Trying to add a new giant dog breed to your family, but aren’t sure which one to pick? Nailed down your two choices to the Newfoundland vs. the Saint Bernard? These to magnificently giant breeds have some striking resemblances, but are completely different breeds, with very different personalities. In fact, because of their similarities, Saint Bernards and Newfies are sometimes crossbred in an effort by dog owners to get the best of both worlds.
The Newfoundland, or ‘Newfie’ for short, is a big dog that bears more than a passing resemblance to a St Bernard. They are a similar height and weight, and they walk in the same slow-time fashion. Saint Bernards, on the other hand, are known to be excellent watchdogs and family companions. But is there more to it than that?
In this breed comparison guide, we compare these two gentle giants in great detail. We’ll look at facts about their history, personalities, feeding routines, and exercise schedules. So, if you’re here because you are torn between these two gentle giant breeds, then look no further. We will deliver all of the doggy knowledge you need to make what might be one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Let’s jump in!
Breed Comparison Chart
24-26 + Inches (F)
26 - 28 inches (F)
120 – 140 pounds (F)
120 – 140 pounds (F)
To understand what drives a dog breed to act as they do, you need to understand their history. The best place to start this research is back when they were first designed. When you know what they were intended to do, be it work hard or to look pretty. You will know what to expect of them in your home.
It is said that the Newfoundland is the waterborne relative of the Saint Bernard. Although not genetically related, they possess the same rescuing prowess as the Bernard. Newfies were working dogs bred to earn their keep by pulling fishing nets to shore and pulling the cart with the day’s catch to market. Fisherman relied on Newfies to be fearless working dogs that could save men from icy waters too.
Although the Newfies career as ship hand is long gone, they are still prolific water rescue dogs. As well as popular and beloved family companions and guardians. Good with adults, children, and other animals alike, they make a fantastic family friend that is loyal to a fault and very caring. Because of their loyalty and loving nature, they are often compared to Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and other family-friendly breeds.
The Saint Bernard is another dog with a legendary history. Named after their workplace, the Great Saint Bernard Hospice, which is located on the Italian-Swiss border. Famous for rescuing travelers in trouble and pulling them from snow, they are a renowned canine breed. Because of their loveable personalities and fluffy good looks, they are often compared to other giant dog breeds. Some popular comparisons include the Bernese Mountain Dog, or against the English Mastiff.
It is said that as a rescue dog, the Saint Bernard has saved the lives of as many as 2,000 men. This is attributed to his sensitive and caring temperament. Being calm and unphased by strangers or tough situations, the Saint Bernard has now found a new profession as a therapy dog.
The Saint Bernard is easily identified, and most people will know the breed. The Newfoundland, on the other hand, isn’t quite so easily recognized. The Bernard is an easy to spot tri-color dog, and the Newfie comes in mainly block colors. Such as gray, brown, black, and the odd black-and-white. They both have a thick double-layer coat that is very soft to the touch.
When it comes to their weight, these two are very similar. The Bernard can range from 120 to a whopping 180 pounds. The Newfie is no lightweight either, ranging from 100 to 150 pounds. There is little difference between their height, too, with the Newfie standing at 26 to 28 inches and the Bernard at 26 to 30 inches.
Both dogs have a big head that is wide and square, with the Newfie having a slightly more slender snout compared to the Bernard’s square and stubby muzzle. Both breeds have large feet as well but for different reasons. The Bernard’s give a greater surface area for better grip in the snow, like a snowshoe. The Newfie has large feet that are webbed, aiding them in their waterborne abilities.
They both have big, heavy tails as well, that act as a counterbalance for the Saint Bernard in snow and ice and as a rudder for the Newfie. In both cases, it’s a great tool for knocking over drinks and young children, so be sure to supervise them with kids about.
These big boy breeds are very similar in most aspects, with just a few minor differences. Firstly, they are both magnificent companion dogs that love people. Cuddly with adults, sweet and gentle with kids, and extra loving and cuddly with their immediate pack members. Both these doggos love family life and like to stay close to the pack. As such, their wanderlust tendencies to go and explore aren’t very strong.
Both will be keen to protect their family at the first sign of danger. The Bernard will stay with the family and supervise the situation. Whereas the Newfie will be quick to get vocal to get the message across that he’s there, and he means business. They are both gentle giants until his family is in danger.
They are very loyal and attentive to their families and laid back when it comes to other animals in the house. Both Breeds have a low prey drive meaning they will be less than interested in cats and other animals like birds and squirrels. They are working dogs, not hunting dogs. Which is ideal for multi-pet households.
When it comes to energy levels, both these pups are a great balance of playful and relaxed. They will be excited to see you and expect a fuss. Both will love a bit of rough and tumble at playtime. They are silly canines with their family, but they also know how to relax too, making them calm in the home.
Neither the Newfie or the Saint Bernard need a huge amount of exercise. They are slow-paced pooches that will take a slow excursion with the family at a leisurely pace. Due to their size and weight, it is not advisable to over-exercise them as it will cause health problems. A moderate 45 to 60 minutes of daily exercise is more than enough for both.
The Newfie will happily play in the water for hours on end. Floating in water takes a lot of pressure off their joints, and their webbed feet make it easy exercise for them. The Bernard can be a bit of a goofball at times when playing games. He will play chase with other dogs and his family until he gets too tired.
Both dogs can be a little lazy and are prone to suffer from obesity if not exercised correctly. Left to their own devices, they will eat at every given opportunity but only exert themselves when forced to. They both love a nap, especially if it involves the pack and lots of cuddles. So, don’t let them dictate activity levels.
Depending on your lifestyle, these breeds could be perfect for the average family. If you like a walk or a day out for a picnic and a wander, they make fantastic companions. If, however, you want to hike, bike, and explore, it might be too much for these giants.
The Saint Bernard is known to be an intelligent breed who isn’t too difficult to train. They are sometimes too laid back for their own good and will need a lot of motivation. When we say motivation, we mean edible goodies. Positive reinforcement training with food rewards is the way to win over this boy’s heart and mind.
The Newfoundland is intelligent and eager to please, so he takes to training with gusto. He is a quick learner and rapidly learns to carry out tasks with a voice command or hand signal. Both breeds can also be a bit hard on toys, so you’ll want to provide them with dog toys that match their size.
Starting training early when these two are tiny puppers is the key to getting right. The sooner they know what the rules are both in the house and outdoors, the less likely they are to make their own rules. Doggy play dates and visits to busy areas such as play parks and plazas will get them acclimatized to the big wide world. Socialization is important to remind these dogs how to play gently and that not everyone is an enemy of his family.
The Newfie and Bernard are both prone to suffering from hip and elbow dysplasia. It can be a real-life changer for these breeds. It will limit mobility and exercise until treated and can be an expensive ailment for any owner. This is why it is important to work with a reputable breeder who checks hip scores before breeding.
Both breeds can suffer from problems concerning their eyes. The Newfie’s most prominent concern is cherry eye, where a gland in the corner of the eye swells and looks like a growth. The Bernard is likely to suffer from entropion, which is a defect that causes the eyelid to roll inward.
Large breeds should also be checked for heart conditions such as dilated cardiomyopathy and subvalvular aortic stenosis. Saint Bernards have a shorter lifespan just like Great Danes, Mastiffs and other giant breed dogs. The same is true for the Newfie. This reduced life span is due to accelerated wear and tear. Which, in turn, accelerates them to old age faster. This is something to bear in mind when considering either of these gorgeous giants.
On average, the Saint Bernard will eat more food than a Newfie. At six cups a day, they eat one more cup on average than their Newfoundland counterpart. With both beasties being giant breeds, they have specific nutrient requirements for their health and ongoing health concerns. They will need good quality nutritious food that is specifically designed for large or giant breeds.
Both the Newfie and the Bernard should have set meal times twice a day. Not a constant supply of food in their bowls. Unlike some smaller breeds that can be trusted to graze, both these breeds will hoover up as much food as you’re willing to give. You also need to be wary of bloat and recognize the symptoms of this life-threatening condition.
The Newfoundland has a water-resistant double coat. As a result, they are moderate to high shedders. It’s worse in spring when they rid themselves of the extra thick winter coat. Brushing them two to three times a week is plenty throughout the year. It takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes at a time to give the Newfie a once over with a decent grooming brush.
The Saint Bernard is similar with a double coat and will also need a regular brush to keep him looking his best. Again, two to three times a week with a few daily brushes during the spring and autumn season change should be enough. If started at an early age, grooming is a great way to bond with your pup, for both the Bernard and Newfie.
Because they are both prone to eye concerns, when brushing them be sure to take a quick glance over their eyes. This way, if you note any changes, you can take them to the vet and get it checked out before it worsens.If lower shedding frequency is important, look for a hybrid dog that sheds less, like the Saint Berdoodle.
The average price of these two handsome canines is $1,500 for a pup from a reputable breeder. Good breeders will have clean and presentable areas for birthing and raising litters. And be able to show you the health certificates for the mother and father. It’s really important to work with a reputable breeder when it comes to both of these guys. As they already have shortened lifespans, you do not want to cut that shorter by buying a pup from a puppy mill.
Just like both of these lovely canines, the decision to allow a big dog into your life is humungous. Both the Newfoundland and Saint Bernard will need a lot of time and attention, as well as a financial investment to keep them fit and healthy. So be sure you are willing and able to commit to them before taking the plunge.
Use the information in this guide to decide which pooch is better suited to you and your lifestyle. Whichever breed you choose, they will both create a giant dog-sized hole in your heart that will always bring you back to gentle giants. So, be prepared to fall hopelessly head over heels for these gentle giants.