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The Newfoundland

The dogs which take their name from the island of Newfoundland appeal
to all lovers of animals, romance, and beauty. A Newfoundland formed
the subject of perhaps the most popular picture painted by Sir Edwin
Landseer; a monument was erected by Byron over the grave of his
Newfoundland in proximity to the place where the poet himself hoped
to be buried, at Newstead Abbey, and the inscription on his monument
contains the lines so frequently quoted:

But the poor dog in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his master's own,
Who labours, fights, lives, breathes for him alone.

To mark a friend's remains these stones arise:
I never knew but one, and here he lies.

Robert Burns, also, in his poem, The Twa Dogs, written in 1786,
refers to a Newfoundland as being an aristocrat among dogs. Doubtless,
other breeds of dogs have been the subjects of popular pictures and
have had their praises sung by poets, but the Newfoundlands have yet
a further honour, unique amongst dogs, in being the subject for a
postage stamp of their native land. All these distinctions and honours
have not been conferred without reason for no breed of dogs has
greater claim to the title of friend of man, and it has become famous
for its known readiness and ability to save persons in danger,
especially from drowning. It is strong and courageous in the water,
and on land a properly trained Newfoundland is an ideal companion
and guard. Innumerable are the accounts of Newfoundlands having proved
their devotion to their owners, and of the many lives saved by them
in river and sea; and when Sir Edwin Landseer selected one of the
breed as the subject of his picture entitled, A Distinguished Member
of the Humane Society, he was justified not only by the sentiment
attaching to this remarkable race of dogs, but also by the deeds by
which Newfoundlands have made good their claim to such great
distinction, and the popular recognition of this, no doubt, in some
degree added to the great esteem in which this painting has always
been held.

The picture was painted in 1838, and, as almost everyone knows,
represents a white and black Newfoundland. The dog portrayed was
typical of the breed, and after a lapse of over seventy years, the
painting has now the added value of enabling us to make a comparison
with specimens of the breed as it exists to-day. Such a comparison
will show that among the best dogs now living are some which might
have been the model for this picture. It is true that in the interval
the white and black Newfoundlands have been coarser, heavier, higher
on the legs, with an expression denoting excitability quite foreign
to the true breed, but these departures from Newfoundland character
are passing away--it is to be hoped for good. The breed is rapidly
returning to the type which Landseer's picture represents--a dog of
great beauty, dignity, and benevolence of character, showing in its
eyes an almost human pathos.

Some twenty-five to thirty years ago there was considerable discussion
among owners of Newfoundlands in this country as to the proper colour
of the true breed, and there were many persons who claimed, as some
still claim, that the black variety is the only true variety, and
that the white and black colouring indicates a cross-breed. Again
Landseer's picture is of value, because, in the first place, we may
be almost certain that he would have selected for such a picture a
typical dog of the breed, and, secondly, because the picture shows,
nearly half a century prior to the discussion, a white and black dog,
typical in nearly every respect, except colour, of the black
Newfoundland. There is no appearance of cross-breeding in Landseer's
dog; on the contrary, he reveals all the characteristics of a
thoroughbred. Seventy years ago, therefore, the white and black
variety may be fairly considered to have been established, and it
is worthy of mention here that Idstone quoted an article written
in 1819 stating that back in the eighteenth century Newfoundlands
were large, rough-coated, liver and white dogs. It is clear, also,
that in 1832 Newfoundlands in British North America were of various
colours. Additional evidence, too, is provided, in the fact that when
selecting the type of head for their postage stamp the Government
of Newfoundland chose the Landseer dog. Therefore, there are very
strong arguments against the claim that the true variety is
essentially black.

However that may be, there are now two established varieties, the
black and the white and black. There are also bronze-coloured dogs,
but they are rare and are not favoured. It is stated, however, that
puppies of that colour are generally the most promising in all other

The black variety of the Newfoundland is essentially black in colour;
but this does not mean that there may be no other colour, for most
black Newfoundlands have some white marks, and these are not
considered objectionable, so long as they are limited to white hairs
on the chest, toes, or the tip of the tail. In fact, a white marking
on the chest is said to be typical of the true breed. Any white on
the head or body would place the dog in the other than black variety.
The black colour should preferably be of a dull jet appearance which
approximates to brown. In the other than black class, there may be
black and tan, bronze, and white and black. The latter predominates,
and in this colour, beauty of marking is very important. The head
should be black with a white muzzle and blaze, and the body and legs

should be white with large patches of black on the saddle and
quarters, with possibly other small black spots on the body and legs.

Apart from colour, the varieties should conform to the same standard.
The head should be broad and massive, but in no sense heavy in
appearance. The muzzle should be short, square, and clean cut, eyes
rather wide apart, deep set, dark and small, not showing any haw;
ears small, with close side carriage, covered with fine short hair
(there should be no fringe to the ears), expression full of
intelligence, dignity, and kindness.

The body should be long, square, and massive, loins strong and well
filled; chest deep and broad; legs quite straight, somewhat short
in proportion to the length of the body, and powerful, with round
bone well covered with muscle; feet large, round, and close. The tail
should be only long enough to reach just below the hocks, free from
kink, and never curled over the back. The quality of the coat is very
important; the coat should be very dense, with plenty of undercoat;
the outer coat somewhat harsh and quite straight. A curly coat is
very objectionable. A dog with a good coat may be in the water for
a considerable time without getting wet on the skin.

The appearance generally should indicate a dog of great strength,
and very active for his build and size, moving freely with the body
swung loosely between the legs, which gives a slight roll in gait.
This has been compared to a sailor's roll, and is typical of the

As regards size, the Newfoundland Club standard gives 140 lbs. to
120 lbs. weight for a dog, and 110 lbs. to 120 lbs. for a bitch, with
an average height at the shoulder of 27 inches and 25 inches
respectively; but it is doubtful whether dogs in proper condition
do conform to both requirements. At any rate, the writer is unable
to trace any prominent Newfoundlands which do, and it would be safe
to assume that for dogs of the weights specified, the height should
be quite 29 inches for dogs, and 27 inches for bitches. A dog weighing
150 lbs. and measuring 29 inches in height at the shoulder would
necessarily be long in body to be in proportion, and would probably
much nearer approach the ideal form of a Newfoundland than a taller

In that respect Newfoundlands have very much improved during the past
quarter of a century. Twenty-five years ago, the most noted dogs were
stated as a rule to be well over 30 inches in height, but their weight
for height would indicate legginess, which is an abomination in a
Newfoundland. A 29-inch Newfoundland is quite tall enough, and even
that height should not be gained at the expense of type and symmetry.

The white and black variety are, as a rule, slightly taller, smaller
in loin and longer in head, but these differences in the two varieties
are being rapidly removed, and at no distant date the white and black
variety will probably be as correct in type and symmetry as the black
variety now is.

For very many years the black variety has been the better in type;
and in breeding, if blacks are desired, it will be safer as a general
rule to insist upon the absence of white and black blood in any of
the immediate ancestors of the sire and dam. But if, on the contrary,
white and black dogs are required, the proper course is to make
judicious crosses between the black and white, and black varieties,
and destroy any black puppies, unless they are required for further
crosses with white and black blood. In any case the first cross is
likely to produce both black and mis-marked white and black puppies;
but the latter, if bred back to the white and black blood, would
generally produce well-marked white and black Newfoundlands.

In mating, never be guided solely by the good points of the dog and
bitch. It is very desirable that they should both have good points,
the more good ones the better, but it is more important to ensure
that they are dissimilar in their defects, and, if possible, that
in neither case is there a very objectionable defect, especially if
such defect was also apparent in the animal's sire or dam.

It is, therefore, important to study what were the good, and still
more so the bad, points in the parents and grandparents. If you do
not know these, other Newfoundland breeders will willingly give
information, and any trouble involved in tracing the knowledge
required will be amply repaid in the results, and probably save great

When rearing puppies give them soft food, such as well-boiled rice
and milk, as soon as they will lap, and, shortly afterwards, scraped
lean meat. Newfoundland puppies require plenty of meat to induce
proper growth. The puppies should increase in weight at the rate of
3 lbs. a week, and this necessitates plenty of flesh, bone and
muscle-forming food, plenty of meat, both raw and cooked. Milk is
also good, but it requires to be strengthened with Plasmon, or casein.
The secret of growing full-sized dogs with plenty of bone and
substance is to get a good start from birth, good feeding, warm, dry
quarters, and freedom for the puppies to move about and exercise
themselves as they wish. Forced exercise may make them go wrong on
their legs. Medicine should not be required except for worms, and
the puppies should be physicked for these soon after they are weaned,
and again when three or four months old, or before that if they are
not thriving. If free from worms, Newfoundland puppies will be found
quite hardy, and, under proper conditions of food and quarters, they
are easy to rear.

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