History of the black and white colour in Newfoundlands
written by M. Mäntylä
translated by A. Salmelin
Distinct differences in the 1800s
The differences between blacks and black and whites have been discussed
since the Newfoundland was recognized as its own breed in 1878. Both colours
are without a doubt Newfoundlands and have developed from the
same common ancestors. In England at the end of the 1800s, the differences
between the two colours were distinct. The majority of the Newfoundland
breeders refused to breed the black and white version of the Newfoundland,
and only used completely black dogs, resulting in the lineages starting to
separate. After the second World War, the Newfoundland dog population was
small and the only logical way to get new blood was to start crossing the
colours. Breeding could be continued, and the two lineages were combined.
However, this lead to the colour types to become more varied.
Descendants of the Mastiff
landseer colour in Newfoundlands is believed to have come from large white
estate dogs or butcher’s dogs. However there is not enough evidence that
either of the breeds mentioned were their own breed, so it is more likely
that the white colour has come from the sheep dogs or mastiffs. Currently
almost all mastiffs are nearly completely brown, so this idea seems a bit
mad. However the majority of original mastiffs were white, but breeders
favoured the brown mastiffs and white mastiffs became rarer. From the
beginning of the 1900s white was not a recognized mastiff colour. There is a
completely white mastiff in the Prince Baldassare Carlo painting by
Velasquez. Even though the painting was done in the 1750s, the head of the
mastiff clearly resembles that of a modern Newfoundland. In 1780, Sawry Gilp
painted Duke of Hamilton, and in the painting there is a short haired
mastiff with colouring that would be the envy of even champion landseers.
hunted, whites protected
Newfoundlands sometimes have curly coat, however the number of curly coated
individuals has decreased. The logical explanation is that curly coated
waterdogs have influenced the Newfoundlands’ characteristics. In 1620
Gervase Markham described the large rough water dog as: "their colour can be
anything and I have met many white individuals". Collie-type sheep dogs and
spaniels have also influenced the Newfoundland breed. The settlers who came
to Newfoundland brought spaniels, and the southern French settlers who set
up sheep farms brought sheep dogs with them.
Newfoundland island and its communities were isolated from the rest of the
world and from each other. As a result, the dog populations separated from
each other, even though all had the same basic characteristics: dogs were
big (even if the size differed slightly), all colour combinations could be
found, and all dogs were able to work in water and wanted to please the
owner. The smaller, completely black dogs originated from St Pierre and
Miguelo islands, the main islands and the northern parts’ dogs were black
and white and had longer legs.
Black is the major colour of the breed, and the number of browns has
increased, but when speaking about history, we have to mention the colours
which feel exotic to us: grey, beige and black and tan. The same goes for
the two coloured, so a white dog can have brown or grey. Rawdon B. Lee’s
book ‘Modern Dogs’ tells how at the end of 1800s the Newfoundlands were
“large, rough-coated, curly-haired, liver and white dogs”. Henry Farguharson
started breeding in 1850s and he had redwhite dogs (fox coloured).
Originally there were many colour possibilities, but people preferred black
and black and white dogs, so the other colours became rarer. The hunters
wanted black dogs, the bigger white dogs were bred for safeguarding the
artists prefer the black and white Newfoundland
and whites became more popular when Sir Edwin Landseer used a black and
white dog as a model for his painting ‘A Distinguished Member of the Humane
Society’. George Stubbs painted ‘Duchess of Cornwall and York’s Newfoundland
Nelson’ in 1803, 30 years before Landseer’s painting. Stubb’s painting has a
black and white Newfondland who according to modern tastes does not have
enough coat and has a too high curled tail, but whose size and colour are
ideal. The same dog can also be seen in Strönlingen’s painting where the dog
looks exactly the same. This means that Stubbs painted the dog as he saw it,
and did not change the colourings to fit the ideal image of a Newfoundland.
dog paintings had risen to huge favour from the public and the breeders had
used them as their “ideal dogs”, the black and white colour would have been
called “stubbs” and the development and breeding aims would have been
different. The biggest difference would have been the cleanness of the
colour, meaning breeders would have strived to reduce the spotting right at
the beginning. However, spotting is very hard to get rid of as it is a
dominant trait and the genes responsible (T-gene) is found in browns and
blacks. In browns and blacks the spotting gene has no effect on their
colouring. The breed had other bigger problems, so that clean colour with no
spotting could never have be the main breeding criteria. The dog painted by
Stubbs was definitely an important step in the breed’s history and breeding.
If it had more coat and long, straight tail, it would have been the type of
dog that all breeders would have dreamed of during the past hundred years.
more important than colour
Thomas Mansfield criticized Newfoundlands and their breeders. He claimed
that Sir Landseer’s painting had damaged the breeding aims of Newfoundlands.
The breeders were blinded to produce black and white dogs, but had forgotten
the most important thing: breeding correctly structured dogs who meet the
breed standard. In 1891 he voiced concern about how there was much to be
improved in the breed. He felt that the majority of Newfoundlands had the
wrong quality of coat, far too straight angulations in the front and back,
and dogs needed stronger bones. Mansfield recognized the artistic value of
Landseer’s painting and he liked the fact that the breed became more known
because of it. That was not the issue. However he did not like that people
believed the black and whites to be the breed’s
traditional colour and that the correct breed type faded even in the minds
of the breeders. The reason why Sir Edwin had painted black and white
Newfoundlands was that they are technically easier to paint, not because
there were more of them or they were more traditional than blacks.
Newfoundland Club’s secretary, Mr. Gillingham was concerned about the same
phenomenon and wrote in 1898: "The breed needs to have more colour varieties
than just the black and white, otherwise the idea of the breed stays wrong".
beginning of the 1900s the number of black and whites steadily decreased,
and in a way it was very beneficial for the breed that the French settlers
owned almost only black and whites and as a consequence imported many from
the Newfoundland island and from Great Britan to France. As a result the
black and whites spread across central Europe.
black and white markings:
have the patience to start from the beginning
black and whites is very difficulty and requires a lot of patience, skill
and ability to continue despite hardships. The difficulty in breeding black
and whites resulted in their number decreasing to alarmingly small
populations during the first World War. The black and white breed type
stayed alive mainly as a result to all the hard work done by Miss Reid in
her Daventry kennel between the World Wars. After the second WW the breed
had almost died out in England. Mr Blyth was very interested in the black
and white version of the Newfoundland and his German import Nase Troll von
Schartenberg brought refreshing new blood to the breed. Other significant
breeders were Mrs Roberts, Mr and Mrs Handley and Miss Morrison. Mrs Roberts
brought the Finnish Taaran Taru and Miss Morrison imported American
Sulesjerry Seawards Sea Billow. Both bitches were used for breeding and they
in addition to Troll were the basis of the new bloodlines. In 1960 Mr Frost
started breeding Newfoundlands and specialized in the black and white
lineages. Many other breeders continued his passion and as a result of
combined work, many great dogs were bred: Hightoo
Harratons Ocean Queen, Harlingen
Wanitopa Moonlight, Wanitopa Comedy, Lucky Luke of Shermed and Karazan
Bollinger. This list is short and missing many of the important dogs. The
history of the colour varieties is of course a lot more complicated, but
this is only to show how the stick legged sheep herder became the modern
black and white Newfoundland.
to Thomas Manfield the black and white should be such type that if painted
black, would not differ in any way of the black. This aim has been reached,
but this has required a lot of work, sacrifices, compromises and one needs
to remember that no dog is ever perfect.
Frost’s Harratons landseers are known and appreciated all over the world.
Frost describes good dog and ladseer breeding: "the
breed standard talks about a white dog with black markings. This means that
white is the dominant colour, and the white should be clean white, spotting
is non-desirable. Breeding ideal coloured individuals is difficult, and
there will always be dogs which are too black or have too much spotting, but
the majority of the dogs should coincide with the breed standard. Pedigrees
which mention the dogs’ colour and markings make breeding easier. The
most important thing is the temperament. The black and whites are more
energetic and active than black, but the main concern of the breeder should
be to make sure that the black and whites have the breed typical friendly
to cross the black and whites with black at regular intervals, in order to
keep the right breed type. As in all breeding endeavours, the lines which
are used have to be carefully selected. The mated partner should compliment
the breeder’s line, and there are problems in breeding black and whites, so
the blacks used should not increase spotting. The spotting cannot be seen in
black Newfoundlands, however most of them carry the T-gene, which causes
spotting to appear. The lines and pedigrees should be carefully examined
before breeding. The aim is not to breed black dogs, which have white; so
the breeder has to make sure that even if blacks are used at regular
intervals, the white stays the dominant colour. In many countries where
continental landseers are bred, cross mating is not allowed. This is why the
dog population is different in these countries from the population found in
e.g. Finland. The dogs do not have the thick coat, full body and big bones.
They are taller, deeper and the coat colour is ideal; often there is no
spotting, white is the main colour and the head has the white line mentioned
in the breed standard.
wars, the English Newfoundland population had gotten new blood from Europe
and United States. The biggest problem was that the imported lines had a lot
of brown gene. Even if it is genetically possible to breed brown and white
dogs, the colour is not recognized in any Newfoundland breed standard, and
this makes breeding black and whites even more difficult as breeders now
have to avoid producing brown and whites. The risk is real and a problem in
all the lines. However, some lines have considerable more brown genes in
them than others. A combination which has produced brown and white
offsprings should never be redone. Open communication is the basis for
breeding breed typical, beautiful coloured black and white Newfoundlands.
have noticed that in breeding black and whites, it is good to use a black
dog in every third generation, so that the breed structural type and
temperament stay within the breed standard. I have, for example used
excellent and breed typical black bitched, who have white on their chest and
feet, but white should not be found anywhere else. For the male, I chose a
landseer, whose both parents are black and whites. From this method, I get
dogs who are not typical speciments of the breed and ones which have
incorrect markinds, so advancing is difficult. I also do test matings, so I
know if a dog passes on their markings with dominant genes.
Landseer colour is thought to be a recessive trait, but this is not
completely true. The black is of course a dominant colour, but the black and
white becomes dominant in just a few generations. So a third generation
landseer mated with a black dog may produce only landseer offsprings.
Dominant landseers are rare, but worth their weight in gold for breeding.
One can use black dogs with these dominant landseers, and with luck, the
puppies will be the right coloured and have a breed typical structure and
try and get new blood from foreign countries, but this has its own risks,
due to the breeding of continental landseers. The breeder has to remember
that having breed typical structure is the most important thing.
Unfortunately this fact is forgotten too often, and imports have a bad
reputation with black and white Newfoundland breeders".