My name is Sue Auger, and I have been raising Newfoundlands for 36 years now and truly love these dogs. They are incredible companions to their people and extremely versatile. Newfs do amazing things in the water, even when they have never been trained. They are empathic therapy dogs. Newfs have marvelous noses and make awesome Search and Rescue dogs. Newfs are powerful and yet they never use their power against you. They can draw carts and sleds (and small cars). Newfs look into your eyes and seem to know your emotions. They appreciate just being with you. Newfs give unconditional love to you 24/7.
Newfoundlands also slop the floor with their drinking water, soak your pants right after a drink, make tumbleweeds of hair that roll across the floor, wag most anything off the coffee tables with their tails when they’re happy, sleep right in the way when you’re trying to get things done, make noseprints on the window and door panes, and drool all over the car windows. Life with a Newf is not exactly mainstream living.
Here at Denali Farm, I focus on healthy, sweet dogs. Health clearances are done on the parents before they are bred. Before the female is bred, she has most or all of the following health clearances: OFA hips, elbows, thyroid, heart (cleared by a cardiologist), eyes CERFed and Cystinuria clearance. I do everything I can to make sure that puppies are genetically healthy for a good start in life. Puppies are Puppy Aptitude Tested, which determines the genetic predisposition for temperament. They are vet checked and cardiologist cleared before they leave Denali Farm. We match the puppies we have tested with the homes we have screened to make the best match, taking into consideration the wants and needs of each family and their lifestyle.
As a breeder, I do some things differently from other breeders. One of the most important things to consider is a feeding program. Since the 1970s, I have fed only fresh, raw food to my dogs. This is a breed that veterinarians in this country will tell you lives only 7-10 years. The Denali Farm Newfoundlands live on average 12-14 years and those are good years with normal activity. I believe that the fresh, raw food is a big part of that longevity. There is good information about raw feeding these days. Read Give Your Dog a Bone
by Dr. Ian Billinghurst (www.dogworks.com). Go to www.dogaware.com and read about proper feeding of dogs. We used to make our own raw food diets, but these days there are many commercial brands of high quality raw foods available. So it’s a matter of feeding from a bag thawed out in the fridge instead of a bag of dry food in the closet. I feed lots of raw, meaty bones as well.
What do I see as the benefits? In 36 years, I have never had one single case of bloat. I have never had to clean my dogs’ teeth. Even my eleven year old has white, shiny teeth. Their breath is sweet, the coats are shiny and feel wonderful to the touch. Immune systems are strong. Dogs have great muscling and good energy. The puppies grow slowly and normally and joints are healthy. Now you can cripple any puppy with the incorrect environment (see Puppy Lessons
). I see my job as one of educating puppy buyers to raise the puppies correctly, so their Newf puppy will be “all that he can be”…
I feel that it is imperative to take the young puppy to a formal puppy obedience class (not private lessons) for the beginning of a positive working relationship and for socialization with other dogs and people. This sets the groundwork for a wonderfully stable, mentally sound, obedient adult dog you can proudly take anywhere.
I have a very cautious schedule of vaccinations for the puppies. My females whelp their puppies naturally and nurse them normally. The weaning is gradual and the Moms teach their babies to behave as well as nourishing them. Their colostrum gives the puppies a passive immunity until it wears out at 12 weeks. The first vaccination is therefore given at twelve weeks, not before. A second vaccination is given four weeks later, and then four weeks after that rabies is given by itself. Puppies have an annual booster the next year and then no vaccinations after that, just titers are drawn every three years to make sure they are protected.
I only keep four or five adult Newfs that live with me. They are house dogs. I know their personalities intimately, so I know what to expect from the puppies. And I know what personalities I like to breed. I want a “hangaround dog.” I want a dog that is always keeping track of me, not one I have to go looking for. I want a dog that prefers people to other dogs, who is social with dogs, but thinks people are the best. I want a dog that is crazy about children and automatically watches over any child that it is with. I like to breed for a tight mouth because I hate drool, even after all these years. Usually I’m successful.
Lord Byron described the Newfoundland dog so perfectly when he wrote in 1808:
Beauty without vanity, strength without insolence, courage without ferocity, and all the virtues of man without his vices.