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When Linda Bozac of Greenfield, Nova Scotia wrote to me and mentioned that one of her Newfs was getting salt water therapy, I took the opportunity to interview her about Newfoundlands and salt water. Linda takes both Cooper and Brigus to the ocean year-round. Here is what she had to say:

The benefits of salt water seem endless. I have never actually bathed my Newfs with shampoo. Salt water dips and regular home grooming with comb, rake and brush are enough. What the salt water does for their coats is unbelievable; after a salt water swim their coats may seem coarse once dry, but a brushing out leaves them soft, shiny and clean.

There is no doggy-smell to their coats whatsoever – even when they’re still damp from the beach.

We rarely encounter ear problems with our Boys; I know the inside of their ear flaps are squeaky clean and wax-free after a dip in the briny.

Skin problems seem to evaporate as well when the Boys are confined to salt water. We live on a fresh water lake and the only time we ever encountered skin issues was when they swam in the lake regularly. So up went a fence and trips to the ocean became the norm. Our vet told me that most freshwater lakes contain staph bacteria and just like some people who develop ‘swimmers itch’, some dogs are susceptible to developing skin problems from freshwater swimming.

My vet also told me that one of the biggest mistakes people make when they take their dogs to a saltwater beach is that they stop on the way home and rinse the dog off in fresh water. Contrary to popular belief, salt water does not dry their coats out.

I’ve been asked whether salt put into a kiddy pool would have the same effect on their coats (it has been tried!!) but there’s something special about seawater which makes a real difference.

The disadvantages of a saltwater dip is that the Newfs bring home a bit of sand in their coats and paws that usually gets deposited on the kitchen floor, plus after a morning in the saltwater, their coats mill up like a fisherman’s wool mittens, so one can’t even think of doing any grooming until the next day. Surprisingly by then one can comb them out very easily.

The only other disadvantage, strangely enough, is that their snoring during their apres-swim nap is proportionately louder!!

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

July 2007