Newfoundland Health Issues

All dogs, both pedigree and non-pedigree can suffer from health issues. In the case of pedigree dogs certain health issues tend to be more common in some breeds than others. For Newfoundlands, the principal health concerns are;

Bloat (Gastric Torsion)

Of all health problems this is the one which owners of large, deep chested breeds of dog should be very aware of. When Bloat occurs untreated dogs usually DIE very quickly, sometimes in as little as six hours from the appearance of the very first minor signs.


What is Bloat? It is where the stomach fills with gas and fluids and twists on itself. It begins with an abnormal build up of gas in the stomach. Gastric juices are produced and the normal mechanisms for emptying the stomach fail so it begins to swell. The stomach is fixed where the oesophagus enters and once it starts to swell it begins to rotate around this fixed point. This twisting closes the inlet and exit so food or gas cannot escape. Any food present will continue to be digested and ferment thereby increasing the dilation. This cuts off part of the blood supply damaging the tissues of the lining of the stomach. If this is prolonged a portion of the lining may die and the stomach can rupture causing peritonitis. The swelling can trap blood vessels to the liver, spleen and heart and toxic shock will occur. Symptoms may vary and not all dogs will show all symptoms:

Reduce the chances of your dog getting Bloat (GDV)

  • Feed your dog good quality food.
  • Do not feed ONE large meal. Divide the day’s ration into two or even three meals and space them well apart. If possible, ensure someone keeps an eye on the dog for at least one hour after a meal.
  • If you feed a dry food, soak it well beforehand.
  • If your dog gulps food or eats very quickly, try the following methods of slowing them down:
    • Place two large rubber ‘Kongs’ (too big to be swallowed) on top of the food in the bowl. The dog will have to push them aside before each mouthful.
    • Divide the food between the holes of a muffin tin.
    • Put a pool of yoghurt under the food. Yoghurt fans push the food aside to get at it, taking in small amounts of food along the way.
    • Feed by hand.
  • If there is a ‘competition’ element in the speed two or more dogs eat, try feeding them separately or in separate rooms.
  • Do not allow your dog to drink large quantities at one time, especially after a meal.
  • Avoid vigorous exercise for one hour before and two hours after a meal.
  • Avoid feeding before or during stressful or exciting situations. If appropriate, wait for at least an hour after the stress or excitement has ceased before feeding.
  • If you change your dog’s food, introduce the new one gradually over a 3 to 5 day period.
  • Teach your dog a command to stop him gobbling up any food you may accidentally drop on the floor.
  • Avoid leaving your dog for long periods without checking on him.
  • If your dog sleeps in an area remote from you, get a baby monitor and position it so you can hear if he becomes distressed during the night.
  • Study the symptoms of GDV, especially the early ones and be alert for any changes in your dog’s behaviour.
  • Establish a good relationship with your vet and discuss GDV with him.

What should you do if you suspect Bloat?

Be alert and know your dog. Call your vet (or the nearest vet if you are not at home) and explain what you suspect or get someone to call and explain you are en route. Take the dog in without delay, TIME IS CRITICAL.


Hip Dysplasia

A congenital disease that causes the hip joints in affected dogs to grow abnormally. This causes the joint to become loose and wobbly and eventually leads to a form of arthritis which is commonly referred to as degenerative joint disease (DJD).

The Good Practice guidelines for breeders include a requirement that both dogs and bitches used for breeding are ‘hip scored’ under the KC/BVA scheme and matings only considered with the aim of reducing the average hip score of the breed.

The current mean and median scores for Newfoundlands over a five year period (to 31/12/2021) are 14.2 and 9.0 and further data, including the Mean, Min, Max and Median scores are available in the Kennel Club’s Annual Health Report.

Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is characterised by varying degrees of elbow incongruity, boney fragments (bone chips), and ultimately, severe arthritic change. The term was introduced to describe generalised osteoarthritis (arthritis) of the elbow joint.

Breeders are encouraged to have their dogs elbow scored and to take this into account when planning matings to reduce the incidence of this problem in the breed. As a large breed the incidence of some evidence of elbow dysplasia can occur in 31% of all puppies bred to parents who score 0/3 but this rises to 56% where both parents score 3/3. Some dogs are very affected by an elbow problem whilst others can score 3/3 but it cause them no difficulty other than arthritis in the joint in older age. This is because the condition can be caused or exacerbated by the way a puppy is reared regarding weight, exercise and injury.


DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy)

A disease of the heart muscle that results in weakened contractions and poor pumping ability. As the disease progresses the heart chambers become enlarged, one or more valves may leak, and signs of congestive heart failure develop.

SAS (Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis)

Also referred to as subaortic stenosis. Anatomically, the heart is divided into four chambers separated by four valves. The heart valves ensure that blood only flows in one direction through the heart. The aortic valve separates the main pumping chamber (left ventricle) from the aorta, a large blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body. With SAS, there is added tissue below the aortic valve (hence subaortic). This abnormal tissue creates an obstruction (stenosis) that the heart has to overcome to pump blood to the body. This stenosis makes the heart work harder than normal. A heart murmur is created by blood being pumped across the stenosis into the aorta.

heart diagram


An inherited disorder caused by a defect in the transport of cystine, an amino acid, in the kidney tubules. Normally, cystine that is filtered in the kidney is reabsorbed within the tubules, resulting in little cystine in the urine. Dogs with cystinuria do not properly reabsorb cystine (and a few other amino acids) in the kidney tubules, causing the urine to contain abnormally high levels of cystine. Cystine is insoluble in neutral pH or acidic urine, so excess urinary cystine results in formation of cystine crystals, which in turn can lead to formation of cystine calculi (stones) in the kidney and/or bladder.