Characteristics of Newfoundland Dogs

Cuteness may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Newfoundlands, or "Newfies," are large working dogs with a general reputation for mild manners and devotion. Newfoundlands love water and their families, and usually get along well with people and other animals. As with any breed, however, every Newfie is an individual with his own individual temperament.


Training should start when the dog is still a puppy. Newfies are independent by nature, but are easily trained. Tone of voice is a key to training. Your tone communicates more to your pal than the words you say. Trainers of the breed claim a calm tone will usually get the message across. Because of their size and strength, it's particularly important that Newfies be trained to heel, to not pull on the leash, and to not jump up on people.


Play Style

Water and swimming are two of a Newfie's favorite things. Many will seek out water to play in, so you should watch your buddy closely if you're trying to avoid the mud puddles. Newfies respond well to any form of working game or activity, so they can easily learn to retrieve objects. Historically, Newfoundlands were fishermen's helpers, and their tasks included retrieving anything that fell overboard and hauling loads. Agility class may be a good choice as a recreational activity that will keep your Newfie active and focused.



Gentleness and a peaceful nature are written into the AKC breed standards for the Newfoundland breed. Newfies socialize easily with people, both adults and children, as well as with other dogs and pets. In general, they love attention and affection. Your Newfie pal is likely to get along well with anyone you consider a friend. Newfoundlands do not tend toward aggression. They are a brave breed, and most will protect their owners, but they tend to defend rather than attack.


The Newfoundland Club of America considers these dogs to be one of the most intelligent breeds. They learn quickly and understand their place among fellow pack members. Because they were bred as working dogs, they want to follow commands and carry out tasks to make themselves useful to their owners. They are able to carry out complicated tasks, following vocal and visual commands.


Activity Level

Newfies are large dogs, weighing 100 to 150 pounds as adults, and they tend to be slow-moving. When they are not resting peacefully, they can be encouraged to engage in games of fetch and working games. Newfies tend to follow the law of motion that says "a body at rest stays at rest," and prefer play that feels productive, such as swimming, carrying objects, or retrieving. Despite their size, Newfoundland dogs can adapt to life in a small home or apartment, because they are laid-back dogs who don't demand a lot of exercise. For good health, however, you should engage your pal in regular daily exercise.


By Madeline Masters


Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada: Brief History of the Breed
Canadian Kennel Club: CKC Breed Standards - Newfoundland
Newfoundland Club of America: Temperament and Personalities
Kingdom of Pets: The Newfoundland Dog Breed
Dog Behavior Online: How to Train a Newfoundland
American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Newfoundland
Pet MD: Newfoundland


About the Author
Madeline Masters works as a dog walker and professional writer. In the past she has worked as a fitness columnist, fundraising copywriter and news reporter. Masters won two Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Awards in 2009. She graduated from Elizabethtown College with a Bachelor of Arts in English.