If you've ever been out in a public place and seen someone walking what looked like a friendly bear, you've seen a Newfoundland. These are really big dogs: a male may be 28 inches (71 centimeters) at the shoulder and weigh as much as 150 pounds (68 kilograms) [source: The Complete Dog Book -- please link to LMI].
If you want a dog that doesn't care if the toddler climbs all over him and tugs his ears, the Newfoundland is probably the dog for you. Newfoundlands are just happy to be a part of the family.
Though their ancestry is murky, it's widely accepted that Newfoundlands developed on the Canadian island for which they are named, probably descended from dogs brought from Europe. On the island, they were bred to be working dogs on shore, in marshes or in the water. They can pull carts, and were often used to rescue drowning people due to their swimming ability and webbed feet.
Their disposition couldn't be better for families. Newfies are gentle, loving and generally unflappable. They love people -- especially small children.
Their long hair will require some grooming. Like any large dog, they need space, and like any family-oriented dog, they need love and companionship. Their life expectancy is about 11 years.
A word of warning: If you go swimming when your Newfoundland is around, you may be "rescued," even if you'd rather stay in the water!
Read on for lots more information.