Canine Breed Spotlight: Newfoundland

Canada’s own! The Newfoundland!

Dog breed group: Working Dog

Average life expectancy: 8-10 years


The Newfoundland originated right here in Newfoundland, Canada! This breed came about from breeding the working dogs already in Newfoundland with Portuguese Mastiffs brought over by Portuguese fishermen in the 1600s. There were two main breeds developed that worked with the fishermen, the lesser Newfoundland and the greater Newfoundland. The lesser Newfoundland (also known as the St. John’s dog) is now extinct, but was the basis for breeding today’s modern retrievers. The greater Newfoundland persisted and is the ancestor of the Newfie as we know it today. They are a hard working dog, known for carrying heavy loads, pulling tow lines from ships to land, and rescuing the drowning.



Newfies are known for their docile and calm temperament. They are a very intelligent breed and are easy to train. They are a great family dog and get along well with children (just make sure small kids don’t get knocked over!).  They are an active breed, they like to work, play, pull carts, carry a back pack and swim. They also make great therapy dogs due to the kind and patient personality. They are a family dog, and would rather be with their family and not kept out in the yard or kennel.


Is this breed right for you?

  • Be aware of your space. This is a large dog that takes up a lot of room in your house and car.
  • Along with taking up space, they are heavy and like to sit on your feet,  lie on your lap or lean up against you.
  • They are heavy shedders and need regular brushing. They will shed way more than usual in the spring when they lose their undercoat.
  • They slobber and drool a lot. When drinking water they will immerse their whole face in the bowl, making for a very messy and wet situation.

Health concerns

Both pure-bred and mixed-breed dogs have varying incidences of health problems that may be either influenced by genetics or environmental factors. Here are some health concerns that more commonly affect the Newfoundland.

Hip and elbow dysplasia is a congenital disorder where these joint sockets are abnormally loose. Dogs inherit the condition from their parents. Dysplasia will cause your dog to experience joint pain or laxity.

Cherry eye can be common in Newfies. This is when the gland of the third eyelid (located in the inside corner of the dog’s eye) comes out of place and bulges. Cherry eye is corrected by a surgery under general anesthetic.

Subvalvular aortic stenosis is a heart condition in which there is a narrowing of one of the heart valves. This interferes with normal blood flow and causes partial obstruction in the heart. This is a genetic condition that Newfoundlands can be predisposed to. Dogs with severe disease can die suddenly. Dogs with a mild form of the disease usually live full normal lives without complications. Diagnosis is done by listening to the heart and hearing a murmur, following up with ultrasound to view the heart in its entirety.