5 Gentle Giant Family Dogs



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.

Related Articles


  • American Kennel Club. "The Complete Dog Book." 18th ed. Howell Book House. New York. 1992.
  • American Kennel Club. "Irish Wolfhound Did You Know?" (Accessed July 29, 2011) http://www.akc.org/breeds/irish_wolfhound/did_you_know.cfm
  • "Big Dogs Little Dogs." GT Publishing. New York. 1998.
  • Dog Breed 4U. "Top 10 Largest Dog Breeds." (Accessed July 30, 2011) http://www.dogbreed4u.com/article/top-10-largest-dog-breeds
  • Dog Breed Info Center. "Bernese Mountain Dog." (Accessed July 28, 2011) http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/bernesemountain.htm
  • Dog-Breeds.net. "Saint Bernard." (Accessed July 28, 2011) http://www.dog-breeds.net/Saint_Bernard.htm
  • Fogle, Bruce. "The Encyclopedia of the Dog." DK Publishing, Inc. New York, 1995.
  • "Frequently Asked Questions About the Irish Wolfhound." Irish Wolfhound Club of America. (Accessed July 30, 2011) http://www.iwclubofamerica.org/faq.htm#children
  • Go Pets America. "Dogs Good with Children." (Accessed July 31, 2011) http://www.gopetsamerica.com/dogs/dogs-good-with-kids.aspx
  • Great Dane Club of America." Before You Choose a Great Dane." (Accessed July 30, 2011) http://www.gdca.org/before.htm
  • PetInsurance. "Ten Biggest Dog Breeds in the World." (Accessed July 28, 2011) http://www.petinsuranceonline.co.uk/articles/ten-biggest-dog-breeds-in-the-world.html


Who Ya Gonna Call? The Dogs of R.A.T.S.

Who Ya Gonna Call? The Dogs of R.A.T.S.

In rat-infested New York City, the dogs of R.A.T.S. are working to rid the city of its burgeoning rat problem. HowStuffWorks goes along for the ride.