Newfoundland Breed Profile: Gentle Giant, Water Rescue Dog and Family Pet

January 12, 2019

The Newfie is one of the sweetest and largest dog breeds in the world. Find out if a Newf is right for you and your home.


Nobody is sure of the Newfie’s exact origin, but the English first discovered this dog breed while exploring the Canadian island of Newfoundland in the 1700s. Some were brought to English estates to live as companion dogs, a natural role for such a noble-looking and loving animal. Other Newfs fit in just as well on the sea, where they proved their nobility of spirit by working as a water-rescue dog. These dogs gained a reputation for heroism after saving the lives of many sailors, in one instance including an entire ship’s crew.

Sir Edwin Landseer painted heroic portraits of Newfoundlands and favored the unusual black and white type. His famous paintings gave black and white Newfs the name “Landseers”.

Personality Traits

Newfies are sweet, loving “gentle giants”. Sometimes these dogs are so devoted to their masters that they can’t adapt to a new home and family. They range from mid-level energy to lethargic, and older Newfs may need encouragement to exercise. Newfoundlands are great with kids and strangers, and are generally friendly towards other dogs. However, if a Newf perceives danger, he or she will loyally defend its master.

When it comes to training, this breed responds best to kind guidance. Newfies are very sensitive and too much negativity can result in hurt feelings. They are extremely intelligent dogs, so a little praise and motivation can go a long way.


The standard Newfoundland is tall (26-28 inches) and has a solid build. Males are typically around 150 lbs, while females average around 120 lbs. Most often they are black, but may also have brown, grey, or black and white (landseer) coats. Their fur is water resistant and double-layered. This in combination with their webbed feet makes them excellent swimmers. Newfies’ heads are large and square, and they have floppy ears. Some have dry mouths, but most are prone to drool.

Health and Upkeep

There are a few health problems that are common in Newfoundlands. Hip Dysplasia is common, especially if an owner lets his dog become overweight. Heart disease is also a frequent problem. Breeders should get the puppies’ hearts checked before passing them on to new homes.

Besides veterinary visits, there are many things to consider about a Newf’s upkeep. They need regular exercise, especially if they live indoors or in a small yard. It is important to provide a shaded area for them to sleep, cool water to drink, and to give them an air-conditioned environment if you live in a hot climate.

A Newfoundland’s double-layered coat can be quite a lot to keep up with, especially when they shed twice a year. They should be brushed frequently, and a cut can be beneficial in warm months (or year-round to make upkeep easier).

Considering a Newfie

Bringing a Newfoundland into your family is a big decision. These dogs require a lot of love and care, and will truly do best when they are treated as part of your family. You also must be prepared financially to deal with the costs of food, grooming, shelter, and potentially veterinary bills if your new dog gets sick. Most of all, be sure that your life is stable enough to provide a home for this dog for the rest of its life (typically around 10 years).

It is always best to visit a breeder and meet your potential pet before finalizing your decision. Make sure to play with some adult Newfs as well, to truly understand the size that your puppy will one day become.

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