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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