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Newfoundlands are large and powerful dogs with dispositions as sweet as they are big. Though imposing in size, these gentle giants are always included in any list of Best Family Dogs or Best Dog Breeds for Children.
That’s because they have a temperament that is tough to match in the canine world.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes Newfoundlands such great dogs.
Newfoundland Dog Temperament
Newfoundlands – or “Newfs” as they are often called – can weigh upward of 150 pounds and stand 28 inches tall at the shoulder, according to the American Kennel Club.
Because of their size, strength and innate ability to help, they’ve historically been used as service dogs. Newfs were long entrusted in duties such as pulling fishing nets and wagons and retrieving equipment and people from the water.
Today, Newfoundlands are most commonly kept as family pets, and they are undoubtedly one of the best breeds if you’re looking for a calm, gentle and overall excellent family dog.
Many words describe the temperament of Newfoundlands. And they are overwhelmingly positive.
Some of the most common adjectives used for this breed are:
- Gentle – Newfoundlands are astonishingly gentle for their size
- Sweet – They are unfailingly sweet dogs that love people
- Calm – Newfs are notoriously calm in a world of many, often-hyper dogs
- Patient – Perhaps the greatest trait of all is the patience Newfoundlands have with toddlers and children overall
Part of what makes Newfoundlands so remarkable is their instinct to help people in trouble. They have long been used for lifesaving work in water as well as search-and-rescue on land. Lewis and Clark brought a Newfoundland with them on their 1803 journey to the Pacific northwest. And Newfs were always part of the crew in the past at British lighthouse stations.
These dogs have an innate drive to help. And those same instincts make them devoted and reliable pets.
Easy To Train
Newfs are eager to please and are generally easy to train. They respond well to gentle correction and consistent training sessions. Like most dogs, the earlier training begins the better the results. Just as they love being around people, they can become bored without enough stimulation and interaction.
Great With Kids
Newfoundlands are VERY PATIENT with and protective of children. They will put up with all the hair-pulling, tugging and general rough-housing that toddlers often impose on pets.
This video compilation shows just how gentle and accommodating Newfs are with kids. I particularly like the scene around the 2:33 mark, where a young boy is walking a Newfoundland who dwarfs him. Yet the boy is in complete control, as his dog walks slowly beside him, keeping the same pace. If only all dogs were so easy to walk!
With all that said, because of their size, Newfs can pose a risk of accidentally knocking a child over or getting too friendly on occasion – think a face full of slobber from a kiss or a lick. But these are the sometimes unintentional results of a dog that can weigh 150 pounds.
Newfoundlands Love Water
To keep a Newfoundland healthy and happy, it’s important to give him or her regular exercise with a daily session or two of activity. The breed has a rather sluggish metabolism. To avoid your dog becoming a lazy loafer, you’ll need to initiate activity and keep it consistent. That said, Newfs love to play a game of fetch, go for walks and swim.
If you live near water, that’s a huge plus.
Because there’s little that Newfs love more than a good swim. Even as puppies, Newfoundlands take to water quickly and are exceptionally strong swimmers.
Though Newfoundlands take great pleasure in swimming itself, they also enjoy retrieving balls, training dummies and anything else that you can toss in the water that floats.
And swimming is great exercise because it’s easy on the dog’s bones and joints.
Newfoundlands are Good Walking and Hiking Dogs
But if you don’t have access to water, daily walks are a great way to exercise a Newfoundland. They make exceptional walking and hiking partners, able to carry a loaded backpack with ease. It’s important to keep Newfs well hydrated on the trail, particularly if you’re out in warmer weather. The thick, double coat on a Newfoundland can lead to overheating. Always plan to carry water and offer it regularly on any walk or hike.
And if you’re into snowshoeing or other winter activities, a Newf will be a reliable cold-weather companion. With a thick, double coat of fur these dogs can withstand the worst wintry conditions with ease. Just be ready to brush off a mountain of snow!
Newfoundlands are Messy Drinkers
There’s no getting around the fact that Newfs tend to drool – a lot. This is particularly true after drinking water. Part of living with a Newfoundland means wiping the dog’s mouth – and sometimes floor and surroundings – with a towel to keep wetness at bay. Having a feeding mat with a lip can keep a good bit of the drinking and eating mess contained.
The Downsides of Owning a Newfoundland
On the surface, it seems that Newfoundlands are close to the perfect dog breed. They are affectionate, gentle, calm protective and eager to please. The biggest drawback is size. These are LARGE dogs that require space in the home and outside to thrive. And because of their size – like other large and giant breed dogs – their lifespan is short. On average, Newfoundlands live 9 to 10 years. There are always exceptions, but this is a reality that all owners of this wonderful breed must face.
And as you might guess, Newfoundlands require a fair amount of food. For example, if you were to feed a 140-pound adult male Newfoundland Taste Of The Wild Grain Free Dog Food, the recommended amount is 6 1/2 cups per day! Any potential Newfoundland owner should be prepared to have an ample food budget to keep a large dog fortified.
Bottom line: Newfoundlands make outstanding family pets and devoted companions. Their easy-going nature and friendliness are second to none. If you have the room in your home and heart for a big, lovable dog who loves people and children, a Newfoundland might be the perfect dog for you.
These calm, dignified and gentle souls are one of the many wonders in the dog world that make our world a better place.