Is a calm, gentle Newfoundland your dream dog?

Newfoundlands are intelligent, eager-to-please dogs that are relatively easy to train.

Originating from the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, this giant breed has a fascinating history, and unique characteristics make it truly special.

This comprehensive dog breed profile will delve into the rich history, physical attributes, temperament, care requirements, and notable traits of the Newfoundland breed.

Whether you are considering adding a Newfoundland to your family or are intrigued by these magnificent dogs, this article will provide valuable insights into their world.



The Newfoundland dog breed has a long and storied history that traces back several centuries.

It is believed that the breed’s ancestors were brought to Newfoundland by European fishermen in the 18th century.

These dogs, likely a combination of indigenous canines and various European breeds such as the Great Pyrenees and Portuguese Water Dogs, thrived in the harsh maritime environment.

They played a crucial role in the lives of fishermen, serving as working dogs that excelled in water rescue and various other tasks.

The Newfoundland’s remarkable swimming ability, webbed feet, and thick, water-resistant coat made them indispensable companions for fishermen.

They were adept at retrieving fishing nets, hauling lines, and even rescuing people from the treacherous waters of the North Atlantic.

Their gentle and courageous nature earned them a reputation as outstanding water-rescue dogs.

The breed’s capabilities soon caught the attention of dog enthusiasts and admirers worldwide.


Size and appearance

The Newfoundland is a large and powerful breed.

Males typically stand between 27 and 29 inches (68-74 cm) at the shoulder and weigh between 130 and 150 pounds (59-68 kg).

Females are slightly smaller, standing between 25 and 27 inches (63-69 cm) and weighing between 100 and 120 pounds (45-54 kg).

Their robust build, broad chest, and strong, well-muscled bodies give them an imposing presence.

The Newfoundland’s double coat is dense and water-resistant and comes in various colors, including black, brown, gray, and Landseer (black with white markings).

Temperament and personality

Newfoundlands are known for their gentle, calm, and patient demeanor.

Often referred to as “gentle giants,” they have a friendly nature.

Newfies are exceptionally good-natured and patient with children, making them excellent family dogs.

They are known for their peaceful coexistence with other pets and are generally friendly towards strangers, though their size alone can be an effective deterrent.

Their calm temperament, combined with their natural protective instincts, makes them loyal and devoted companions and guard dogs.

Intelligence and trainability

Newfoundlands are intelligent dogs that are eager to please their owners.

They possess a keen intellect and a willingness to learn, making training relatively straightforward.

Positive reinforcement techniques, such as praise, treats, and rewards, work best with this breed.

Early socialization is essential to help them develop into well-rounded adults.

Newfoundlands excel in dog sports and activities, including obedience, water rescue, cart pulling, and therapy work.

Water-rescue abilities

One of the most remarkable traits of the Newfoundland breed is their innate ability in the water.

They are natural-born swimmers equipped with large, webbed feet and powerful limbs. Their thick, water-resistant coat provides insulation, buoyancy, and protection against cold waters.

Newfoundlands have an instinctive aptitude for water rescue and are known for their bravery and lifesaving abilities.

They have a strong affinity for water and are happiest when they can indulge in swimming and other aquatic activities.

Gentle and nurturing nature

Newfoundlands are known for their gentle and nurturing nature, particularly towards children.

J.M. Barrie’s Nana in Peter Pan is probably the most famous Newfoundland in English literature.

They have a natural affinity for young ones and are often seen as reliable and patient companions.

Their size alone can be intimidating, but they are incredibly gentle and patient with children of all ages.

However, their large size makes supervision necessary when interacting with small children to prevent accidental knocks or falls.

Newfoundlands are gentle, calm, and patient dogs that make great family pets. Their size makes them good protectors.

Care needs


Despite their size, Newfoundlands have a moderate exercise requirement.

Daily exercise in the form of walks, playtime, or swimming is essential to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

They enjoy water activities, so access to a safe swimming area or a large pool is ideal.

However, monitoring their activity levels, especially in hot weather, is important as they are prone to heat exhaustion.


Newfoundlands have a thick double coat that requires regular grooming to keep it healthy and free from mats.

They shed moderately throughout the year and experience heavier shedding during seasonal coat changes.

Regular brushing, at least two to three times a week, will help keep their coat clean and minimize loose hair around the house.

Pay special attention to the areas behind the ears, under the tail, and on the chest, as these tend to mat more easily.

Additionally, Newfoundlands tend to drool, so keeping a towel handy is advisable.


Overall, Newfoundlands are a healthy breed. However, like any dog, they are prone to certain health conditions.

Some common health concerns in Newfoundlands include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, heart conditions (such as subaortic stenosis and dilated cardiomyopathy), and a hereditary condition called cystinuria.

Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and a healthy weight are crucial for their well-being.


Feeding Newfoundland a nutritious, well-balanced diet is essential for their health and longevity.

Due to their large size, they have a relatively slow metabolism and can be prone to weight gain.

Feeding them high-quality dog food formulated for large breeds, portion control, and regular exercise will help them maintain a healthy weight and overall well-being.

Notable traits

Lifesaving instincts

Newfoundland’s natural lifesaving instincts and water-rescue abilities are unparalleled.

They strongly desire to help and protect those in need, and their bravery and swimming prowess has saved countless lives.

Their unique strength, swimming ability, and gentle nature make them exceptional water rescue dogs.

Gentle and trustworthy

Newfoundlands have earned a reputation for being incredibly gentle and trustworthy around children.

They instinctively protect and care for young ones, making them ideal family pets.

Their patient and nurturing nature and imposing size make them excellent companions for families with children of all ages.

Therapy and service work

Due to their calm temperament and affinity for human companionship, Newfoundlands excel in therapy and service work.

They bring comfort, joy, and emotional support to individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, and other therapeutic settings.

Their imposing size and gentle nature make them effective therapy dogs, providing comfort and companionship to those in need.

Contact a legal expert to learn about the legal requirements of keeping a Newfoundland.

Final thoughts on Newfoundlands

The Newfoundland breed is an exceptional and beloved dog known for its gentle nature, water-rescue abilities, and loyalty to its family.

Their impressive size and calm temperament make them excellent family companions, and their intelligence and trainability allow them to excel in various dog sports and activities.

With proper care, exercise, and training, Newfoundlands can thrive as loving family pets and bring their owners joy and companionship for many years.

If you are looking for a devoted and gentle giant, the Newfoundland may be the perfect addition to your family.

Sharon Feldman is a safety and legal writer based in San Diego. She works closely with the attorneys at Mickelsen Dalton, who handle dog bite cases and other injury claims.

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