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rec.pets.dogs: Newfoundlands Breed-FAQ
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997
There are nearly 100 FAQ's available for this group. For a complete
listing of these, get the "Complete List of RPD FAQs". This article
is posted bimonthly in rec.pets.dogs, and is available via anonymous ftp
to rtfm.mit.edu under pub/usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/faq-list, via
the Web at http://www.zmall.com/pet_talk/dog-fa.../faq-list.html, or
via email by sending your message to with
in the body of the message.
This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below.
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
alteration provided that this copyright notice is not removed.
It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other
than the URL listed above without the permission of the Author(s).
This article may not be sold for profit nor incorporated in other
documents without he Author(s)'s permission and is provided "as is"
without express or implied warranty.
* Sharon Hope ]
Created May 12, 1994. Copyright 1994, 1995 by Sharon Hope.
1. Todd Jekel's site added --CTM
2. Ashley McClure's site added & NEWF-L info added --CTM
3. Removed Jekel's site (defunct) --CTM
Table of Contents
* How is the Newfoundland with children?
* Are they protective of the home and family?
* What kind of exercise do they need?
* Do they eat a lot?
* Do they drool?
* Do they shed?
* How long do they live?
* What health problems are particular to the breed?
* Are they just black Saint Bernards?
* The Newfoundland is in the Working Dog group, why?
* Why is the Newfoundland also called the Lifeguard Dog?
* What does the Newfoundland do as a ship dog?
* What draft work did the Newfoundland do?
* What is the Standard for Excellence for the Newfoundland?
* What is the AKC parent club of the Newfoundland?
* What does the application for NCA membership ask for?
* What are the Rescue and Regional club contacts?
* Where can I read more on Newfoundlands?
* How does the color inheritance work in the Newfoundlands?
* What about playing roughhouse with the pup?
* What about training?
* What is Lord Byron's poem?
How is the Newfoundland with children?
The Newf is renowned for his gentleness, protectiveness and love for
children. He is tolerant of behavior by children far beyond that which
would make other breeds snap or walk away. Because of this he is
ideally suited to being a child's companion, but the adult must accept
the duty to protect the Newfie from abuse by the child. It is no
accident that the Nana in the original Peter Pan was a Newfoundland.
The tranquil nature of the Newfoundland has been found to have such an
excellent effect on hyperactive children that there was a clinical
study done in the 1970s using Newfoundlands as a part of the therapy.
Are they protective of the home and family?
Yes, the Newfoundland, like other giant breeds, descends in part from
the Tibetan Mastiff. Mastiff-type dogs have been guarding home and
hearth for over 2,600 years of recorded history. The Newfie is a
little more laid-back in its protectiveness as compared to other
breeds. He is less likely to put on a show of barking & growling,
relying instead on his size and concerned watchfullness to send a
message to an unwanted intruder.
It is very typical that a Newf will stand physically between his
family and any stranger. He will not threaten nor growl, merely remain
in a position which indicates that he is on duty. He will not hesitate
to act, however, if his family is physically threatened.
The Newf has sufficient intelligence to recognize a dangerous
situation. There are many documented accounts of people being saved by
the family Newfoundland from gas leak, fire, and other dangers. They
are most well known for their powerful lifeguard instincts and have
many hundreds of documented rescues to their credit. They have been
known not to allow people into the deep end of the swimming pool until
they are satisfied that they can swim well enough to venture in over
their heads. People with children and pools find that the Newf watches
the children every second they are in the water.
What kind of exercise do they need?
The grown Newfoundland does not require a great deal of exercise. They
can become couch potatoes quite easily, but are willing and able to
accompany you in more strenuous pursuits.
A Newf should never allowed to become fat, as this will significantly
shorten an already too short life span. Regular exercise (brisk daily
walks on lead) is a must for adults.
Do they eat a lot?
During their first year, Newfoundlands grow from about a pound to over
a hundred pounds. They require plenty of food to support such rapid
growth. Once they reach adulthood, however, they have a very low
metabolism, and Newfie owners find that their dog food bills are lower
than those of friends with Labs or Shepherds.
Overfeeding a Newf puppy, in the hopes of growing a bigger dog, can
cause serious orthopedic problems. Remember, a lean Newfoundland is a
Do they drool?
Yes, on occasion. Most Newfies drool less than a St. Bernard, for
example, but when excited or hot they will drool. When resting and
cool they will drool less. It is likely, however, that when a Newfie
puts its head into your lap, you may be left with a damp lap.
Do they shed?
Yes. The undercoat is shed at least once per year, known as "blowing
coat." Grooming is extremely important at this time, as the dead coat
must be brushed out or mats will form. It is possible to brush out a
pile of hair which seems to be equal to the size of the dog being
groomed, but this is not an ongoing condition. About ten minutes per
day of brushing (a little more during the few weeks of shedding per
year) will keep the coat glossy & healthy. Nails should be kept to a
short length to protect the feet from splaying. This is particularly
important in a giant breed, as the feet support a significant load.
Most Newfoundlands shed a LOT in the Spring, and then again in the
Fall. The Fall shed is usually less severe then the Spring one.
How long do they live?
Newfies are a short-lived breed, with 8-10 year survival about
What health problems are particular to the breed?
Hip dysplasia is a problem in the breed and can be crippling for a dog
of this size. It is highly advisable to buy a puppy only from from OFA
(Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certified parentage, or dogs who
have had equivalent X-ray certification of their joints (hips and
elbows are both a good idea).
Cardiac problems also occur. Newfoundlands have a genetic
predisposition for hereditary heart disease known as sub-aortic
stenosis (SAS). This disease can result in the premature death of a
Newfoundland. Responsible breeders screen their puppies for SAS at
8-12 weeks of age by having a veterinary cardiologist listen to the
puppy's heart. All adult Newfs should be recleared of SAS before
Naturally, Newfies, like all dogs, must be properly innoculated (see
FAQ). Remember that the entire series of shots must have been received
before you expose your pup to any other dog, or even any ground an
unvaccinated dog may have walked on, as the effectiveness of the
innoculations may have been blocked by the immunity provided by the
mother for any or all of the shots given earlier in the series. The
only way you know that the pup is protected is when he/she has
received the last shot of the series.
Are they just black Saint Bernards?
No, the Newfoundland is a separate breed, but many people compare him
with the Saint Bernard and to the all white Great Pyrenees.
Newfoundlands actually come in solid Black, solid Bronze, solid Gray,
and in Black & White (see the standard). The Newfie's head is a bit
more square with a somewhat steeper 'stop' and deeper muzzle than the
Pyr, but less of a severe 'stop' and pendulous muzzle that the Saint.
While the other two breeds are similar in ancestors, the Pyr has more
herding instinct and the Saint is more of a dry-land rescue dog than
the Newf. The Newf is the one who excells in water rescue and is a bit
more mellow in temperament than the other two.
In fact, the Newfoundland was bred to the Saint Bernard in the mid
nineteenth century with the goal of improving the coat and working
ability of the Saint. The long haired Saint is a product of this
infusion of Newfie blood, as all Saint Bernards prior to that time had
short hair. The experiment was discontinued when the long coats were
found to accumulate ice more quickly, but the log coat variety has
remained in the Saint breed to this day.
The Newfoundland is in the Working Dog group, why?
The Newfoundland is a dog which has served man in many capacities. He
excells as a companion, protector, babysitter, lifeguard, ship dog,
draft animal, pack carrier, natural retriever and obedience dog. In
addition to breed and obedience showing, many Newfie owners compete
with their dogs in water trials, weight pulls, carting, travois and
Why is the Newfoundland also called the Lifeguard Dog?
Similar to the Saint Bernard's propensity for rescuing people in the
snow, the Newfoundland is renown for its countless rescues of
swimmers. In the 1800's two Newfoundland dogs were a required part of
the Lifesaving equipment at each of the lifeguard stations around the
coast of England. Possessing an instinct for water rescue, the
Newfoundland dog is physically well-suited to swimming, with its
webbed feet, thick rudder-like tail, water-resistant double coat and
its powerful build, strength and stamina. When a swimmer is in trouble
but conscious, the Newf will swim out to just beyond the person, then
swim close by in the direction of shore (or the shallow end of a
swimming pool), and allow the person to grab ahold of any part of his
anatomy in order to tow the swimmer to shore with swift powerful
swimming strokes. Only in the case of an unconscious swimmer will a
Newf grab the swimmer with its mouth, consistently taking the upper
arm in its jaws for the tow to safety. This particular hold causes the
person to be rolled onto his back with the head out of the water. When
a pair of Newfies are working a rescue they will instinctively each
take a different arm.
A Victorian era painting entitled "Saved", by Sir Edwin Landseer in
1856, and a similar picture "He is Saved" by Currier and Ives depict a
Black & White Newfoundland (the black & white variety later came to be
known as the Landseer variety) on a beach with a small boy who was
just rescued by the dog from drowning, immortalizing this Newfie
trait. The Newfoundland was extensively featured in the art of the
Victorian age, depicted by Landseer in many paintings and drawings, as
well as by other artists. A later painting by Pierre Auguste Renoir in
1878 features a Newfoundland.
What does the Newfoundland do as a ship dog?
According to _This is the Newfoundland_, by Mrs. Maynard K. Drury:
"The useful work of the Newfoundland for man at sea was so
internationally recognized during the era of the sailing ship that
reports of their enterprises come from many countries on both sides
of the Atlantic Ocean as well as the Mediterranean Sea. His
powerful swimming ability plus his docility and intelligence were
great assets to any ship's company, and it became customary to take
at least one web-footed Newfoundland on voyages as a 'ship dog.'
The specific service he rendered was to swim ashore with a line,
thus establishing communication with help on land. Untold numbers
of lives were saved because of the swimming help of the 'ship dog'
and his ability to find footing on rough rocks in a heavy sea where
the best of watermen might not survive. In less rough water he
could also haul a small boat ashore by its painter."
"In Holland, France, Italy, England and the United States are early
records of the Newfoundland in his role of ship dog."
The Newfoundland ship dog played a role in the battle of Trafallgar in
1805. A Newf was aboard the Titanic at the time of its sinking.
Another Newfoundland ship dog dove off the deck of a boat in the dark
and rescued Napoleon Bonaparte when he fell into the water and could
not be located by the crew on his return to France from Elba. One
Newfie, Tang, was credited with rescuing an entire ship full of people
in 1919 and was awarded the medal for Metitorious Service by Lloyds of
What draft work did the Newfoundland do?
The Newfoundland functioned as a draft dog in England and Europe. The
book _This is the Newfoundland_ by Mrs. Maynard K. Drury states:
"As early as 1824 it was estimated that there were 2,000
Newfoundland dogs in the town of St. Johns and that they were
constantly employed. They drew cut wood from the forests for fuel
and building purposes, drew loads of fish from the shore and helped
to pull in the heavy nets, and they transported all kinds of
merchandise from one part of the town to another as well as
delivering milk. It has been estimated that during one month of the
year 1815 these dogs furnished the town of St. Johns with labor
valued at from $4,500 to $5,000 per day, and that a single dog
would, by his labor, support his owner throughout the long winter.
They were used singly and in teams. Three to five dogs harnessed to
a sledge or other vehicle containing a load of firewood, lumber, or
fish (280 to 450 pounds) would draw it steadily with ease. This
they would do without the aide of a driver, if they knew the road,
and having delivered their burden, would return to the home of
their master for a reward of dried fish, their staple food. In
addition to their less glamorous tasks, the dogs were also used to
transport His Majesty's mail from the outposts north of the railway
to the railway junctions and from one outpost to another through a
chain of settlements. Teams averaging about seven pulled these
sledges over frozen marshes, through thick woods, and over trails
impossible for even a hardy pony. For this service to the King the
Newfoundland dog was honored by having his head made the subject of
a postage stamp for his native country."
This working ability was put to extensive use by the Allied forces in
World War II where the Newfoundland and Great Pyrenees hauled supplies
and ammunition in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, even through
Backpackers today find the Newf a willing and able companion. The only
thing they should not carry is the sleeping bags, as their love of
water could turn a stream-crossing into a cold and soggy evening.
What is the Standard for Excellence for the Newfoundland?
The Standard is the physical "blueprint" of the breed. It describes
the physical appearance and other desired qualities of the breed
otherwise known as _type_. Some characteristics, such as size, coat
quality, and movement, are based on the original (or current) function
for the dog. Other characteristics are more cosmetic such as eye
color; but taken together they set this breed apart from all others.
The Standard describes an _ideal_ representive of the breed. No
individual dog is perfect, but the Standard provides an ideal for the
breeder to strive towards.
Because of copyright concerns over the collection of all the Standards
at any single site storing all the faqs, AKC Standards are not
typically included in the Breed faqs. The reader is referred to the
publications at the end of this document or to the National Breed Club
for a copy of the Standard.
What is the AKC parent club of the Newfoundland?
The Newfoundland Club of America. You may contact this club at P.O.
Box 2614, Cheyenne, WY 82003. Send $5 for an information packet, the
pamphlet "The Newf And You", and an NCA Breeders List.
What does the application for NCA membership ask for?
The Application for Membership contains the following blanks:
Check the membership type: Single @ $45.00; Double @ $50.00; Junior
(less than 18 years) @ $10.00; Junior, plus NEWF TIDE subscription @
Amount enclosed, $25.00 application fee, plus Membership Dues, plus
postage levy for foreign membership @ $15.00; Total (in US Funds)
This application for membership in the Newfoundland Club of America,
Inc. must be accompanied by a $25.00 non-refundable application fee to
cover processing costs, plus a deposit for the appropriate membership
category. The signatures of two current NCA members must be included.
If, for any reason, the application is rejected, the deposit for dues
will be refunded.
What are the Rescue and Regional club contacts?
For the address of the Newf regional club nearest you, write to the
NCA Corresponding Secretary, Lori Littleford, 173 South 13th Street,
San Jose, CA 95112. The NCA Newfoundland Rescue committee is chaired
by Mary L. Price in Mt. Horeb, WI. All the Newf Regional Clubs have
Rescue networks as well. Contact Mary Price at 608-437-4553 for the
Newfoundland Rescue group in your area.
Where can I read more on Newfoundlands?
Then, check the Newfoundland mailing list, if you wish:
Send email to with SUBSCRIBE NEWF-L
Yourfirstname Yourlastname in the body of the message. Subject lines
The following books & video are available on the breed (see FAQ on
Resources for ways to obtain these books):
_Newfoundland_. Riley & McDonnell, 1985.
_Newfoundland_, AKC Video, 22 min.
_Newfoundland Handbook_. McDonnell & Riley, 1985.
_The New Complete Newfoundland_. Chern, 1975.
_This is the Newfoundland_. Drury, 1978.
_Newfoundland; Successful Water Training_. Lehr, 1987.
_The Newfoundland_, Joan C. Bendure, 1994. (Those of you who follow
rec.pets.dogs will recognize the write up on Marget Johnson's
Windwagon Newfoundlands on page 66.)
_Newfoundlands_. Drury & Linn, 1989.
_Newfoundlands, Great Balls of Fur_. Jager, 1992.
_Water Work, Water Play_, Adler
Be sure, also, to check out more general sources on training,
nutrition, health, etc., as well as those FAQs.
Don't have the following titles, but there is a puppy book by Adler, a
draft book by Powell, and a backpacking book by Alan Riley that those
interested in Newfies should know about. The Adler books are available
directly from her and the backpacking and draft books have been seen
at the dog shows.
How does the color inheritance work in the Newfoundlands?
The Solid Black is dominant, or BB. The Landseer is recessive to the
solid black, or bb, and is the result of the piebald gene, which
places the self-color on a white background. Solid Bronze is recessive
to black, and the Solid Gray is a dilute of black. Care must be taken
when matching dogs with recessive genes, as the piebald gene will
result in a solid color and white dog. Where the solid color is black,
the Landseer results, which is a color allowed by the standard.
However, if dogs with Brown or Gray backgrounds are bred with a
Landseer, the possible results are a Bronze and White or a Gray and
White dog, both of which are explicitly disqualified in the standard.
(Note that 'solid' color is considered by the standard to include some
What about playing roughhouse with the pup?
_DO NOT PLAY ROUGHHOUSE_ with your pup. It is so tempting, they look
so much like little teddy bears & they can 'take it' and really enjoy
it. The _BIG PROBLEM_ is that your Newfie has no concept of his size
or of growing larger. While it is really cute to have your puppy
wrestle with you, dash around & throw body blocks at 25-30 pounds, it
is no fun for the next 10 years at 150 pounds! Treat a Newfie puppy
like it is a rare piece of porcelain or crystal, they really are a
much more precious treasure.
What about training?
Be sure to sign up for and participate in obedience classes. Your Newf
would benefit from puppy kindergarten, too. Don't expect him (her?) to
have an attention span for the adult classes much before 6 months old.
Definitely train him, however, well before a year. You need to know
how to communicate your wishes to him and he is a _WORKING DOG_ & will
come alive when he is in a position to please you by behaving.
It can be tough to get the highest marks in obedience trials, should
you choose to go for the CD, CDX, etc., because the Newfies are not as
'snappy' on recall as the smaller dogs, but they do well and do really
Be sure to dabble in the other pursuits that Newfies are especially
suited to & enjoy: Rig up a cart for him to pull the kids around in
(be sure to have some rigid harnessing so that the cart can't run up
on his heels)-- BIG hit with the kids. Have them rig up an
Indian-style travois & 'rescue' their friends. Make him a back pack &
include him on all your hikes (just don't let him carry your sleeping
bags, if you are hiking near water they WILL get wet.).
Water trials are great fun & show your Newf's inherited lifeguard
What is Lord Byron's poem?
I.e., what kind of love and loyalty do Newfies inspire in their
_Inscription on the Monument of a Newfoundland Dog_
by Lord Byron
When some proud son of man returns to earth
Unknown to glory, but upheld by birth,
The sculptur'd art exhausts the art of woe,
And stoned urns record who rest below;
When all is done, upon the tomb is seen,
Not what he was, but what he should have been;
But the poor Dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to wwelcome, foremost to defend;
Whose honest heart is still his master's own,
Who labours, fights, lives, breathes, for him alone
Unhonour'd falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in Heaven the soul he held on earth;
While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
And claimls himself sole exclusive of Heaven!
Oh, man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Debas'd by slavery, or corrupt by power,
Who knows thee well, must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
By nature vile, ennobled but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye! who, perchance, behold this single Urn
Pass on--it none you wish to mourn:
To mark a Friend's remains these stones arise,
I never knew but one, and here he lies.
Newstead Abbey, November 30,1808
On one side of the pedestal supporting the antique urn he had
NEAR THIS SPOT
ARE DEPOSITED THE REMAINS OF ONE
WHO POSSESSED BEAUTY WITHOUT VANITY
STRENGTH WITHOUT INSOLENCE
COURAGE WITHOUT FEROCITY
AND ALL THE VIRTUES OF MAN WITHOUT HIS VICES
THIS PRAISE WHICH WOULD BE
IF INSCRIBED OVER HUMAN ASHES IS BUT A JUST TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF
BOATSWAIN, A DOG
WHO WAS BORN AT NEWFOUNDLAND, MAY 1803,
AND DIED AT NEWSTEAD ABBEY,
NOVEMBER 18, 1808.
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