Newfoundland (Newfie): Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Newfoundland dogs

Danita Delimont / Getty Images

The Newfoundland is a giant dog with a hard-working spirit and a gentle disposition. The breed is intelligent, noble, and very loyal. Often called Newfs or Newfies, Newfoundlands make excellent working dogs but are also calm and affectionate companions. 

Breed Overview

Group: Working

Height: 26 to 28 inches tall at the shoulder

Weight: 100 to 150 pounds

Coat and Color: Thick double coat in brown, black, gray or black and white

Life Expectancy: 9 to 10 years

Characteristics of the Newfoundland

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness High
Energy Level Medium
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding High

History of the Newfoundland

The Newfoundland dog breed originates from the Canadian province of Newfoundland, where it has a rich history as an ideal working dog. These superb water dogs have assisted fisherman, rescued potential drowning victims, and hauled carts. It is believed that the ancestors of Newfies were brought to Newfoundland by European fisherman. Though their exact lineage is widely debated, the most popular theory suggests that the Newfie evolved from Great Pyrenees dogs and black retrievers.

The English botanist Sir Joseph Banks adopted several in the 18th century. A Newfoundland named Seaman was part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition exploring the newly-acquired territories in the early 1800s with his owner, Meriwether Lewis. Other famous owners include Emily Dickinson, Ulysses S. Grant, Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert F. Kennedy, composer Richard Wagner, and John James Audubon.

By the 19th century, Newfies had become popular in England. Soon after, the breed arrived in the U.S. and was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1879. Like many large breeds, their numbers suffered in the U.K. and Europe after the world wars but began a resurgence in the 1950s. There are many tales of Newfoundlands used as water rescue dogs, as well as impromptu rescues done by Newfoundlands when the dog has noted a person in distress.

Newfoundland Care

The Newfie has a thick, medium-long coat that serves as insulation from cold waters. This coat has a relatively high shedding rate (especially in spring and fall) that requires regular grooming, specifically hair-brushing two to three times per week. You will probably need professional grooming as well to keep the dog looking good. These dogs are prone to tracking around debris and mud on their long coats, so be prepared to clean up after your dog returns from playing outside.

The Newfie may naturally wear down its nails due to its large size, but be sure to check the toes and trim the nails as needed. This breed can be a drooler, so many owners prefer to keep a "slobber cloth" handy. When a Newfie shakes its head, there a good change the spit will go flying.

Newfies have a strong drive to work and protect. They need daily exercise to keep them fit and happy. They love to swim and can be a great companion in the right lake, stream, or pool. In addition, Newfies will benefit from some type of "job," such as guarding the home or obedience competitions. In general, these are usually very calm, loyal, and loving companions.

Newfies are intelligent dogs that respond very well to training. Proper socialization and training are both very important for all dogs. The giant size of the Newfie make training and socialization essential so you can maintain control of your dog. You'll need to train this dog well for walking on a leash because it is so big and strong.

The Newfoundland is an affectionate and gentle dog breed that makes a delightful companion. These versatile dogs have a natural instinct to protect and assist people, making them wonderful service dogs and family pets. Typically, this breed gets along very well with children but a Newfie may not realize its size. Use caution around very small children.

You don't necessarily need a huge home and large yard to have a Newfie but a very tiny home can make things difficult. Make sure there is enough room in your home for a dog that weighs over 100 pounds to get around comfortably. Also, be sure you have the space for large dog beds and lots of dog supplies.

While Newfoundlands do well in cold weather, they will need a cool place to hang out in hot weather so they don't overheat.

Newfoundland puppy
rzoze19 / Getty Images 
Newfoundland playing in water
David Gillis / Getty Images  

Common Health Problems

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions but some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. As with any dog breed, it's important to visit the veterinarian for regular checkups. Your vet may be able to detect health problems early. The following are some conditions to be aware of:

newfoundlands as pets illustration
Illustration: The Spruce / Kelly Miller

Diet and Nutrition

A Newfoundland should be fed twice a day with up to 2.5 cups of dry dog food per meal. The appropriate amount will depend on your dog's individual size, activity level, age, and any health conditions. Provide access to fresh, clean water.

This breed may experience bloating and stomach torsion, which is a medical emergency. It's best not to provide only one meal as the dog may gulp it down and increase the risk of this problem. Many vets recommend that you don't exercise your dog for an hour after it has eaten.

Be sure to monitor your pet's weight to prevent obesity, which can shorten a dog's lifespan and contribute to other health conditions. Discuss your dog's nutritional needs with your veterinarian as they will change throughout your pet's life. Your vet should be able to recommend the right food, amount, and feeding schedule.

  • Loyal companion

  • Instincts to protect and assist

  • Generally calm dogs

  • Requires a lot of room

  • High shedder

  • Slobbery dog

Where to Adopt or Buy a Newfoundland

There are Newfoundland breeders located around the country. To buy a healthy and well-bred dog, contact a reputable source to connect with local breeders that have met specific requirements, including sharing sponsors, breeding history, and more, or try a rescue.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you would love to get a Newfoundland of your own, make sure to do research first. Ask veterinarians, Newfie owners, reputable breeders, and Newfie rescue groups for more information about the breed.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, look into these to compare the pros and cons:

Explore many different dog breed profiles to find the right companion to bring home.