The Newfoundland Dog - - Earthpedia Animals
Newfoundland dog Kaden

The Newfoundland Dog

The Newfoundland dog is a giant breed that is hard to miss. This massive dog breed with black or dark brown fur is often mistaken for a bear. It is considered the gentle giant of the dog world. Without a doubt, these are big dogs.

As one of the largest breeds on earth, along with the Tibetan Mastiff and the Great Pyrenees, the male Newfoundland dog can weigh up to 200 pounds and stand 28 inches tall. Female dogs usually weigh a little less. They can live to be 10 years old and beyond if properly cared for. According to the American Kennel Club, their temperament is often sweet, patient, and devoted. 

Considered regal, gentle, and quiet, Newfoundlands – or “Newfies” or “newfs” – do best with a lot of space, like most large dog breeds. Open fields, big suburban yards, long daily walks – these can be important aspects in creating a healthy environment for one of the largest friends you can have. It depends on the dog, but generally, Newfies romp around in snowbanks and love a good swim. Their thick coats are water-resistant and keep them insulated and help regulate their body temperature.

Early socialization is super important for this breed. Newfoundlands are generally in need of more companionship when compared to other breeds. If left alone for long periods of time, Newfies can get into trouble and develop unhealthy personality traits.  Examples of this are separation anxiety, and may also develop health issues, such as gastric torsion or hip dysplasia.

Beautiful Newfoundland dogs in the grass
Beautiful Newfoundland dogs in the grass

Newfoundland Dog’s Origin Story

The history of the Newfoundland dog is fascinating, although its precise origins remain a subject of speculation. The breed is native to the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is believed to have descended from various breeds brought to the region by European fishermen and explorers during the 15th and 16th centuries. Some possible ancestors of the Newfoundland include the Tibetan Mastiff, the Great Pyrenees, and local water dogs.

The breed was further developed in the 18th century in Newfoundland, where they were used by fishermen for various tasks. Their exceptional strength, size, and swimming abilities made them ideal for pulling in fishing nets, hauling wood, and even rescuing people from the cold waters of the North Atlantic. The Newfoundland’s natural lifesaving instincts and water rescue capabilities soon gained international attention, leading to their exportation to Europe.

In Europe, the Newfoundland dog gained popularity as both a companion and working dog. The breed’s distinctive black and white coat pattern, known as “Landseer,” was named after the British artist Sir Edwin Landseer, who often featured these dogs in his paintings. The breed’s friendly and gentle temperament further contributed to its growing popularity, and today, the Newfoundland is cherished worldwide for its loving nature and impressive physical attributes.

Temperament and personality of the Newfoundland Dog

The Newfoundland is renowned for its gentle and affectionate nature, often referred to as a “gentle giant.” They are highly intelligent, patient, and loyal dogs that form strong bonds with their families.

Some key aspects of the Newfoundland temperament include:


Newfoundlands are known for their friendly demeanor and are typically good with children, other dogs, and even strangers.

Protective instincts

While not aggressive by nature, these dogs possess a strong protective instinct and will not hesitate to defend their family if they perceive a threat.


Newfoundlands are sensitive dogs that respond well to positive reinforcement and gentle guidance. Harsh treatment can easily upset them.


Despite their size, these dogs are generally calm and adaptable, making them suitable for both suburban and rural living.

The Nanny Dog

The Newfoundland dog is often referred to as the “nanny dog” due to its gentle, patient, and nurturing temperament, especially when it comes to children. These large and powerful dogs exhibit an innate sense of care and protection around children, making them excellent family pets and companions for households with young ones.

Newfoundlands have a natural affinity for kids, and their calm, patient demeanor allows them to tolerate the noisy and sometimes unpredictable behavior of children. Their loyalty and protective instincts also mean that they will keep a watchful eye on the kids in their care, providing a sense of security for parents.

However, it is important to remember that no matter how gentle and well-behaved a dog may be, interactions between dogs and children should always be supervised. Proper socialization and training are essential for both the dog and the child to ensure a safe and harmonious relationship.

Newfoundland dog Kaden in springtime
Newfoundland dog Kaden in springtime

Physical Characteristics of the Newfoundland Dog

The Newfoundland is a large, powerful, and well-balanced dog with a muscular build, designed for both strength and endurance. Some key physical characteristics include:


Males typically stand between 28 to 30 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 130 to 150 pounds, while females stand between 26 to 28 inches and weigh between 100 to 120 pounds.


The Newfoundland’s thick, water-resistant double coat consists of a soft, dense undercoat and a coarse, long outer coat. The coat can be either straight or slightly wavy.


The breed’s coat comes in several colors, including black, brown, gray, and a white and black combination known as “Landseer,” named after the British artist Sir Edwin Landseer, who often featured these dogs in his paintings.


The head is large and broad, with a slightly arched skull, strong muzzle, and well-defined stop.


The eyes are medium-sized, dark brown, and have a soft, intelligent expression.


The ears are small, triangular, and set high on the head, falling close to the cheeks.


The tail is thick, long, and covered with dense hair, usually carried low with a slight upward curve at the end.

Newfoundland Dogs are Bred to Work – Water Rescue Dogs

People didn’t exactly breed Newfoundland dogs to take care of children, however. The Newfoundland is a working dog and a water dog, for which they have webbed feet. Historically, it was a “ship dog”, working in the North Atlantic Sea.

The dogs brought ropes ashore, retrieved lost fishing equipment, and also rescued humans in cases of emergency. Newfoundlands historically did other kinds of work too, such as pulling sleds in order to cart goods across various terrain. The dogs’ double coats (complete with water-resistant outer coats) and thick undercoats help them stay warm in cold climates.

Gypsy the Newfie playing in the snow
Gypsy the Newfie playing in the snow

Health Issues and Conditions of Newfoundland Dogs

As a large breed, Newfoundland dogs can be prone to certain health issues. Responsible breeding, regular veterinary check-ups, and proper care can help to mitigate some of these risks, but it’s essential to be aware of the potential health concerns when considering this breed. Some common health issues that can affect Newfoundland dogs include:

Hip dysplasia

A genetic condition in which the hip joint doesn’t develop correctly, leading to arthritis and pain. Screening for hip dysplasia through X-rays can help identify the issue early on and inform breeding decisions to reduce its prevalence in the breed.

Elbow dysplasia

Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is a developmental abnormality of the elbow joint, which can cause pain, lameness, and arthritis. Early detection and proper management can help improve the quality of life for affected dogs.

Heart conditions

Certain heart problems, such as subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS) and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), predispose Newfoundland dogs. Regular heart screenings and monitoring can help identify and manage these conditions early on.


A hereditary condition that affects the kidneys and can lead to the formation of cystine stones in the bladder, causing urinary blockages and infections. Genetic testing can help identify carriers of the cystinuria gene, guiding responsible breeding practices to reduce the prevalence of the condition.

Bloat (Gastric Torsion)

A life-threatening condition in which the stomach twists on itself, cutting off blood supply and potentially leading to tissue death. Large breeds like Newfoundlands are at higher risk for bloat, and it’s crucial to be aware of the symptoms and seek immediate veterinary care if they occur.

To maintain the overall health of a Newfoundland dog, it’s essential to provide regular veterinary care, a balanced diet, and appropriate exercise. Monitoring the dog’s weight and keeping them at a healthy size can help reduce the risk of some of these health issues. Additionally, working with a responsible breeder who screens their breeding dogs for genetic conditions can contribute to the health and longevity of your Newfoundland.

Newfoundland dog Kaden fourth of july
Newfoundland dog Kaden fourth of july

Newfoundland Dogs – A Literary Twist

Newfies have captured the hearts of many authors, who have featured these gentle giants in various literary works. Some notable examples of Newfoundland dogs in literature include:

Nana in “Peter Pan” by J.M. Barrie

Nana is a Newfoundland dog who serves as the loyal nursemaid and protector of the Darling children in the timeless tale of Peter Pan. This portrayal of a Newfoundland as a caring and watchful guardian showcases the breed’s loving and protective nature, especially around children.

Carlo in “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott

In this classic novel, Carlo is the March family’s Newfoundland dog. He is a faithful and affectionate companion to the family, often providing comfort and support during difficult times.

Lion in “The Swiss Family Robinson” by Johann David Wyss

In this well-known adventure novel about a family stranded on a deserted island, a Newfoundland dog named Lion appears. Lion’s courage, loyalty, and strength are vital to the family’s survival, demonstrating the breed’s versatility as both a companion and working dog.

Rollo in “Rollo at Play” by Jacob Abbott

Rollo is a lovable Newfoundland dog who appears in this 19th-century children’s book series. He is a friend to the protagonist, Rollo, and accompanies him on various adventures, showcasing the breed’s friendly and gentle temperament.

Bob in “Bob, Son of Battle” by Alfred Ollivant

Although not a purebred Newfoundland, Bob is a sheepdog with Newfoundland ancestry in this classic tale of rivalry and heroism. The story highlights the intelligence, loyalty, and working ability of dogs with Newfoundland heritage.

These literary examples not only reflect the Newfoundland’s popularity throughout history but also highlight the breed’s inherent qualities, such as loyalty, strength, and gentleness, which continue to endear them to dog lovers today.

Landseer Newfoundland dog
Landseer Newfoundland dog

Newfoundland Dogs – Cost of Companionship

With such a sweet personality, bear-handsome good looks, and literary fame, what’s the drawback to owning a Newfoundland yourself? Well, for a lot of people, the biggest problem is the cost. 

Most reputable breeders will sell a Newfoundland puppy for $1,000 – $2,000 dollars – and as many dog owners know, purchasing your furry pal is only the tip of the iceberg. For an owner in North America, for example, the average amount of money spent on a dog in the first year of ownership is over $1,200 dollars.

After the first year of ownership, expenses can still rack up into the hundreds of dollars, and that’s if your dog stays healthy. Any health problems or accidents can bring on gut-churning bills that add up extremely quickly. 

Other drawbacks? Newfoundland dogs are a giant breed and one of the heaviest shedding breeds around. They are “champion droolers” and due to their size, they obviously take up quite a bit of space. Not exactly ideal for apartment living. Also, expect to buy a lot more dog food than you would for a normal dog…Newfoundlands eat a lot of food.

Newfoundlands have a typical life span of 8-10 years, so you can expect to continue paying costs of vet bills, food, and any emergency care for that length of time.

Conclusion – The Good Far Outweighs the Bad

The Newfoundland dog is a large, powerful, and gentle breed, native to the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. With a rich history dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries, the breed is believed to have descended from a mix of European breeds, including the Tibetan Mastiff, the Great Pyrenees, and local water dogs. Developed to assist fishermen with various tasks, Newfoundlands are renowned for their excellent swimming abilities and natural lifesaving instincts.

Often referred to as “gentle giants,” Newfoundlands have a calm, friendly, and protective temperament, making them ideal family companions, particularly in households with children. They have a thick, water-resistant double coat that can be black, brown, gray, or white and black, known as the “Landseer” pattern.

As a large breed, Newfoundlands can be prone to certain health issues, including hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, heart conditions, cystinuria, and bloat. Regular veterinary care, a balanced diet, and appropriate exercise can help maintain the overall health of these dogs. The Newfoundland’s loving and loyal nature has led to its prominence in various literary works, highlighting the enduring appeal of this majestic breed.

With all of this in mind, Newfoundlands are still a delightful breed of dog that you might easily misidentify when out for a forest stroll. What are your experiences with Newfies? Any words of advice on everyone’s favorite bear dog?

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