In general, the Newfoundland is a sweet and loving dog. Like all breeds, however, their puppyhood and adolescence may prove less pleasant for you, mainly because of their size and strength. It’s not likely that a Newf purposely destroys anything or knocks your kids over just by wagging his tail, but it’s been known to happen. For this reason, it is extremely important that you start socializing and training him at an early age, to keep the worst puppy or adolescent outbursts in control when he gets older.
Now, the Newfoundland is considered by many as one of the most empathic dog breeds on the planet. No wonder, considering what they were bred for. Their whole purpose is working with people, and in many cases also rescuing people from a terrible fate in water. With generation after generation of Newfoundland dogs working to rescue drowning people, they have developed a strong sense of humans in distress.
While the Newfoundland can be trained quite easily, you should remember that even with their close work with people, they did most of the work on their own in the water. Therefore, they are quite independent and likes to make decisions on their own, on what to do and when to do it. They don’t mean any harm by it; they just like to decide for themselves if they feel like doing what you ask at that specific moment in time.
Like many larger breeds, the Newfoundland is a calm and relaxed dog. He doesn’t need that much physical exercise – but be aware that he’ll know from a distance if there’s water anywhere close-by, and he’ll do whatever he can to get there as soon as possible. Prepare yourself to be pulled along for a fast run, and perhaps an unplanned bath.
Because of their history with working so closely with people, the Newfoundland is a very friendly and gentle breed. They love and adore their own family and will be loyal until the end. A Newf should never be aggressive, but they will protect those they love. In this, they are quite sovereign; their size, stature and energy will make most people stay put.
You may not think of the Newfoundland as a working dog, due to his size, his calm and gentle temperament, but he can be useful in more areas than the water. And he absolutely loves to work, and his work ethic is quite specific. While other working dogs may work FOR you, the Newfoundland works WITH you. You two are a team, and he knows it. So be prepared to change your entire method of teaching him anything, since he may have a completely different opinion than you on the matter.
Being the calm and sometimes lazy dog that he is, he may also very well have opinions on the quality of your work. He may sit calmly in your garden watching you do your chores, and it’ll be more than obvious how he feels about your performance. Oh, and don’t worry – he’ll judge you if you don’t reach his expectations, no matter what it is that you’re doing. The whole concept of this is called Newfervising and is quite known in the Newfoundland dog world.
The Newfoundland dog is said to be the Giant Nanny, and this is usually true. However, it must be remembered that whichever breed you have, how he turns out is totally up to you. With each dog, no matter which breed or mixed breed, you get an individual with one or more breed traits in him, and that’s what you got to work with. While the Newfoundland may be more prone to being that amazing Giant Nanny than a Jack Russel, it’s still up to you to teach him manners around people, and in particular, children.
And don’t think for a second that the Newfoundland is a boring dog. They are fun and playful to be around, and it’s not for nothing they are considered to be one of the most amazing family pets on the planet. But like I said; don’t forget you’re the one who’s responsible to teach him manners, obedience et cetera, and you do need to start this journey with him already from the start. Considering how fast he grows, how strong he’ll get very quickly, and how little knowledge he has of his size and strength, it’s imperative that he listens to you even at a young age. Therefore, make sure you start socializing and training him already on day 1 to better his chances of becoming that amazing, furry Giant Nanny everyone speaks so warmly about.
Oh, and don’t forget; like any breed, the Newfoundland goes through several phases of growing up before he reaches his maturity. Because of his size, this takes much longer than it does for a smaller breed, so prepared to have a huge puppy for several years before he finally grows up.