Getting a Newfoundland dog
I recently received an email from my reader Charlotta. She want to now if she should be getting a Newfoundland dog. My answer is of course yes!
"I'm thinking about getting a Newfoundland dog but I'm a bit hesitant since I have a 2-year-old daughter. What has it been like for you, raising small children together with a newfie? Is it possible or are they too big and lively?"
Asking a devoted dog owner to talk about their experiences with their dog is always a bit of a risk. You'll likely get a very, very long answer to that question. This is what getting a Newfoundland dog has been like for me so far:
A Newfoundland is a LOT of dog
Your newfie can weigh around 165 lbs (75 kilo) and sometimes even more. It has a big and fluffy coat and drools a lot. All in all, it's a whole lot of dog. But it's also a loyal friend who will be there for you through thick and thin. The fact that the newfie is so big and present all the time just makes the friendship feel even more special. Owning a large breed is quite different from having a smaller dog. You need to be able to handle a large and heavy animal. But when it works, that special bond that develops between a newfie and its owner is just pure joy.
Newfies love water
The newfie lets you know how much they love water in more or less subtle ways. Our dog sometimes stares me down when we're out on a walk and I want to go inside because it starts pouring. He also likes to lie down in muddy puddles and refuses to leave until he's completely soaked.
Newfies are kind
Patient is one of the best words to describe a newfie. And it's a good quality for us who have both children and dogs. All of our children learned to walk by hanging on to his coat or ears. They love to rest their heads on his warm body and listen to his heartbeats. His furry hugs are the best!
Newfies are BIG
Newfies are very large dogs. He's basically as large as our dinner table (his height by the withers). The children like to tell people that he could walk away with the table if he happens to stand up underneath it. The fun thing about newfies is that they have no idea how large they really are. This is a constant source of amusement (and some frustration) here at home. The command "back up" has been one of the most important things to teach him.
A newfie is strong
You sometimes see grown men basically wrapped around light posts, holding on for dear life while trying to control their unruly young newfies. Almost anyone will get pulled to the ground if the dog lashes out, which is why it's so important to train your dog. You need to make sure that the newfie feels motivated to go where you want to go. A lot of people will want to pet your newfie and they might get pushed over when the dog expresses its excitement or leans in to get some extra scratches. We don't worry that much about it anymore since we figured that the people who want to be close to him are aware of their own limitations.
Newfies can seem scary
Most people just can't get enough of newfies. You can't go out on the town with your dog unnoticed. People will look at you and your dog, and exclaim "look at him" wherever you go. But not everyone will be excited to see him. Some people are very afraid of dogs and telling people how nice he actually is won't help. I have come across grown men who panic when they see him because they think he's a bear!
A newfie has a lot of fur
Taking care of the coat is a big job. You need to brush and cut it. The newfie sheds twice each year and when this happens, I feel like I could brush him forever without seeing any results. You need to train your dog to accept being groomed. Try making it a nice moment for both of you, that will make it easier next time. The same goes for clipping his nails. You need to practice this too. Our last dog was extremely ticklish. It was always a bit of a challenge to position ourselves in a way where we didn't get a paw in the face when we tried to clip his nails.
Newfies cost a lot of money
Getting a Newfoundland dog is expensive. Last time I heard, a newfie cost about 1600 dollars (14 000 Swedish crowns), but the price might vary between breeders. There will of course also be additional costs, some are bigger for a larger breed. Food costs of course, and insurance. I can't stress this enough: you need a good insurance for your dog. If the dog gets sick, you could easily spend a fortune for a few days at the vet. It's also important to remember that you might need extra help to move a large and sick dog.
Newfies are the best company
A newfie is the perfect best friend for both adults and children. This breed enjoys spending time with the family in the garden, they like going on adventures, riding in the car and helping out with different chores at home.
Our last dog Captain Kolja was part of three of our children's lives. We were out in the forest picking lingonberries one day, and he stayed by my side the entire time. He didn't go off on his own or stray to follow a scent. He kept an eye on me instead. Whenever I stopped, he stopped and looked at me. He carried the large bucket of berries on our way back. That same night, my water broke and I gave birth to our son, seven weeks too soon. He knew what was going on all along. I miss him a lot.
We have another newfie now, our Captain Kuling. He's so lovely, he learns fast and wants to be useful all the time. Right now, we're working on his behavior with the children. He needs to learn a few things so that they can spend time together without any any accidents. A large dog like that can't be allowed to jump up on people. He has a tendency to put his paw on us when he wants something, which could be a problem if he does it to the kids.
Kuling is almost six months old and a lot bigger than in the picture above. Charlotta asked what it's like to have a puppy and children in the same house. Will the newfie puppy be too lively? Well, the newfie is actually a really calm and relaxed breed compared to many others. And the puppies are like this too. But their size and sharp teeth might cause some problems if the children play alone with the dog, (which you shouldn't let them do regardless of the breed, in my opinion.) But in general, I have to say that the newfies are very perceptive and empathetic dogs. My husband said this about him when he was only four months old:
"Our three-year-old daughter was sitting on the swings by herself and suddenly got very sad. She later said that she was sad because she was all alone and her siblings were in school. When she started to cry, Kuling came running towards her and stood by her side. She put her hand on his back and he guided her to the door. When she stopped, he stopped. When she went forward, so did he."
A three-year-old isn't exactly very large and ours is a bit smaller than most. One day, she put her arm around Kuling (as tall as she is) and said: "I'm glad we have such a small dog."
And I'm glad we have such a big dog (or at least, he will be.) I love cuddling a large dog, spooning or just sitting together and hugging. It's so fun to wrestle and play with a large dog too. It's a real workout. Life with a Newfoundland is filled with joy and precious moments. Getting a Newfoundland dog is a wonderful way to increase the quality of life every single day.
But having a newfie in the garden then? Well, that's another story. We're working on it.
*Charlotta and her family decided to get a newfie after all, a sister to our own Captain Kuling!