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Newfoundland Dog

Nicole Cosgrove

Newfoundland dog_Pandas, Shutterstock

The Newfoundland is a giant purebred originally from Newfoundland, Canada where it was bred to be a working dog and companion. Made famous in J.M.Barrie’s Peter Pan, the nanny dog of the Darling children was a Newfoundland because Barrie himself had one and loves them. Today it is talented in several areas including weight pulling, carting, guarding and competitive obedience. It is also a great family dog, still hardworking but also sweet and gentle.

Here is the Newfoundland at a Glance
Name Newfoundland
Other Names None
Nicknames Newf, Newfie, The Gentle Giant, Blackbear
Origin UK and Canada
Average size Giant
Average weight 100 to 150 pounds
Average height 24 to 29 inches
Life span 8-10 years
Coat type Double, dense, water-repellent, thick
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black, brown, grey, white markings
Popularity Quite popular – ranked 37th by the AKC
Intelligence High – very clever dog
Tolerance to heat DModerate – does not do well in overly warm or hot climates
Tolerance to cold Excellent – can handle even tough cold climates
Shedding Frequent plus also has seasonal blow outs
Drooling High – does drool a lot
Obesity Above average – monitor its food and exercise
Grooming/brushing Heavy coat and needs brushing daily
Barking Occasional
Exercise needs Somewhat active
Trainability Easy to train
Friendliness Excellent – very social dog
Good first dog Good but best with experienced owners
Good family pet Excellent – great with everyone
Good with children Excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Good to very good with socialization
Good with strangers Very good – approachable
Good apartment dog Low – far too large for apartment living and needs a yard
Handles alone time well Low – does not like being alone, can suffer from separation anxiety
Health issues Moderate – it is prone to a number of health conditions including eye problems, bloat, cancer and heart problems
Medical expenses $485 a year includes basic care and pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for good dry food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $645 a year for license, training, toys, grooming and miscellaneous costs
Average annual expense $1000 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1500
Rescue organizations Several including the Newfoundland Club of America Rescue Network
Biting Statistics None reported

The Newfoundland’s Beginnings

The Newfie is named after the place it comes from, Newfoundland in Canada. It was used as a working dog on water and on land, helping carry loads, pulling in tow lines and also good at acting as lifeguards if someone fell into the water. There are three main theories about where it comes from. One is that its ancestor is the Tibetan Mastiff and the American Black Wolf (extinct) though this is not recorded anywhere. The second is it is simply a cross of several European breeds that were around in the 14 and 15 hundreds. Lastly the dogs ancestors were left there by the Vikings in 1000 A.D.

It was first given its name in 1775 by George Cartwright, a fan of the breed. In the 1780s the Newfie was at risk and nearly disappeared because of Canadian government taxes. However Sir Edwin Landseer (painter) and other lovers of the breed saved it. In fact the black and white Newfoundland dog is called a Landseer after him. When the governor of Newfoundland Harold MacPherson had one of his own this made the dog more popular again. In 1879 it was recognized by the AKC.

The Newfoundland was first shown in England in 1860 and it did very well there until the two world wars where feeding such a large dog was a very difficult thing.

New Lease on Life

After the second world war their popularity saw an increase once more in England and elsewhere. Over the years they have saved many lives from drowning and it still has that instinct today. In 1919 for example one dog received a gold medal for pulling a lifeboat of 20 people to safety who had been shipwrecked. Many kennel clubs will do Newfoundland Rescue Demonstrations. They are also used today at the Italian School of Water Rescue Dogs along with Golden and Labrador Retrievers and the Leonberger. It is ranked 37th most popular dog by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

It is a giant sized dog breed standing 24 to 29 inches tall and weighing between 100 to 150 pounds. It is heavily boned with a strong and powerful body, thick neck and large head. It has a double medium coat that is thick with a coarse outer and soft inner and water-repellent. Common colors are grey, black, white and brown.

It has a wide muzzle, black nose or brown nose, brown seep set eyes and triangular ears with rounded tips. Its tails is broad at the base and hangs down. It has webbed feet which is why it is such an effective swimmer. It does have droopy jowls and lips so it does drool a lot.

The Inner Newfoundland


The Newf is a brave, intelligent and sweet and gentle dog. It is a very devoted and loyal companion and makes a great family dog for people with the room! It is alert and will act as an effective watchdog as well as being protective enough to act in your defense too. Note though it is never aggressive otherwise and it is often used as a therapy dog.

It is friendly and loves to be with people and is eager to please. It is patient but prefers not to be left alone for long periods of time. It can suffer from separation anxiety and as a result may act out and have unwanted behavior like becoming destructive or barking excessively. In general though it is a calm, quiet and dignified dog. Watch out though in some lines where you have not socialized well enough it can become fearful and some have stubbornness problems, particularly seen in males.

Living with a Newfoundland

What will training look like?

Being a smart dog who likes spending time with you and is eager to please, the Newfoundland is moderately easy to train when considering the sometimes obstinate side. In general female Newfs are more willing than the males! Make sure along with basic obedience training you also complete early socialization with it. It will be a better dog as a result and you can feel happy and confident with it wherever you go and whoever is seen.

Training should be done using positive techniques, offer it treats and encourage its progress with praise and rewards. Avoid getting impatient or punishing. You still need to be firm and consistent though, especially if you have a Newf set on testing your dominance. Training needs to cover things like commands that prevent it from jumping up at people and correct leash walking. As a puppy if these things are not controlled when it is older and a lot bigger it is a big problem.

How active is the Newfoundland?

This is a somewhat active dog, it is calm indoors but its size means apartment living could be difficult, it is best in a house with room and a yard for it to play in. It still needs regular exercise though too, a couple of good walks a day are a must. It would also benefit from trips to a dog park where you can play with it, it can run off leash and even socialize. Newfies love the water and it is a great swimmer.

As a puppy between the age of 4 to 7 months care should be taken as it can be more prone to bone and joint issues. Avoid letting it run on hard surfaces or jumping from high heights or pulling carts until it is around 2 years old. Swimming though is fine as it puts no pressure on them.

Caring for the Newfoundland

Grooming needs

Taking care of a Newfoundland dog will take some daily care and can be moderate to high maintenance. It will need occasional trimming at a professional groomers where they can also clip its nails if they are too long. It does shed a lot and it then has seasonal blow outs on top of that so expect a lot of hair to clean up and daily brushing. It does get dirty quite easily so will need burrs removed from its coat, feces cleaned off its hindquarters, paws cleaned and so on.

Bathing should be done when needed but not overly often. Even when using a dog shampoo too much bathing damages its natural oils that it needs for a healthy coat and skin. You will also need to look after its teeth, brushing 2 to 3 times a week at least and check its ears for infection then clean them just by wiping, once a week. It does slobber and drool so there will be this to clean up too.

Feeding Time

It is a large dog so it needs quite a lot of feeding! Somewhere between 4 to 5 cups a day, divided into at least two meals is average. However the exact amount it will need will depend on its size, level of activity, metabolism, health and age. Watching how much it eats is vital to ensuring it does not become obese which puts a strain on its organs and lowers it life span.

As a puppy it will need a diet that has the right balance of protein and fat. A good quality dog food is important in ensuring it is well nourished and not just getting full on fillers. Watch out when they drink. They drink a lot and are messy when they do and they drool.

Newfoundlands with children and other animals

There is a good reason for Barrie portraying a Newfoundland as a nanny for the children in Peter Pan. It is great with children, gentle and patient but due to its size it can accidentally knock over small children. It is also friendly with other pets especially when properly socialized. Make sure children around it are taught how to approach and touch dogs in a kind way and that just because it is big does not make it a pony.

With other dogs in general it is fine, early socialization especially helps though with male Newfs who can occasionally be aggressive or have dominance issues when around other male dogs.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

Sadly the Newfoundland does have a shorter life span than most giant breeds at 8 to 10 years. There are some serious health issues it can be prone to such as Bloat, SAS, Joint dysplasia, Epilepsy, heart problems, Cancer, CHD, Von Willebrands disease, eye problems, OCD, sensitivity to anesthesia, Addison’s disease, Cystinuria, knee injuries and hypothyroidism.

Biting Statistics

When looking at 34 years of reports from Canada and the US on dogs attacking people the Newfoundland is not mentioned in any. This is a large dog but usually not aggressive at all. However anything can happen, certain situations can cause any dog to snap. To make sure your dog is never a problem it is key to get one you can take care of, make sure it is well fed and exercised, given the attention it needs and is properly socialized and trained.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Newfoundland puppy is going to cost an average of $1500. That is for a healthy puppy from a good breeder of pet quality. For a dog to show a good breeder is going to charge a lot more, up into the several thousands. For a rescue or shelter dog, who may be an adult rather than a puppy, you can pay less, somewhere between $100 to $400.

There are some medical procedures that need to be done when you first get a puppy. Some breeders or shelters may take care of some of those for you. These include deworming, blood tests, a physical exam, shots, micro chipping and then spaying or neutering. These will be about $300. You will also need some things for it, a crate, collar and leash, food bowls and so on. These will cost another $200.

Feeding it is going to be a big part of its yearly costs. It will cost at least $270 a year for a good dry dog food and dog treats. Basic medical needs like shots, check ups, flea and tick prevention and pet insurance are also a yearly cost that will start at $485 a year.

Other costs will involve basic training, having a license, having toys for it to rotate through, grooming and other miscellaneous things that could come up. These come to $645 a year.

Each year owning this dog is going to cost you at least $1000. Keeping in mind it is a dog prone to needing more health care than just the basics covered here you can expect that figure to go higher some years.


Looking for a Newfoundland Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

Adding It All Up

The Newfoundlander is a very intelligent and well tempered dog barring those males from less well bred lines. It is still excellent at water rescues and makes a good working dog as well as a great companion. It is very friendly and great with children but it does not do well being left alone for long periods and its size must be taken into consideration. It needs room to move around and a yard.

While it tends to be placid it still has energy to burn so it must be taken out a couple of times a day. Also be prepared for the grooming as it is something that will take time and patience, even if you have a professional groomer help out!

Meet NewfyPoo – Newfoundland x Poodle Mix

Newfoundland and Poodle Mix
General Information
Size Large to giant
Height 22 to 30 inches
Weight 70 to 130 pounds
Life span 8 to 12 years
Touchiness Fairly sensitive
Barking Rare to Occasional
Activity Slightly active
Breed Traits



Can be

Featured Image Credit: Pandas, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.