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When it comes to colour I have never had the nerve to try to breed anything but black coloured Newfoundlands. After 34 years of breeding Newfs I am not close enough to my goals with respect to health, life span and conformation to dare adding anything that might make the task more complicated. However I have the highest admiration for those breeders who take on the additional challenge of breeding for recessive coloration.

One way of looking at colours in Newfoundland dogs is to classify colours as dominant and then recessive and double recessive. Since 88% of Newfs are blacks, this is obviously the dominant colour. Then we have brown, grey and white & black as recessive colours. White & black (known as Landseers in Canada, US and UK) represent about 12% and the browns and greys, less than 1%.

Another way of classifying colour in Newfoundlands is as basic colours and dilutes of these. The basic colours are black and brown. Dilutes consist of colours like grey and blue (for black) and cream and beige (for brown). Grey can be further diluted to silver (double recessive).

A white base coat on a black Newf is recessive and such a coat on a brown or grey would be considered double recessive.

In reviewing breed standards around the world I found that only one dilute colour, grey, is accepted and only in the United States. I also noticed that nowhere is a double recessive colouration accepted.

The generally accepted standard for breeders is that they will breed to the breed standards of their country. In Canada this means that a breeder who advertises that they breed for colours other than black or Landseer can expect to be denied membership in the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada (NDCC). As I have indicated in previous columns, the NDCC is respecting the view of the Government of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador which has passed an Order-in-Council declaring the Newfoundland dog to be the animal emblem of the province and, additionally, that the only recognized colours are black and Landseer.

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

June 2011