The Newfoundland originated from the coast of Newfoundland in Canada, where it was developed as a working dog, both on land and water. Although it is unclear how the breed came to be, most experts believe that it descended from the Tibetan Mastiffs and the now-extinct American Black Wolf.
Another theory suggests that the breed came from Portuguese Mastiffs brought by Portuguese fishermen in the 16th century. Others claim that the Newfoundland shares many physical traits with the St. Bernard and the English Mastiff with its stout legs, large heads, bull necks, and broad snouts. It was breed enthusiast George Cartwright who bestowed the name Newfoundland in 1775.
In 1780's, the Newfoundland almost went extinct due to the government-imposed restrictions that forced Canadian families to pay taxes for keeping a dog. It survived extinction when Sir Edwin Landseer included the breed to many of his paintings from 1802 to 1873. His apparent favour of the breed contributed to its popularity. In fact, the "Landseer" Newfoundland (black and white variety) was given its name to pay homage to him.
The first time the Newfoundland was shown in England was in 1860, while the first breed was registered in 1879 by the American Kennel Club. In 1886, the Newfoundland Club was created in the UK and is now the oldest stud club in Britain.