This was posted to the Newf-L list and posted here with permission
by John Coulding
There has been a lot said recently about browns, but as yet not much about origins of the colours. We have a book printed in 1927 called "Dogs - Their History and Development" which has a very interesting section about Newfoundlands. It is much too long to print it all, but below are extracts of the sections concerning colours :- ***** Edward's (Governor of Island 1780) Newfoundland dog was black-and-white, sometimes red-and-white, and more rarely of one colour, whilst some were black-and-white with tanned spots about the face. The Rev. L. Anspach, in his "History of Newfoundland," (1819) writes on the Newfoundland dog : "The natural colour of this dog," writes this author of a Newfoundland he owned, "was a perfect black, with the exception of a very few white spots." Thomas Bell (1837) - the colour is black-and -white, the latter generally equalling if not predominating over the former. Richardson (1847) colour usually black, with a shade of brown though it, and occasionally some white. Colonel H. Smith describes the Newfoundland dog as the "original breed." The plate in the works shows a black dog with brown muzzle and cheeks, and brown feet, with a white and grey tip to its tail. Stonehenge (1859) gives Youatt's illustration, states the colour black, or black-and-white, or white with a little black or liver colour, with a reddish dun, or sometimes, but rarely, a dark brindle not very well marked. In the "Field" and also in the "Country" a considerable correspondence took place during the years 1865 to 1870 as to the correct colour, coat, and size of a Newfoundland dog, The "Field" for November 18, 1865, contained the following letter : "Last spring I was offered a dog which had been purchased from the captain of the Mountaineer the previous autumn. The dog was not black, but bronzed with tabby or brindle points. I have seen, though rarely, pure brindle dogs landed at Poole, but these have been brought over by captains ignorant of the prevailing taste for black dogs." This note was signed Thomas Pearce (the Rev. Thomas Pearce, subsequently better known as Idstone). Stonehenge, in 1867, in his "Dogs of the British Isles", "The purest specimens," he writes, "are of an intense black colour, with a gloss on their coat which reflects the light like a mirror. Any admixture of white is a defect ; but there are specimens with brindle points, or black-and-white, or wholly brindle, or of a rufous-dun colour." In the "Field" of July 3, 1869, p.13, appears another letter signed with a "hand" (Index), in which the author writes : "Sometimes I have seen in Newfoundland a very large black-and-white dog. Perhaps there are three or four on the whole island." He adds that these black-and-white dogs he has invariably found to be direct importation's from England or the Continent, often from Spain. He states that Sir Edwin Landseer was led to misrepresent the colour of the Newfoundland, because his well- known picture is of a black-and-white one. The issue of July 10, 1869, contains a letter signed Interloper, a most frequent visitor to Newfoundland, staying at the capital for a month or so at a time : They were "all black," and "black-and-white were considered a sign of impurity." On December 18, 1869, Mr. Henry Reeks, of Thruxton, who had just returned from a sporting tour in Newfoundland suggests that Index's experience of "Newfoundlands" is limited, because of his sojourns at the capital. That in the interior areas "at every station were black, black with white spots on chest, black with grey noses, black ticked with grey and with white or with light grey legs, as well as plenty of brindles and fawn- coloured dogs," the latter in favour amongst the settlers for sporting purposes. Idstone has a letter in the same number which somewhat confirms Mr. Reeks' experience. Idstone writes that the dogs he had purchased at Poole were shaggy, straight-coated, and generally black. He had learnt from villagers who knew Newfoundland that the dogs there were of all colours, and he had possessed black-and-white, brindles, and black-tan dogs. Idstone (the Rev. Thomas Pearce), at that time at Morden Vicarage, near Blandford, brought out his book "The Dog" in 1872. He tells us that thirty years ago, that is to say, in 1842, black-and-white shaggy or thick coated dogs were in fashion. At the time of writing the Newfoundland was totally black, without any white, but some had "a few white hairs in the middle of the chest." While toes showed signs of impurity of blood, but not so a white tip to the tail, which was to be looked upon with suspicion. In Walsh's book of 1878 "Leo" appears as the plate to the chapter, a very beautiful dog, and certainly a great improvement on "Carlo," Walsh gives the following scale of points : "10. The colour ( value. 5 ) should be black, the richer the better ; but a rusty stain in it is so common in the native breed that it should by no means be penalized. Still, the jet-black is so handsome in comparison with it, that I think, other points being equal, it should count above the rusty stain in judging two dogs. A white star on the breast is often met with. The white-and-black colour exhibited in the Landseer type never occurs in the true Newfoundland." If we were to judge the breed from earlier pictures, the Newfoundland has altered much since then. To-day the black Newfoundland still have white marks, and these are allowed on the chest, toes, and tip of tail, but white on the head or body places the dog in the class for "other than black." The black is of a dull jet. In the "other than black" are black-and-tan, bronze, and white-and-black. The arrangement of marking is important. The head is black, a white blaze and muzzle. The body and legs, white with large patches of black on the saddle and quarters, with or without black spots on the body and legs. The Newfoundland Club was established in 1884. The modern show points of the breed are : Colour, dull jet-black, a slight tinge of bronze or splash of white on chest and toes not objectionable. White- and-black dogs, the marking desired : narrow blaze on black head, even marked saddle; rump black, extending onto tail.