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10 Common Behavior Issues Seen With The Newfoundland Dog

10 Common Behavior Issues Seen In The Newfoundland Dog

It was the first Thanksgiving that we had hosted for our family and the last guest had just left our house.

I plopped down in the middle of the floor and started sobbing.

The day was exhausting and stressful and I was an emotional mess.

It wasn’t the cooking or the cleaning. It wasn’t the house full of guests, big and little.

It was the dog.

My 18 month old Newfoundland had done all that he could to make our peaceful Thanksgiving as chaotic as possible.

He grabbed the stuffing bread off the kitchen table and ate it as he ran through the house.

His excited body knocked all 4 of my nieces and nephews down as they entered the house.

It was like they were bowling pins and he was the bowling ball.

I spent the entire day hovering over him. Watching his every move and doing my best to correct him in the calmest way I could.

By the end of the day, I was exhausted.

brown newfoundland dog sitting

What is wrong with my Newfie?

He’s broken. He’s been to obedience class.

They had to of forgotten the gentle gene on this one.

A few days later I called the breeder sobbing.

It wasn’t the first time I had called her to ask questions.

I had actually just called her a few months before asking if Newfies go through an ugly duckling stage because why is his face so much darker than the rest of his body?!

“What is wrong with this dog?

Sherman was nothing like this. I think you gave me a broken one” I stammered.

10 Common Behavior Issues Seen In The Newfoundland Dog

We talked for over an hour and I honestly was surprised that she didn’t request for me to relinquish ownership and give him back because I was being so overdramatic and clueless.

It wasn’t him it was me.

I was expecting this perfect dog right out of the box.

I was forgetting that a Newfie is a dog first, and a nanny, gentle giant, goofy newfy, best friend and lap dog, second. 

Many of the behaviors that I’ve experienced with Sherman and Leroy over the last 11 years are normal.

With some Newfs you see all of these behaviors and with some , you see only a few.

However, many people don’t share these issues.

Who wants to share that their gentle giant just took out a row of toddlers?

We want to share the good things, the things that we enjoy and things that bring others joy.

But as Newfie owners, we don’t actually enjoy every aspect of raising a Newfoundland.

It’s a really, really tough job.

We enjoy a lot of it, but not all of it. 

Who wants to tell their guests that there will be no stuffing on Thanksgiving because the dog ate the stuffing bread?

Not me but I had to do it.

Newfies are smart, require regular grooming, can be great with kids, drool, like to swim and have should have a sweet disposition BUT some also have unwanted behavior issues and these behaviors need attention and training.

Some of these behavior issues can be quite scary and possibly considered aggressive to new owners who had no idea that Newfies had these kinds of behaviors.  

Top Behavior Issues Seen In The Newfoundland Dog


Jumping can be a frustrating behavior issue seen in Newfoundlands in their younger years.

It’s a behavior that should be addressed immediately and not taken lightly because someone, especially little children can get injured.

If you don’t want a 150-pound dog jumping, don’t let a puppy do it.

Leroy was our jumper.

10 Common Behavior Issues Seen In The Newfoundland Dog


Newfies bark or they don’t.

Many things that you read online are going to tell you that barking is not a trait commonly seen in the Newfoundland and that is not correct.

Newfies are very capable of barking and are quite loud when they do it. 

Many of them do it for a reason or for no reason at all.

Leroy is a barker.

He barks at nothing and he barks at everything.

He barks at birds, dogs barking 5 miles away, when he wants to be fed, when he wants to be petted and when he wants to go for a walk.

newfoundland dog with head on table


When a Newf places his paws up on a counter and gets whatever he wants that is up there.

Sometimes its butter and other times it’s a pot of chili.

Sherman counter-surfed once and grabbed a package of cookies.

Leroy counter-surfs but just with his head. He also table-surfs.


Newfies are working dogs and many of them have the instinct to pull.

However, they are supposed to pull a cart, not you.

Having a pulling Newfie can be very dangerous for the person on the other end of the leash and for the dog.


Newfs like to dig for various reasons. 

Some like to dig to find a nice, cool place to lay, some do it out of boredom and others like to dig to eat dirt.

Whatever the reason is it can be a costly behavior and in some cases, it can lead to medical issues for the dog.

Leroy is a digger and getting him to stop wasn’t easy but we addressed his behavior and then curbed the digging.

Check out 5 Ways To Stop Your Dog From Digging In The Yard

Separation Anxiety.

Newfie’s are working dogs and are happiest when they are with their owners.

A Newfoundland who is left alone a lot and is not exercised both mentally a physically can suffer from separation anxiety and become destructive. 

newfoundland dog swimming

This can entail tearing up things around the house such as floors, baseboards, furniture, and anything else they can get their mouths on.

Sherman used to chew on our wooden kitchen chairs.

Selective Hearing.

When they hear only what they want to hear.

I can hear you talking but you can’t come in.

Newfs can be stubborn but if they are constantly tuning you out then it might be something that you’re doing wrong.

Leroy has a severe case of selective hearing but Leroy also has a mind that goes a mile a minute.

He’s here and there and everywhere.

10 Common Behavior Issues Seen In The Newfoundland Dog

Resource Guarding.

Resource guarding can happen in any breed and the Newfoundland is not an exception.

There can be a number of things that they guard including food, toys, treats, specific areas, other pets, and people.

Sherman used to resource guard me, food, and treats, and yes it caused problems.

Predatory Drive (Prey Drive)

When you think of a Newfie the last thing most people think of is them chasing after a chicken or rodent and killing them but Newfies ARE dogs and some Newfies do have prey drive.

It’s a difficult behavior for many and sometimes cats are their prey.

Sherman has a small prey drive.

He’s caught a groundhog before, trapped a possum and isn’t allowed to have contact with our guinea pig.

He’s never actually killed anything that I know of so he doesn’t go through the whole prey drive sequence but I wouldn’t put it past him.

My first Newf ate baby bunnies. Leroy has ZERO prey drive.

10 Common Behavior Issues Seen With The Newfoundland Dog


I call this behavior love nibbles.

It’s when a Newf will put your arm in their mouth and nibble it on like a piece of corn. It doesn’t hurt but it can catch an unsuspecting person off guard.

I was once told that it is part instinct because when Newfies are rescuing someone from the water they grab them by the arm and pull them in.

I don’t know how much truth is to this. Sherman used to do this to me when he was excited, especially when I would come home from work.

He once did it my SIL who was completely mortified because she didn’t know what was going.

What do you do with these behavior issues?.

First, you should check out 10 Tips For Training Your Newfoundland and see if there’s anything that you can implement into your training sessions. 

Next, if you can’t get these issues under control we highly encourage you to get in contact with a dog trainer in your area. 

Check out using The NILF Training Approach With Your Newfoundland and see if that can work in your situation.

Can’t wait and want to start researching now?

We recommend checking out the teachings of Ian Dunbar., The Newfoundland Puppy, early care and training by Judy Adler, (affiliate link)  for starters.

And maybe your Newfie is showing you that they’re bored. How To Tell If Your Newfoundland Dog Is Bored

Is there hope?


Leroy doesn’t jump anymore.

Sherman doesn’t guard me or food anymore.

They haven’t pulled on walks in years and I found a way to keep them from digging most of the time.

The selective hearing still presents itself at times but I get it.

So you’re not alone. Your Newf isn’t broken. 

black newfoundland dog laying on floor

Thousands of other Newfie owners have gone through it and made it.

Not every second of having your Newfoundland is going to be wonderful.

There’s going to be hard times with crying and frustrations and all of that is o.k.

There’s also going to be great times, funny times and many proud moments and the hardest lesson that you are going to learn during this time is that your Newf will make mistakes and so will you.

Remember, a Newfie is a dog first and a Newfie second.

p.s. I realize that there may be some that believe that they have a perfect Newfie with no behavior issues, I’m happy for you.

p.p.s. Of course, it’s worth it and of course, I wouldn’t change anything.

Well……I would go back and put the stuffing bread in a safer place.


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Saturday 7th of May 2022

Being from Newfoundland myself, I smiled at everything you wrote.


Tuesday 22nd of February 2022

I have 2 Newfoundlands and a St Bernard, my conclusion is that all giant breed dogs act similar, it is just a pup growing up. They are big and boisterous, clumsy and most of the time very naughty, but with patience and diligence like with any puppy they are 2 of the best breeds that I love and as they get older yes they turn into my lovable giant teddy bears. once they turn 3 they are very settled and sometimes very boring and you will miss their silly behavior.

Virginia Tennant

Tuesday 10th of August 2021

I have a nearly 6 year old newfie to be fare he is good lad. However, he chews one leg (really bad) behavioural not medical, so when unsupervised has to be coned, is never alone accept for food shopping. Walks 6 miles a day over 2 walks. He harasses anyone e that comes in house, is very rude and invasive, shoving his nose in places where it does not belong, will whine and push when trying to stop him, will launch at people, have to lead him around people at home. Has been to obedience classes. Will growl when you tell him to move and he doesn't want to. Has now taken to peeing like a girl, sometime peeing where he lays (not medical) had him checked at vets, he's just lazy and this is on an evening, he refuses to go oee outside late on, would rather do it where he is, not often, once every few weeks.

Our life revolves and is controlled by him.

We've considered removing him, but won't, we are constantly working with him. We've found the more in control he is, the worse he gets so we make him work for everything, including a fuss.

He's fit and healthy, going grey under chin, groomed weekly, trimmed monthly on feet, belly and butt.

Just a few not so pleasant traits, ps I am the only person he listens to literally. He has growled at everyone in house, including kids baring teeth, so not a grumble, they just asked him to move. As we will not step over him, as he ruptured my ankle doing this, he decided to stand up at the moment I was over him.

Ant advice o these issues would be grateful.


Thursday 12th of August 2021

Hi Virginia,

Have you reached out to a trainer or dog behaviorist in your area?

For the chewing, have you tried giving him some puzzle toys or something like a frozen stuffed Kong to help with boredom or to satisfy his licking needs? You could also try a lick mat.


Wednesday 4th of August 2021

I love your writing it’s informative and funny at same time Thank you Elke


Monday 18th of January 2021

We absolutely love your story's about your newfie's. Which is what inspired us to end up getting one. We already have 2 Great Pyrenees and wanted a 3rd. However, my husband wanted a Newfie for our 3rd. So we got Bella @ 8 weeks. What a treat she is to us. Bella now is 7 month's and is as tall as our 5 year old female Pyrenee. Training has been delightfully easy with her. Unfortunately, she doesn't want to come when we call her now, and is very good @ ignoring us. We've never had this issue with our Pyrenees. Do you have any ideals on how to deal with this? She was doing great with coming when she was younger, now she just ignores this command. Keep the stories coming. Thanks


Wednesday 3rd of March 2021

Hi Kathy, I would go back to basics with her and start from scratch and work on it a little bit each day. Maybe try changing up the reward too!

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