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Back in 1820, John Scott in his book Sportsman’s Repository, described the Newfoundland as “the most useful of the whole canine race as far as hitherto known upon the face of the earth.” He also wrote “when not in action, the Newfoundland Dog is the most sleepy and most lazy of the canine species.” The enigma of the breed continues to this day. While I often write of how useful the Newfies are, this time my subject is some things they are not good at or for.

First thing that comes to mind is property protection. For this purpose you might be better off getting a turtle. Newfie will protect you, other family members, especially your children and maybe even other pets. However when it comes to securing inanimate objects, Newfoundlands are the butt of numerous jokes. Some folks even have a sign posted to warn burglars DON’T TRIP OVER THE GUARD DOG. The two most common phrases heard in this regard are “he’d hold the door open for a burglar” and “he’d show them where the good silver is.”

A close second to being a dud at property protection is a Newf’s aptness as a jogging companion. Folks who jog at ridiculous times and in any weather often can’t find willing human companions for their passion and so turn to their most loyal family member. Unfortunately when it comes to Newfs the spirit is willing but the body unsuitable. Like the polar bear, a Newf running for any distance can overheat even on the coldest of days; the only exception would be in the rain when the temperature is at the freezing point.

Other things that Newfies do not normally excel at include any form of bite work or attack sports, being isolated from physical contact for long periods (which means that they may not do well in conventional boarding kennels) and living in large dog packs like beagles. In this latter regard, I had to learn the hard way. Ignoring all the literature that I had read about this, I configured my kennels at one point so that all of my bitches would be in one giant pen. As predicted, number four in the pecking order was being so harassed that I was forced to re-do my wonderful set up in an extremely big hurry.

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

September 2005