Big, friendly, cuddly, and instinctual rescuers - Saint Bernards and Newfoundlands share several similarities which make them difficult to tell apart. But they are two distinct breeds that happen to share an intertwining history. Many people will look at the usually dark colored Newfoundland and guess that he is a black Saint Bernard. The fact that the Saint Bernard was bred for much the same purposes as well as crossed with the Newfoundland is the reason they share features but still carry subtle dissimilarities.
In the late 1800s, the Saint Bernard and the Newfoundland were crossbred in an attempt to replenish a number of rescue dogs that had died during a set of previous extremely harsh winters that carried the spread of a fatal virus. The experiment failed because the long-haired trait of the Newfoundland did not fare well in following snowy rescue missions, which ended all crossbreeding attempts. The Newfoundland-type long hair accumulated snow which weighed the dog down and hindered rescue efforts. Thus, Saint Bernards continued as the masters of the wintry domain while it was discovered that Newfoundlands were superb at handling the conditions found in different bodies of water.
St. Bernards are more at home in the snow while the Newfoundland's home turf is the water. But they are physically distinctive, although that cannot be determined with just a glance. One physical difference between the two is that the Saint Bernard's conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that lines the inner surface of the eyelids, is continued over the forepart of the eyeball while the Newfoundland's does not. But the Newfoundland has droopy ears to keep out water, and similarly droopy upper lips that allow him to breath while carrying something, like a drowning victim, in his mouth while swimming.
The Saint Bernard comes in various colors, while most Newfoundlands are black. Hence the reason why when people see a Newfoundland they think it is only a black Saint Bernard. However, Newfoundlands can also come in brown or cream. The Newfoundland has a tough, oily outer coat of medium length and an undercoat to adapt to the harsh climate of its home island. The oil repels water. A Newfoundland can swim long distances, but the moisture cannot seep through his protective layer of hair.
The Newfoundland breed has webbed feet, an incredible lung capacity, and can swim the breast stroke instead of a dog paddle. The Saint Bernard is a large dog who carries weight that protects him in snowy environments. He has great lung capacity too, as he is able to go to great mountainous heights where the air is thin to rescue people.
The Newfoundland and Saint Bernard are different but are alike where it counts.