Narrator: The Newfoundland is the most extreme water dog on the planet. A newfie saved Napoleon Bonaparte when he fell overboard on his way back to France from exile on Elba.

Victoria Wells: They retrieve anything from the water that sort of fell in whether that’s a person or a net.

Narrator: Some Newfoundlands are lifeguards. This guy can save two people at once, maybe more.

Dr. Karen Halligan: They would drowned trying to save somebody in the water because that’s what they were bred at, that’s what they’re good for.

Narrator: Newfies are natural nursemaids too.

Amy Shajai: They are probably one of the best if not the best dog for children that you could find.

Narrator: Nana the children’s loving caretaker in Peter Pan was a newfie. The American Kennel Club recognizes four Newfoundland coat colors. Black the most common, brown, grey, and white and black also called the Landseer. But where these massive dogs come from is a mystery. Some think the newfie comes from the Great Pyrenees dogs brought to Newfoundland by Basque fishermen in the 15th century, later crossed with the Mastiff or French Hound. But all agree that while his ancestors come from Europe the newfie proper originated in Newfoundland.

All of the newfie’s jobs require a dog of heroic proportion and skill. First to halt ashore nets full of cod or a drowning man the Newfoundland has to be big. In fact the only sizes these behemoths come in are big, bigger, and jumbo. The largest Newfoundland was nearly 6 feet long from nose to tail, weighing in at 260 pounds, the size of a baby elephant.

While the newfie isn’t known for record-breaking leaps his extremely large bones give him mass and buoyancy, while his mammoth musculature provides the power and strength for taking on rough ocean waves and powerful tides. He has an enormous lung capacity for swimming long distances. And a thick oily double coat that protects him from the chill of icy ocean waters.

The newfies droopy lips and jowls are a key design innovation. The combination creates convenient passageways that allow him to breathe even when his mouth is full and swamped by waves.

In the water his massive webbed paws give the newfie maximum propulsion with every stroke, a stroke that is no ordinary doggy paddle. Unlike other dogs the newfie moves his limbs in a down-and-out motion, sort of a modified breaststroke. This gives him additional power with every stroke.

But their sheer size means they’re probably not for everyone. For one thing its massive size can work against its health.

Victoria Wells: You should really try to watch their weight because orthopedic issues can occur.

Narrator: Grooming is a major concern.

Amy Shajai: They have such thick and long fur, so you’re going to have to maintain that pretty well on probably twice weekly basis.

Dr. Karen Halligan: Every Newfoundland I’ve ever met drool, so you just have to be careful of that.

Narrator: When it comes to the environment that heavy coat can affect them in the heat. But surprisingly newfies can be fairly good city dogs.

Dr. Karen Halligan: They’d be okay in an apartment. They don’t need a lot of exercise. I mean they do need some but they definitely are kind of like a couch potato.

Narrator: When it comes to training few dogs take to it better than a newfie.

Dr. Karen Halligan: They’re very loyal, they’re intelligent dogs, and they just want to please you.

Narrator: Newfies flat-out win the family category paws down. On paper the newfie looks like this, he can handle apartment living but doesn’t do well in heat, his size makes him prone to joint problems, grooming the newfie will keep you busy. But one of the most trainable dogs in the animal kingdom and the very best dog you can have in a family with small children.

Woman: Very nice. Come on babies.

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