Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.
(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)
If you want a dog with a huge heart to match their huge body, we’d like to introduce you to the perfect pup—the Newfoundland.
Newfoundlands are one of the most beloved and popular breeds in the world (currently, they sit at number 40 on the American Kennel Club’s breed popularity list). And for good reason! Newfoundlands are celebrated for their exceedingly sweet nature—and their exceedingly large stature.
Curious to know more about these lovable giants—and, more importantly, if the Newfoundland is the perfect breed for you and your family? Let’s take a deep dive into everything you need to know about the Newfoundland, from their origins to the personality traits (and quirks) to their exercise and grooming needs (and all the facts in between!):
Also Known As…
Newfoundland. Newfie. “Is that a bear?” “No. Common mistake, though. That’s a Newfoundland Dog.” “Ah, yes, of course.”
The Newfoundland breed originated on—you guessed it—Newfoundland, an island off the coast of Canada. When explorers from Ireland and England arrived in Newfoundland in the 1880s, there were two types of working dogs—the Greater Newfoundland (which was larger in size and had a long coat) and the Lesser Newfoundland, or St. John’s dog (a medium-sized water dog, which would go on to be the founding breed for modern retrievers).
Because of their size, the Greater Newfoundland was put to work pulling fishnets and hauling equipment. Newfies also exhibited excellent swimming skills and a courageous nature—and, as such, were often used in water rescue missions.
The first thing you’re going to notice about a Newfoundland is, without a doubt, their height. Newfoundlands are a very large dog breed; on average, male Newfoundlands grow to be 28 inches tall—while female Newfies is slightly smaller, with an average height of about 26 inches.
Newfoundlands are tall—and they’re also heavy! A full-grown Newfie can easily weigh in at a similar weight to some humans; the average male weighs between 130 and 150 pounds. Because the average Newfoundland female is slightly smaller, they typically weigh less, as well—with the average female weighing in between 100 and 120 pounds.
Newfoundlands are, essentially, the dog version of sugar; they’re too sweet for words! Newfies have a reputation for being sweet-natured, loving, and kind; nothing makes them happier than giving and receiving affection.
Intelligence / Trainability
Newfies are extremely intelligent and trusting—and both of those traits make for a highly trainable dog.
Want to make the most out of training your Newfoundland? Here are some tips to make the training process as easy (and successful!) as possible:
- Start early. Ideally, you’ll start training your dog early no matter what breed they are—but early training is especially important for larger breeds, like the Newfoundlands. Because they grow so large, it’s imperative to teach your Newfie basic commands and how to listen when he’s young (and small!); if a full-grown Newfie doesn’t listen, their size can quickly become an issue—and it can become nearly impossible for you to control their behavior. If you want your Newfoundland to grow up into a happy, polite, and well-behaved dog, you’re definitely going to want to start training early.
- Use positive reinforcement. Newfoundlands are extremely loving. They want to please you—and if you use that in your training, you’ll have a much higher level of success. Taking a harsher, punishment-based route can actually backfire; Newfies are naturally trusting—but they don’t respond well to overly harsh training methods. If you want a successful training process—for you and your Newfoundland—make sure to keep things positive.
- Engage their playful side. Newfoundlands have a playful side—so why not make training a game? The more fun and playful you make the training process, the more engaged your Newfie will be—and the easier they’ll be to train as a result.
As mentioned, the Newfoundland is a very large breed—and because they’re so large, they’ll need more space than a smaller dog. Ideally, your Newfie will have plenty of room to stretch out and explore—so if you’re living in a small apartment, a Newfoundland probably isn’t going to be the best fit.
Newfies are also active dogs, and will need plenty of outside time to play, run, and work off their energy—so an area with plenty of outdoor space is ideal. And if you have a fenced-in yard? Even better. And if you have access to a lake, river, or other large body of water? That’s the best. Newfies love, love, LOVE being in the water—so their ideal environment definitely includes somewhere to swim!
Newfoundlands are very sweet, loving dogs—and they get very attached to their humans. While a Newfie will have no problem staying home alone for short periods of time, if you and your family spend the majority of your time away from home, this breed probably isn’t the best fit; your Newfie would be lonely (and could get into mischief!).
Good For Families And Kids?
Newfoundlands are sweet, patient, and watchful by nature—which makes them a great breed for kids. In fact, their breed is considered one of the “nanny dogs,” thanks to their ability to protect and care for children.
While Newfies love children, you do want to be careful if you have smaller children (like toddlers) in the home. Sometimes, Newfies don’t realize how large they are and knock into things—and, if they knock into a small child, the child is at risk for falling over (and potentially hurting themselves).
Larger dogs, on average, have shorter lifespans than smaller breeds—and that also applies to Newfoundlands. According to the American Kennel Club, Newfies have an average lifespan of between 9 and 10 years.
Newfoundlands are fairly healthy dogs. But there are a variety of health issues the breed is susceptible to—and as a responsible pet owner, it’s your job to understand and anticipate them.
The most common ailments facing Newfoundlands include hip and elbow dysplasia, subvalvular aortic stenosis (a genetic heart defect that can cause early death), and cystinuria, a condition which causes bladder stones.
To keep your dog at their healthiest, it’s recommended to have your Newfoundland screened for all of these conditions (in addition to regular check-ups with the vet).
Newfies are, at heart, a working dog—and because they were bred to work, they have tons of energy! If you want to keep your Newfoundland happy and healthy, you should plan for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise (like a brisk walk around the neighborhood).
But that’s not all! Newfoundlands enjoy spending recreational time outdoors—so, in addition to daily walks, you should also supplement their exercise routine with regular opportunities for swimming, hiking, running, and other outdoor fun. (Especially swimming; as mentioned, Newfoundlands can’t get enough of the water!)
Friendly With…(Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?)
Newfoundlands are an extremely friendly, loving, and loyal breed. As long as they’re socialized from a young age—and have plenty of exposure to other people, dogs, and animals—their naturally friendly nature will allow them to peacefully coexist with just about anyone (or any animal!).
Just keep in mind that a Newfoundland’s size can be intimidating to some—so it’s important to train your Newfie well and make sure they don’t bark or jump, which might scare other people or pets.
Coat & Grooming
Newfoundlands are a lot of dog—and they’ve got a lot of hair to match. Newfies need to be thoroughly brushed several times per week; these regular brushing sessions will help to remove dead hair, prevent mats, and keep your Newfie’s coat looking and feeling its best.
If your Newfoundland is spayed or neutered, they’ll shed all year long. But, if they’re not, they’ll typically go through shedding cycles twice per year—and during those cycles, expect those bi-weekly brushing sessions to get bumped up to daily brushing sessions.
Also, Newfoundlands drool…a lot. If the drool gets stuck in their coat, a quick wipe-down with a damp washcloth will work wonders!
Toys Newfoundlands Would Like Best
Newfoundlands are often described as sweet, lovable, loyal, and kind. But you can definitely add playful to that list!
Newfies love to play—especially when they get to play with their humans. But what are some of the best toys for Newfoundlands?
- Fetch Toys. Newfies have a decent amount of energy—especially for a big dog. And what better way to work off that energy than a nice game of fetch? Fetch toys will have your dog (and you!) running around the backyard—and having a great time in the process.
- Thinker Toys. Newfoundlands are an extremely intelligent breed. Thinker toys are like a workout for their brain; they give them the mental stimulation they need to feel their best (plus, there’s a delicious toy waiting for them when they solve the puzzle!).
- Tug Toys. You’d be hard-pressed to find a dog breed out there that doesn’t love playing tug of war—and the Newfoundland is no exception. Tug toys are a great way to help your Newfoundland work off excess energy—while also engaging with them and having fun!
Recommended Diet Or Supplements
Like all breeds, the Newfoundland is going to feel like their healthiest self when fed a diet of high-quality dog food—or, in other words, dog food free from unnatural ingredients, preservatives, and/or fillers. Newfies are also prone to bloat, which can be a life-threatening condition—so instead of one large meal, feeding them several small meals throughout the day may be beneficial.
Larger dogs—like the Newfie—can have trouble with mobility as they age. Adding a joint health supplement to your Newfoundland’s health regimen can be a great way to support increased mobility as they get older.
This supplement is veterinarian-formulated, made with all natural ingredients (glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid), and comes in the form of 150 soft chews. Basically, it looks and tastes just like delicious treats, and it could really help your Newfie with their hip and joint issues. ($32.99.)
These delicious, vet-formulated chews are made with all-natural ingredients including Omega 3, 6, 9, and Vitamin E. They are designed to support immune health, provide relief from itchy allergic skin, and promote a healthy coat. ($19.99)
BARK’s Full Spectrum Hemp Oil is made of organically grown whole plants, grown in Colorado, and is non-psychoactive. It comes in 100mg, 250mg, and 500mg varieties, and can help with pet anxiety and pain relief. ($17.99-22.99.)
For Newfies with joint issues – or any dog who just loves to lie around! – a nice comfortable bed with orthopedic support is probably a good idea.
This ultra plush orthopedic dog bed provides support for even the most active of dogs! The combination ergonomic memory foam and gel foam relieves pressure points, and helps ease body aches caused by hip dysplasia, arthritis and other orthopedic issues. It offers the best therapeutic support for your Newfoundland. ($27.99-64.99.)
Notable Rescues To Find The Newfoundland Of Your Dreams
Newfoundlands are well-known and well-loved dogs. And, because they’re so popular, these pups are in demand. But just because there are plenty of people out there who want to add a Newfoundland to their family doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of Newfies out there who are in need of their forever homes!
If you’re thinking about getting a Newfoundland, adopt—don’t shop. Here are a few notable Newfoundland rescues where you can find the perfect Newfie for your family:
- Newfoundland Rescue Network, serving Newfies nationwide
- Heart of America Newfoundland Rescue, serving Nebraska, Kansas, Western Missouri, and Western Iowa
- Old West Newfoundland Club Rescue, serving Texas
- The Newfoundland Club of Northern California Rescue, serving Northern California
- Newfoundland Club of New England Rescue and Referral Service, serving New England
- Adoptable Newfoundland Dogs on Petfinder
Notable Instagram Newfoundlands
If you’re a lover of all-things-Newfie, why not take your Newfoundland love to Instagram?
If you want to fill your Instagram feed with plenty of adorable Newfie puppies, here are some notable Instagram Newfoundlands you’re going to want to follow, stat:
***Looking for a gift to blow your Newfie’s mind? Spoil them with BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! 🙂
Featured image via Hugo_the_Newfie/Instagram