The World Wide Web has not only opened up the world, it has also helped reveal the past in an incredible way. The past I’m most interested in concerns the Newfoundland dog and one of my favourite sources is the Newfoundland Dog Database from Germany, available in both German and English. The English version can be found at www.newfoundlanddog-database.net/en/ .
Initially I started tracing the ancestors of my own Newfs and then of famous Newfs like Josh (Darbydale’s All Rise Pouch Cove) who won Westminister in 2004. The German database took me back to the 1850’s, often with photos of the early ancestors. The number of generations averaged about 35, although for some Newfs you can go back up to 44 generations; this is the equivalent of being able to trace your human family tree back to the 7th century.
While following the Newfie ancestors took me from North America to Europe and then back and forth, all of the searches that I tried originated in Britain in the 1850’s. This suggests strongly that the registered Newfoundlands of today are all based on the English Newfs first registered over 150 years ago. Canada is indisputably the country of origin of the Newfoundland dog but I have to concede that England has an extremely strong claim to being the country of development.
Many authors have claimed that Siki born in 1922 is the ancestor of all modern day Newfs. With his 104 offspring, he has definitely had a major impact on today’s breed; however when I randomly searched back, his name did not come up as often as I was led to believe. This suggests that the genes of modern day Newfoundlands are not as restricted as had been feared. Need to do more checking on the database but the preliminary findings are most encouraging.
The German database also contains interesting trivia such as the top stud dogs in terms of most offspring produced. The distinction of being the number one producer goes to Bruder Ludvig Bar vom Gelderland. He was born in 1998 and had 520 get. Top Canadian stud, Topmast’s Hannibal, was born 20 years earlier and caused 313 little bundles of joy.
Included in the German database are fields for health clearances. The first four are identical to the main ones recommended by the Newfoundland Club of America, namely cystinuria, heart, hips and elbows. Interestingly, they only have one other field for clearances and that is for shoulders, something that is not yet commonly checked in North America.Peter Maniate has been writing a column about Newfoundland dogs for the Breedlines section of Dogs in Canada magazine since January, 1996. The preceding column originally appeared in the May, 2009 issue. Permission is granted for re-publication of the preceding article or excerpts from it as long as the author is credited and the name of the original publication and date of first publication is included.