The Most Important Question
"Are you a member of the Newfoundland Club of America?"
I strongly believe that a responsible Newfoundland breeder should belong to this organization.
The Newfoundland Club of America (NCA) is recognized by the American Kennel Club as the "Parent Club" for the Newfoundland breed, responsible for the preservation, protection and welfare of the breed. In this role, the NCA maintains a Code of Ethics for Newfoundland Breeders, for protection of both the dog and the purchaser. Breeders who belong to the NCA must follow this code of ethics. Violations can result in disciplinary action, including expulsion from the club.
Membership in the NCA is not an ironclad guarantee of a satisfactory purchase, but it is a a strong indication that you are dealing with a breeder who is committed to doing things the right way.
Conversely, there may be some responsible breeders who do not belong to the NCA, but I frankly cannot understand why they would make that choice. Membership brings many advantages for a breeder, including listing in the NCA Breeder's List: the gold standard of directories.
The NCA Breeder's List
The Newfoundland Club of America Breeder's List is without question the best place to begin your puppy search.
The list is a relatively short one, so you may find few listings in your area. Don't be discouraged! Make contact with the breeders whose names do appear, and if they have no puppies available, ask if they know any other kennels for you to contact. These breeders are not going to risk their own reputations by recommending substandard operations.
What if the answer is,"No?"
Well, first of all, ask why.
If a breeder tries to tell you that NCA membership is not important, move on. If she gives you a song-and-dance about, "Oh, they're a bunch of snobs; it's nothing but a clique," then run in the other direction. I heard that line from a breeder once... then later found out she'd been applying for membership for years, and was rejected every time due to her unethical practices!
Next, if you still want to consider dealing with this breeder, start asking a bunch of other questions.
Next: More Questions To Ask