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The Newfoundland As A Working Dog

The Newfoundland is a working dog that was originally bred to help fisherman. 

Over the years they not only continue to be working dogs on land and in water but they can be also trained to be great therapy dogs and assistance dogs in search and rescue. 

They are a smart breed with a strong drive to work alongside their owners. 

In modern society, some people believe that no dog should work. 

Dogs should be cozied up on our couch not having to lift a paw, ever. 

It’s a frustrating and sad cycle that I see and hear all the time, not only about the Newfoundland but about other dogs in the working group. 

The views are usually from good-intentioned dog lovers who are all about rescuing dogs from shelters. 

Most of them have a mixed breed dog that is their very best companion but they have little knowledge of purebred dogs or dogs that were bred for a purpose, such as the Newfie.

They love dogs and they care about dogs but they don’t care to understand that while all dogs are awesome, some dogs actually enjoy doing what they were bred to do. 

working breed dog chart

Working breeds collection

The Newfoundland is among one of the 30 dogs categorized in the Working Group by the American Kennel Club

A few other dogs in the Working Group are the:

  • Akita
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Boxer
  • Cane Corso
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Great Dane
  • Komodor
  • Leonberger
  • Mastiff
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Rottweiler
  • Samoyed
  • Standard Schnauzer
  • Tibetian Mastiff 
  • + more

These dogs are bred to assist man, they excel at jobs such as guarding property, pulling sleds and wagons, and performing water rescues. 

They are quick to learn, intelligent, strong, and alert and they should all be given the chance to work as they were intended to. 

dogs that are in the working group

What Makes a Newfoundland A Good Working Dog?

A Newfoundland is a good working dog for many reasons. 

They are smart, strong, courageous, and very loyal to their owners and family. 

They have a strong desire to please, and a gentle, sweet temperament when they are adults.

The Newfie is heavily boned making them one of the most powerful dogs.

They are trusting and very trainable in educated hands. 

Working Activities Newfies Are Known For

Known mostly for pulling carts and water rescue work Newfoundlands can excel at other jobs such as therapy work, search and rescue work, and assistance work.

Draft Work

A draft dog is a dog bred for pulling a dog cart/wagon, or in winter for sled pulling. 

Dogs bred for this work have strong builds.

All drafting dogs have the qualities that are needed which are strength and determination. 

MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND – MAY 9, 2013: Rescuers are participating in a training course with their service dogs which took place in lake Geneva, Montreux, Switzerland.

Water Rescue

The Newfoundland was made for water work.

He has a water-resistant double coat, a strong muscled tail which is used as a rudder, webbed feet, ears that cling close to the head, and a unique swimming style that resembles a breaststroke.

The Newf takes his lifeguarding responsibilities very seriously, quite often circling around and herding his “family” to shore.

They have an uncanny ability to sense when someone in the water needs help and will, without hesitation, swim out to assist.

Therapy Work

Newfies have a very calming influence on people both young and old making them a perfect therapy dog for those in need of comfort and support. 

Therapy dogs often visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools, disaster areas, and other care institutions. 

They do need to go through extensive training and become certified.

Search and Rescue Work

The Newfoundland has a natural life-saving instinct both on land and in water. 

Their wonderful sniffing ability also makes them a good candidate for SAR work.

A good nose is not enough in SAR which is where the Newfie’s intelligence comes in.

A proficient SAR dog needs lots of training, starting with basic obedience skills.

Then SAR dogs learn how to track, signal their handlers, and behave appropriately in stressful situations.

Their handlers need training, too. 

Assistance Work

A Newf’s devotion and intelligence makes them a perfect Service Assitance Dog. 

People with service dogs rely upon their dogs to let them live their lives more as the average person can do without a dog

Guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for deaf or hearing impaired persons, mobility assistance dogs for wheelchair-bound persons or those with mobility limitations, seizure response dogs and diabetes assistance dogs. 

Mental health service dogs or psychiatric service dogs are trained to assist those with PTSD, panic disorders, anxiety disorders, major depression, autism spectrum disorders and many more.

In most cases, service dogs are trained from an early age in specialized programs.

However, there are exceptions where people have been surprised to find that the loyal family dog has a natural talent

Do All Newfies Need To Work?

Not all Newfies need to work and not all Newfies will want to work but every dog should have a job. 

Many Newfies have a strong desire to work but often that desire is overlooked by their owners.

If a Newfie has the desire to work but isn’t given the opportunity to do so they can become bored which often leads to unwanted behaviors such as chewing, barking, and disturbing the peace. 

Jobs For Newfies

A Newfie doesn’t have to pull a cart or rescue people from the water to work. In fact, there are Newfoundlands that don’t like the water but they can still be given a job. 

Many Newfies like to carry things in their mouth and they may show this to you by grabbing your arm when they are excited to see you or by bringing you a shoe or toy when you come home. 

You can build on that trait by training them to fetch the newspaper, carry groceries or even help pick up sticks from the yard!

Teach them to pick up their toys!

newfoundland dog carrying shovel

The best job for a Newfie is going to be based on their skills and interests so pay close attention to what your dog enjoys to do!

Why Give a Newfie Job?

A Newfie is a working dog and many are happiest when they are working but having a job also has many other benefits such as:

  • To keep your Newfie in goof physical condition
  • To strengthen your bond
  • To Increase their confidence and lessen anxiety issues
  • To help decrease unwanted behaviors.
  • To keep their mind active

It’s not cruel to allow a dog to work. In fact, in many cases for dogs that have a strong desire to work, it would be cruel not to let them. 

A working dog is loved and cared for just as much as dogs that don’t work. 

newfoundland dog working


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Wednesday 23rd of March 2022

What a great article I stumbled upon. I’m a ‘dad’ to a newf named Dewey. We adopted him July 2”07, and he passed this past July. I still miss him so much. He was my very best friend. I’m disabled. A form of dementia. It shows itself in my by daily panic attacks every, every morning. I have not had Dew for a year, and my wife left a few years when my mind started to show problems. I miss loving another being. If anyone is ever considering adopting a Newf - trust me, they will love and be loyal. They make me feel like I want to be better. Simply said, Newf’s make the world better.

Now that I’m alone mostly, confused easily, I am having a very hard time even finding a breeder. The cost - if a pup costs $500 or $5000…. that’s a great deal…to be loved unquestionably.

If you can contact me about a recommended breeder, please call at 717-309-4924. (First time I’ve ever shared my number publicly, I assume anyone that’s read this article is a fan of Newfoundland. I can’t imagine anyone that lives in Newfoundland’s could be nefarious. South central Pa. Please…. :-)

Kenneth W Jones

Thursday 4th of March 2021

We have a 2 month old Newfie named Beary we got her to be a working dog for our Autistic Son Mark. He is 30 now and 6 foot 8. We had to put our last one down 5 years ago from cancer. I am a Newfoundlander by birth and she will return to the Island with us when covid allows Please if anyone know a good training facility plese let us know. She is going to be a wounderful working memberof our family. My Grandfather went to the North Pole with his on the Morrisy. In Love with Newfoundland Ken Jones

The Edgars

Friday 6th of December 2019

Does anyone have any resources for finding activities, training and jobs for newfies 'near you'? I am having trouble finding these types of things for my Newfoundland to get him out, involved and active. Thank you!


Saturday 7th of December 2019

Hi! Depending on what area you live in you can check to see if you have a regional club near you.

You can also check other local breed clubs that may have events. Sometimes you can find this on your local all-breed training websites. If you have any dog shows that come through your area there should be local breed groups there with information too.

The AKC has a local club search:

Tails Around the Ranch

Thursday 5th of December 2019

Love seeing working dogs. What a great post!


Saturday 7th of December 2019

Mee too! Sometimes it gives me the chills!

Ducky's & Radar's Mom

Thursday 5th of December 2019

Excellent post - as always - and May I add that if more dogs were given jobs to do, there might not be as many anxious dogs out there. Even if the "job" is as simple as alerting the owner to a stranger's approach.


Saturday 7th of December 2019

Exactly Sue! I hear about so many Newfs that have anxiety issues and I can't help but wonder if they had a job that gave them something to occupy their mind that they may be a little more comfortable.

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