The Newfoundland dog is nothing short of massive in every way.
These dogs may now be considered somewhat iconic due to the runaway success of the “Peter Pan” story, but once upon a time they were simply humble working dogs that assisted people with hunting, guarding, and – most famously – water rescues.
It is hard to believe it just by looking at them, but the gigantic and hairy Newfoundland dog is actually a great swimmer!
But it is all that hair that we are going to talk about in this article. Specifically, we will look at whether Newfoundland dogs shed and, if so, how much do they shed and how can you prepare for that.
Do Newfoundland Dogs Shed?
Do Newfoundland dogs shed? Boy, do they! Ask any Newfoundland dog owner about their enormous shedding canine and how they manage it and you are likely to be listening to tips for quite some time!
Newfoundland dogs are not just big in terms of how much they weigh and how tall they stand. These dogs have the thick, double-layer, seasonally shedding coats that nearly all working group dogs have. This can add up to a lot of shedding year-round and seasonally for your Newfoundland dog and you.
Learn About Newfoundland Coat Blows and Shedding
As this short owner-made YouTube video explains, approximately twice per year, the Newfoundland dog goes through a type of seasonal shedding called “blowing coat.”
This is exactly what it sounds like. The coat sheds out profusely and for a period of time, it can feel like you are literally surrounded in a snowstorm of sorts made of fur.
Luckily, there is a lot you can do to keep even these extreme seasonal coat sheds manageable for you and your family, not to mention your clothing and home furnishings.
Meet the Newfoundland Dog Breed
So let’s spend a moment getting acquainted with the Newfoundland dog breed and their thick and luxurious working-dog coat.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed profile, the Newfoundland dog can easily weigh 100 to 150+ pounds and stand 28 inches tall (paw pads to shoulders).
And every inch of the Newfie, as breeders and owners like to call this dog breed, is covered in dog hair!
In other words, the Newfoundland has the double-layer coat that is characteristic of nearly every purebred dog breed that has ever worked alongside people in any job.
According to the Antarctica Newfoundland Club, the Newfoundland dog excels at several different jobs, including hauling, carting, hunting, guarding, and protection and conducting water rescues, often at long distances from land.
Specifically, Newfoundlands have made a name for themselves over the centuries for their ability to rescue people set adrift at sea when their vessels sank. Clearly, the coat of this dog must be specialized to do such icy cold and dangerous work!
Understanding the Layers of the Newfoundland’s Working Dog Coat
Most working dog breeds – that is, dogs bred specifically to do jobs alongside people – tend to be bred with an extra-protective coat that non-working dogs often lack.
According to the Newfoundland Club of America (NCA) breed standard, the Newfoundland is a dog that should be “heavily coated.”
The breed standard also notes that this working dog coat type has two layers. Each layer is specialized to keep that dog protected, warm, and safe while out working.
Outer coat layer
The outer layer of a working dog’s coat may be long, short or medium in length. But generally speaking, it will always be somewhat water-repellant, coarse, and thick.
This is because the outer coat layer is designed to help rain, ice, or snow (or seawater in the Newfoundland dog’s case) sheet right off the dog’s body instead of soaking through to the skin.
The coarseness of the outer layer can also serve as a buffer against pests, abrasion, and injury while the dog is working.
And the coat can help protect the dog’s skin from getting sunburned or windburned.
Inner coat layer
In direct contrast to what you just read, the inner layer of a working dog’s coat generally has a completely different quality. It is thick and soft and downy.
If this description makes you think of a fluffy down comforter, you’ve already got the right idea. This inner layer is the dog’s insulation against cold from any number of sources.
Why You Should Never Ever Shave a Newfoundland Dog’s Coat
If this is your first time coping with the extreme shedding that Newfoundland dogs can go through seasonally, you may have had more than a passing fantasy about simply shaving your dog and being done with it.
But this is something you should NEVER do for several reasons.
Your dog will lose the coat’s protection
All the protective properties you just read about – protection from sun, wind, rain, ice, snow, abrasion, pests, and injury – go away the moment you shave your Newfoundland dog’s thick, double-layer coat.
It can be a dangerous thing to be a dog without a coat. The impact would be similar to if you decided to go out and about in the world wearing just your birthday suit.
Suddenly danger would lurk around every corner. Every place you sat down or walked around, everyone you met and everything you did could cause you harm.
Just like your body needs clothing to protect your skin from dangerous, your dog needs their coat to stay safe and healthy.
The coat will never grow back properly
At this point, you might be thinking that even if you shaved your Newfoundland during the hottest months or during the seasonal sheds, the coat would just grow back, right?
Unfortunately, the fact that the coat will grow back is not enough. Once the coat is shaved, it will never again grow back in two separate and distinct layers like it is now.
Your Newfoundland’s body will not understand that it needs to grow the downy underlayer and keep that separate from the coarse and water-repellant outer layer. The two layers won’t grow in stages.
Rather, the two layers of the coat will grow in together, with the two different hair types mixing and intermingling. This means the coat will have neither it’s insulating nor its protective properties intact.
For you, this will mean that for the rest of your dog’s life you will have to take extra precautions to protect your Newfoundland from getting sunburn, windburn, heat exhaustion, injury and abrasion, and cold.
It is far better to learn how to deal with the seasonal shedding than to have to deal with all of these dangers every day for the rest of your dog’s time with you.
Why Do Newfoundland Dogs Shed More Seasonally?
To understand why Newfoundland dogs go through a seasonal shedding cycle, it helps to remember that one function of all that fur is to keep a dog that works in cold climates warm while doing outside work.
As this dog’s breed name implies, Newfoundland dogs may have gotten their modern breed start in Newfoundland, Canada – an area that gets very long, icy, and snowy winters.
As PetMD points out, not only have Newfoundland working dogs historically rescued people from deep-sea boating accidents, but they have actually towed boats in the ocean back to shore.
These dogs are so strong, they have often been tasked with the job of jumping into the ocean, gripping ship leads (long ropes), and actually pulling boats in to shore when the water got too choppy for accurate navigation.
Knowing this makes it very easy to understand why a dog might need a very thick winter coat to do this type of work during seasonal storms!
But what about when summer arrives? Canada’s summer season is not long but it can get quite hot. All that thick insulating fur might cause a Newfoundland dog to overheat while working during the summer months.
And this is why Newfoundlands do a seasonal shed.
Cold to warm-season shed
The biggest coat blow, or seasonal shed, the period is usually during the transition from the cold season to the warm season.
This is because your dog has to drop quite a bit of the thick, insulating undercoat rather quickly to keep from overheating as the temperature rises.
Your dog will shed out a great deal of the undercoat over a short time period, often in big chunks of hair at one time, which is where the nickname “coat blow” comes from.
As My Brown Newfies owner blog points out, the shedding isn’t actually triggered by the temperature increasing outside. It is triggered by an increase in daylight hours.
So if you live in an area where you have a long winter season, your dog might start the coat blow well before you feel the warmer temperatures starting to creep in.
This is normal because the seasonal sheds are connected with your dog’s internal circadian rhythms.
Warm to cold season shed
A slightly less impactful coat blow, or seasonal shed, often happens during the transition from the warm season back to the cold season again.
At this time, the coat will be replenishing its most important insulating properties by shedding out the well-used summer undercoat and growing in a fresh and thick undercoat.
What About Shedding the Outer Coat Layer?
The Newfoundland dog sheds every single day and all day long. This dog can shed while sleeping and often sheds lightly when patted.
The outer guard hairs, with their water-resistant and protective properties, are continually being replenished and renewed.
For this reason, there needs to be some amount of consistent shedding going on. If a hair gets damaged, it needs to be replaced without delay.
Do Newfoundland Puppies Shed and Blow Coat?
As the South Central Newfoundland Dog Club explains, Newfoundland puppies will typically only go through one single coat blow period.
This happens when the puppy coat starts shedding out and the adult coat grows in.
Because Newfoundland dogs are giant breed dogs, they can take a lot longer to grow up fully than do smaller breed dogs. This means the coat transition may not happen until your dog is two or even three years old.
The Newfie puppy coat is a single layer coat that is softer than the adult coat. The coat will blow out in patches and can get kind of messy for a time until all the puppy hair has shed out and all the adult hair has grown in.
This is also the right time to get your Newfoundland puppy used to be brushed and groomed and trimmed and checked. It will be a lot harder to brush and groom your massive adult dog, so you want to have a dog that is happy to allow you to do this.
How Often Do You Have to Brush and Groom Your Newfoundland Dog?
One big question many aspiring Newfoundland dog owners have is about the frequency of brushing and grooming their dog.
The frequency is up to you. However, the more you brush your dog now, the less shed hair you will have to sweep up or vacuum up later.
Either way, the hair is coming out, so it is really just a question of whether you want the shed, dead hair to come out in the dog brush, or onto the couch cushions or your clothing.
Many experienced Newfoundland owners make time for at least a daily brushing, often at a particular time of day so the dog gets used to the routine and comes to look forward to this time with you.
By understanding in advance what you are choosing by picking a giant Newfoundland dog with a thick, double-layer, shedding coat type, you can prepare yourself with the right brushing and grooming supplies to care for your dog.