The Newfoundland breed of dogs shares with the St. Bernard the honor of being a life-saving breed. The fact that the postage stamp of the Island of Newfoundland bears their portrait indicates the regard in which they are held in their native land. Abroad, they have been the subjects of painters and writers, and more than one has received the medal of the Royal Humane Society.
While there is no exact information as to how the breed originated, it is probable that early settlers from Europe carried with them dogs of large size. The island, on account of its fishermen, has always been in close communication with other countries, and these dogs undoubtedly were reinforced from time to time with dogs brought out by sea captains or fishermen, and from this parent stock the Newfoundland was evolved.
The hazardous calling of the fishing banks naturally developed a race of men combining strength, vigor, and the coolest of courage. The same conditions that develop men develop their dogs. In their native home the Newfoundlands share all the duties and dangers of their owners. They assist in hauling in the nets. They drag the sledges across the snow in the depths of winter, and when the men are away, as they frequently are for weeks, it is left to the dogs to guard the homes and watch over the women and children. Newfoundlands are as much at home in the water as on land, and Nature has provided them a coat that protects them against the exigencies of their stern climate.
No dog has been the subject of more popular sentiment than the Newfoundland. The greatest portrait artists have portrayed them, poets have sung of them, and writers in all languages have related their heroic virtues. It is generally agreed that the Newfoundland breed are worthy of the honors and distinctions that have been heaped upon them. They are unsurpassed in strength, courage, and intelligence. Their great docility recommends them as companions and guards. The ready fortitude with which they dash to the assistance of persons in distress, particularly in danger of drowning, has gained them universal recognition as the friends of man.
While the native home of these dogs lies at our doors, they have never become popular in this country. Large, black dogs of unknown breeding are sometimes shown as Newfoundlands, and occasionally a good one appears, but they are so seldom met with that but few shows provide classes for them. In England the breed is on a stronger basis. A club looks after their interest and a standard has been provided for them. The description and points laid down are all from the standpoint that the Newfoundland dog is an aquatic dog without an equal. In choosing Newfoundland puppies at from two to four months old, look for great size of typical, moderately long head, muzzle free from lippiness, but not snipy; dark eyes, not much stop; medium ears, set close to side of head; big, short body; rather short legs with enormous bone; coat dense and almost like fur. In the white-and-blacks the color should be equally distributed.
The following is the British Newfoundland Club’s standard description and scale of points:. SYMMETRY AND GENERAL APPEARANCE.-The dog should impress the eye with strength and great activity. He should move freely on his legs, with the body swung loosely between them, so that a slight roll in gait should not be objectionable; but at the same time a weak or hollow back, slackness of the loins, or cowhocks should be a decided fault. HEAD.-Should be broad and massive, flat on the skull, the occipital bone well developed; there should be no decided stop, and the muzzle should be short, clean cut, rather square in shape, and covered with short, fine hair.
COAT.-Should be flat and dense, of a coarseish texture and oily nature, and capable of resisting the water. If brushed the wrong way it should fall back into its place naturally.
BODY.-Should be well ribbed-up, with a broad back. A neck strong, well set onto the shoulders and back, and strong, muscular loins.
FORELEGS.-Should be perfectly straight, well covered with muscle, elbows in but well let down, and feathered all down.
HINDQUARTERS AND LEGS.-Should be very strong; the legs should have great freedom of action, and a little feather. Slackness of loins and cowhocks are a great defect; dewclaws are objectionable, and should be removed.
CHEST.-Should be deep and fairly broad, and well covered with hair, but not to such an extent as to form a frill.
BONE.-Massive throughout, but not to give a heavy, inactive appearance.
FEET.-Should be large and well shaped. Splayed or turned out feet are objectionable. TAIL.-Should be of moderate length, reaching down a little below the hocks; it should be of fair thickness and well covered with long hair, but not to form a flag. When the dog is standing still and not excited it should hang downwards, with a slight curve at the end; but when the dog is in motion it should be carried a trifle up, and when he is excited, straight out, with a slight curve at the end. Tails with a kink in them, or curled over the back, are very objectionable.
EARS.-Should be small, set well back, square with the skull, lie close to the head, and covered with short hair, and no fringe.
EYES.-Should be small, of a dark brown color, rather deeply set, but not showing any haw, and they should be rather widely apart.
COLOR.-Jet black. A slight tinge of bronze or a splash of white on chest and toes is not objectionable.
HEIGHT AND WEIGHT.-Size and weight are very desirable, so long as symmetry is maintained. A fair average height at the shoulders is 27 inches for a dog and 25 inches for a bitch, and a fair average weight is respectively: Dogs, 140 pounds to 150 pounds; bitches, 110 pounds to 120 pounds.
OTHER THAN BLACK.-Should in all respects follow the black except in color, which may be almost any, as long as it disqualifies for the black class, but the colors most to be encouraged are black-andwhite and bronze. Beauty in markings to be taken greatly into consideration.
Dogs that have been entered in black classes at shows held under kennel club rules where classes are provided for dogs other than black shall not be qualified to compete in other than black classes in future.
Black dogs that have only white toes and white breasts and white tip to tail are to be exhibited in the classes provided for black.
VALUE OF POINTS.-Shape of skull, 8; ears, 10; eyes, 8; muzzle, 8; neck, q.; chest, 6; shoulders, 4; loin and back, 12; hindquarters and tail, 10 legs and feet, 10; coat, 12; size, height, and general appearance, 8; total, 100.