Louis, Clark and Newf by Rod BurkertMy interest in breed history was recently piqued thanks to friends Rod and Amy Burkert of GoPetFriendly.com. In their cross-country travels to help folks plan pet-friendly trips, they stopped in St. Charles, MO. There they stumbled upon a statue of Lewis and Clark’s Newf and sent me this awesome picture.

This Newf must have been important to the Lewis and Clark story, so much so that he was commemorated in bronze. But how could this dog have impacted this famous journey in a significant way?

Well, I did a bit of digging …

According to the Journals of the Lewis Clark Expedition, the dog had been there from the very beginning:

Summer 1803, Lewis oversees construction of big keelboat in Pittsburgh, then takes it down Ohio River, picking up Clark and some recruits along the way. With Lewis is a Newfoundland dog, Seaman, he has purchased for 20 dollars.

Prices sure have gone up, but the fame has increased too. And here lies the meat of the matter. Seaman was recently named the #1 celebrity pet in Glamour Magazine’s 6 Greatest Celebrity Pets of All Time┬ábecause:

The friendly Newfoundland helped Sacajawea greet Native American tribes circa 1805, leading the way west for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

So that’s why he was so important. You can read more about Seaman and his famous journey in A Sagacity of Newfoundlands at the “Discovering Lewis and Clark” website. It covers everything from Seaman’s endless mosquito bites to his loyalty while grieving and guarding Lewis’ grave.


Seamon is just one example of Newfoundland fame and historical influence. I found these too:

  • PORTHOS, author JM Barrie’s Landseer Newfoundland, was the inspiration for Nana in Peter Pan
  • PILOT, the companion of Mr Rochester in Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel Jane Eyre, wasa great dog, whose black and white colour made him a distinct object against the trees – a lion like creature with long hair and a huge head.”
  • BOTSWAIN, Lord Byron’s Landseer Newf, would drag his poet back to shore every time Lord Byron tipped his boat in deep water.

Some unconfirmed but interesting notes: A Newf may have been one of 3 surviving dogs from the Titanic and one may have rescued Napoleon Bonaparte after he fell overboard in the Isle of Elba.


What historic events is your breed famous for? Share your story below. Got a mixed breed? That’s at least twice the likelihood of fame on one side or the other (or the other, or the other). Pick a side and start digging! It’s like genealogy for dogs. I can’t wait to see what you find!