Newfoundlands (newfies) are an amazing family dog. As adults they are the gentle giants that they are famous for being. Their sweetness is even acknowledged by the AKC. They are a calm breed that is confident and very good natured. Newfies were originally used by fishermen out at sea and would jump overboard to save a man that had been thrown overboard, that is a loyalty that you can still see today. I cannot say enough great things about the loyalty and sweetness of the newfoundland.
As puppies, they do have a brief period where they can be a little bit of a handful but trust me when I say, the rambunctiousness of the puppy stage is well worth the wonderful adult that they become! I remember when I first got Olivia and Denver and I was worried that they were not going to be what I had read. They were very curious and all over the place. I would say within a month or two they began to really settle down and become the calm girls that they are today. But I was worried! I was used to my berners, who even as puppies play for 10 minutes and then need a nap, but the Denver and Olivia that I have now (mature and more grown up) are well worth the puppy stage. As puppies, proper socialization and training is a must. They are going to be big dogs (120 pounds for the girls and 150 for the males) and so you want them to be able to act as you want them to in all situations. When it comes to newfies, being calm and consistent during training is a must. Even raising your voice and creating a harsh tone can lead to mistrust and possibly cause the opposite effect while training. If you stay calm and reinforce all of the behavior that you want, you will have the dog of your dreams! They are very eager to please their family, so training can be a very easy thing. If training isn’t going how you had hoped, they usually do very well in the structured atmosphere of puppy classes. I will tell you a quick example of how raising your voice can have the opposite effect of what you want. When Denver and Olivia were smaller, they would often crawl under the fence and go roaming around the farm, they never went anywhere, but I didn’t want them to either, so of course, we would go and get them and put them back inside the fence and block the loose fencing. However, when I would call for them in a louder, disappointed, angry tone, usually they would run away, but if I would bend down and be calm and have a pleasant tone, they would come running to me with no problems. It is all about the tone, they are very smart but very sensitive dogs and when you reward the good behavior (coming to me when called) instead of being mad that they crawled under the fence, the reaction that I get from my dogs is completely different. It may sound like a lot of work but it is all about the final reaction. If you keep calm, so will they and they will be happy to make you happy! A quick story about Atakin while still potty training, he went potty on the living room floor so I took him outside and I scolded him and told him to go potty outside. When he came back in, he didn’t leave my side for well over an hour. He needed my reassurance that I was not angry at him. And after several times of me telling him that he was a good boy and that I wasn’t mad, he was finally confident enough to leave my side he still was always within sight of me. Atakin was little and therefore could not run away as I carried him outside and when I reacted I did not even think about it. I yelled Atakin and immediately carried him outside and in an upset tone told him that he needed to go potty outside and my harsh tone affected how he thought I felt about him. After I realized what I had done, based on his reaction, I felt bad. I want him to go potty outside but I never want him to think that I do not love him because I get upset. That is the last time that I reacted that way to him but that is just a quick example of how much your tone can affect their reaction to the behavior correction. I do not even know if Atakin realized or cared why I was mad, he was just worried that I was going to stay mad at him.
As your newfie grows, so does their desire to be with you. As puppies they are curious and wanting to learn everything that they can learn. But as they get older, the calmer they get and the more they just want to be with their family. They are very adjustable to your life style. If you are a family always on the go, they will be right there with you loving every minute of it or if you are more of a couch potato, they love to curl up with you and take a nap. They just want to be with you. They like to be touching you and will be at your feet showing their loyalty at every turn. I had never had a dog that would take a nap with me on the couch before, until Denver. One of my favorite things is to lay on the couch with Denver, she doesn’t need me to constantly be petting her, she is perfectly happy sleeping beside me and I think it makes her just as happy as it makes me. They are very well natured and have a natural intuition about that. They usually are gentle with children, even if they have never really been around children before. They will need to be taught that they cannot jump as puppies but as adults, they are not usually jumpers. But if anything, the child may get a bath that they did not ask for They are a natural babysitter, they just have a natural ability to sense danger and then to want to prevent it. They are brave and loyal like none other. However, they are not much of a barker. But I can almost guarantee that they would not stand back and allow your family to be in danger.
They are droolers…but the good news is, that this is a slow process, they do not start off as droolers but as they get older and their faces get bigger, the more they do drool. I do not feel that this is something that should be a deal breaker because it is not constant issue more the occasional issue. Another thing that I have noticed with my own dogs is that they pant. They do have a heavy coat on all year round and that would make anyone hot but I have noticed that my newfies pant more than my other dogs. I am not sure if this is something common to every newfie or if it is just my dogs? But since they all seem to do it, I would assume this is something that most newfies do. With their big heavy coats, they do shed. The spring and the fall are the worst, as it is with most dogs. We have to brush them a couple of times a week for about 2 weeks to help the shedding process. With just one newfie, I do not think that this would be something that would be hard to manage….but with 4 plus my berners, I do get the occasional hairball tumbleweed on my hardwood floors, ha ha.
Now, when I was doing my research, I read on a lot of sites, that the girl newfies were more eager to please. I am not sure if that is true. I have never seen a dog act how Atakin reacted when he was scolded for going potty inside. I feel that my girls are a little bit more independent than Atakin. Although I would not say that there is one more loyal than the next. Atakin may look to me more than the girls, but Denver and Olivia have always had each other, so maybe they more look to each other because of that. Dakota is still very young at this point but she also seems more independent than Atakin was at her age.
Newfoundlands LOVE the snow and water! They will stay outside for hours in the snow and they love to play with their family in the snow. If you put a harness on a full grown adult newfoundland and hook them up to the sled, they will pull the kids too! The best of both worlds for the newfie, the cold, the snow and the kids all in one event! They also love the water, our dogs even love the baby pools! We have 4 baby pools that are all over in the summer time and sometimes only their feet are in the water and other times they are laying in the water, lol. They also LOVE the hose! They love to chase the water. So if you are the outdoorsy type that love the winter sports or love to go to the lake and if you are wanting a dog that will love it as much as you do, a newfie may be exactly what you are looking for.
One thing that I will tell you is to watch for is playing with smaller animals when the newfies are more in the adolescent stage. They still think that they are the size they were when they were babies and may play a little rough. This can easily be corrected with training but they just want to play and get a little excited when they are younger and being so big, they may accidentally hurt a smaller puppy or cat. So, although they do great with other animals, when they get very excited, you may want to calm them down simply because their size can be overwhelming.
Another thing that I want you to seriously consider when looking for a newfoundland is this. A newfoundland is extremely loyal to his/her family and when you decide to add a newfoundland, you need to absolutely sure that you can make your home their forever home. They bond with their family and if you cannot keep your newfoundland, their transition to another home will be very difficult and hard for them and be filled with sadness and depression, so please be very serious when adding a newfie to your family because it is what is best for them.