Newfoundland vs. Saint Bernard: What’s the Difference?

Newfoundland vs. Saint Bernard

When it comes to giant working dogs, the Newfoundland and Saint Bernard are often compared to each other. While they share a lot of similarities, they have notable differences you should be aware of.

The Newfoundland was initially bred to help fishermen, while the Saint Bernard was originally developed as a watchdog. Although both breeds are known for their intimidating sizes, the Newfoundland is slightly smaller than a Saint Bernard. Newfies are also known to shed less fur.

This guide will help you understand the key differences between a Newfoundland and a Saint Bernard. Hopefully, this will help you decide which breed is more suitable for you to take home.

NewfoundlandSaint Bernard
25–28 inches
28–30 inches
100–150 pounds
140–180 pounds
Good-Natured, Loving, Intelligent
Calm, Gentle, Protective
Activity Level:
Activity Level:
Below Average
Below Average
8–10 years
8–10 years

Breed History

Newfoundland exploring outdoors


Newfoundlands, also called Newfies, are giant dogs originating from an island called Newfoundland in England. They were initially bred as working dogs that aided local fishermen.

Newfies are considered one of the oldest dog breeds, with records of being developed in the early 1800s. These dogs were once on the brink of extinction in 1780 due to a law that allowed only one dog per household.

As a result, many dogs were transported to other places or euthanized, including Newfoundlands. Luckily, some Newfies still survived because of the very few locals who chose to keep them.

By the 18th century, Newfoundlands began to gain more popularity, even in the United States. The Newfoundland breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1879.

Saint Bernard

Saint Bernards also has an interesting history as working dogs. However, they were initially developed to serve as watchdogs and guard dogs in the Great St Bernard Hospice, unlike Newfoundlands.

This hospice was built in the 11th century by Bernard de Menthon. It provided refuge for travelers passing the mountain between Italy and Switzerland.

It was around 1660 and 1670 when Saint Bernards began inhabiting the area. Eventually, Saint Bernards also served as rescue dogs aside from securing the hospice.

Their great sense of direction allowed them to guide travelers and help those caught in snowstorms and avalanches.

In 1867, the first pedigree documents for the Saint Bernard breed were finalized. This dog was finally recognized as a Swiss dog breed in 1880.

And after five more years, Saint Bernard was finally acknowledged as an official breed by the AKC.

Watch this video about Newfoundland vs. Saint Bernard to gain more perspective about these gentle giants:



Newfoundland vs. Saint Bernard appearance

Aside from their almost identical sizes, Newfoundlands and Saint Bernards share other similar physical characteristics. Both dogs have muscular physiques and massive heads, giving them strong and powerful appearances.

However, unlike Newfies, Saint Bernards has a more proportional stance. They also have a smooth and graceful gait. But despite these features, they don’t appear intimidating at all. In fact, they look rather comical.

Saint Bernards have short square muzzles and floppy ears. Their eyes are round and droopy eyes which can come in colors such as brown, black, and red.

Their dense coat can also come in several color combinations, including brindle grizzle, brown and white, mahogany and white, orange and white, and red and white, among other standard colors.

Meanwhile, Newfoundlands have deep muzzles and small triangular ears with rounded tips. They also have droopy eyes that should only be dark brown in color.

Newfoundlands have water-resistant double coats that appear moderately long. Some sport straight fur, while others have wavy outer coats.

Unlike Saint Bernards, their standard coat colors are black, brown, gray, and white and black.

When it comes to size, both the Newfoundland and Saint Bernard are considered two of the world’s largest dog breeds. However, a Newfie is relatively smaller than a Saint Bernard.

A fully-grown Newfoundland is usually 25 to 28 inches tall and weighs between 100 and 150 pounds.

Meanwhile, an adult Saint Bernard can grow anywhere between 28 and 30 inches tall and weigh around 140 to 180 pounds.

However, their final sizes still depend on several factors, such as gender, genetics, nutrition, and their environment.

Temperament and Personality

As large dogs, it’s not uncommon for Newfoundlands and Saint Bernards to be mistaken as aggressive canines. However, in reality, both breeds are known to be loving and affectionate dogs, making them great family companions.

Newfoundlands particularly enjoy being around humans and are generally tolerant of small kids. The downside, however, is that they can develop separation anxiety. This is why they can’t be left alone for long periods.

Despite this, Newfies are quite intelligent pups. They are highly trainable compared to Saint Bernards. Nevertheless, Saint Bernards are gentle yet protective dogs. This makes them good guard dogs for the family.

As friendly dogs, they get along well with family members and other dogs and pets, especially if early socialization training is provided. As a dog handler for more than 15 years, I have seen how both Newfies and Saint Bernards react to new dogs being introduced into the households of my clients.

I have never seen any type of aggression with these gentle giants. They are very welcoming and love to engage other dogs in play.

However, due to their massive size, they may not be the best companions for young children as they may accidentally knock them over. Training at a young age must be done to avoid such accidents.

As mentioned, Saint Bernards are not the brightest canines around. It takes a long time for them to mature mentally. They are known to act like puppies, even as adult dogs.

Luckily, both Newfoundlands and Saint Bernards are not prolific barkers. You won’t observe them constantly barking for no reason.

Exercise and Training

Newfoundland during training

Even though they are working dogs, Newfoundlands and Saint Bernards are not as active as other breeds. Due to their docile nature, they mostly want to stay indoors and spend time with family.

However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t need daily exercise. Newfoundlands, in particular, need a moderate amount of exercise every day. Owners should allocate at least 20 to 40 minutes for physical activities.

A fenced yard with enough space to run and play is required for this breed.

Meanwhile, Saint Bernards need around 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise in the form of brisk walking. However, ensure water during walks as they are much more prone to heatstroke.

In terms of training, Newfoundlands are known to pick up commands better due to their intelligent nature. This means you won’t have trouble with them during obedience training.

Giving crate training is also recommended to Newfoundland owners to ease their dog’s separation anxiety. This will provide it with a sense of security while you’re away.

On the other hand, you might need more patience when training a Saint Bernard. As mentioned, this dog is not as intelligent as a Newfoundland and is generally more goofy and playful.

If you are a novice dog owner, consider hiring a professional to teach your Saint Bernard some basic commands.

Nutrition Needs

Both Newfoundlands and Saint Bernards have big appetites. However, the amount of food intake may vary between these two breeds. Giving them the proper amount of dog food is important in fulfilling their nutritional needs.

For Newfoundlands, it is advised to give 4 to 5 cups of quality dry food daily, which should be divided into two meals. Aside from commercial dog food, you can also consider giving them a raw diet.

A raw meal for your Newfoundland dog may consist of fresh eggs, chicken meat, ground bones, and vegetables. However, before transitioning your pup to this diet, make sure to get your veterinarian’s approval.

Your vet will ensure that their meals are packed with enough proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals necessary for optimal growth.

A balanced diet is also important for a Saint Bernard dog. The recommended amount of dog food for this breed is 4 to 8 cups, divided into 2 to 3 meals per day.

Furthermore, Saint Bernards may require a special diet since they are susceptible to allergies that can cause crusty scabs around the mouth. Giving them a grain-free diet can help avoid sensitivities and allergic reactions.

As puppies, avoiding free-feeding your Newfoundland or Saint Bernard is necessary. As giant breeds, free-feeding can lead to weight-related problems like obesity.

Giving them enough water to drink throughout the day is also essential to keep them hydrated. Saint Bernards are specifically prone to overheating.

Grooming Needs

Saint Bernard standing on snow

Grooming a large dog like the Newfoundland and Saint Bernard can be a daunting task, especially for first-time owners. Both breeds have thick fur that needs regular brushing and maintenance.

A Newfoundland dog has a double coat consisting of a soft, dense undercoat and a flat, long outer coat. Because of this, combing your Newfoundland weekly is required.

During shedding season, your Newfoundland will “blow” its undercoat. Daily brushing can help control the amount of shedding during this time. Using a slick brush is proven effective in removing tangles and preventing matting.

Bathing your Newfoundland every six weeks is also advised to prevent ticks infestation. Use dog-friendly shampoo to maintain your dog’s beautiful coat.

As for coat trimming, going to a professional groomer is your best option. The double coat of a Newfoundland can be challenging to groom at home.

However, if you have the right experience and grooming tools, you can proceed with trimming the fur around your Newfoundland’s ears, feet, legs, and chest.

Like Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards are heavy shedders, and their double coats require regular grooming.

A Saint Bernard can have one of two coat varieties: short-haired or long-haired. The short-haired variety has a rough outer coat, while the long-haired type has smooth fur.

Long-haired Saint Bernards are expected to shed more, especially during shedding season. Daily brushing is required for these pups to remove dead hair.

Bathing your dog at least every eight weeks is a must, depending on the activities of your Saint Bernard. You might have to bathe it frequently if it has been outdoors more often.

Moreover, this breed is known to drool a lot, so be prepared to deal with saliva around the house.

As part of the grooming routine for Newfoundland and Saint Bernard, an owner should also perform ear cleaning, teeth brushing, and nail trimming to prevent the nail from separating from the quick.

Lifespan and Health Problems

Like other large breeds, Newfoundland and Saint Bernard dogs have short lifespans. The average life expectancies of these dogs are between 8 and 10 years.

However, each breed is susceptible to different health issues, especially genetic-related ones.

Newfoundlands have a high chance of developing hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and other bone-related conditions like osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).

Cystine bladder stones and bloat are also common in Newfoundlands, along with heart diseases such as subaortic stenosis (SAS).

Owners should also watch for signs of neurological disorders like epilepsy which is characterized by seizures.

Ear infections are also prevalent in Newfoundlands due to their floppy ears. That’s why it’s important to learn how to properly clean your dog’s ears.

Aside from skeletal issues mentioned previously, Saint Bernards are also vulnerable to certain heart conditions like dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

Cancers such as osteosarcoma and eye problems like entropion and ectropion are also quite common for this breed.

To lessen the risk of acquiring these illnesses, owners must take their Newfoundland or Saint Bernard for regular vet consultations. Getting pet insurance is also advised in case of medical emergencies.

Puppy Price

Saint Bernard with her puppies

Newfoundland puppies are more expensive than Saint Bernard pups. A Newfoundland puppy costs around $1,200 to $3,000, while a Saint Bernard puppy is priced between $1,000 and $2,000.

However, these prices may still vary depending on the parent dogs’ bloodline and the reputation of the breeder offering Newfie and Saint Bernard pups. Other factors such as gender, coat color, and registration papers may also affect the price tags.

Aside from the purchase price, one must consider initial and recurring expenses when owning a Newfoundland or Saint Bernard.

These include food, treats, beds, leashes and collars, crates, veterinary care, vaccinations, and other dog supplies.

Similarities Between a Newfoundland and Saint Bernard

By now, you should already know that despite the distinctions between a Newfoundland and a Saint Bernard, they still share similarities in many aspects.

First, both the Newfoundland and Saint Bernard belong to the large category of dog breeds. They are both well-muscled dogs with massive heads that give them strong appearances.

In terms of temperament, both are loving and friendly dogs. They like showing affection by being around their humans as much as possible. That’s why both breeds make great family pets.

Moreso, these colossal breeds have huge appetites and require strict diets to avoid weight problems. Their massive size also makes them prone to skeletal issues.

Since Newfoundlands and Saint Bernards have double coats, both are considered high-maintenance in grooming. Owners must be prepared for regular brushing, especially during shedding season.

Lastly, both breeds can be expensive to acquire and maintain. As large dogs, their price, expenses on food, and dog items are significantly higher than the expenses for smaller canines.

Newfoundland vs. Saint Bernard: Which Is Better for You?

Newfoundland running outdoors

Owning a Newfoundland or Saint Bernard has its pros and cons. Deciding which dog to take home mainly depends on your lifestyle, preference, and living situation.

With that said, a Newfoundland is the perfect pet for you and your family if:

  • You are looking for an intelligent, clingy, and moderately active dog.
  • You want a dog that can easily learn commands and tricks due to its high intelligence and eager-to-please personality.
  • You prefer a large dog that can be a great companion for hiking and other outdoor activities.

Meanwhile, a Saint Bernard is a better choice if:

  • You want to have a gentler and more laid-back dog that you can mostly stay indoors with.
  • You like a pooch that acts like a puppy until its adult years, so you can expect a giant, goofy playmate around the house.
  • A pup for families with older children that can be taught how to act around a large dog is what you prefer.

Whichever dog breed you choose, remember that both will benefit from early house training and socialization. This will make sure that your pooch can integrate well into the family.

Final Thoughts

Having a giant breed as a new pet can be really exciting and fulfilling for a dog lover. While both Newfoundlands and Saint Bernards are equally loving and loyal dogs, you must determine which one suits you better.

If you’re choosing between a Newfoundland and a Saint Bernard, you should know the differences regarding their appearance, behavior, health, nutritional and exercise needs, grooming requirements, and costs.

Considering these aspects will help you evaluate which four-legged friend fits your lifestyle, environment, and preferences. After all, you’re not only choosing a pet but also a lifelong companion.

Have you decided which to take home between the Newfoundland and Saint Bernard? Let us know your thoughts about these breeds in the comment section.

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