Newfoundlands are a giant breed of dog weighing 175 pounds. They are typically very gentle dogs hence the nickname of “The Gentle Giant.” In fact, the gentle nature is so important that many countries have this in the breed characteristics, requiring any dog that does not have a gentle nature to be disqualified as a Newfoundland and not to be bred. The breed standard in the United States reads that “sweetness of temperament is the hallmark of the Newfoundland; this is the most important single characteristic of the breed.”
The Newfoundland was used originally as a working dog that would help fisherman pull their nets as well as carts and equipment. Their tremendous strength alone, with the gentle nature, made them very valuable as a working dog. The Newfoundland has webbed feet and a very water resistant coat. Its large bone structure allows the development of large musculature to give it the power to swim in the ocean against rough waves and powerful tides. These dogs have a lung capacity enabling them to swim extremely long distances and a thick, oily, waterproof double coat which protects them from the chilly icy waters. Because of these characteristics, they have been used successfully as water rescue dogs.
While as a giant breed the Newfoundland may live up to 15 years, generally 10 years is the average. They are prone to having joint problems especially elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia. They also do not tolerate heat well and hot environments cause them to drool excessively. They also tend to shed a lot and their water resistant double coat makes them very difficult to groom. Finally, they like to roll in mud to cool themselves – a grooming delight!
Their attributes of a gentle nature with everyone, including children, does not offset the difficulties produced by their great size and physical care requirements. Therefore, the Newfoundland breed is unsuitable as a pet for many households, unless you live where they were bred and have those outdoor amenities which they love.