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Do Newfoundland Dogs Like Water? [Breed Facts & FAQs]

Welcome to our delightful journey exploring the unique relationship between Newfoundland dogs and water. These gentle giants, hailing from the rugged coasts of Newfoundland, Canada, are not just known for their impressive size and fluffy coats, but also for their remarkable love of water.

In this article, we dive into the fascinating history of Newfoundland dogs, unraveling the reasons behind their strong affinity for aquatic environments. We’ll explore the breed’s historical roles, where their love for water played a central part in their day-to-day duties. Additionally, we’ll provide insights into the breed’s characteristics, shedding light on why these dogs are not just water enthusiasts but also excellent swimmers. So, let’s embark on this wet and wonderful adventure to understand why Newfoundland dogs are so inextricably linked with water!

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Historical Background of Newfoundland Dogs and Water.

The Newfoundland dog boasts a rich historical background deeply intertwined with water. These gentle giants hail from the chilly shores of Newfoundland, Canada. Historically, these dogs were indispensable to the local fishermen, not only as companions but as working dogs adept at sea. Their primary roles included hauling fishing nets, retrieving items that fell overboard, and even rescuing people from drowning. The Newfoundland’s natural affinity for water, combined with their muscular build, water-resistant coat, and webbed feet, made them exceptional swimmers and even lifesavers!

This proficiency in water rescue and swimming has been celebrated in numerous tales of heroism at sea. Over time, these remarkable abilities have transcended their practical origins to become a defining characteristic of the breed, celebrated and nurtured by dog enthusiasts around the world. Their historical connection with water is a testament to their enduring legacy as both powerful workers and compassionate protectors.

What makes Newfoundland dogs good swimmers?

The Newfoundland’s physical characteristics are perfectly adapted for swimming:

Webbed Feet: Newfoundland dogs are renowned for their distinctive webbed feet, a unique physical trait that significantly enhances their swimming abilities. These webbed feet act similarly to flippers on a diver, providing the dog with extra propulsion and manoeuvrability in the water. This adaptation is a result of selective breeding for water work, making Newfoundlands natural and efficient swimmers!

Related post: Do All Dogs Have Webbed Feet? [Breed Info & Paw Care]

Water-Resistant Coat: The Newfoundland dog’s water-resistant coat is a remarkable adaptation that plays a crucial role in their proficiency as swimmers and water rescuers. This double coat consists of a soft, dense underlayer and a longer, coarser outer layer. The outer coat repels water, while the undercoat provides insulation, enabling the Newfoundland to swim in cold waters comfortably. This dense, oily coat not only keeps them warm but also helps them to stay buoyant while swimming. Regular grooming is essential to maintain the coat’s condition, ensuring it remains waterproof and effective for their aquatic adventures.

Muscular Build: The Newfoundland dog’s muscular build is a defining feature that underscores its strength and physical capabilities, especially in water. These gentle giants possess a broad, heavy-boned structure that provides them with remarkable power and endurance. The combination of strong muscles, particularly in their hindquarters, and a large, sturdy frame equips them for demanding tasks, including swimming against strong currents and performing water rescues. 

Newfoundland Dogs’ Behavior and Temperament in Water.

Newfoundland dogs are not just physically equipped for the water; their behavior and temperament also reflect their affinity for aquatic environments:

Calm Demeanor: They are known for their calm and gentle disposition, which translates into a graceful and effortless swimming style.

Playful in Water: Many Newfoundland dog owners observe that their pets display a playful and joyful behavior when around water. Whether it’s a lake, a pool, or the ocean, these dogs often seize the opportunity to splash and swim.

Rescue Instincts: Remarkably, Newfoundland dogs have a natural instinct to rescue. There are countless stories of Newfoundland dogs saving lives in water, showcasing their innate drive to help and protect.

Training and Safety Considerations.

While most Newfoundland dogs are naturally inclined to enjoy water, it’s important to approach their aquatic adventures with care:

Gradual Introduction: For puppies or dogs not used to water, it’s vital to introduce them gradually. Start with shallow waters and slowly increase the depth as they become more comfortable.

Swim together: Consider going into the water with your dog. This can provide them with reassurance and make them feel more secure.

Supervision: Always supervise your Newfoundland while swimming. Despite their capabilities, accidents can happen, and it’s essential to be vigilant.

Health and Fitness: Ensure your Newfoundland is in good health and fitness before encouraging extensive swimming. Overexertion can be harmful, especially for older dogs.

Grooming After Swimming: Post-swim grooming is crucial to prevent matting and skin issues. Rinse off any saltwater or chlorine and thoroughly dry their coat.

The Benefits of Water Activities for Newfoundland Dogs.

Swimming offers numerous therapeutic benefits for Newfoundland dogs, making it an excellent activity for their physical and mental well-being. Here’s a look at some of these benefits:

  1. Joint Health: Newfoundlands, like many large breeds, are prone to joint problems such as hip dysplasia. Swimming is a low-impact exercise that helps maintain joint health without putting undue stress on their bones and joints.
  2. Muscle Strength: Swimming involves the use of various muscle groups, providing a full-body workout. This helps in maintaining muscle tone and strength, which is crucial for the overall physical health of these large dogs.
  3. Weight Management: Swimming is an effective way to help a Newfoundland maintain or lose weight. It burns calories and fat without the risks associated with high-impact exercises, which is important given their size and potential for weight gain.
  4. Mental Stimulation: Swimming is not just physically beneficial; it also provides mental stimulation. The new environment, smells, and the act of swimming can be exciting and mentally engaging for a dog.
  5. Heat Relief: For a breed with a thick coat like the Newfoundland, swimming is a great way to cool down on hot days, helping to prevent overheating and heatstroke.

Incorporating swimming into a Newfoundland’s routine can have a profoundly positive impact on their health and happiness. It’s a versatile activity that serves as both exercise and therapy, ideally suited to their physical characteristics and natural love for water.

Community and Rescue Work.

Newfoundlands continue to leave their mark in water rescue operations. Many are trained for modern-day water rescue tasks, working alongside lifeguards and participating in search and rescue missions. This not only exemplifies their love for water but also their enduring spirit of service and protection.

10 Facts About NewFoundland Dogs.

Newfoundland dogs are fascinating and lovable giants with many interesting characteristics. Here are 10 fun facts about this breed:

  1. They swim differently to other dogs: Instead of doing a normal doggie paddle like most dogs, Newfoundlands do more of a breaststroke which gives him more power and drive in the water. 
  2. Excellent Swimmers: Known for their webbed feet and water-resistant coats, Newfoundland dogs are exceptional swimmers. These physical traits make them natural rescuers in water.
  3. Gentle Giants: Despite their large size, Newfoundlands are known for their gentle and sweet nature. They are often referred to as “gentle giants.” Male Newfies usually weigh between a whopping 130 pounds to 150 pounds!
  4. Heroic Rescuers: They have a rich history of being used in water rescues. Their strong swimming ability and instinctual lifesaving behaviors have saved many lives.
  5. Distinctive Coat: Newfoundlands have a thick, double coat that keeps them insulated in cold water. This coat requires regular grooming to maintain its condition.
  6. Famous in Literature: A Newfoundland named Nana was famously featured as the Darling family’s nursemaid dog in J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan.”
  7. Colourful: Newfoundland’s come in all sorts of colours including black, brown, grey, and white and black (Landseer).
  8. Lifesaving Instincts: They are known for their incredible lifesaving instincts. There are numerous stories of Newfoundlands saving people from drowning.
  9. Drooling Tendency: Due to their large jowls, Newfoundlands tend to drool, especially after drinking water or in hot weather.
  10. Versatile Workers: Besides water rescue, Newfoundlands have been used for various tasks like hauling wood from forests and even cart pulling due to their strength and size.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

How Fast Can Newfoundlands Swim?

Like most other swimmer dog breeds, Newfoundlands can swim 1 to 3 miles per hour.1 That means that their swimming speed is the same as an average human!

When to Introduce Your Newfoundland to Swimming

You can start introducing your Newfie dog to swimming at 7 weeks of age. However, it’s important to consult the vet beforehand.

Do Newfoundlands Like Water?

Newfoundlands are fond of water and make excellent swimmers. The breed originated in Newfoundland, Canada, where the dogs were trained to retrieve fishing nets for the fisherman. So, they have developed a natural affinity and liking for water. But, like any other dog breed, your dog might have individual preferences. Depending on prior training or its personality, your dog may not like water activities.

Are Newfoundland's waterproof?

These dogs have huge lung capacity for swimming extremely long distances and a thick, oily, and waterproof double coat which protects them from the chill of icy waters.

newfoundland dog water


The Newfoundland dog’s affinity for water is a remarkable blend of historical evolution, physical adaptation, and temperament. This breed embodies the spirit of a true water lover, from playing joyfully in a backyard pool to performing heroic rescues in challenging sea conditions. For prospective or current Newfoundland owners, this aquatic affinity is a delightful aspect of their personality to embrace and encourage, always with an eye on safety and well-being.

In essence, Newfoundland dogs do not just like water; they thrive in it, finding joy, purpose, and a natural habitat in the embrace of aquatic environments.

If you are interested in learning more about Newfoundlands please visit the Newfoundland Club of America. 

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