Okay, you've probably heard this a thousand times
already: Newfies are great big sweethearts. They're loving, even-tempered,
and patient. They're wonderful companions for kids.
Everyone knows they're "gentle giants."
And it's true: they are.
Except when they're not.
The vast majority of Newfoundland dogs have wonderful,
sweet dispositions. As the American Kennel Club breed standard
Sweetness of temperament is the hallmark of the Newfoundland;
this is the most important single characteristic of the breed.
But nonetheless, there are exceptions. A dog from
a poor line, or a dog who has not been properly socialized, may
present a very different picture. Consider this
online plea from a distressed owner:
I have an eight-month old, unneutered 97 pound
male. He does not care for my nine-year-old son, and has been
growling at him whenever my son touches him or tries to take him
by the collar.
Yikes! This lady has a problem, doesn't she? And
just think, the dog's only partway-grown. This could get ugly.
Let's keep this "gentle giant" business in proportion,
too. Yes, their disposition is gentle, but physically, Newfies
can be awfully clumsy. A 140-pound dog can do a lot of damage to
a small child- or a frail senior citizen- without meaning harm.
A playful leap, a dash to the door to greet the mailman... and over
goes Junior, down goes Grandma.
And what happens when your neighbors' toddler walks
three times around the room with a cookie in her hand? The poor
Newfie is sitting there the whole time, puzzling it over... "Maybe
she's saying that's for me, but I'm not quite sure.... hmm, I guess
she might be offering it to me... good enough!"
Gulp! Kid cries, Mom screams, much distress all
Newfies are typically great with kids, but even
so, you can't take things for granted. One long-time breeder summed
things up well:
No dog should be left unsupervised with
very young children, especially a dog that is three times larger
than the child. Newfies love to play and romp, and they can inadvertently
knock toddlers to the ground. A Newfoundland is not likely to
turn and attack a screaming child, but it could happen. We must
emphasize that Newfies' basic good temperaments must be coupled
with basic good training: an untrained Newf is a menace. Common
sense, not sentimentality, should dictate how we deal with dogs.
We don't have to stop telling the public that
Newfoundlands are good with children, for they are good with children
if they are properly trained and socialized.
Continue: Health Issues