The Newfoundland is a large breed of dog. Newfoundlands can be black, brown, grey, or black and white. They were originally bred and used as a working dog for fishermen in the Colony of Newfoundland, now part of Canada. They are known for their giant size, tremendous strength, calm dispositions, and loyalty. Newfoundland dogs excel at water rescue due to their muscular build, thick coat, webbed feet, and innate swimming abilities. Appearance Newfoundlands ('Newfs', 'Newfies') have webbed feet and a water-resistant coat. Males weigh 60–70 kg (130–150 lb), and females 45–55 kg (100–120 lb), placing them in the "Giant" weight range. Some Newfoundland dogs have been known to weigh over 90 kg (200 lb). The largest Newfoundland on record weighed 120 kg (260 lbs) and measured over 6 feet from nose to tail, ranking it among the biggest Molossers. They may grow up to 22–28 inches tall at the shoulder. The American Kennel Club (AKC) standard colors of the Newfoundland dogs are black, brown, gray, and landseer (black or brown head and white and black body); The Kennel Club (KC) permits only black, brown, and landseer; the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) permits are only black and landseer. The Landseer is named after the artist Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, who featured them in many of his paintings. AKC, CKC, and KC all treat Landseer as part of the breed. Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) consider the Landseer to be a separate breed; others consider it only a Newfoundland color variation. The Newfoundland's extremely large bones give it mass, while his large musculature gives it the power he needs to take on rough ocean waves and powerful tides. These dogs have great lung capacity for swimming extremely long distances, and a thick, oily and waterproof double coat which protects them from the chill of icy waters. The droopy lips and jowls make the dog drool, but the purpose of his design gives passageways that allow the dog to breathe even when its mouth is full and swamped by waves. In the water, the dog's massive webbed paws give it maximum propulsion. The swimming stroke is not an ordinary dog paddle. Unlike other dogs, the Newfoundland moves his limbs in a down-and-out motion, which can be seen as a modified breaststroke. This gives it more power with every stroke.
The Newfoundland dog is legendarily known for its calm nature and its strength. It is for this reason that this breed is known as "the gentle giant". International kennel clubs generally describe the breed as having a sweet temper. It typically has a deep loud bark, is easy to train if started young, makes a fine guardian or watchdog. It is exceptionally good with children, giving it the nickname "the nanny dog." The breed was memorialized as "Nana," the beloved dog guardian in Peter Pan.
The Newfoundland dog is also extremely good with other animals. Its caring and gentle nature comes out in play and interaction with humans and animals alike. As with any breed, the Newfoundland can have dominance issues, but this is unusual for the breed.
The Newfoundland shares many characteristics with other mastiffs, such as the St. Bernard and English mastiff, including short, stout legs, massive heads with very broad snouts, a thick bull neck, and a very sturdy bone structure. In fact, many St. Bernard Dogs have Newfoundland Dog ancestry. Newfoundlands were brought and introduced to the St. Bernard breed in the 18th century when the population was threatened by an epidemic of distemper.
The Newfoundland breed originated in Newfoundland, and is descended from a breed indigenous to the island known as the lesser Newfoundland, or St. John's Dog. The mastiff characteristics of the Newfoundland are likely a result of breeding with mastiffs brought to the island by Portuguese fishermen beginning in the 15th century.
The speculation that Newfoundlands may be partly descended from big black bear dogs introduced by the Vikings in 1001 A.D. is based more in romance than in fact.
By the time colonization was permitted in Newfoundland in 1610, the distinct physical characteristics and mental attributes had been established in the Newfoundland breed. In the early 1880s, fishermen and explorers from Ireland and England traveled to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, where they described two main types of working dog. One was heavily built, large with a longish coat, and the other medium-sized in build – an active, smooth-coated water dog. The heavier breed was known as the Greater Newfoundland, or Newfoundland. The smaller breed was known as the Lesser Newfoundland, or St. John's Dog. The St. John's Dog became the founding breed of the modern retrievers, including the Labrador Retriever. Both breeds were used as working dogs to pull fish nets, with the Greater Newfoundland also being used to haul carts, and other equipment.
Many tales have been told of the courage displayed by Newfoundlands in adventuring and lifesaving exploits. Over the last two centuries, this has inspired a number of artists, who have portrayed the dogs in paint, stone, bronze and porcelain. One famous Newfoundland was a dog named Seaman, who accompanied American explorers Lewis and Clark on their expedition.
The breed prospered in the United Kingdom, until 1914 and again in 1939, when its numbers were almost fatally depleted by wartime restrictions. Since the 1950s there has been a steady increase in numbers and popularity, despite the fact that the Newfoundland's great size and fondness for mud and water makes it unsuitable as a pet for many households.