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They say that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and if that is so then the number of breeds that incorporate Newf genes suggests that the sterling qualities of the Newfoundland dog are recognized well beyond the Newf fancy. It started with the development of the retriever breeds to convert the work horse of retrievers into various sporting models. All of the retrievers recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club are descended directly or indirectly from the Newfoundland dog. Then the monks at the Hospice of St. Bernard got into the act and revived their famous breed by crossing them with Newfies. Every time you see a rough coated Saint, it is a reminder of their special ancestry.

While physical characteristics were sought after in the early crosses of Newfoundlands, more recent genetic engineering emphasizes the special gentle temperament of this native Canadian. A prime example is the mixing of Newf genes with the Bernese Mountain Dog to improve its temperament in the late 1940’s.

Estimates of the number of breeds worldwide now go as high as 800 plus. The domestic canine has the distinction of being the most varied species of animal in the world. You would think that we could stop now as all reasonable variations must surely have been invented by now. Alas that is not the case; I just learned of two more breeds being developed that utilize Newf genes.

One is the Loughlander, a cross between the Newfoundland Dog and the Bernese Mountain Dog. A breeder in the north of England has been breeding such dogs for the past 30 years. Lough means a lake or arm of the sea suggesting that another water dog has been created as was done with another Newf cross, the Leonberger.

The Loughlander breeder is now associated with Lyn Kinsey of Wales who is developing the Welsh Mountain Dog. This latter breed is being created by the crossing of collies, Bernese Mountain Dogs and Loughlanders, the latter two, of course, contributing the Newfie genes. Lyn hopes to get the Welsh Mountain Dog recognized by the Kennel Club of Great Britain, which could result in its recognition some day by the Canadian Kennel Club. Apparently some farmers are using this new breed to replace the Border Collie. The advantages cited are that they are not as hyperactive as a collie and are extremely animal friendly especially with ponies and horses.

Personally, I can’t imagine replacing Border Collies with a 140 pound herding dog who will also be “a part of the family … considering the family sofa their own.” However, I gladly accept the compliment to the Newfoundland breed.

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

November 2003