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Newfoundlands are best for pet parents with some previous dog experience. They're happy with both singles and families with children, and because these pups are giant-sized, a home with lots of space is needed.
What makes the Newfoundland dog a Newfoundland? Let's find out how they stack up.
Newfoundlands are known for having a patient and gentle personality. They love being around their people and are naturally friendly with strangers. Just like any other breed, they need early socialization (aka exposure to new people, places and things) to understand how to play appropriately with other dogs; sometimes the goofy Newfie doesn’t realize how big they are! But consistent training will help your Newfoundland puppy grow up to be a confident, well-mannered dog.
The sweet-tempered Newfoundland makes a great family dog, as they typically get along well with kids of all ages, including babies and toddlers. While it may be cute, make sure your child doesn’t sit or ride on your Newfie. The dog may tolerate it, but as they get older, health problems like hip dysplasia can make them uncomfortable. This breed isn’t known for having aggressive tendencies, so pain is about the only reason a Newfoundland would growl or bite (outside of typical puppy behavior).
While the Newfoundland breed is often treated as family (especially in the United States), they are still used as working dogs in their home provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Originally bred for their skill at water rescues and to haul in fishing nets, today, the dogs are used for pulling carts or as pack horses. (And you may find they enjoy participating in “working” dog sports like carting and drafting competitions.)
How to Care for a Newfoundland
These large pups need a large amount of care. (What else would you expect from a dog the size of a teenage boy?) The Newfoundland dog sheds. A lot. And they drool. A lot. Besides that, they are an outgoing and intelligent breed who enjoys learning. Newfies don’t need a ton of exercise, but they do enjoy being outside with their people. Their biggest requirement? Physical space—a lot of it. Similar to other large breeds, their ideal environment is a larger home with a roomy backyard.
Newfoundland dogs have a lifespan of 9 to 10 years and, unfortunately, are at risk for several health issues. But that shouldn’t stop you from bringing this gentle giant into your family. Armed with knowledge, you can help your pup live the happiest life possible.
- Elbow and Hip Dysplasia: Often seen in larger breeds, elbow and hip dysplasia are conditions that occur when the joint doesn’t form properly and can be painful for your pup. These conditions can be diagnosed with an X-ray and are usually treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), reducing certain activities like jumping, managing the dog’s weight and, in severe cases, surgery.
- Cardiac Disease: Studies show that about 10 percent of Newfoundland dogs develop dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a heart condition that happens when the heart becomes weak and isn’t pumping blood as it should. This eventually causes congestive heart failure. It can come on suddenly or progressively and is usually confirmed through a variety of tests. The disease should be treated aggressively, and there are several medications a vet may prescribe.
- Cystinuria: Cystinuria is a genetic kidney defect that causes stones to form in the urinary system. Cystine bladder stones can be removed either through non-surgical means or through surgery. Long-term care includes a dietary change to prevent the formation of future stones. Reputable breeders can screen for cystinuria to keep from passing the the defect to future generations of Newfies.
- Bloat: Large-breed dogs like the Newfie are prone to bloat. This can become a life-threatening condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus. GDV causes the dog’s stomach to fill with gas and become twisted. It can occur suddenly and is a life-threatening emergency. To help reduce the chance of your dog experiencing GDV, use a slow feeding bowl at mealtime, keep the bowl on the ground (don’t elevate it) and avoid exercising at least an hour before or after mealtime. If you think your pup is suffering from GDV, get to your vet immediately.
The Newfoundland breed originated in the Canadian province of the same name in the 18th century. Fishermen relied on the dogs with their partially webbed feet and natural-born swimming abilities in water rescues and to haul fishing nets ashore. Their immense lung capacity enables them to swim long distances. While Newfies are known as water dogs, they are still used in the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador as working dogs (dogs bred to perform a job) for pulling carts or as a pack horse. They were eventually exported to England; today, most purebred Newfies are descendants of the British Newfies (even the ones living in Newfoundland!).
The breed can be found throughout history books. In 1802, Lewis and Clark had a Newfoundland named Seaman as part of the expedition. (The dog appears on 10 different monuments across the country.) Multiple US presidents had Newfies, including James Buchanan, Ulysses S. Grant and Lyndon B. Johnson. The breed earned its reputation as a “nanny dog” for watching after Senator and Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy’s 11 children. The Newfoundland dog was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1886, becoming the AKC’s 32nd breed.
Looking to buy a Newfie puppy? You can find a list of reputable breeders on the AKC’s website. Working with a reputable breeder usually means you’re getting a puppy who’s been screened for health issues and temperament. Depending on the breeder, the average price for a Newfoundland puppy is between $1,200 and $3,000. Pet parents can also adopt from Newfoundland rescue groups around the country or keep an eye out for the breed at their local animal shelter.
Do Newfoundlands shed?
Yes, Newfoundland dogs shed year-round, with heavy shedding seasons in the spring and fall. To keep up with all that hair, you’ll need to brush your pup daily during shedding season and weekly at other times of the year.
How big do Newfoundlands get?
Newfoundland dogs get big—very big. They can grow up to 28 inches tall (at the shoulder) and weigh up to 150 pounds.
Are Newfoundlands good with kids?
Yes, Newfoundlands are great with kids. The good-natured nanny dog is usually well-behaved around children. (Just be sure to watch them around small kids and babies; Newfies sometimes don’t know they’re so big!)
What are the most popular Newfoundland names?
The most popular Newfoundland dog names include Oscar, Sophie, Eeyore, Talia, Molly, Manny, Murphy, Sammy, Ralphie and Mocha. Get more dog name inspiration here.
What are the most common Newfoundland mixes?
The most common Newfoundland dog mixes are:
- Newfoundland-Poodle mix (Newfypoo)
- Newfoundland-Lab mix (Newfador, New Labralound, or Labrafoundland)
- Newfoundland-Golden Retriever mix (Golden Newfie)
- Newfoundland-German Shepherd mix (New Shep)
- Great Pyrenees-Newfoundland mix (Great Newfie)
- St. Bernard-Newfoundland mix (St. Bernewfie)
Newfoundlands are endlessly patient and loyal, which is likely how the breed earned the nickname “nanny dog.” They don’t require much daily exercise and love any outdoor activity with their family. The pros of this sweet breed far outweigh the downsides of their shedding and drooling (they can’t help it, after all!). Of course, they need more space than smaller pups, but these dogs are intelligent and fun to train for a pet parent with some experience.