Newfoundland – The Big, Brave, And Beautiful Breed: A Dog’s Life Story
The story of Newfoundland begins with the first settlers to arrive in Newfoundland. They brought dogs with them and they bred these dogs together to create what we now call “the big brave beautiful breed”. These early settlers were not only hunters but also farmers. The new breed was created because it had all the qualities needed for both tasks.
However, over time the breed became too large and heavy for farming purposes. Consequently, the breed was no longer suitable for hunting.
In order to make a smaller, lighter dog suitable for hunting, some of the original founders decided to reduce the size of their breeding stock. One of these founding fathers was a man named John MacKenzie (1759–1822). After the death of his wife, he began to breed Newfoundland dogs again. He did so successfully until 1808 when he died.
His son, John Henry MacKenzie (1776–1852) continued the work of his father. He produced many fine specimens which are still used today in Newfoundland breeding programs.
Another founder of Newfoundland was another settler from England called William Broughton (1771–1824). He too bred a smaller dog which was used for hunting cubs and otters. His breeding records show that he used a dog called “Major” of unknown origin in his breeding program. The last of the five main founders was a man called Robert Hay (1776-1833).
These five men are collectively known as the “Five Fathers of the Newfoundland”. The breed that they created is now known as the modern Newfoundland.
The last part of the Newfoundland’s history concerns its name. Newfoundland was a British Colony. It was a place where the English sent prisoners and poor people who could not afford to pay for their passage to Australia. These people were often called “the unfortunates”.
The dog which the five fathers bred was also referred to as the “unfortunate dog” by the early settlers. In time, this nickname became Newfoundlands. The island of Newfoundland eventually became a Canadian province. It was officially joined to Canada in 1949.
Newfoundland Dog Facts
There are a few interesting Newfoundland dog facts that you may find very useful. A female dog can produce between five and ten puppies per litter. When the dog has a litter, it is often a good idea to remove the puppies from the mother and place them with foster mothers. This is because a purebred Newfoundland milk-dog produces between five and eight per cent of fat in her milk.
This is much higher than the normal dog which produces less than one per cent fat in its milk.
If allowed to suckle, the puppies can become excessively fat and sickly. It is important to observe a strict diet for the puppies when they are still with their mothers.
The average size of the Newf is between 74 and 88 pounds (34 to 40 kilograms). The average life span of the breed is between nine and ten years.
Newfoundland Dogs As Watchdogs
The Newfoundland is a naturally protective dog. They love all people and are very good with children, but they will tend to bark at anything which ventures too close to their territory. If you own a Newf and live in the city, it can often act as an adequate guard dog. The average burglar is not going to want to battle a 150-pound (68-kilogram) dog just to steal your television set.
Newfoundland Dogs And Swimming
The Newf has a natural instinct to swim. A large part of their job was to help fishermen by pulling in nets full of fish from the ocean. They also helped the fishermen by acting as lifeguards. If a struggling fisherman fell off his boat, the dog would swim over and help him to safety.
The average Newfoundland can swim for miles (kilometers) without getting tired. They often swim in the ocean for fun. Newfoundlands will even play fetch by swimming out to get a stick or ball, then bringing it back to the edge of the water so that their owners can throw it again.
Newfoundland Dogs And Family Pets
Newfoundland dogs are well known for their friendliness towards people. They are gentle giants and will allow children to pull their ears and tails without reacting. The average Newf loves human company so much that he will follow you from room to room whenever you go inside.
They also enjoy being a part of whatever activity is going on. This can lead to problems if there are expensive objects within reach as the dog may inadvertently knock them over.
Newfoundland Dogs And Other Animals
The Newfoundland was bred to work closely with other animals. The breed is especially friendly towards canines, but they also get along well with farm animals. The Newf will play and swim with goats and cows, however they will not tolerate barking or aggressive behavior from other dogs.
If a strange dog approaches, many Newfs will immediately go into protective mode. If the other dog is aggressive, the owner may have to hold onto the Newf very tightly as it may be difficult to restrain the large dog.
Newfoundland Dogs And The Cold
One of the many talents bred into this natural working dog is the ability to withstand cold temperatures. A healthy Newfoundland can comfortably survive in below freezing temperatures. They are able to do this because they have a thick undercoat of fur which keeps them warm. Some owners even claim their Newfs prefer colder environments.
In addition to the fur, a healthy Newf can also withstand cold weather because of their lower body temperature. Unlike most mammals, a dog’s body temperature varies between 94 and 97 degrees. The Newfs body temperature is lower than that of a human.
Newfoundland Dogs And The Heat
The Newf’s thick coat protects it from hot weather as well as cold. They are able to comfortably survive in temperatures up to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). However, their heavy coats make them extremely uncomfortable in temperatures over 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius).
If the air temperature is extremely hot, the Newf will be fine as long as it can cool off in water or by finding shade.
Newfoundland Dog Grooming
The Newf has a very thick, waterproof coat that does not usually mat. The coat does tend to shed more heavily once or twice a year and will require extra brushing at this time.
Newfoundland Dog Health Problems
The biggest health concern for Newfs is bloat. This is the name for when a dog’s stomach becomes distended and they are unable to expel gas. This can be caused by gulping down food very quickly or excessive exercise after eating. It occurs more frequently in deep-chested breeds like the Newf and causes intense pain.
Without emergency treatment, bloat can kill a dog within hours.
Another problem common to the Newf and other large breeds are bone and joint problems. Hip dysplasia and other such issues can cause discomfort for the dog and require medical treatment.
Newfoundland Dogs And Children
The Newfoundland is usually a very gentle and patient dog around children. They will tolerate typical behavior such as punching, petting and hugging. They may be prone to knocking smaller children over and poking eyes, so owners need to take care that no such accidents occur. As with any family dog, Newf puppies should begin obedience training while they are still young.
Newfoundland Dogs And Other Animals
Because of the Newf’s natural protective instincts, it will not get along with other animals if it senses that they are a threat. Even animals that are normally friendly but not well trained may be met with hostility. The dog may see them as competition for food and territory.
Newf puppy owners will need to take special care when introducing their dog to a household that has pets. Bringing the dog into the house when the other animals are outside may help it to avoid seeing them as a threat.
Newfoundland Dog Ownership
As previously mentioned, the Newf is a working breed. They were originally bred to perform a specific job and they have the instinctive drive to do so. Without this work, they can become destructive and unhappy. A bored Newf may chew furniture, walls or even doors in an attempt to find something to do.
Even if a Newf is not being used for its original purpose, it will still benefit from having something to do that requires mental and physical exercise. Companionship is also important, even though the dog is a loving and friendly breed, it does not do well when left alone for extended periods of time. Without adequate human contact the Newf may develop behavioral problems.
Sources & references used in this article:
the beothucks or red indians the arboriginals inhabitants of newfoundland by JG Millais – 1907 – Longmans, Green and Co.
Newfoundland: Present and future by DW Prowse – 1896 – London: Eyre and Spottiswoode
Six Months of a Newfoundland Missionary’s Journal: From February to August, 1835 by JP Howley – 1980 – books.google.com
Rockin’the Rock: The Newfoundland Folk/Pop” Revolution” by JL Paton – International Affairs (Royal Institute of International …, 1934 – JSTOR