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How long can a Newfoundland live? Well in the waiting room of vets these days you will find literature that suggests that giant breeds such as Newfs only live five to seven years. Of course the authors of such pamphlets want to put your dog on seniors’ medication by the time they are five years old. Presumably (and hopefully) they are biased to the low side since it is to their financial advantage.

A few years ago the Health and Longevity Committee of the Newfoundland Club of America did a survey to find out how long Newfoundland dogs were living. The result from their sample – an average just shy of 10 years. Some Newfoundland breeders in Canada claim their lines are averaging 11 to 13 years; others say 10 to 12 years.

When I got my first Newf in 1975 I started reading all about them and was especially fascinated by the reports on Newfoundland dogs in earlier centuries. Some of the writings suggested that our Gentle Giants lived 13 to 15 years in their native island in olden times. What really caught my attention was the claim that many Newfs actually worked until they were thirteen years of age. Among the many things they did to help the local economy, Newfs delivered fish and other products door to door with carts. Ever since reading this, it has been a goal in my life to have a Newf that could cart until thirteen years of age. Until now the best I could do was eleven and a half years. Now I have a male Newf, Big Mac, who is twelve and a half years old and still carting well. If I can keep him in shape until July 22nd, 2002, I will have met one of my life goals and also verified that Newfs can indeed work until thirteen years of age.

I’ll give the last word on this to a retired breeder. She sent me an e-mail to say:

“…I feel that you and other lovers and breeders of Newfs would be interested in knowing that my sweet old Landseer died last week at 14 years and four months of age. …Gabby (Skysail’s Gabriola) was the last dog we have owned. …she was a great dog (as are all Newfs) and we shall miss her.”

Yours Newfoundly,
Janet Duiven

Peter Maniate has been writing columns for the Newf News, the magazine of the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada, since 1979.  In 1996 he started writing a Newfoundland dog column in the Breedlines section of Dogs in Canada magazine on behalf of the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada.  When Dogs in Canada ceased publication at the end of 2011 he continued the Breedlines column in the Newf Newfs.

Permission is granted for re-publication of the preceding article or excerpts from it as long as the author is credited and the name of the original publication and date of first publication is included.

Dogs in Canada

March 2002