The Newfoundland is a giant, very muscular, strong dog that is equipped with a heavy double coat of fur. Originally developed in Canada as a working dog and companion to fisherman, the Newfoundland is a stoic and even-tempered breed, known for its excellent swimming capabilities and brave, loyal nature.
Newfoundlands are closely related to the mastiff dogs like the English Mastiff and the St. Bernard and share the physical characteristics that are hallmarks of these breeds; thick bones, a strong muscular build and big bull-like heads. The breed originated from the island of Newfoundland and is a descendent of the indigenous St. John’s Dog. It is believed that the mastiff characteristics were introduced by mating with the dogs of Portuguese fisherman who once frequented the island.
The Newfoundland’s origins as a trusty work companion has developed some very attractive qualities in the dog. Newfoundlands have the reputation for enjoying human contact, being mindful and patient with children, and showing a great deal of loyalty towards their family. Because of their early work as a fisherman’s dog, the Newfoundland is a remarkably competent swimmer and has a solid reputation for carrying out daring rescue missions in freezing cold and wild ocean conditions.
While the Newfoundland is known for its docile temperament, it is a very large and strong animal. Although they have a wonderful reputation with children, their size and weight means that they can accidently hurt a small child who positions themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The Newfoundland measures an impressive 69 to 74cm and generally weighs between 65 to 69kgs. Newfoundlands live to between the ages of 8 and 10 years.
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Newfoundlands are known for their relaxed, almost lethargic behaviour. While they are quite docile and wonderfully even-tempered, they are very strong and energetic dogs. If needed, they can show great feats of endurance, in and out of the water.
The Newfoundland is a trustworthy animal with children, guests and strangers and shows a great deal of patience with younger kids and other animals in the house. Considered to be very intelligent dogs, the Newfoundland will assess a dangerous situation and act accordingly. They are generous and brave dogs—known for their ability to perform dangerous waterborne rescues and keep intruders at bay, blocking them from escape.
A very sizable animal, the Newfoundland can live outdoors but requires a good deal of human attention to remain happy and healthy. They can suffer from separation anxiety if left without human contact for any extended period of time.
Training is rather easy with this dedicated breed. Their intelligence and willingness to please their master makes for an obedient dog. Asserting dominance as the master early, like with all dogs, is an essential part of the process. To avoid any behavioural problems it’s important to establish the pecking order as a puppy.
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The Newfoundland breed originated in Newfoundland in Canada, and is descended from a breed that is indigenous to the island called the lesser Newfoundland or St. John’s Dog. It is though that the introduction of the mastiff characteristics in the breed are a result of mating with the dogs of Portuguese fisherman.
A fisherman’s work dog, the Newfoundland is a great swimmer and was employed to haul in fishing nets, the towing of small boats to shore and the rescue of drowning people. Like the Alaskan Malamute, the Newfoundland was also used to haul heavy packs cross-country in bad weather. The Newfoundland is not used in its traditional fishing roles as it once was, hauling in nets, but the breed is still employed as a rescue dog.
Often referred to as ‘The St. Bernard of the Sea’ Newfoundlands have been involved in a number of dangerous but successful water rescues. In fact, 63 shipwrecked sailors were once rescued by a single Newfoundland in awful conditions, all in one evening. Another occasion, and perhaps more of a standout, is the case of the SS Ethie which was wrecked in a blizzard. In this case, an astounding 92 people were saved by a single Newfoundland.
The first Newfoundland to come to Australia was reportedly aboard one of the ships in the first fleet which dates the introduction of the breed to our shores to 1788. The Newfoundland saw a great deal of popularity in the country over the next 150 years, but breeding waned around the time of the Second World War.
Now new imports to Australia are beginning to revitalise the Newfoundland scene. For an island nation, a great swimming dog with an even temper and loyal nature would certainly make for a great companion.