (Landseer pattern).

Newfoundlands have a dense double coat that serves as protection against harsh climates, with a range of colors approved by the breed standard including the striking Landseer Newfoundland with its distinctive white base coat and contrasting black markings.

You can also see this article for more information on the unique genetics behind Newfie colors.

Distinct Features

  • Muscular build: Signifies strength and power
  • Webbed feet: Enhances their swimming ability
  • Head: Broad with a soft and intelligent expression
  • Bone: Heavy, contributing to the breed’s powerful appearance

Your Newfoundland is more than just a pretty face; their muscular build and heavy bone structure are a nod to the breed’s working abilities. Keep an eye on those webbed feet, they’re a unique feature that makes them natural swimmers.

Newfoundland Temperament and Personality

black Newfoundland dog close up of face tongue sticking out

When you bring a Newfoundland dog into your home, you’re getting more than just a pet; you’re welcoming a gentle giant with a calm and sweet disposition. These dogs are known for their patient and friendly nature, making them a great fit for families.

Nature and Behavior

Newfoundlands are the epitome of gentleness. They’re big, but don’t let their size intimidate you; they’re as calm and sweet as they come. This breed is known for being patient — it’s like they have an infinite well of calm. They’re also affectionate, often seeking out cuddles and pats from their human pals. It’s this very temperament that has earned them the nickname “nanny dog,” as they are exceptionally good with children. They show a remarkable level of tolerance and gentleness around the little ones, making them fantastic family dogs.

With Family and Other Pets

You can’t talk about a Newfie without mentioning their incredible loyalty. Your Newfoundland dog will be your steadfast companion, always at your side or patiently waiting for you to come home. They are superbly friendly, not just with every member of the family but also with other pets

If you have other animals at home, you’ll often find your Newfie is more than happy to make friends. Their affectionate nature means they love to be involved in all your family’s activities, whether that’s watching TV together or enjoying a picnic in the park. They really are all about that bond with their people and four-legged friends.

Newfoundland Care and Grooming

Taking care of your Newfoundland dog involves regular grooming and exercise to keep them healthy and happy. Here’s how you can best care for your gentle giant.

Maintenance and Hygiene

Your Newfoundland’s coat needs consistent brushing to keep it free from tangles and to minimize shedding. Aim to brush your dog’s thick fur at least two to three times a week with a slicker brush and a long-toothed comb. Remember, during the spring and fall, they tend to shed more, so you might need to brush them daily.

They are known to drool, so keep a cloth handy to wipe their mouth frequently to maintain cleanliness. Their floppy ears also require regular checks to clean away any wax buildup and avoid infections.

Exercise Needs

Despite their large size, Newfoundlands have moderate exercise needs. You should give your pup at least a 30-minute walk each day to keep them fit. Newfoundlands also love swimming, so if you have safe access to water, it’s a great way to let them exercise and have fun.

Always pay attention to your dog during exercise, especially on hot days, because they can overheat. If you start to notice them panting heavily, it’s time to take a break and cool down.

Health and Nutrition

When caring for your Newfoundland dog, paying attention to their specific dietary and health needs ensures a happier, healthier life. From proper feeding to addressing common health issues, you’ve got to cover all the bases.

Dietary Requirements

Your Newfoundland dog’s diet should be balanced and tailored to their unique needs. They typically require food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce inflammation, particularly relevant for their joint health. Include a joint supplement with glucosamine and chondroitin in their diet, especially as they grow older. 

Since they can be prone to weight gain, avoid overfeeding them and consider a low calorie diet to maintain their optimal weight. A diet high in taurine is beneficial for preventing heart conditions like dilated cardiomyopathy, which this breed can be predisposed to.

Common Health Issues

Your gentle giant is unfortunately susceptible to a few health issues. Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus, is a serious condition where the stomach expands and twists, and it can be fatal if not treated promptly. 

It’s important to be aware of joint conditions like hip dysplasia, common in large breeds, and ensure that regular vet check-ups are part of your routine to catch any signs of cardiovascular conditions like subaortic stenosis or atrial fibrillation. Skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and more can also occur, so keep an eye on your dog’s skin health.

How Long Do Newfoundland Dogs Usually Live?

On average, a Newfoundland lives between 8 to 10 years. Regular vet visits, a heart-friendly diet, and diligent monitoring for common health conditions, such as dilated cardiomyopathy, can help maximize their lifespan. Emotional well-being is just as important, so don’t forget to give them plenty of love and attention. Keeping them active and happy plays a big role in their overall health.

How Much Does it Typically Cost to Buy a Newfoundland Dog?

Newfoundland puppy for sale sitting in backyard

When you’re looking to buy a Newfoundland dog, prices can vary widely. A Newfoundland puppy from a reputable breeder typically ranges between $1,000 and $2,500. The cost can be influenced by factors like the breeder’s reputation, location, and whether the puppy has championship lineage.

If you’re eyeing a Newfie with top-notch pedigree lines, you might need to fork out more cash, often exceeding $3,000. Don’t forget, these initial costs are just the beginning. Things like food, accessories, vet visits, and training should also be factored into your budget.

Where to Get Newfie Dog

If you’re open to adoption, you could give a home to a Newfoundland in need. Adoption fees are usually lower than buying a new puppy and can also include spaying/neutering, vaccinations, and microchipping. By going through organizations like the National Newfoundland Rescue, you not only save money but also provide a Newfie with a loving home.

To ensure you’re getting your puppy from an ethical place, the Newfoundland Club of America recommends connecting with reputable breeders. They’re dedicated to maintaining the breed’s health and standards, which means a higher likelihood of getting a healthy and well-socialized dog.

Remember, buying a Newfoundland dog is not about finding the cheapest option, but about finding a healthy, happy pup from a caring and responsible breeder or rescue. Your future furry companion’s well-being is priceless.

Training and Socialization

When you’re training your Newfoundland dog, focus on obedience and socialization. Use lots of positive reinforcement and praise to help your gentle giant learn and grow.

Obedience and Skills

Starting with basics like sit, stay, and come, you’re setting the foundation for a well-behaved pup. Use treats and your happy voice to let your Newfie know they’re doing great. Keeping sessions short and fun means your dog stays interested and learns faster.

  • Keep it short: Aim for 5-10 minute sessions.
  • Stay positive: Always use positive reinforcement.
  • Be consistent: Use the same commands every time.
  • Practice daily: Even a few minutes a day can make a big difference.

Socializing Your Newfoundland Dog

Your Newfoundland dog is a friendly sort, but they need to meet lots of different people and pets to stay that way. Take them out to dog parks or on walks in busy areas. Give them a chance to experience different sights, sounds, and smells.

  • Start early: The younger, the better for socializing.
  • Be patient: Let your dog approach new things at their own pace.
  • Mix it up: Introduce your dog to various people, animals, and environments.
  • Stay calm: Your Newfoundland will look to you for cues on how to react.

Working and Activities

Newfoundland swimming for exercise good for joints

If you’re curious about what Newfoundland Dogs do best, think about jobs that involve rescue and splashing around in the water. They’re not just big, fluffy pets – they’re strong working companions, especially when it comes to water rescues.

Rescue and Work Roles

Newfoundland Dogs are the go-to buddies when you need a strong rescuer, especially in the water. Think of them like lifeguards. With their powerful build and natural swimming skills, they’re used in water rescue operations and have a history of working alongside fishermen. These dogs are built to brave the cold sea and are known to have saved lives in water rescues. Their massive size contributes to their strength and they can pull nets for fishermen or even haul wood from the forest.

  • Tasks Newfoundland Dogs Excel At:
    • Pulling nets and other objects
    • Hauling wood
    • Saving people from drowning
    • Working as a companion to fishermen at sea

Compatibility with Water Activities

Newfoundland Dogs and water are like peanut butter and jelly – they just go together. This breed loves to swim. Their webbed feet are like built-in flippers, giving them an edge in the water. They’re so comfortable in water that they’re often used as retrievers in aquatic settings. It’s not just their love for water that makes them great swimming companions; they’re also naturally protective and attentive to your safety. So, if you’re into water activities and need a furry partner, a Newfoundland certainly fits the bill.

  • Water Activities Suited For Newfoundland Dogs:
    • Personal swimming companion
    • Boat trips and helping out with aquatic tasks
    • Participating in water-based dog sports

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In this section, you’ll get the scoop on the Newfoundland dog. These gentle giants are known for their sweet nature, but let’s dive into some of the specifics you might be curious about.

What’s the average size and weight of a Newfoundland dog?

Newfoundland dogs are pretty large. A full-grown male can weigh between 130 to 150 pounds and stands about 28 inches tall at the shoulder. Females are slightly smaller, generally weighing around 100 to 120 pounds and standing roughly 26 inches tall.

Can you tell me about the temperament of Newfoundland dogs?

Sure thing! Newfoundland dogs are known to be real gentle and friendly. They are a patient breed, great with kids, and have a knack for being excellent family pets. They’re often called “nanny dogs” because of their protective nature.

What are the common colors for Newfoundland dogs?

Newfoundland dogs mostly come in four different colors. You can find them in black, brown, gray, and there’s the black-and-white one that’s called the Landseer. Pure black is the most common one, though.

Would you say Newfoundland dogs are easy to take care of?

Newfoundlands don’t require an extensive grooming routine, but don’t be fooled–their thick double coat means they do need regular brushing to keep it nice and to prevent mats. They drool and can be quite the shedders, so you’ll want to keep that in mind. As for exercise, they’re not super high-energy, but they do need regular walks and they absolutely love swimming.

Final Thoughts

You’ve seen how special the Newfoundland dog is, with their big size and even bigger heart. They’re often called “gentle giants” because they are so good-natured and friendly. Remember, these dogs love to be around people, especially kids, and make excellent family pets.

  • Friendliness: Newfoundland dogs are well-known for being super friendly.
  • Lifespan: They typically live between 8 to 10 years.

They’re not just a pretty face, though. These dogs are hard workers. Historically, they were bred to help fishermen in, you guessed it, Newfoundland. This means they are strong and love the water. They even have webbed feet to help them swim better!

  • Exercise: They need regular, low-impact exercise to stay healthy and happy.
  • Grooming: Prepare for some grooming, as their thick coat sheds a lot.

If you’re thinking about getting a Newfoundland dog, you should know they need a lot of space. So, they’re better off in a house with a big backyard than a small apartment. Also, you should be ready for some drool – it’s part of their charm, but it can be a bit messy.

Just remember, every dog needs care and love. If you decide to bring a Newfoundland dog into your life, you’re in for a treat with a loyal and loving companion. They might be big, but their ability to fill your life with joy is even bigger!

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.