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

When you think of a giant dog, you likely either think of the Newfoundland or the Saint Bernard. Both of these dogs are extremely large and quite popular. Plus, they are considered to be “gentle giants” with sweet and calm personalities.

If you’re considering adopting either of these dogs, you’re likely finding yourself wondering what the differences are between these two breeds. While they look quite different on the surface, they’re probably more similar than you first imagined. We’ll take a look at the few things that separate these two dog breeds in this article so that you can choose the best one for your lifestyle.

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Visual Differences

Newfoundland and St. Bernard visual difference
Image Credit | Left: Newfoundland (Pandas, Shutterstock); Right: St. Bernard (Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock)

At a Glance

Newfoundland
  • Average height (adult): 25 – 29 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 99 – 150 pounds
  • Lifespan: 8 -10 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Minimal
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Patient, Devoted, Sweet
Saint Bernard
  • Average height (adult): 26 – 30 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 120 – 180 pounds
  • Lifespan: 8 -10 years
  • Exercise: 2+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Minimal
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Playful, Delightful, Curious

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Newfoundland Pet Breed Overview

Appearance

Newfoundland puppy
Image Credit: inside4, Pixabay

These dogs can weigh up to 150 pounds, with males being considerably larger than females. They stand at 28 inches. Again, females are going to be much shorter than males. Their head is enormous, but their expression is often soft and “lazy.” They have a double-coat, which protects them from the elements. Their outer coat is flat and coarse, but their inner coat is quite soft. When they shed, they will mostly be losing their inner coat.

Their colors range from grey to brown to black. Their most well-known coat pattern is black-and-white. This coat pattern was popularized by Sir Edwin Landseer, who often painted them in this coloration. Therefore, this color is often called the Landseer as well, after the painter.

Grooming

These dogs require brushing at least once a week. They do not shed often but will blow their coat seasonally when they need more brushing than average. They need thorough grooming with a slicker brush and a long-toothed comb. This will prevent mats from forming and also help keep them clean. If you keep this dog brushed, you will not need to bathe them very often in the least.

Spayed and neutered Newfoundlands shed more than their counterparts. Often, they will need to be brushed out a few times a week at least. As with all breeds, their nails should be trimmed regularly.

Exercise

The Newfoundland is multi-purposed. He was made to work on land and in the water. However, he isn’t that energetic. The average Newfoundland only needs an hour or so of exercise a day. Still, they will take part in outdoor activities if given a chance. Most of them rather like long walks and hikes, as well as swimming.

These dogs can participate in drafting and carting competitions. These dogs also love agility, dock jumping, flyball, herding, obedience, and tracking.

newfoundland on the beach
Image Credit: 4598242, Pixabay

Training

These dogs are straightforward to train. They like working with people, which makes them pretty easy to train. Early socialization and training are necessary so that these dogs are controllable when they are more extensive. They should be introduced to the water in 4 months if you wish for them to swim.

These dogs are very trusting and do well with gentle guidance. They don’t do good with punishment or harsh training, however.

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Saint Bernard Pet Breed Overview

Appearance

Saint Bernard dog outdoor
Image Credit: Bernell MacDonald, Pixabay

Saint Bernards are a powerful and imposing breed. The male stands at 27.5 inches at the shoulder at least. Females are smaller, though they are still reasonably powerful. Males can weigh a maximum of 180 pounds, though females are quite a bit smaller overall.

They have relatively large heads and a short muzzle. Their brow is wrinkled, and they usually have darker eyes. They are quite intelligent and have an amiable expression.

Grooming

Saint Bernards come in two varieties – long-haired and short-haired. Each variant needs a different amount of grooming. For both variants, a weekly brushing session will be necessary to keep the dog clean. This will remove dirt and loose hair. If you groom your St. Bernard regularly, you won’t have to worry about bathing your canine as often. Tangles need to be removed with a slicker brush or metal comb.

Long-haired varieties are more prone to matting than short-haired dogs. However, as long as you brush out all the tangles at least once a week, you usually don’t have to worry about mats all that much.

The dogs will shed more about twice a year when they “blow their coats.” During these periods, you will likely need to increase brushing to once a day. You will need to trim their nails to prevent overgrown nails, which can cause walking problems and be quite painful.

Exercise

These dogs need quite a bit of exercise, despite their larger size. They are often characterized as being lazy, but this doesn’t fit their personality very well in the least. They do best with at least one or two hours of exercise a day. Longer hikes and backpacking are remarkably recommended, as this breed loves to go, especially when their owners are involved.

These dogs can even pull children in carts and often enjoy carting and drafting. They are happy to perform activities with their owners. Take them to whatever physical activity you enjoy doing.

saint bernard dogs on the sand
Image Credit: Šárka Jonášová, Pixabay

Training

These dogs love listening to their people, so they are usually relatively easy to train. Early socialization and puppy training classes are highly recommended, as these dogs need to be under control before they get huge. Obedience training will help them learn not to knock people over or steal food from the table.

These dogs are generally kind-hearted and eager to work with their people. They respond to commands as soon as they understand what you’re asking them to do. However, these dogs love their family, which means they may occasionally act out if they don’t get enough attention.

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Newfoundland vs. Saint Bernard: Activity Level

The Newfoundland has a significantly lower activity level when compared to the Saint Bernard. If you don’t exercise a Newfoundland one day, he probably isn’t going to tear up your house. They are more low-energy dogs, though they can step up and go on hikes and longer walks if you ask.

On the other hand, St. Bernards are much more energetic. They need a long walk every day and can thrive on hikes and other higher-energy activities. If you don’t exercise a St. Bernard, they can get rambunctious and will get into trouble. Leaving a St. Bernard in your house all day is not possible. They will get into things and mess up your home.

This is one of the most considerable differences between them. If you need a lower energy dog, do not get a St. Bernard. They are not suitable for low-energy families.

newfoundland
Image credit: YAN WEN, Shutterstock,

Newfoundland vs. Saint Bernard: Training

The Newfoundland is one of the most comfortable dogs to train. These dogs are considerably easy to train, and they typically listen when given a command. Early training is still recommended since these dogs still get large when they are full-grown. They need to be under control before they get large.

Newfoundlands tend to get along just fine with other dogs. Early socialization is recommended, but they usually don’t need too much training to be around other dogs.

St. Bernards are a bit more energetic and aloof. They tend to get distracted more efficiently, which can make them harder to train. Early training classes are highly recommended, as they will jump up on people unless taught otherwise. When they get larger, this can be a significant problem.

Both of these dogs can be great pets, but you should plan on spending more time training your St. Bernard than you would a Newfoundland.

Saint Bernard sitting in meadow
Image Credit: rokopix, Shutterstock

Newfoundland vs. Saint Bernard: Health

Both of these dogs have similar health problems. Both of them are prone to structural problems since they are so large. They often have hip and elbow dysplasia since their joints have so much weight to deal with.

They often have worse problems in their elderly years, when their joints start showing the wear-and-tear of age.

They need high-quality food to support their health. Be sure you get suitable for giant breed dogs, as they need different nutrients than smaller dog breeds.

Both can also suffer from bloat. No one knows exactly what causes bloat, but it seems to do with exercise directly after a large meal. For this reason, do not exercise your canine right after a meal.

Saint Bernards may be more prone to degenerative myelopathy, which leads to a loss of coordination. There is a genetic test for this. Newfoundlands should get a Cystinuria DNA test, a disease that can cause kidney and bladder stones.

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Which Breed is Right for You?

If you’re looking for a big dog, you can’t get much bigger than a Newfoundland or St. Bernard. Both of these dogs are quite similar to each other. The main difference is that St. Bernard is a bit more energetic, while Newfoundland is a bit easier to train.

At the end, which breed you choose is really up to you!