Most of us have been out walking our Newfoundlands and are stopped by a curious foot traveler looking for more information about the furry creature shuffling beside us.
It’s the typical questions that we’re used to getting asked followed by, “I’ve always wanted a Newfie.”
I don’t know about you but I usually respond with, “Yeah, they’re the best.”
Because they are.
Plain and simple, they’re the best breed to ever walk this earth.
But, they are not the best breed for everyone.
Owning a Newfie is a lot and you don’t know how much a lot is unless you currently have one occupying 6 feet of space right underneath your feet.
While those of us that have fallen in love with this magnificent breed don’t think twice about putting in the time and effort to care for them, they’re not a good breed for a large portion of the human population.
This is obvious based on the amount of Newfoundlands that are currently filling up rescues.
For the past several months, every day I see one of our devoted Newfie rescues asking for volunteers to help foster a dog.
The reasons why Newfoundlands end up in rescue of course vary and some of the things are out of our control, however, one big reason that has been brought to my attention is that new Newfie owners didn’t have enough knowledge about the breed.
As fanciers of this majestic breed, we are often gloating about how wonderful they are but we talk less about the challenging side of raising a Newfie.
We eagerly list off all the pros of the breed and barely scratch the surface of the cons.
Yeah, they shed and yes they drool.
They grow fast and they’re big.
We all know that and so does everyone else but there’s more.
So much more.
This important topic prompted me to take a deeper dive into the red flags of the Newfoundland breed by taking some of the most common pros and cons of the breed and peeling away the layers on each one.
But before we get down and dirty, I want to thank the person that brought up this topic and the Newfie owners that passionately shared their experience when I asked for a few breed red flags that they didn’t know about UNTIL they were sharing their life with a Newf.
This honestly was a community effort and I’m so grateful for that because sometimes I can be blinded by what I’m personally experiencing and forget that not everyone will have or is having the same experience as I am when raising a Newfoundland.
But these answers show me that many of us have similar experiences.
If you have a chance, check out this post on Instagram that shows over 300 comments of people sharing their red flag experiences.
It’s eye-opening and I am so proud to be a part of such a wonderful and passionate community.
This article is written by me but created by you.
The red flags listed here are common Newfoundland traits that most people already know about but when you’re on the front line raising a Newfie, these familiar traits turn quickly turn into a different scene.
The basic traits tend to have a snowball effect.
They start small and are exactly what you were expecting until they gather momentum and quickly turn into an avalanche.
The first step to take on this snowball effect is to be ready for them.
Know what’s to come and prepare yourself for it mentally and physically.
Think of any of the more common Newfie traits that you already read about and double it.
Then triple it.
Let’s dive into some of these red flags that Newfie owners want you to know about BEFORE you bring your Newfoundland home.
Red Flag: Newfies Shed
We all know this and we joke about it but when people read that a dog sheds, they think of a Golden Retriever shedding.
All dogs shed and dogs with a double coat shed a lot.
So yeah, Newfies shed, so what?
Newfies SHED and it’s on a different level.
It’s impossible to compare the shedding to let’s say a Golden Retriever because a Newfie is much bigger than a Golden.
Most people don’t get a taste of shedding until after the first year or so when the adult coat starts to come in.
A Newfie is going to shed and it’s often overwhelming for new owners when it starts.
Red Flag: High Maintenance Grooming
Along with shedding excessively, Newfies require a lot of grooming.
Grooming requires grooming tools.
Even if you plan to take your Newfoundland to a professional dog groomer, they still require maintenance grooming in between.
A Newfie can’t go 6-8 weeks without a comb going through their hair a few times a week because the hair will mat.
So you’re either going to spend money taking your Newfie to the groomer every 6-8 weeks or you’re going to spend money investing in your own grooming supplies.
Either way, it’s expensive.
If you opt to have your Newfie trimmed in the summer, you still have to comb them.
Maintaining a Newfoundland’s coat is a full-time job and if it’s not taken care of, it’s going to cost even more money.
Many people stated that even though they knew a Newfie required regular grooming, they severely underestimated how labor-intensive it can be.
Red Flag: Gentle Giant
Let’s face it, we are all drawn to the gentle and sweet nature of a Newfie but contrary to popular belief, Newfoundlands are not gentle giants their entire life.
As one of our friends said, “Newfies have gentle intentions.” but it’s years before those intentions turn into true actions.
Newfies evolve into gentle beasts as they mature.
Bigger dogs normally take longer to mature so there’s a big chunk of time where you’re dealing with a fluffy wrecking ball.
Teenage Newfies or Newfies in the adolescent stage might have gentle intentions but in the most chaotically and clumsily way possible.
They are happy puppies that get excited easily, want to play and they love their family immensely.
This usually comes off as a 100-pound dog crashing into a member of their family, running through a screen door, knocking a lamp over and taking anything and everything out in its path.
However, Newfies, in my experience (unless they have a high prey drive) are gentle towards most other dogs and animals.
This can be good for squirrels, frogs and other wildlife that might encounter a Newfie but it also makes a Newfie a target for smaller dogs with big dog aggression.
I’ve heard of so many Newfies being attacked by smaller dogs at dog parks and it creates a fearful Newfie.
Red Flag: Teenage Mutant Ninja Newfie
Hands down, the hardest phase of raising a Newfie puppy according to hundreds of Newfie owners is the adolescent stage.
Many people have said that when comparing Newfies to other dog breeds in this stage, the Newfie is the most challenging.
They are a BIG PUPPY with a puppy brain.
Newfie puppies grow fast and they’re often compared to a T-Rex or Velociraptor.
This stage is filled with lessons, bruises, accidents, frustration, shredding, scratches, chewing and maybe a few tears.
It’s a lot for someone who isn’t expecting it and it’s the stage where many owners opt to hand their Newfoundland over to rescue because it’s too much for them to handle.
Red Flag: Expensive
I don’t think most of us add up the cost of owning our Newfies so I don’t think that there’s one set number.
Big dogs in general cost more than small or medium-sized dogs.
More food, more medication, more supplements.
The cost of owning a Newfie can be expensive and they are prone to several health issues that can be costly.
Some of the more expensive health issues seen commonly in the breed are:
- Skin issues
- Joint problems
- Ear infection
The medication to treat these problems can add up because a Newfie will need to double the medication due to its size.
The same with joint supplements-they need more.
The price you paid for your Newfie puppy is nothing compared to what you’re going to spend on them for many years to come.
The older they get, the more you’re going to spend.
One of my favorite responses to our post about this topic on Instagram was, “You can’t own a Newfie on a budget.”
Red Flag: Big Dog
I’ll admit that back in my 20s, I was drawn to the Newfie due to their sheer size.
I wanted a massive dog and I got a massive dog.
What I didn’t expect for some reason, was the strength of this big dog and my lack of ability to move this big dog if needed.
If a Newfie gets sick or injured and they need to be transported somewhere, you’re going to need help.
Not everyone has the luxury of having someone available to help at any hour of the day in an emergency.
Let’s also not forget that if a 150-pound dog doesn’t want to do something, it’s not going to do it and you’ll have to wait it out or figure something out.
Newfies are notorious for stopping in the middle of a walk and not moving a muscle.
People have had to call their significant other to bring the car to pick up their Newfie.
On the flip side of that, even the best-trained Newfie can decide in a split second that they want to do something and as our friend on IG said, “there’s no stopping them, only time to react.”
I’ve been on the receiving end of this and it’s true.
Red Flag: Easy To Train
Newfies are smart and pick up things quickly but their training has to start early, be consistent and never stop.
Training a Newfie can be easy but it can also be challenging especially if you’re a first-time owner.
To properly train a Newfie it’s important to know the breed because some of their “negative behaviors’ are part of them.
Newfoundlands are sensitive and most don’t respond well to harsh training so you have to find a balance between firm training but also gentle.
A very good comment on Instagram about this was:
“Due to their strong bond with their humans, sensitivity and intelligence, they have higher needs for connection and gentle styles of training.”
What this is going to look like is going to be different so it’s REALLY hard to offer training advice to someone online without seeing how their Newfie responds and interacts.
You also need an abundance of patience with a Newfie and a sense of humor.
You HAVE to have a sense of humor.
It’s a important characteristic that your Newfie needs you to have.
Red Flag: Big Mouth
Every part of a Newfie is massive including their mouth and Newfies like to use this feature.
Mouthing is a big issue in puppies and even some adult Newfies but keep in mind, this breed is a working dog that often uses a soft mouth to do jobs.
If you want to eliminate that behavior, it’s going to take time and patience.
However, modifying the mouthing is going to be a little easier on the owner and the Newfie.
Mouthing shouldn’t be confused with biting.
A mouthy Newfoundland wants something to hold in their mouth and sometimes that happens to be your arm.
They’re not attacking and they’re not biting, they are holding.
Most of the time this will just leave you with a wet arm but younger Newfies can sometimes apply a little too much pressure which can leave bruises.
I always have some type of fetch stick or bumper ready to give Lou when he’s excited.
Red Flag: Newfies Drool
They drool, yeah.
And the drool gets everywhere, including on the ceiling.
One shake of their massive head and you’ll have a permanent slobber chandelier.
All Newfies are going to drool to some degree whether that be after a drink, when they’re hot or when they’re begging.
I always laugh when someone says that they’re doesn’t drool a lot unless they’ve just taken a drink or have been begging.
That’s 24/7 in our house.
You’ll peel dried drool off your pants, walls, table and windows.
Red Flag: Great With Kids
Newfies are known for being great with kids and mature adult Newfies are that.
However, teenage Newfies with a toddler can be another story if you’re not expecting it.
The teenage stage is by far the hardest and having young children in the family can make it 100 times harder.
A younger Newfie will most likely let your child hug them, sit and watch them play, Newfervise them napping and even offer comfort when they’re sick.
But then there’s also a very good chance that they turn around and unintentionally knock a young child to the ground.
A Newfie doesn’t plot to knock your toddler down, but if they’re in their path, they probably will.
Having a toddler and a young Newfie is a lot and you won’t see it coming because one day your Newfie is an adorable happy little fluff ball and the next, he’s a T-Rex.
It’s like you went from having 1 toddler to having 2 but the furry one is 100 pounds.
Of course, I’m not saying it can’t be done, I did it with 2 toddlers and 2 teenage Newfies but it wasn’t all puppies and rainbows.
Another point with having a toddler and a Newfie puppy is both are time-consuming, as they should be, but one of them is going to get the short end of your time and it’s usually the puppy.
The less time you spend with the puppy, the less training it has.
The less training that is done, the more problems start to arise or intensify.
Red Flag: Stubborn
I know that some people don’t like the word stubborn being used and prefer to deflect blame onto the owner for not training well enough so call it what you will.
Strong-willed, adamant, unaccommodating, unadaptable, bull-headed, obstinate, selective hearing, whatever the word of the day is.
There are times that, despite the best and most consistent training, a Newfie is going to do what or what not it wants.
I’ve had this happen with Lou and I’ve taken a step back and thought, maybe my communication is off.
Maybe I’m not communicating with him in a way he understands.
The fact is, sometimes Lou just doesn’t want to do it and that’s it.
There’s no formula behind it.
It is what it is.
And sometimes, Lou wants to know what’s in it for him.
I think of all the comments I received, almost all of them had the word stubborn in them.
Newfies are also very resourceful. They’ll find the coolest place in the house, they’ll figure out a way to get the butter out of the cupboard and they will always find a way to steal your heart.
Red Flag: Devoted
Newfies are happiest when they’re by their owner’s side.
NEWFIES ARE HAPPIEST WHEN THEY’RE BY THEIR OWNER’S SIDE.
Most people underestimate a Newfie’s devotion.
This breed loves their family and they love them hard.
You are their world and because of this, Newfies can easily get separation anxiety which can lead to behavior problems.
It can also lead to resource guarding which can be scary for everyone in the house.
A few people also mentioned in regards to this topic that it’s hard to leave your Newfie in the care of someone else.
I can’t agree more with this.
Not only is it hard to find someone that is familiar with and can handle the needs and care for a giant breed dog but also it affects the Newfie because they can be so sensitive.
And if you want to travel with your Newfie, that brings up another set of challenges because many hotels/resorts have size restrictions.
Red Flag: Messy
We know that Newfies shed and drool and all that stuff end up in every nook and cranny of your house but there’s more.
Newfies are mud and water magnets.
They like water and they like mud.
Since they drool, drink water a lot and like to swim, some Newfies are constantly wet and stinky.
They require a basic hygiene care routine which can entail cleaning the folds of their neck, mouth, eyes, ears and paws.
Speaking of the paws, Newfies have those cool webbed toes that help them be great swimmers in the water but that webbing is also the perfect shelf for mud to cling to which then gets brought into your house.
The paws of a Newfie are like sponges and no amount of wiping or blotting is going to soak that up.
Oh, and that beautiful thick double coat with the pretty top coat hairs, that’s a burr magnet, a stick magnet, a leaf magnet and whatever else a Newfie brushes up against.
Red Flag: Lazy
I feel like we debunked this Lazy Newfoundland myth several years ago but people still are under the impression that Newfies are lazy.
Newfies are active dogs that like to be with their people.
What that looks like depends on a person’s lifestyle but a happy content Newfie isn’t napping on the couch all day.
They require daily exercise, mental stimulation and human interaction.
They’re a working breed that likes to work when given the chance.
Red Flag: Show Stopper
Newfies get a lot of attention when they are visible to the public eye.
They are striking dogs that people want to touch and ask questions about.
This is a blessing and a curse.
On one hand, you get to talk with and educate so many people about the breed but on the other hand, it can become overwhelming especially when you’re training or if you’re an introvert.
Believe me and anyone else that has a Newfie when we say that people will honk at you, roll their window down and stop in the middle of the road, run up to your dog with hands extended and ask to take a picture of your dog at least a hundred times during your Newfie’s lifetime.
This is one of the reasons why training is SO IMPORTANT and while this can be a welcome interaction for some, for others it can be overwhelming.
A lot of people commented that while their Newfie is well-behaved for the most part, they do have issues when out in public because their Newfie gets VERY excited to greet people, which is often.
Red Flag: Potato Chips
No one ever mentions a Newfie’s love for potato chips.
I’m just kidding, they love butter more than potato chips but that’s not the point.
If you get through all the red flags that the Newfoundland breed has, you are going to fall madly in love with them.
For those that love them through all the pros and cons, they are addicting just like potato chips and you can’t have just one.
Finally, I want to thank everyone that participated with so much valuable information for this post and for sharing YOUR story.
I feel that it’s so comforting for others to know that they’re not alone when raising their first Newfie and many of the struggles that they’re facing are the same struggles that we’ve all faced.
Newfies are a lifestyle.
If you want to check out the Instagram post where all this took place, you can find it HERE.