"To the Rescue!"

Photo of Newfoundland


Newfs originated in Newfoundland around 1000 A.D. from indigenous dogs who may have been crossed with the big black bear-hunting dogs that were brought to the area by the Vikings (large skeletons of similar dogs have been found amid the ruins of Viking settlements in Scandinavia). It's also possible that the Newfoundland is related to European mastiff breeds brought to the area by fishermen in the 1500s. Often seen in their native land at the prow of a ship or towing the line as a sailors' mate, Newfs love everything associated with water: lifesaving, towing boats, retrieving things dropped into a pool.


Newfoundlands are mellow, low-key pets who are happy with short walks. Newfs are particularly drawn to children, but aren't always aware of their own size. A small child could be knocked over even in gentle play. Navy blue or black suits will soon grow hair since the people-pleasing, gentle nature of the Newfoundlands wants to be up close and friendly. Once grown, the Newf's appetite is amazingly small — a good thing since obesity can wrack havoc with bones, joints and general health.


As pups, they look like fuzzy-wuzzy bear cubs, but they grow quickly into gentle giants. Waterproof coats can be black, black and white, bronze or blue, with black being most common. Hair is of medium length. Newfs are big-boned with great big bear heads and can leave a pool of drool in their wake. Tails are long and wag constantly, sometimes knocking things off tables in their enthusiasm to greet guests. They are noted for their “benevolent expression.”


Although obedience is not their first choice for fun, Newfs like to please so will go with the flow. Positive, upbeat, short routines will keep their interest. If you help them develop their inherent water retrieval skills, they'll be happy. Many clubs offer water rescue tests, which include retrieving, towing and lifesaving. Newfs were also used as draft dogs, helping owners haul loads, so they excel at carting. They'll pull your kids or help with chores. Once pups are fully grown, they should be introduced to a pulling harness and light wagon, progressing until they can pull a moderate weight – a couple kids' worth. Newfoundlands can carry their own daily provisions in a backpack while hiking with you.

Grooming & Care

Lots and lots of brushing is necessary to keep the dog free from mats and the household decorated with only a light covering of Newf hair. Use a slicker brush to remove hair during the twice annual shedding seasons. Because they enjoy winter outings and rolling in snowbanks, creating Newf-angels, be sure to remove ice balls from paws.

Health Concerns

OFA parents should also be free of heart disease. Bloat and hypothyroidism can occur in the breed. Some Newfoundlands might have ectropion or enthropion (sagging or turned-in eyelids) and will have discomfort.

Famous Newfoundland

Nana in "Peter Pan" (although Nana is portrayed as a Saint Bernard in the Disney animated version).

Ideal Owner
Activity Level Moderate
Schedule Full-time (but no overtime)
Personal Style Easygoing and casual, Doesn't mind frequent housecleaning, Confident
Training Style Patient, Positive, Satisfied with the basics
Home Anything goes with enough exercise
Children The more, the merrier!
Experience Not necessary
Quick Facts
Size Giant
Grooming High-maintenance - needs daily grooming
Exercise Moderate - needs to walk or play every day
Training Teach manners
Temperment Affectionate, Calm
Challenges Sheer size can be overwhelming, Newfs like to get close!
Height 28 to 32 inches
Weight 120 to 150 pounds
Life 8 to 10 years
Home Alone Fine as a trained adult
With Kids Excellent
With Strangers Friendly
Availability Rare and may have a waiting list

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