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Spotlight On The Newfoundland Dog

March 15, 2022

There’s a big dog holiday coming up, in celebration of some big dogs. March 25th is Newfoundland Day! We have canine patients of all shapes and sizes, but these gentle giants really are special. A Brampton, ON vet discusses the Newfie below.


As one might suspect, The Newfoundland originates, from Newfoundland. Originally bred as fishing dogs, they were used to haul nets. Early explorers from England and Ireland found two strains of the breed. The larger of the two is the Newfoundland we know today. The smaller, also called the Lesser Newfoundland or St. John’s Water Dog, is one of the ancestors of today’s retrievers.

A Titanic Pup

Did you know that there were a few canine survivors of the Titanic? One of these was a Newfoundland named Rigel, who belonged to First Officer William Murdoch. Murdoch went down with the ship, as depicted in the James Cameron blockbuster Titanic. Rigel, however, swam beside a lifeboat until the Carpathia reached the scene. He’s actually credited with alerting the Carpathia’s captain of the survivors, preventing the ship from hitting them.


If Newfoundlands had just one defining feature, it would be their size. These pups aren’t just large: they are actually considered as a giant breed. The largest one on record weighed over 260 pounds and was 6 feet long from nose to tail. That’s a lot of dog!


Newfoundlands are big dogs with big hearts. Despite their size, they are known for being extremely sweet and friendly. In fact, that loving demeanor is noted in the breed standard, which reads: ‘Sweetness of temperament is the hallmark of the Newfoundland; this is the most important single characteristic of the breed.’


The most famous Newfoundland of all was likely Napoleon The Wonder Dog. Napoleon was a British circus dog who lived in the mid 19th century. The pup was quite well known, and was famous. He, along with several other Newfoundlands, was trained to run a steeplechase, with baboons dressed as jockeys serving as riders. (We’re glad this practice has fallen by the wayside.)


These loyal, lovable pooches have some specific care needs. Training is a must, and should start when Fido is just a puppy. Proper nutrition is also crucial in puppyhood. Ask your vet for advice.

Our Advice on Spotlight On The Newfoundland Dog in 2024

What is the origin of the Newfoundland dog breed?

The Newfoundland dog breed hails from Newfoundland, Canada, where they were initially bred for their strength and swimming ability to haul fishing nets. These gentle giants have a storied history, serving not only as working dogs in the rugged coastal waters but also as beloved companions. Their lineage includes being bred from local dogs and possibly with breeds brought over by European explorers. Over time, Newfoundlands gained recognition for their remarkable rescue capabilities, loyalty, and sweet nature, embodying the spirit of the region from which they originate.

What sets Newfoundlands apart as a breed in terms of size?

Newfoundlands distinguish themselves within the canine world through their colossal stature, classifying them among the giant breeds. Not merely large, these dogs are formidable in both weight and length, with the heftiest Newfoundland on record tipping the scales at over 260 pounds and stretching 6 feet from nose to tail. This remarkable size, combined with their muscular build and dense coat, equips them for their historical role in water rescue and heavy labor, showcasing their extraordinary physical capabilities beyond mere companionship.

What are some specific care needs for Newfoundlands?

Newfoundlands require meticulous care tailored to their size and coat. Training from puppyhood is essential for managing their strength and ensuring well-mannered adults. Their thick, water-resistant coat demands regular grooming to prevent matting and maintain skin health. Proper nutrition is critical, especially during their growth phase, to support their large frame and prevent joint issues. Given their predisposition to certain genetic conditions, regular veterinary check-ups are vital. Additionally, despite their size, they need a comfortable living space and moderate exercise to keep them healthy and content.

How important is training for Newfoundland puppies, and why?

Training for Newfoundland puppies is crucial due to their eventual large size and strength. Starting training early instills good manners and obedience, making them manageable and safe companions. Their gentle nature combined with proper training ensures they can interact harmoniously with families and other pets. Training enhances their mental stimulation and strengthens the bond between the pet and the owner. Given their capacity for rescue work, training also taps into their innate abilities, promoting a well-rounded and fulfilled dog. We emphasize the significance of early and consistent training for these gentle giants.

Why is proper nutrition crucial for the development of Newfoundland puppies?

Proper nutrition is pivotal for Newfoundland puppies due to their rapid growth and the development of their large, muscular bodies. Adequate, balanced diets support healthy bone structure, preventing joint issues common in large breeds. Furthermore, optimal nutrition aids in the prevention of obesity, which can exacerbate health problems like hip dysplasia. Given their size, Newfoundlands have specific dietary requirements to ensure their overall health and longevity. In Brampton, Ontario, our veterinary clinic advises on tailored nutrition plans to foster the well-being of these gentle giants from puppyhood into their adult years.

As your Brampton, ON veterinary clinic, we’re dedicated to offering great care. Call us anytime!