As a Newfoundland owner I get to see the expression on many faces when they first meet one of my boys. They are certainly a sight to see and not everyone we meet is familiar with just how awesome the Newfoundland dog really is.
Today I will share some fun facts about the Newfoundland dog for those who are meeting the breed for the first time, for those who are looking to find out more about this gentle giant or for those who just can’t get enough!
1. The Newfoundland is a large, strong, devoted dog from the working class. He is a multipurpose dog that is capable of heavy work both on land and in the water.
2. He is known for pulling nets for fisherman, carry boat lines to shore and hauling wood in carts from the forest.
3. The Newfoundland is a strong swimmer and has webbed paws. Instead of doing a normal doggie paddle like most dogs the Newfoundland does more of a breast stroke which gives him more power and drive in the water.
4. There has been many stories of Newfoundlands rescuing people and children from the water when they are struggling or, way back in the day, saving people following a shipwreck.
5. Believe or not the Newfie has its own techniques when it comes to pulling people to shore. If the person is responsive the dog allows the person to grab onto them and be towed to safety. If a swimmer is not responsive, the dog instinctively grips the person by the arm so that the body rolls on its back and the head is out of the water.
6. Some reports even suggest that a Newfie saved Napoleon! A fisherman’s Newfoundland allegedly jumped in after Napoleon and kept him afloat in the choppy waters.
7. Not only can the Newfie excel in the water he can equally excel on land by pulling carts with heavy loads, being assistance dogs, therapy dogs and they are also used in search and rescue.
8. In the early 20th century, a dog that is thought to have been a Newfoundland saved 92 people who were on the SS Ethie which was wrecked off of the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland during a blizzard. The dog retrieved a rope thrown out into the turbulent waters by those on deck, and brought the rope to shore to people waiting on the beach
9. Several Newfoundland dogs served in the Civil War I and World War II along soldiers. Sable Chief was the famous mascot of the 2nd Battalion of the Newfoundland Regiment in World War I . Not only did he keep in step when marching, but it is said that he would invariably stand up with the opening bars of the National Anthem and remain at attention until its conclusion.” “A large dog called “Tony” was a beautiful Newfoundland Dog lovingly cared for by the Chicago Light Artillery Battery A. He was called the “Battery dog”. Tony was a dog of action and gave no thought to the bullets zipping all around him. He was on the battlefields at South Mountain and the wounded at Fort Donelson.
10. The Newfoundland has often been referred to as the “nanny dog” due to it’s wonderful disposition around children and his devotion to his family. The dog in Peter Pan, Nana, was actually a Newfoundland.
11. A famous Newfoundland named Gander was the mascot of Quebec City’s Royal Rifles of Canada. His official name was Regimental Mascot Sgt. Gander. Gander and the Rifles covered many miles and ultimately ended at the battle of Lye Mun on Hong Kong Island. During his time as their mascot, Gander proved his value more than once but his last heroic act would cost him his life. A grenade was thrown towards a group of soldiers commanded by Captain Gavey. The soldiers were unable to move away from the grenade due to intense shooting from the Japanese. Gander ran forward, took the grenade in his mouth and continued away from his men. Gander was killed by the explosion but the men he served were saved by their loyal Newfoundland mascot. This last act of heroism has been memorialized for eternity by awarding Gander the Dickin Medal for “acts of conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in wartime.”
12. The oily nature of the Newfoundland’s double coat effectively keeps him from getting wet to the skin, and combined with his webbed feet, deep, broad chest, and well-sprung ribs contributes to his swimming ability. Despite this heavy coat, he adapts to warm as well as to cool climates.
13. There are many conflicting stories as to the origin of the Newfoundland. It is said that he is one of the older breeds of dogs in existence today. He may not have originated in Newfoundland, though skeletons of giant dogs have been discovered in Indian gravesites in Newfoundland dating from the 5th century, AD. One of the more appealing speculations rests on the legend that when Leif Erikson arrived in North America about 1000 AD, a large black dog, resembling a Newfoundland, called Oolum, was aboard his boat.
14. The Newfoundland breed as we know it today was developed largely in 19th century England and America. The Newfoundland is an ancestor of the present day Labrador and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, which follow the Newfoundland in their natural swimming ability.
15. The recognized colors in the standard of the Newfoundland dog are black, brown, gray, and white and black (Landseer).
16. A Newfoundland named Seaman accompanied Lewis and Clark on their expedition. September 11, 1803 “my dog was of the Newfoundland breed very active strong and docile, he would take the squirrel in the water kill them and swimming bring them in his mouth to the boat”
17. The breed was first registered with the American Kennel Club in 1879 and the first American Newfoundland champion was titled in 1883.
18. The Newfoundland is a giant breed dog. Average height for adult dogs is 28 inches, for adult bitches, 26 inches. Approximate weight of adult dogs ranges from 130 to 150 pounds, adult bitches from 100 to 120 pounds.
19. Robert Kennedy had a Newfoundland dog named Brumus, President Ulysses Grant had a Newfoundland named Faithful, President Rutherford Hayes had a Newfoundland named Hector and President James Buchanan had a Newfoundland named Lara. Read more about dogs that lived in the White House HERE.
20. The Newfoundland dog is not a dog for everyone. They drool, they shed. they require daily grooming, they can have hefty vet bills if they are sick and they will one day break your heart into a million pieces when they cross the Rainbow Bridge.
The Newfoundland is an amazing breed with an amazing history. This hardworking loyal breed definitely isn’t the dog for everyone but it is perfect for some. If you are interested in learning more about the Newfoundland please visit the Newfoundland Club of America.
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