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Do Newfoundlands Make Good Family Dogs?

The hallmark of the Newfoundland breed is sweetness of temperant. 

They are often referred to as “the nanny dog”, and are said to be great with children making them a good choice for a family dog.

I feel so blessed that Sherman and Leroy will always be remembered as my children’s family dog.

Would I label them as a “nanny dog”?

Sherman yes, Leroy definitely not. 

I’ve never been fond of the term “nanny dog” as a common term to describe a Newfie.

They can be gentle, yes. They can be wonderful around children, yes.

But I feel like the “nanny dog” title gives a false sense of security that they will be the perfect family dog right from the beginning. 

I see so many new Newfie owners completely shocked that their Newfie is knocking their kids down, barking, making a mess of the house and so on. 

They quickly become overwhelmed by this fast-growing puppy who is hard to manage and nothing at all like a nanny. 

In fact, in many cases, it sounds like the owners need a nanny to take care of the Newfie while they take care of the kids. 

I’m going to be honest with you, when my husband decided that he wanted Leroy, I was not onboard. 

I knew I had my hands full with a 3-year-old,  a 5-year-old, a 1 1/2-year-old Newfie and (2) 6-year old Beagles. 

There was no way that I had time for another dog but the more I thought about it, the more I convinced myself that I was out of my mind to turn the chance to get another Newfie and that I should seize the opportunity while I had the chance. 

Let’s just say that if Leroy came first there wouldn’t be any other pets in our house.

Newfies can make wonderful family dogs but growing families should have full knowledge of what it takes to get to that destination.

newfoundland dogs with their family


Newfoundlands Are Happiest With Their Families

Newfies are happiest when they are by their human’s side and they don’t do well when they are without their owners for long periods of time. 

Busy families that travel a lot and leave their Newfoundland behind may want to consider another dog breed or wait altogether before they get a dog.

On the other side, if you opt to travel with your Newfie be prepared to pack a few extra bags for them and make sure that your travel destination is big dog-friendly! 

Newfies should not be chained outside or left in the garage when their families are home or away. 

Unless it’s a cool 20 degrees with snow, Newfies would much rather be inside with their owners.

Newfoundlands are known to have separation anxiety

Since Newfies are happiest when with their families they can get sad and bored when left alone for long periods of time.

This can lead to destructive behaviors such as chewing on walls, counter-surfing, excessive barking, scratching and urinating and defecating themselves. 

It Can Take Time For That Gentle Giant Gene To Show Up

I used to think that they forgot the gentle giant gene when they made Leroy. 

Sherman was so gentle and laid back and Leroy was like a tornado with 4 legs.

Not all Newfoundlands are gentle from the start and it can take several years for them to get there.

They go through different life stages and some are more challenging than others. 

Newfie’s need training and they need to be taught manners or they can be destructive.

Nipping, jumping, barking and digging are some behavior issues that can be seen in young Newfies.

Newfoundlands Can Cost A Lot Of Money To Raise

Newfies require training, food, supplements, veterinarian care, grooming supplies, exercise, pet insurance

These expenses can add up for families that are just starting of especially if the dog develops one of the several health problems that can be seen in the breed.

Some of the health issues that Newfs can experience like a torn cruciate on both knees can wipe out your savings or you might have to skip paying a car payment or a utility bill if you’re prepared. 

I’ve seen it happen many times and it’s happened to me.

Newfies Are Messy

When you’re involved with Newfoundlands for a bit of time you’ll come across the phrase that a “Newfie is more than just a dog, it’s a lifestyle.”

It’s a typical way of life that people with Newfies live.

Newfies are not the breed for clean and tidy families.

I’m not a neat freak but I used to like clean floors. Especially when my kids were crawling around the floor and learning to walk.

I quickly gave up on that and came to the conclusion that all the hair and slobber would boost their immune system.

Hair is going to happen, wet floors and mud is going to happen. You will drive yourself insane trying to keep up.

I’m not a slob, I just have Newfs and a family and I choose to spend time with them instead of worrying about my material things being less than perfect.

newfoundland dog fishing with children

Children Need To Be Trained Too

Families with young children should not only be prepared to train their Newfoundland but also to train their children.

Newfies are huge dogs that look like teddy bears and some of them can be great cuddlers for young children but children should always learn to respect a Newf’s personal space.

They can also be an easy jungle gym for young children that like to climb. 

While most Newfoundland will be tolerable of this behavior because they love their family, it’s not an ideal situation for any dog and accidents can happen. 

Newfoundlands are dogs and they do have the ability to be startled. A startled dog’s first instinct is usually to bite. 

Most of the time this bite isn’t a full-on, aggressive bite but more of a Newfie being startled, turning around fast and its tooth grazing the skin.

It happened to my daughter before with Sherman. 

Sherman was sleeping, she went up and blew on his ear and Sherman turned like it was a bug on him and his tooth scratched my daughter’s cheek.

It wasn’t Sherman being aggressive, it was Sherman being startled. 

A child should never be left alone with a Newfie, especially when they are a young puppy or senior Newf.

Supervision should always be present.

Some Newfies tend to view children as playmates so it’s important to teach your child not to rough house with a Newfie because a Newfie can easily use their large size to overpower a small child resulting in an injury.

newfoundland dog sitting with little girl

No Other Dog Will Ever Compare

If you do decide that a Newfie is exactly the breed of dog that your family needs, be prepared that no other dog will ever compare to this.

You’ve set the bar high and this dog, this very special dog, will provide many years of loyalty, laughter, comfort, and tears to your family. 

He’ll be forever known as the best family dog ever and your children, if you have them, will never forget them.

I was thinking about this other day. 

Sherman and Leroy are Gracie’s and Bobby’s childhood dogs.

They will remember them forever.

They will tell their family about their childhood dogs just like I told them about mine and I’m very happy that I could give them that gift.



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Cathy Armato

Thursday 11th of July 2019

Great post. It's critical for people to do the research w/ any dog breed & be prepared .


Thursday 18th of July 2019

It really is. I feel like many people don't take the time to truly research the breed that they're interested in and then they're shocked when things arise.

Ducky's Mom

Tuesday 9th of July 2019

Great post, Jen! You almost make me want to run out and find a Newfie puppy. Notice I said "almost". Frankly, Ducky is enough work for me right now. Besides, I'm kinda partial to Goldens - as if you didn't know. ?


Tuesday 9th of July 2019

Beautiful post.

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