This week in our series on Getting to Know Your Dog Breed we are featuring the Newfoundland. “Newfies” belong in the Working Group category of the AKC Breed designation.Life expectancy: Newfies have a relatively short life expectancy of 9-10 years.
Color/Size: Newfoundlands are limited in the variety of their accepted coloring. They may be found in black, grey or chocolate either solid or with limited white markings or black with white. Newfoundlands are big hefty dogs, typically weighing in around 100-120 for females and 130-150 for males. They stand about 28” tall at the shoulder.
Origins: The exact origins of the Newfoundland is not known. Speculation has them arriving at Canada’s Newfoundland island with Basque fisherman. His flat, water resistant coat and webbed feet made the Newfie particularly suited for his environment and was used to pull carts, bring in fishing lines, and rescue victims at sea.
Personality: Newfies are thought to be noble, gentle giants. Despite their intimidating size, they are loving and gentle with children. Their sweet temperament is one of their signature traits. They make great family pets.
Given their size, it is important to train and socialize them early on. Even though they are docile and gentle, any dog without proper training can develop bad habits.
Health Issues: One of the downsides of the Newfoundland is their propensity for various health issues. Like any large dog, they are susceptible to joint and ligament problems, particularly hip and elbow dysplasia. The best defense against joint issues in any dog is regular exercise and keeping them lean.
They are also at risk for several heart diseases such as dilated cardiomyopathy and subaortic stenosis (SAS) and a kidney disease called Cystinuria which leads to the formation of bladder stones that require surgery or ongoing diet and medication.
If you are considering purchasing a purebred Newfie, make sure the breeder has screened for these health issues.
Fitness/energy level: Newfies are working dogs and enjoy exercise although they also enjoy lounging. You must be mindful of their joints and not involve them in anything to strenuous relative to their size. i.e. Newfies aren’t running companions. Lifeguarding the pool, swimming, long walks or pulling the kids on a sled are great activities to keep them fit. They are also smart enough to enjoy challenge games like hide and seek or find the food.
Native foods for the Newfoundland:
Native foods for the Newfoundland would include: elk, deer, rabbit, salmon, cherries, cabbage.
Good foods to feed your Newfoundland:
Based on the Newfoundland’s origin, here are a few foods that contain some of the key ingredients that the original Newfies would have likely eaten. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather provide ‘food for thought’.
Fun facts about the Newfoundland:
- Nana, the nurse maid in Peter Pan was a Newfoundland.
- Rigel, a Newfoundland was on the Titanic. It’s been told he swam for many hours in the icy water looking for his owner.
- In some countries the black and white Newfoundland is called a Landseer and are considered to be an entirely different breed. Landseer’s are not recognized as a separate breed according to the American Kennel Club.