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To me Newfoundland dogs are Mother Nature’s masterpiece. Unfortunately Mother Nature is constantly being bullied as people keep trying to improve her work.

The latest attack takes the form of so called designer breeds. These are technically not breeds at all but rather first level hybrids, AKA mongrels, mutts or crossbreeds. Could these hybrids eventually become breeds? Yes, but it would involve breeding the offspring of the hybrids rather than the original breeds and then having records of such matings for at least three generations. Considering that there are over 700 breeds recognized around the world by reputable national registries, there is not much need for more variations. Already the domestic canine is more varied than any other species on this planet.

While many modern breeds were manufactured by man rather than evolved like the Newfoundland, this has slowed down and almost come to a stop since national registering bodies were set up with the first being the Kennel Club in the UK in 1859. Newfs have been cross bred to help create or restore breeds such as the Leonberger and the Saint Bernard in the 1800’s and more recently, the European Continental Type Landseer in 1960. None of these however are purported to be Newfoundlands although there has been some confusion with the ECT Landseer.

One of the first designer breeds was the Labradoodle as the Newf’s close relative, the Labrador Retriever, was crossed with a poodle to supposedly create a hypoallergenic Lab. I never suspected that this was the start of a major marketing movement to turn $50 mutts into exotic sounding hybrids often selling for thousands of dollars. Nor did I think that our Newfoundlands would be subject to this type of economic exploitation. Well now we have half a dozen designer breed registries that have sprung up which are recognizing Newf hybrids such as:

  • Newfypoo (Newfoundland & poodle)
  • Newlabalound AKA labrafoundland AKA Newfador AKA New Labralound (Newfoundland & Labrador Retriever)
  • Newfoundland Mix (Newfoundland & God only knows what)
  • Newfkom (Newfoundland & Komodor – to achieve a non drooling, non shedding Newf)
  • Bernewfie AKA Bernefie (Newfoundland & Bernese Mountain Dog)
  • Border Newfie (Newfoundland & Border Collie)
  • Golden Newfie (Newfoundland & Golden Retriever)
  • New Rottland (Newfoundland & Rottweiler)
  • New Shep (Newfoundland & German Shepherd Dog)

Here is a photo of a Border Newfie:

Border Newfie

The selling points for such designer Newfs is the elimination of drooling and/or shedding and to a lesser extent, downsizing the dog. Of course this is supposed to be accomplished without losing the very desirable aspects of a Newfoundland such as being good with children. At least with the Border Newf they warn you that you may get a Newf-like dog with the high energy of a Border Collie and all that that entails.

Some may wonder what’s wrong with trying to improve the Newf breed? Plenty. Check in with a Newf rescue organization and you will find that many of the surrenders are Newf crosses or suspected mixes. While some rescues will only accept obvious purebreds, others take in crosses that look like Newfs. Unfortunately it can be difficult to tell a hybrid from a poorly bred Newfoundland. In any case this is a strain on an already strained system. People who choose a Newf-like dog because it seems exotic are generally not the best dog Moms and Dads and are more likely to surrender their charge.

Nothing is as simple as it seems and this really applies to dog breeding. Instead of getting the best of each breed in the mix, you have an equal chance of getting the worst of both parents. A litter might have some pups with the desired characteristics, some with none of them and others somewhere in between. The whole idea of a breed is to fix desired aspects and this you don’t get from a hybrid.

Further, when you mess with the salivating of the Newf, you are also mucking with his/her cooling system which could be disastrous, especially if he/she inherits the high energy of a Border Collie. Changing the coat from a shedding fur to non shedding hair could also wreck havoc on the natural cooling/heating system of a Newf. In addition, this would mean the loss of the oily water proof coat which is a hallmark of the Newfoundland.

Rather than look for a hybrid Newfoundland, a prospective puppy adopter would be well advised to check out the 700+ recognized breeds as there is most likely a fit amongst them.

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

November/December 2015