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Newfoundland - Breed Profile

Newfoundlands are the “gentle giants of the dog world”. Despite being large and powerful, their gentle and placid nature makes them ideal family pets. ‘Newfs’, as they are often called, thrive on human companionship and have a great affinity with water.

If you lead a busy life, work full-time or you are house-proud, this is NOT the breed for you.


The Newfoundland is the namesake of the eastern coastal region of Canada. It is almost certainly a combination of the ancient, native Indian dogs and the many European breeds, which were carried across the Atlantic by explorers and fishermen from the 15th century onwards. 

By the end of the 17th century the breed had stabilised into a large, web-footed, thick coated working dog used to haul small carts and sledges. Newfoundlands gained a reputation as being intrepid rescuers and helping fishermen by carrying lines from one boat to another. 

Newfoundland Dog - Painting by Sir Edwin Landseer

In the 19th century the dogs became popular in England and were named by George Cartwright.

Imported throughout Europe, the Newfoundland soon attracted the attention of rich people, who brought them to ornament their estates and entertain (and watch over) their children.


The Newfoundland is considered a giant dog breed but their size varies with heights ranging from 60-75cm at the shoulder and their height from 45-80kg at maturity.

The majority of Newfoundland dogs are jet black but there are also chocolate brown, or white with black markings (known as the Landseer). They have a massive skull, a short square muzzle, small, tight-rimmed, widely-set eyes and ears that lie flat to the cheek.

For the Newfoundland Breed Standard, please visit Dogs Australia

The striking appearance of the Newfoundland dogs you see in the show ring is the product of many hours of bathing and grooming. 

The natural look of the Newfie is that of a large shaggy farm dog usually with some dirt and weed clinging to his coat! So please choose this breed for his character and not his appearance.


A Newfoundland could still be acting as a puppy when two years old, however it would weigh at least 60kg by that stage! 
Despite being gentle and loving, an elderly or frail person or the very young can be knocked aside by a boisterous puppy, which is why basic obedience training is essential and should be started as soon as possible.

The Newfoundland is incredibly placid, patient and tolerant, and very good with children. However, because of their large size and strength, the breed shouldn’t be left unsupervised with young children. 

Newfoundland dogs are loyal and courageous with above average endurance and working ability. They are people-oriented dogs and shouldn’t be left alone for long periods in the backyard. 

Training & Exercise

If your goals are orientated towards achieving success at high level competitions, please realise that the Newfie is not among the breeds best suited to a highly polished performance! 

However Newfs can - with adequate training - excel at dog sports such as agility, carting, tracking and water rescue.

Although Newfoundlands are laid back and happy to laze around the house, they need exercise to maintain the health of their heart and lungs and maintain muscle tone.

An adult Newfie should walk a kilometre or more or have at least half an hour exercise each day. However when exercising a growing pup, shorter and slower walks are preferred for exercise as ball chasing and stick chasing can place undue strain on growing bones. 
You'll find some advice about age-appropriate exercise for dogs here.

Excessive exercise and feeding can cause joint problems later on in life.


Newfoundlands drool because of their jaw and mouth structure which allows them to breathe while performing water rescue and this is an inherent quality of the breed. 

If you are squeamish about this or fastidious about the neatness of your home, then a Newfie is not for you!

The thick shaggy coat requires regular grooming (at least 10-15 minutes a day or half an hour twice a week) not only to avoid knots but to preserve the health of the skin underneath and detect ticks and other parasites.

Breeders advise brushing the coat because the dog is difficult to bath but on the plus side, the Newfoundland’s dense, coarse, oily coat encourages dirt to stay on the surface, making it easier to care for. The coat should be cleaned with a short, stiff bristled brush, brushing in either direction. 

Health & Lifespan

In common with all large dogs, Newfoundland dogs can have problems with their hips, called Hip Dysplasia. Newfoundlands can also suffer from Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD), a disease that affects the structure of the bone cartilage.

Several breeds of dogs are known to have heart problems. One specific to Newfies is called Sub-aortic Stenosis (SAS) which can cause a heart murmur and lead to death at a young age. However this condition is reported as rare in Australia. 
Other health problems may include lip fold infections, eyelid disorders, and, among older dogs, arthritis.

The majority of Newfoundlands have black coats that absorb heat more readily than light coloured coats and they are, therefore, more prone to heat stressThey require cool shelter and plenty of water in hot weather conditions. 

Giant breeds need specific balanced diets that allow for adequate nutrition without providing too much bulk. They will continue to grow until 18 months of age and require a diet that is low in calcium and low in energy. 

Don’t allow puppies to become overweight because this strains their bones. 
Their expected lifespan is between 10-12 years. 

Upkeep Cost

Newfoundlands are not a cheap breed to look after. Being large dogs, both your food and veterinary bills (most medications are proportional to body weight) will be sizeable. Breeders advise that it will cost nearly $1,000 (approx. $20/week) in the first year or so of your puppy’s life. Pet insurance is highly recommended.

Recommended for

The ideal owner should treat the Newfoundland as part of the family and give their dog plenty of love and attention.

For more details on the breed, please contact one of the following:

Newfoundland Club of NSW Inc (including the Re-Home & Rescue)
Newfoundland Club of Victoria Inc
Newfoundland Club of SA Inc

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