Newfoundlands to the Rescue!


Did you know that the Newfoundland is the water rescue dog of choice for many coast guard organizations around the world? This giant dog breed originated in Canada as a working dog for fishermen. Newfoundlands make ideal water rescue dogs for many reasons. They are excellent swimmers, with webbed feet and water-resistant double coats.   Their size and strength allows them to swim long distances in rough seas.


They are able to jump into the water from moving boats and even helicopters. In the water they wear special harnesses that attach to a buoy or a life raft. Their strength and endurance enables them to swim out to people in trouble and tow them to safety, carefully choosing a route through the safest currents.


The personality of Newfies also makes the breed perfect for water rescues. They are calm, even-tempered, and loyal, and despite their large size, are very gentle with children.


The Italian Coast Guard has 300 dogs on duty, many of them Newfoundlands, which help save thousands of people every year. The Italian School of Water Rescue Dogs states that Newfies are the best breed for the purpose because of their size, strength, affinity for water, and most importantly, a built-in instinct for rescue.


Handlers and their dogs must pass a series of difficult tests to become certified by the school. Teams are evaluated for things like obedience, teamwork, endurance, emergency lifesaving techniques such as CPR, and various types of water rescue. The dogs must be proficient in different types of rescue scenarios, such as towing small boats, rescuing more than one person at a time, diving from heights, and bringing ropes from one boat to another.


For more information on Newfoundlands as water rescue dogs, check out the school’s excellent website HERE.




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  • Aaron Seminoff
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