Newfoundland Dog Facts
Dogs are the most loyal of companions, always there to protect and guide us. They can be our closest friend. Many also come to our rescue and save us. Dogs that jump in to save a struggling swimmer, sometimes without any training, are a rare and extraordinary best friend. Many breeds of dogs are comfortable in the water. However, the Newfoundland dog is one breed that stands out for its breeding and excellence as a water rescue dog. Here are some Newfoundland dog facts.
History of the Newfoundland Breed
These truly are Newfoundland’s canines. Stories detailing the history of Newfoundland dogs always involve water, starting with their development with the Vikings of Newfoundland in 1001 A.D. They were the constant companions of the sea-going Viking fisherman and served as their protectors, workers and rescuers on the dangerous fishing trips of the cold north. By the 1600’s the breed was well established, looking much as they do today and already known as gentle giants and water loving dogs. The Newfoundland was a captivating breed whose popularity quickly began to spread around the world.
Newfoundlands have several physical characteristics that allow them to spend extended periods of time in cold waters so that they can rescue not just individuals, but whole rafts of people as well. They have a thick oily fur coat that water cannot penetrate, even after hours in the water. Webbed feet, a well-muscled tail that can work as a rudder and their massive size that carries strength allows them to do their job as water rescue dogs.
Newfoundlands are truly gentle and intelligent giants. They are calm, cool and collected in any stressful situation and always on alert. These temperament traits serve them well when they are on duty near the water and on land. There are able to spot someone in trouble and think independently and quickly to bring that person to safety on land.
The breed today still works as a water rescue dog in many parts of the world. Several European countries such as Britain, France and Italy include Newfoundland dogs as part of their lifeguard teams. They patrol beaches for swimmers in trouble and will go out to save them when needed. In the U.S., Newfoundland dogs are part of search and rescue teams, often specifically used for water search and rescue missions.
Stories in History
There is no shortage of heroic and heartwarming stories of Newfoundlands throughout history both on land and on sea. “Rigel” was a Newfoundland traveling aboard the ill-fated Titanic. He is said to have guided a boat full of people to one of the rescue ships. Newfoundlands have also served as soldiers during the Civil War, explored the west with Lewis and Clark and performed search and rescue missions during WWII.
The Newfoundland dog breed has truly unique physical and personality characteristics that place the breed in a class all its own as a water rescue dog and companion. Whether as the family pet or working partner on water, each Newfoundland lives up to its heritage and rivals all the “Rigels” of the past as a true friend to their people and a skilled water dog.
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