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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.

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