Get to know the Newfoundland
All you need to know about the breed
One of the biggest dogs in the world, the Newfoundland is also renowned as one of (wo)man’s most beloved breeds. Known for being a hero of the dog community, they have long been established as one of the best all-round rescue animals. As at home in the mountains as they are at sea, they are a regular fixture among rescue teams all over the globe.
Good swimmers, the Newfoundland’s body was made for being in the water. As well as their waterproof coats and powerful, rudder-like tails, they also have unusual webbed feet. Their large lung capacity enables the dog to swim long distances too. They are also strong enough to bring a fully grown man back to the shoreline.
Despite their huge size, Herculean strength and apparent fearlessness, these noble giants are also known for being unexpectedly gentle dogs. With their easy-going personality, the Newfoundland is usually fine with children and other pets, once trained. Also very affectionate animals, Newfoundlands form a powerful bond with their human families, though this means they don’t do well left alone.
Their thick shaggy coats, while their crowning glory, do require a bit of care – and they will need at least an hour of moderate exercise each day. The Newfoundland also thrives on human interaction. But, overall, they are really quite easy dogs considering they often weigh more than their owners.
Not surprisingly, given their venerated background, Newfoundlands feature regularly in popular culture – from films and books to paintings. Perhaps the best-known example is that of ‘Nana’ in J.M. Barrie’s classic childhood story, Peter Pan. And in fact, Barrie and his wife Mary had a much-loved Newfoundland of their own.
In terms of their lifespan, Newfoundlands can also live up to a top age of 16. So, in summary, you’ll have a devoted, hardy and intelligent companion in a Newfoundland. Plus, their almost teddy-bear-like features and hangdog expression make them hard to resist.
2 facts about Newfoundlands
Things to look out for
From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Newfoundland
It’s important to be aware of something called ‘bloat’.
Otherwise known as ‘gastric dilatation and volvulus’ (GDV), this is a potentially life-threatening condition where the stomach “turns” – thereby causing a build-up of excess gas, fluid and food. As large, deep-chested dogs like the Newfoundland can be predisposed to GDV, it’s imperative to know the signs. Although still little understood, contributory factors may include eating or drinking too much in one go or exercising too soon after eating. In any event, if your Newfoundland starts looking anxious or unwell, or begins to retch, drool or show abdominal distension, the vet should be called right away. Also, breaking up their food allowance into several meals a day is recommended and exercise should be left at least an hour after mealtimes.
Another thing to look out for: hip and elbow problems.
Like many larger dog breeds, the Newfoundland can be particularly susceptible to something known as hip and elbow dysplasia – a developmental disorder that can result in abnormal wearing of the bones and joints. However, responsible breeders should be screening for conditions such as these. Also, it’s possible to reduce the risks by ensuring that Newfoundland puppies are fed with a specially formulated food for their size. This will help to ensure they develop at the right rate and, therefore, avoid placing undue stress on their body as they grow.
While fairly hardy, they don’t do so well in heat.
Hailing as they do from an island with an extreme climate, and adept at powering their way through icy waters, this a breed that can deal with pretty difficult conditions. However, one thing the Newfoundland does not do so well with is hot weather. With their thick water-resistant double coat, they are much better suited to the cold. Furthermore, their black fur tends to absorb the heat. For that reason, it’s best to keep them out of the midday sun. Also, during the summer, their walks should be timed for first thing in the morning or last thing at night – or take advantage of their true nature and head to the lake for a swim. For more information on your Newfoundland’s exercise requirements, see below.