The Newfoundland dog is a large working dog. Newfoundland dogs can be black, brown or white and black (called Landseer) or gray. However, in Canada, the country of their origin, the only correct colours are black or white and black (Landseer). They were originally bred and used as a working dog for fishermen in the Dominion of Newfoundland (which is now part of Canada). They are known for their giant size, intelligence, tremendous strength, calm dispositions, and loyalty. Newfoundland dogs excel at water rescue/lifesaving because of their muscular build, thick double coat, webbed feet, and innate swimming abilities.
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog.
The Newfoundland dog is known for its calm and docile nature and its strength. They are highly loyal and make ideal working dogs. It is for this reason that this breed is known as “the gentle giant”. International kennel clubs generally describe the breed as having a sweet temper. It typically has a deep bark, and is easy to train if started young.
They are wonderfully good with children, but small children can get accidentally leaned on and knocked down. Newfoundlands are ideal companions in the world of therapy and are often referred to as the nanny dog. The breed was memorialized in “Nana”, the beloved guardian dog in J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. The Newfoundland in general is good with other animals, but its size can cause problems if it is not trained.
During the Discovery Channel’s second day of coverage of the AKC Eukanuba National Championship on December 3, 2006, anchor Bob Goen reported that Newfoundlands exhibit a very strong propensity to rescue people from water. Goen stated that one Newfoundland alone once aided the rescue of 63 shipwrecked sailors. Today, kennel clubs across the United States host Newfoundland Rescue Demonstrations, as well as offering classes in the field. Many harbor boat tours in St. John’s have a dog on board for local charm as well as for passenger safety.