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Now that I am retired from my day job, I spend a lot of time surfing the internet. One site recently caught my attention. It’s main purpose is to help you select the right breed of dog, cat or lawn grass. Well none of these interested me, particularly not the one for dog breeds. Back in the 80’s I had tried these type of computer selection models at every pet exposition that I attended. None of them recommended a Newfoundland dog for me or my family so I wrote them off along with psychics and UFO societies.

What did interest me at this site called selectsmart.com, besides the fact that it was completely free, was that they were conducting polls. At the time I checked it, there were eight active polls, six of which seemed very relevant to Newfs. Those answering the survey had the choice of picking one of 148 listed breeds (presumably the current American Kennel Club breeds). Of those six that I figured were relevant to Newfies, our Newf breed ranked much higher than I expected. My surprise was not that Newfs are so good but that the general public would know so much about them.

In two of the polls, our gentle giants ranked first. We also got a tie for second, a third, a seventh and an eighth.

Poll #1: Which dog breeds are the best family dogs?

Newfoundlands ranked first with 18.4 % of the votes.

Poll #2: Which dog breeds are the most social and friendly?

Again Newfs ranked first, this time with 20.3% of the votes. Second and third place breeds were ones descended from Newfoundlands: the golden retriever and the Labrador retriever; they also ranked high on the first question.

Poll #3: Which dog breeds are the most obedient?

This one may surprise many of you. I personally will never forget how many obedience trials we attended and how much money it cost me to have my son, Allan, take his bitch, Sweetheart, through for her CD. However the good people answering this survey may not have had formal obedience trials in mind. They ranked Newfs in a tie for second place with Doberman pinschers; they each got 13.1% of the votes. First ranked were German shepherds with 13.7%.

Poll #4: Which dog breeds are the most affectionate?

In this poll the Newfs only ranked third with 10.5% of the votes. Ahead of the Newfies were the Havanese with 16.7% and the Shetland Sheepdog with 14.5%. However, if you consider the weight advantage of the Newfoundland over these much smaller breeds, you realize that a Newfoundland dog represents the biggest bundle of affection for your lap.

Poll #5: Which dog breeds are the most loyal?

The Newfoundlands obtained a very respectable seventh ranking in this category. A Newfie descendent, the Labrador retriever, placed fourth with 12.1%.

Poll #6: Which dog breeds are the most playful?

Eighth was our breed’s ranking with 4.2% of the votes. First and second places went to Labs and Goldens.

I concede that anyone with any statistical knowledge could make mince meat out of these very unscientific studies; but then its almost as easy to do the same with the scientific studies. Those of us who have had the privilege and joy of sharing our dens with a Newfoundland dog don’t need a poll to tell us the facts; the polls just give us an inkling of what the Newf-less might know and think.

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

May 1999