The Newfoundland dog breed is an iconic one. Often thought of as “gentle giants,” these dogs are massive and powerful, yet smart, helpful, and totally fun to be around.
If you’re fishing for facts about Newfoundlands, we’ve compiled a long list for your pleasure.
1. They are named after the island of Newfoundland where they were bred.
2. They share lineage with modern retrievers. In fact, the divergence can be seen in the distinction between the so-called “Greater Newfoundlands” and “Lesser Newfoundlands.”
3. They also share lineage with breeds such as Great Pyrenees, Alaskan Malamutes, and Bernese Mountain Dogs.
4. They were used by fishermen as water rescue dogs.
5. Lewis and Clark’s dog was a Newfoundland named Seaman.
6. A Newfoundland named Napoleon the Wonder Dog co-starred with Baboons in Van Hare’s “Magic Circus” in the 1860s.
7. Ulysses S. Grant had a Newfoundland named Faithful.
8. Lord Byron left a burial plot bigger than his own for his Newfoundland, Boatswain.
9. In 1995, a 10-month-old Newfoundland named Boo rescued a man from drowning without any training or direction to do so.
10. Robert F. Kennedy had a Newfoundland named Brumus.
11. They have webbed feet. (That’s right, just like a hairy amphibian!)
12. They have a double coat which keeps them warm in freezing temperatures.
13. Generally around 28 inches tall and 120-150 pounds, they are one of the sturdier dog breeds.
14. There is disagreement as to what color Newfoundlands can be. The American Kennel Club lists their standard colors as: black, brown, gray, and black-and-white, while the Canadian Kennel Club says they can only be black or black-and-white.
15. Other Newfoundland colors are black, brown, and gray.
16. Their nails grow fast and should be trimmed on a regular basis.
17. They have an enormous lung capacity.
18. They have thick bones.
19. They have big, wide heads.
20. Their coat naturally stays soft and straight, though it might get a little scraggly at the ends.
21. They’re naturally good swimmers.
22. Their strong jaws and big heads make them able to pull carts and other heavy objects, as well as drag people to shore.
23. They are extremely courageous, which is one of many reasons they make good rescue dogs.
24. They’re specially suited to swimming in cold waters, as their double-coat keeps them from freezing.
25. Their swimming style is less like the traditional “doggy paddle” and more like a professional swimmers’ breaststroke.
26. They can run very fast, but don’t have the greatest stamina for running long distances.
27. They’re very strong, and can be used like a pack horse, carrying numerous items on their backs.
28. Newfoundlands’ tails are multi-muscled and often used as a rudder for swimming.
29. They’re purported to be able to predict avalanches.
30. They can sniff out people trapped in snow.
31. They are sweet and gentle.
32. The American Kennel Club says they love kids and naturally fit into the role of nanny dog. In fact, they’re among the best breeds to have around kids.
33. They’re extremely smart, and are considered one of the most intelligent dog breeds.
34. They get along with other pets most of the time.
35. They’re very protective of their “family” and those who take care of them.
36. They’re energetic, but not overly so. They like to exercise a good, but a moderate amount.
37. It’s more likely for a child to harm a Newfoundland than a Newfoundland to harm a child.
39. They like exercising with weights—like a cart or a backpack—to provide challenge.
40. They’re good at guarding people while they sleep.
41. They’re very athletic, so they need exercise daily.
42. Their big coat needs a lot of brushing—not every day, but maybe once a week.
43. Their lives are short, unfortunately. They only live to about 8-10 years.
44. They don’t do well in hot weather because of their large coat.
45. If it gets too hot, it’s important to trim their hair down so they don’t get too toasty.
46. They need plenty of space to stretch and roam freely.
47. They drool—a lot. Don’t be surprised if there’s a big wet spot around where your Newfie rests his head.
48. Swimming is their ideal exercise, because it allows them to cool off and burn calories.
49. They love swimming in cold water, even in the winter.
50. They like to eat a lot, but you can’t overfeed them because they can easily become fat!
More Miscellaneous Fun:
51. Sir Edwin Landseer liked Newfoundlands so much that he included them in his paintings. The black and white Newfoundlands were named “Landseer” in his honor.
52. In 1860, the first Newfoundland was shown in England.
53. The breed was almost wiped out in the 1780s when Canadian government-imposed restrictions mandated that families pay taxes on their pets.
54. There are many theories on the Newfoundland’s origins, some say they were left by the Vikings in 100 A.D., some say that Newfies are crosses between Tibetan Mastiffs and the extinct Black American Wolf, and the third theory is that the Newfie is a mix of many European-based dogs that were crossed in the 17th and 18th century.
55. The recommended serving for feeding is 4-5 cups per day, split over two meals.
56. Nana, the sweet dog-turned-nanny, from Peter Pan, was a Newfoundland.
57. Newfoundlands and Labrador Retrievers both originate from Newfoundland and have very similar dispositions.
That’s all the facts for now. If interested in a Newfoundland, remember to look through Newfoundland rescue organizations, shelters, or always go through a reputable breeder.
We’ll leave you with this fun video of a Newfoundland playing on ice!