The Newfoundland dog breed has been nicknamed the lifeguard dog and with good reason. Aside from their intelligence and gentle disposition, these dogs are known for bravely saving swimmers in distress. This is precisely why the Italian Coast Guard has created a special K9 lifeguard unit. From speeding boats and hovering helicopters, the Newfoundlands are able to jump into the water and use their tremendous strength to reliably pull a person to shore. To be able to do so, these amazing dogs must train for a minimum of three years.
At Italy’s beaches, over 300 of these canines are on duty to protect the millions of people that visit during the summer. Each year, the Italian Coast Guard is able to save about 3,000 people with the help of their Newfoundland companions. “The dog becomes a sort of intelligent lifebuoy,” Roberto Gasparri, the coordinator for the Italian School of Water Rescue Dogs, told Dog Heirs. “It is a buoy that goes by itself to a person in need of help, and comes back to the shore also by himself, choosing the best landing point and swimming through the safest currents.” While Newfoundlands may appear to be fluffy and adorable, there’s definitely more to them than meets the eye.