The Newfoundland, also called 'Newfs' or 'Newfies', is a breed of dog that is very large, with a coat that is thick, coarse, and usually black. It was developed in Newfoundland as a working dog and mainly used in the fishing industry. It was used for hauling fishing nets out into the sea and bringing them back to the fishing boat. It also retrieved people or objects that fell into the sea. Quite at home on land as well as in water, this dog's size enabled it to drag a drowning man out of the water or dive into the frigid northern ocean by breaking through the ice. The capacity of its lungs enabled it to tackle ocean currents and swim great lengths out to sea.
As is evident from the name of this breed, it has its origins in Newfoundland from the indigenous dogs that existed on this island. It is thought that it may partly be the descendent of the large black bear dogs which the Vikings introduced in 1001 AD. Some are of the opinion that this dog gets its size from the big mastiffs that were brought to Newfoundland by Portuguese fishermen. By 1610, when colonization was allowed, this breed's distinctive mental attributes and physical characteristics had already been established.
By the 1880s, when fishermen from England and Ireland made their way to Newfoundland, they found two chief kinds of working dogs. One had a longish coat, was large in size, and heavily-built, which was the Newfoundland, and the other was a water dog that had a smooth coat, was lighter-built, and very active, which was the St. John's Dog, the predecessor of the Labrador Retriever. Both the breeds were used for similar work, to pull fishing nets and heavy pieces of equipment.
This dog has a coat that is water-resistant and its feet are webbed. The male weighs around 130-150 lbs or 60-70 kg, while the female weighs about 100-120 lbs or 45-55 kg, which places them in the 'giant' range of weight. Some individual dogs can weigh more than 200 lbs or 90 kg. The largest sized dog of this breed on record weighed 264 lbs or 120 kg, measuring more than 7 feet when measured from nose to tail. The breed can grow up to 22-30 inches in height when measured at the shoulder.
The eyes should ideally be tight, which helps it to keep out water as well as infections, and without the third eyelid. The drop ears also help to keep water out, while the loose upper lips enable it to breathe when it carries anything as it swims. The outer coat is stiff and oily and of moderate length, and it also has a fleecy undercoat to cope with the harsh climate of its native island. Due of its oily outer coat, this dog can remain absolutely warm and dry at the skin even after swimming for hours. The webbed feet enable it to swim, which it does using the breast stroke rather than the usual dog paddle.
The coat colors that the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes are gray, brown, black, and Landseer, which means a black head along with a body that is white and black. The Kennel Club (TKC) allows only the Landseer, brown, and black, and the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) only recognizes the Landseer and black. The Landseer has gotten its name from Sir Edwin Landseer, an artist who has portrayed this dog in several of his paintings. The Landseer is treated as a part of the dog breed by the CKC, TKC, and AKC, while others consider it a separate breed.
This dog has a gentle and sweet temperament. That combined with its eagerness to please its owner, and its devotion makes it one of the best of the large breeds of dogs. It has been described as a 'gentle giant'. It is excellent with children, and friendly with strangers and other animals. However, the only problem that can arise is its large size, due to which it may accidentally and unintentionally knock a child down. Hence, early training is recommended.
The Newfoundland's loving and sweet disposition along with its calm nature make it an excellent and wonderful pet to have.