St. John’s Water Dog was a medium-sized dog breed that is extinct now. This breed was given the name water dog due to its love for water where it would happily go and help fishermen to retrieve fish. This breed had a strong body with the appearance that somewhat resemble today’s English Labrador.

The appearance of the St. John’s Water Dog was a strong physique with strong bones, a muscular body that is covered with a water-resistant coat. In this article, you will learn about the history, temperament, and how did this breed get extinct.

Origin and History

St. John’s Water Dog was originated in Newfoundland and Canada. It is also the ancestor of the big, cuddly Newfoundland Dog. This breed was originally bred by the local fisherman to bring net thrown on the water to the shore. They would bite the cork on the end of the net and pull it to the shore.

St. John Water Dog sitting
St. John Water Dog sitting.
Image Source: [email protected]

A few numbers of the St. John’s Water Dog were bought in England in the 18th century. They were used as a sport dog, waterfowl hunting dog

How Did St. John’s Water Dog Got Extinct?

St. John’s Water Dog was very popular in the 16th and the late 17th century. But in 1780, there were many laws that were the cause of this breeds declination. To encourage sheep farming, the government imposes a heavy tax on the ownership of dogs in 1885. The tax on the female was more than the male which led the owner of the dogs to kill female puppies at birth. This was the first phase of the St. John’s Water Dog extinction.

Another reason for this breed vanishment was the British Quarantine Act of 1895. It was the act to prevent rabies enter the country. There were also strict rules to follow where the dogs had to be kept in six-month quarantine before letting them enter the country. Due to all this, the importing of the St. John’s Water Dog slowly ended.

By the 1930s the breeding of these dogs became rare throughout Newfoundland. It is said that few purebred of this dog were left in some remote area. A Canadian author attempted to save this breed by crossing his St.John’s Water Dogs with Labrador Retriever. There were four puppies by the dog, where only two survived and the other two were given away. Both surviving two were male which caused it difficult to continue breeding and this breed got extinct.

St. John Water Dog last puppy
St. John’s Water Dog’s last puppy.
Image Source: Pinterest-@Save

Temperament, Behavior, and Personality

The St. John’s Water Dog was an active, loyal, and very devoted temperament dog breed. They enjoyed being in the water and loved fishing with the fishermen. With their family, these dogs were very affectionate, playful, and loving, so everyone adored them due to their nature and ability to retrieve.

Was St. John’s Water Dog Child-Friendly?

St. John’s Water Dog was great with children because of their friendly and playful nature. Looking back at there personality, we can say that, there was not any risk or danger to keep this breed as a pet in a family with children.


  • St. John’s Water Dog had white patches on the chest which gave them the appearance of wearing a tuxedo.


St. John’s Water Dog was found in the following colors:

  • Black with white marking (tuxedo markings)
St. John Water Dogs
St. John Water Dogs.
Image Source: Labrador Central


Height: The average height of the St. John’s Water Dog was 21-24 inches.

Weight: The average weight of the St. John’s Water Dog was 60-65 pounds.

Similar Dog Breeds to St. John’s Water Dog

Visit Doglime for more information about different dog breeds.