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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Newfoundland Dog Breed Guide: Pictures, Traits, Care & More!

Newfoundland Dog Breed Guide: Pictures, Traits, Care & More!

Newfoundland dog

The Newfoundland dog is known for being an extremely large dog. This breed was developed in Newfoundland, hence their name.

Originally, these dogs were bred as working animals by the local fisherman. They were used for hauling nets, for instance. Today, they make great rescue dogs in the water due to their muscular build, large size, and swimming abilities.

Breed Overview


28 inches (males), 26 inches (female)


143 – 176 pounds (male), 121 – 143 pounds (female)


8 – 10 years


Black, brown

Suitable for:

Fishermen, families with children


Docile, gentle, laidback

These dogs are intelligent and gentle. They are large dogs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are a handful. In fact, they are often described as “rug” dogs due to their tendency to spend most of their time lying around.

Newfoundland Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Newfoundland Puppies

Newfoundland puppies
Image Credit: Anna Krivitskaya, Shutterstock

Newfoundland dogs tend to be a bit expensive due to their large size. It simply takes a lot to feed and house the mother and puppies. If you buy your pup from a breeder, they are often health tested and come from parents that underwent genetic testing. Therefore, they are high quality, which is one reason that they cost so much. You can try asking local shelters if they have dogs similar to the Newfoundland, because this dog breed might be difficult to find for adoption.

When you bring a Newfoundland home, be ready to have a docile and gentle dog by your side. They create strong bonds with their families, especially with children. Be aware that they might be prone to health issues related to large dogs.

black newfoundland dog
Image Credit: Maxim Blinkov, Shutterstock

Temperament and Intelligence of the Newfoundland

Despite being large, the Newfoundland is extremely gentle and docile. They are known for their mild temperament, which enables them to be great family dogs.

When they are trained from a young age, these dogs are often quite obedient. They want to make their owners proud and aren’t known for being stubborn.

Temperament is a crucial part of breeding this animal. After all, they are extremely large, so having a poor temperament is very serious. Therefore, dogs that are aggressive or otherwise poorly behaved are often disqualified from shows and not bred.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

This breed can be great with families. They are docile and gentle enough to be kept around children. Their size often means that they are also big enough to avoid being injured by children. This prevents fear-based bites, which are the most common type aimed at children. In other words, most Newfoundland dogs are far too large to be scared of a child.

They also aren’t hyper enough to run around and accidentally knock children down.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

This dog does not have a huge prey drive, so they can get along with cats and other smaller animals. Socialization is still essential, though. If they are not socialized properly, it’s possible that they may chase cats.

If you want your Newfoundland dog to be around cats, introduce them to cats at an early age.

For the most part, this breed will also get along well with other dogs. They do need socialization, like all dogs do, but they are usually docile enough to be housed with other canines.


Things to Know When Owning a Newfoundland

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Since they are so big, these dogs require large breed food. This food will help protect their joints and prevent other health problems commonly associated with large dogs.

When your Newfoundland is a puppy, you should feed them food specifically designed for larger puppies. Large breed puppies have different nutritional needs than small breed puppies. Therefore, they must be fed dog food meant for large breeds while they are growing. Otherwise, they may be more prone to nutritional deficiencies and hip dysplasia.

Of course, since this breed is so large, they will eat large amounts of food. Be sure to consider this increased cost when budgeting for them.

Exercise 🐕

These dogs were designed to work. However, they aren’t as high-strung as some other dogs out there, which means that they don’t need that much exercise. These dogs can even be suitable for apartment living as long as they are taken out a couple of times a day.

Generally, these dogs only need a short walk or two. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise is plenty to keep them healthy. This activity may be a walk or it could be swimming. Playtime can also count. Basically, anything that gets the dog moving for at least a few minutes can count as exercise.

Exercise is extremely important to prevent obesity, which can cause serious health problems for this already-big dog.

Training 🎾

These dogs take well to training. They may not be as motivated or obedient as some other dogs, but they aren’t difficult to train. Start them early with puppy classes, and they’ll be set for life. It doesn’t take long for these dogs to learn commands, and they have no trouble remembering them for years.

You should ensure that your dog gets plenty of socialization too. The last thing that you want is a big dog that is fearful of strangers or other animals. Therefore, you should be careful to introduce them to a variety of different people and animals throughout their lifespan.

You should always start socialization in puppyhood, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can stop when they get older. You’re never really done with socialization.

Grooming ✂️

Due to their heavy coat, this dog needs to be brushed at least once a week. Not only will this prevent tangles, but it also spreads out their natural oils and cleans their coat.

You should use a slicker brush and a long-toothed comb for most of your grooming. Aim to clean and detangle the coat. These dogs shed, so you’ll need to remove much of the loose fur with the slicker brush.

A few times a year, these dogs will start shedding excessively. This is called “blowing their coat” and results in much more fur around your house. During these periods, you’ll likely need to brush them a few times a week at least.

You should also perform all the usual dog grooming. Trim their nails regularly and be sure to brush their teeth. Dental problems can be serious and even deadly, so keeping their teeth clean to begin with is vital.

You may need to trim inside their ears. Otherwise, their ears may trap debris and moisture, which can lead to infections.

Newfoundland in the river
Image Credit: rzoze19, shutterstock

Health and Conditions 🏥

Due to their large size, these dogs are prone to many joint and bone problems. Their joints just aren’t made to hold up their weight for long, so they tend to break down faster than those of other dogs.

Specifically, these dogs are prone to hip dysplasia. This condition occurs when the hip joint doesn’t form properly during puppyhood, which can occur due to genetics or environmental issues. Overexercising and an improper diet can both lead to hip dysplasia in some cases.

Elbow dysplasia is also common and similar to hip dysplasia except it occurs in the elbow.

As far as genetics go, Newfoundland dogs are prone to cystinuria, which leads to stones in the bladder. Dietary changes and supplements can limit the severity of this disease, but it isn’t curable. The dog will always have this condition.

These dogs are also prone to subvalvular aortic stenosis, which is a heart condition that affects the heart valves. Often, this disease is not diagnosed and treated while the dog is alive. Instead, the dog often suddenly dies at a young age, similar to a heart attack.

These dogs usually only live about 10 years. However, a lifespan of 8 years is also considered normal. Sometimes, they can live up to 15 years, though this is rare.

Minor Conditions
  • Cystinuria
  • Ear infections
Serious Conditions
  • SAS
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia

Male vs. Female

The males are much larger than the females of this breed. Therefore, those looking for a small Newfoundland will often choose a female, while those looking for a big dog will often choose a male.

When it comes to rescuing work, males are often chosen above females because of their size. They simply have more muscle mass for hauling people back to boats.

Beyond that, though, these dogs are quite similar to each other, no matter their sex. There is no significant difference in temperament or anything of that sort.

Therefore, the sex that you choose is largely a matter of personal preference.


3 Little-Known Facts About the Newfoundland

1. They have an increased lung capacity.

These dogs have big lungs which enables them to swim long distances without an issue. This trait is helpful when working in water.

2. Newfoundland dogs are still utilized as working dogs.

Even today these dogs are used by fishermen for working in the water. They are also great pack dogs and can be used to pull carts.

3. They can be great guard dogs.

This breed’s larger size makes them a great option for a guard dog. After all, there isn’t much that can threaten them. However, they are gentle enough to be a good fit for most children.

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The Newfoundland dog is a huge breed designed to work in water. They often were used for hauling fishnets and rescuing drowning victims. Their large muscle mass also means that they could be used to haul carts.

Today, they are companion animals, though they are also still used for working purposes.

They are known for being extremely gentle and laidback. In fact, these dogs are extremely good with children. Despite their history as working dogs, they are not extremely active. They only need a short walk or two a day.

While they are quite healthy, their large size does make them prone to a few different health conditions. For instance, they are prone to hip and elbow problems.

In the end, this dog can make a great companion animal for the right family and a solid working dog in many situations.

Featured Image Credit: YAN WEN, Shutterstock

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