Predictability of Purebred Dogs: Instinct, not Taught

It gives us goosebumps every time we read the story of “Boo,” a Newfoundland who was awarded a medal for his heroism in 1996 by the Newfoundland Club of America. Why a medal? Because Boo rescued a deaf-mute who had fallen into a river while gold dredging.

In 1995, Boo and his owner were out for a stroll along the Yuba River in Northern California. As they made their way around a bend, the 10-month old dog spotted trouble in the water. Without hesitation, he dove into the water and swam toward a man holding onto a red gas can, desperately trying to stay afloat in the swollen current. Boo grabbed the man’s arm and pulled him safely to shore.

“The man was a deaf-mute and couldn’t call for help,” recalled Janice Anderson, Boo’s breeder of over 30 years experience. “Boo had no formal training in water rescue, it was just instinct. He picked up on the fact that there was someone in distress, and then dealt with the situation.”

Boom! Now that’s what we’re talking about when we refer to the predictability of purebred dogs.

Image: Newfoundland by Mary Jo Zorad is available as a print, poster, and greeting card here.

12 thoughts on “Predictability of Purebred Dogs: Instinct, not Taught”

  1. EXACTLY. Anyone who denies the heritability of the traits breeds were specifically designed for is a foo.

    • Thank you for posting Boo’s (Ebontide’s Boon Companion) story. As a breeder of purebred Newfoundlands, and as his breeder, I could not be more proud. His rescue means more to me than the Best In Shows I have achieved with my dogs in the conformation ring. It is what purebreds are all about…God given instincts and talents, from which we benefit every day, whether they are saving a life, being of service or just being a loyal companion. Where would we be without them? I believe it would be a very sad existence.

      • It was our honor to share Boo’s story, Janice. He is an inspiring dog (and so very beautiful!). Like you, we can’t imagine life without these dogs.

  2. My Newfie, now 5 was around a year old when he first saw people swimming in the sea, he swam straight to them and took a lot of convincing they were ok ! When he did come out of the sea he kept looking back, almost as if he wanted to bring them in ! Definately instinct, amazing breed of wonderful animal

    • Just amazing, Loraine, and reading your account gives us goosebumps! Thank you for sharing it.

  3. I have seen the instinct to protect other in a sacrificial way with two of the Newfies I grew up with. They love others more than their own life.

    • It’s soul searing, isn’t it, Dean? We so love our dogs!

  4. My. Newfie Colonel live to be age 12 he used to swim out to me and in circle me until I grabbed a hold of his shoulders or his tail then he would pullme back to shore. he would herd kids out of the water and try to keep them from getting in lakes we visited. what a better way to keep children from drowning then to not let them get in the water at all LOL RIP Colonel 6/28/06-10/27/18

    • Keri, Colonel sounds like he was a marvelous companion (and babysitter!). There is no good time to lose a beloved dog, but twelves years old is a wonderful achievement for a Newfoundland. RIP, Colonel.

  5. My 6mo old Wheaten Terrier puppy just learned to swim (LOVES IT) and will swim to us, circle, and “pull” us out of the water if we let him. We didn’t teach him this, and, its not a breed characteristic! Wondering how far back this instinct goes… I’m so floored!

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