St. John's Water Dog

The St. John's Water Dog, also called the St. John’s Dog or the Lesser Newfoundland, was a naturally-occurring dog breed from Newfoundland. Little is known of the breeds that went into its creation, although it was likely a random-bred mix of old Irish, English, and Portuguese working breeds. The number of St. John's Water Dogs started declining by the turn of the century. By the early 1980s, the breed became extinct.

St. John's Dogs were medium-sized, strong, and stocky–more closely resembling modern English labs than American labs. They had characteristic white patches on the chest, chin, feet, and muzzle. This colouration occasionally manifests in modern labs as a small white chest patch, or a few stray white hairs on the feet. The classic tuxedo markings of the St. John's Dog commonly manifest in lab mixes.

Writings as early as the 17th century mention hardy medium-sized black dogs that accompanied Newfoundland fishermen in their boats, and retrieved distant lines or nets of fish, hauling them back to the boat. The dogs were described as having a short thick coat, rudder-like tail, high endurance, and a great love of swimming.

In his book Excursions In and About Newfoundland During the Years 1839 and 1840 Vol. 1, the geologist Joseph Beete Jukes describes the St. John's Water Dog with both bemusement and admiration. "A thin, short-haired, black dog came off-shore to us to-day. The animal was of a breed very different from what we understand by the term Newfoundland dog in England. He had a thin, tapering snout, a long thin tail, and rather thin, but powerful legs, with a lank body, – the hair short and smooth." wrote Jukes. "These are the most abundant dogs in the country...They are no means handsome, but are generally more intelligent and useful than the others...I observed he once or twice put his foot in the water and paddled it about. This foot was white, and Harvey said he did it to "toil" or entice the fish. The whole proceeding struck me as remarkable, more especially as they said he had never been taught anything of the kind."

Top 100 Pets Sites on - Add your Site, Boost Your Traffic! Dog Topsite The Puppy Network Top Dog Sites
List your site in the Hot Vs Not web directory You can find other related resources in the Pets Directory