As enquiries came in for my latest litter, many mentioned that we were the only game in town. I found it hard to believe that no one else in Southern Ontario had Newf pups either available or soon to be whelped. So I did a little checking.
First I Googled “Newf pups in Ontario” and was surprised to see that there were not many pups even on Kijiji where puppy mills and back yard breeders usually abound. Most of those I found were either Newfoundland mixes or “unpapered”. The same happened when I Googled for other provinces.
Next I checked out the Breeder Referral Program page of the website of Newf Friends Newfoundland Dog Rescue. On this list, all the breeders are members in good standing with the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada and among other things get to list any available pups/adults as well as expected/planned litters. Again not many pups available or on the horizon across all of Canada.
On Facebook there was chatter about older established breeders either retiring or cutting back on their breeding programs. Further it was pointed out that few new breeders are coming aboard.
Asleep at the switch was my feeling on this. So I decided to get some hard facts. These I found in the Kennel & Bench magazine of the Canadian Kennel Club. The online copies took me back to the year 2006. From this data I was able to construct the following table and graph.
First thing I checked was for any changes in fertility. However as the table above shows the average of 5.5 pups registered per litter has remained fairly constant over the past decade so that is definitely not a problem.
As the graph clearly illustrates the problem seems to be much fewer litters each year resulting in fewer pups. In 2016 there were only 45% as many Newfoundland pups registered compared to the number registered in 2006.
The question remains, is this really a problem in Canada, the country of origin of the Newfoundland dog? Well it depends.
As memory serves, in the final decades of the 20th century the number of Newfie pups registered ranged around 400 per year. Until the latest year, 2016, it looked like we are getting back to the way it was for preceding decades. Time will tell if the trend continues downward.
It should be noted that after a Newf won Best in Show at the prestigious Westminster Dog Show in 2004 there was a surge in popularity of the breed. That may have contributed to higher numbers of puppies produced in the years following as some puppy millers switched breeds to take advantage of the situation. We may be now returning to a more normal situation.
In any case, with Newfs ensconced all around the world the gene pool available to breeders is still plentiful. Canadian breeders, thanks to frozen semen, can get stud service from anywhere on the planet. The only problem that I can foresee would be a dearth of new breeders to replace and continue the work of the retiring breeders.
There will be a downside for folks looking to add a Newf to their family. Adoption fees will probably be higher than in the past, wait times might be longer and they may have to travel further afield. The upside is that we may be getting back to a core of dedicated breeders which should mean better quality and service.
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.Newf News