Newfoundland dog breed

Newfoundland Breed

The true origin of the Newfoundland Dog is hidden in the mist of time.
There is especially three theories that explain the origin of the Newfoundland Dog, depending on which source you read.
One of the theories is that the Newfoundland Dog have evolved from the now extinct Black Wolf, perhaps by crossings with Asiatic Mastiffs that have entered into North America from Asia.
The second theory is that the breed developed by crossings of native wolves, and/or Indian dogs, and the dogs the Vikings did bring to Vinland (the Viking name on Newfoundland) about 1000 A.D.
The third theory is that the Newfoundland Dog owe its existence to the mastiffs, sheepdogs and water dogs brought to the new continent by the fifteenth and sixteenth century European explorers, and have developed as a result of interbreeding of these dogs.
The Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada gives the following short explanation of the origin of the breed in their standard:
"The breed originated in Newfoundland from dogs indigenous to the island, and the big black bear dogs introduced by the Vikings in 1001 A.D. With the advent of European fisherman, a variety of new breeds helped to shape and re-invigorate the breed, but the essential characteristics of the Newfoundland dog remained. By the time of colonization was permitted in 1610, the distinct physical characteristics and mental attributes had been established in the breed for all time."
When analyzing the available information we can assume that the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada's explanation above of the origin of the breed is most likely the way it have happened. Especially since we know that the Vikings in Scandinavia had large dogs to protect their livestock (ref; Norsk Dogge-Norsedogge), and since we know that there have been found skeletons of large and powerful dogs in the remains of the Viking settlements in Newfoundland, discovered by the Norwegian Viking researchers Helge and Anne-Stine Ingstad.

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It is believed that the "Bear-dogs" of the Vikings interbred with the large black and white water dogs of the Beouhik Indians, a tribe that once lived at the northeast coast of America.
Nearly 500 years after the Viking settlement Newfoundland was rediscovered, and the British annexed the island, with following settlement. It can be mentioned that the Vikings in Newfoundland was then since long disapeared, and nobody knows their fate. Between the Vikings and the British the Newfoundland Dog developed into a very unique dog, large and black, which did function as good in water as at land.
From about 1700 we know that there were a large and powerful dog that was a companion of man, both in the fishing boat and in the forest. The fishermen of Newfoundland used the dogs to pull their fishing net and the hawser for their boats to shore. At land the dogs was used to pull carts with fish and wood, or used as "mail dogs".

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Dogs from new breeds for the island was brought by settling fishermen, and these dogs probably interbred with the pre-Newfoundland Dog, and formed a larger variety of dogs. The Greater St. Johns Dog (note; there were also a Lesser St. Johns Dog) comes easily to mind, but it is suspected that the original large black dog did keep most of its characteristics intact.
The first time the name "Newfoundland Dog" came in use was in 1775 when Mr. George Cartwright applied the name to his own dog.
From the latter part of the 17th century dogs were shipped from Newfoundland to Europe, first and foremost to England. It is known that the dogs shipped over were of two sizes, the smaller St. Johns Dog gave probably birth to the Retrievers, the larger one, the Newfoundland Dog, were further developed and shaped in England, into the breed as we know it today. In Newfoundland it seemed difficult to keep the original breed alive, due to the large number of exported dogs, as well as the regulation of the 1780's that restricted families from owning more than one dog.
The British are the ones that is regarded as the saviors of the breed, and also the ones that refined the Newfoundland Dog. As the first breed club the Newfoundland Club was started in England in 1886, and about 10 years later the first standard was written.

Today the Newfoundland dog is widespread all over the world and it is a popular show-dog, often winning the Group and also the Best in Show titles.

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