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The term “mini Newf” keeps cropping up all over the internet. People ask if it is a new breed and some even claim to have found breeders offering such a smaller version of the Newfoundland dog. On some sites the Portuguese Water Dog is referred to as a mini Newf. This later claim has some validity as the PWD has a similar history as a ship’s dog but is considerably smaller than the Newfoundland.

There is definitely no new breed called a mini Newf and I have been unable to find any breeder claiming to breed such. However I nearly choked when a person on a major Newfoundland internet discussion list referred to her 110 pound bitch as a mini Newf.

Reviewing the breed standards I found that the Canadian standard claims the average size for a male is 28 inches in height and 150 pounds; for a female, 26 inches and 120 pounds. The FCI standard is essentially the same as in Canada. In the UK, they use the same average heights but allow for more weight variation – 141-152 pounds for males and 110-120 pounds for females. Biggest variation is with the US breed standard. Again the same average heights but the weights are 130-150 pounds for males and 100-120 pounds for females.

Am I surprised by the variations in international standards? Not at all. For the past 35 years I have tried to find a Newfoundland dog that was 28 inches tall and 150 pounds. This has been gospel for all time but never have I found such a dog. At 28 inches, unless obese, they are much lighter than 150 pounds. Somehow bad statistics got passed on and are now imbedded in breed standards around the world. Even when looking at stats from the late 1800’s the weight/height ratios we are using today do not compute. It is a mystery to me where this erroneous data came from.

However it really does not matter as the correct weight for any dog is that which best enables them to carry out the functions for which they were intended. For a Newfoundland dog this means that they must be large enough to withstand abuse from children, haul a working load on land and tow a boat or person in the water. I am as impressed as anyone by a photo of an extra large stacked Newf in the show ring but am even more impressed by the photo currently circulating on the internet showing a Newf towing an inflatable boat filled with Newfoundland dogs.

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

January/February 2011