Discussion for a Newfie Newbie: Health of show Newfs?


New member
Hey guys!

Loki is my first dog ever, so I don't really know much about the dog world. I'm curious about the health of show-quality Newfies; I know that show-quality German Shepherds are often cited as the quintessential example of sacrificing health for an arbitrary "quality" standard (their back legs are just terrible, right?), but it seems that show-quality Newfies are pretty healthy.
  • What's the show scene like when it comes to health of the breed?
  • Are people actively working to breed healthier Newfies?
  • If there are known health problems with show-quality Newfies, what are they?
  • How would you characterize the trajectory of the breed's overall health?

I don't want to start a religious war, I'm really just curious!


Active member
I don't think most of your questions can be answered very easily.

Obviously, people who show want to put forth the best, healthiest specimen that they can. It wouldn't make sense to do otherwise.

And responsible breeders do make an effort to produce the healthiest dogs possible. Unfortunately, without genetic markers for most diseases, it's still a crap shoot. It's impossible to breed just for healthiness or to breed just for breed characteristics without losing some of the other. You have to find the best balance possible or you would end up with some creature that is totally unlike a Newf.

Dogs that are in the show ring could have health problems that just haven't surfaced yet or are not clinical in nature. For the most part, I think the majority of dogs being shown are reasonably healthy. That doesn't mean they are perfect.

The Newfoundland breed and it's fanciers have been at the forefront of research and health testing for many years. They are one of the first CHIC breeds, I believe. In the early days of OFA tests, Newfoundlands had an extensive data base long before most other breeds. A lot of effort and dedication has and is being put into finding the cause of most of the breed's health problems.

So the breed's overall health will only get better as more owners, breeders, etc. contribute as much data as they can, test their dogs, and make wise choices when choosing dogs for breeding. And, just as importantly, puppy buyers take responsibility for doing their research in choosing the breeder of their beloved pet. Remember that a pet quality dog came from the same litter as the show quality one. "Pet quality" does not mean unhealthy any more than "show quality" means free from any defects or vice versa.

I do believe there has been a change in the longevity of Newfs. If I'm right, I would say it's an indication that we are beginning to win the battle one way or another.


New member
I think Jane makes some great points and I'll just add that this is a difficult topic because the majority of Newfoundlands being produced, are not from show breeders. The Majority are produced by mills and back yard breeders who don't test and don't care about the breed except what they can make in money from them. So in that light, IMO, this breed is in big trouble, and uninformed puppy buyers, or anyone who gives these types of breeders money for a puppy, are also part of our problem.

If you want to look at just the 'show breeders', then in comparison with the rest of the breed, I would say the dogs in the show ring ARE healthier because the majority of those breeders are concerned about the breed and support health testing. Of course, not all, as nothing is perfect, but the majority do. One thing to keep in mind is that this is a 'Working Breed', and the Newfoundland Clubs work hard to keep them that way, by sponsoring/supporting working events, like Water Rescue Dog tests, and Draft Dog Tests. While most Newfoundland dogs can do these working events, no matter who bred them, they do show who is keeping up with the natural instincts, and physical ability to work. THAT is key to health, imo, as breeding trends will come and go, but if the working ability is ever lost, so is this breed. So when looking at the 'show newf' there is more than just Conformation Shows, there are Working Performance Shows/Tests that go along with that and help keep this breed what is has always been.

As far as health issues in the 'show dogs'..... I've been in rescue for far too long, to see that there are not health issues just in show dogs or just in BYB's dogs. The health issues are an equal opportunity offender to our puppies. The heart problems, (SAS, PDA), Orthopedic (Hips, Elbows, Shoulders, Knees) along with skin, allergy, eyes, and the list goes on, effect all Newfoundlands. The difference in our 'show breeders' and BYB's/Mills, is that the show breeders who test for health issues, decrease the chances of these things occuring in your puppy. I'd personally rather take the better odds with a tested 'show breeders' line of dogs, to get a healthy puppy, than with a BYB/Mill who has no proof of anything being consistently produced or not produced.

Sound Bay Newfs

Active member
All good points already stated. I do feel show dogs are healthier since the show breeders are doing health clearances in an attempt to breed the best, and better the breed. Othewise, pups are coming from BYBs or mills who are looking to make money. Health clearances are expensive and will only cut into their profit.


New member
My Crycket came from an award winning breeder, well respected and highly recommended. She has poor hips. There are good and bad dogs from all sources. In theory the show breeders should be producing better dogs but their overall goal is to produce show winning dogs. Healthy dogs is the side benefit to that.


Active member
My first newfie had impeccable pedigree but after we had rescued him and researched we found out his breeders were byb .he had poor health and unfortunately passed early on to the bridge.

Max's breeder shows regularly and does loads of health testing and is researching more into future potential tests to try and ensure a good healthy line.Max has had multiple issues already so even with the best bred newf it is still a russian roulette of chance. With a good breeder less chance but it is still there.

One day l will have a healthy newf but the genetic pool is small and its difficult.