Newfoundland Dogs & The Introvert

This won’t come as a shock to anyone who’s met me, but it may be harder to determine in the blogosphere, so here’s today’s confession: I am an introvert.


Between employers and undergrad psychology classes, I’ve done Meyers Briggs, the DISC test, and Insights. (For those unfamiliar, DISC and Insights are nearly identical, but one groups you into letters and one into colours.)

Each time, the results are similar, predictable, and accurate.

My Insights blocks on display on my desk. This order translates to CDSI for the DISC assessment.

My Insights blocks on display on my desk – in order. This translates to a CDSI for the DISC assessment.

But I don’t really need a personality test to tell me about myself; I’ve long known that a book can be better company than most people.


I’m a “Reforming Observer”

My results don’t bother me and their exactness means I’m not hesitant to share them. I know some people are a bit wary of discussing personality assessments, but I’ve found them pretty on-point when identifying strengths (thorough, organized, logical, problem-solver, reliable) and weaknesses (critical, lacks empathy, avoids social interaction, impatient) – at least for myself.


Some assessments are better than others, and it may be difficult to try to box all people into one of 4, 12, or 16 different types, but they have some use, even if it’s just introspective or an oft-needed reinforcement of the obvious fact that people experience the world differently.

INTJ jumble

For example, I have a coworker who nearly daily pokes her head into my office to ask me “what’s wrong?” or commands me to “smile!” This baffled me for a long time. Nothing is wrong. I’m just working. But thanks to the internet, a term that plagues many other unexpressive INTJs has become a common phrase; I suffer from RBF. Resting Bitch Face.


Being an introvert doesn’t mean you “hate people”. It also doesn’t necessarily mean you’re shy, stuck up, or lack confidence. Lots of introverts love spending time with other people (like people I know and like) and may even be considered confident and outgoing by those who spend time with them.

This is because the introvert/extrovert scale is about energy: social interaction is tiring to introverts and energizing to extroverts. Someone isn’t one or the other as if there are two buckets, either. Introversion and extroversion is a scale where you can fall anywhere along it with varying degrees one way or another, and you can be different things in different situations (at work vs. as home, for example), and also be different things when tired or stressed (e.g., often introverts will be naturally more introverted under pressure).

Extrovert v Introvert

As far as social interaction is concerned, introverts and extroverts approach it and value it differently. As an introvert, I’m much more comfortable hanging out in small groups of people I already know and having conversations of substance. Talking about the weather or what day of the week it is just seems pointless to me.

This means blogging is right up my alley; I’m able to prepare and process information carefully before sharing it – though I also understand how extroverts would be attracted to blogging as another way to interact with lots of different people.

A networking event with strangers or mere acquaintances where you’re forced to small talk is my personal hell. I’d rather public speak in front of a room of 300 hundred strangers than have to mingle with those same people at a cocktail party. And there’s hardly a thing such as “awkward silence” to me, since I’m perfectly happy not to speak if there’s nothing worth saying. Morning elevator chit-chat? Shooting the breeze with the hair stylist? Someone who answers more than “well, thank you” to a polite “how’s it going?” THE. WORST.


And I’m certainly lucky I landed The Husband long ago, since my INTJ results astutely identify that I have “little patience and less understanding of such things as small talk and flirtation”.

So what does this have to do with Moses and Alma?

In retrospect, Newfoundlands are interesting dog choices for introverts.

Walking 280 pounds of dog around the city daily is not inconspicuous. In fact, you are a spectacle. You draw attention, comments, and queries.

Me walking Moses, Alma, and pal Juniper. What's normal for me can be quite the sight for others.

Me walking Moses, Alma, and pal Juniper. What’s normal for me can be quite the sight for others.

This is something I certainly never considered when we were looking for the right dog for us. Newfoundlands seemed like the perfect choice as far a size, temperament and lifestyle goes. But no one warned me that simply owning Moses (and then Alma) would challenge my comfort zone as an introvert.

Don’t like small talk? Well, prepare yourself for having the exact same conversation every dog walk:

No, they’re not ‘black St. Bernards,’ they’re Newfoundlands.

180 and 100 pounds.

Yes, he’s big for a male and she’s smaller for a female.

No, they’re not related.

He’s from a breeder, she’s from a rescue.

Yes, they drool.

Yes, they shed.

No, our house/yard isn’t huge.

Yes, they eat 5+ pounds of food per day between them.

If they eat that much, how much do you THINK they poop?

He walks a bit funny because he’s had spinal surgery.

Yes, it gets old. But it’s part of the gig as a Newf owner. You literally stop traffic from time to time.

I admit I’m not always interested in entertaining a typical exchange – I’m out enjoying fresh air and free time with my dog and I don’t do it to meet people.

But Moses and Alma bring me lots of joy. They’re great dogs! They’re funny and social and stinking adorable. I think they’re awesome, so it should be no surprise to me when other people do, too.

Why should I stand in the way of them providing random passersby with a little joy, too?

So rather than always being a dog walk Grinch (sometimes I still am), I do suck it up and frequently engage in the boilerplate conversation with strangers about my dogs.

Grinch and Max
 Look at me being social and acknowledging the feelings of others!

colbert high five

And besides, socialization and practicing polite greetings (with people and dogs) is always good for Moses and Alma.

Sure, being an INTJ or a Reforming Observer may mean I’m impatient with small talk, but it also means I’ll go on endlessly about things I like and think are interesting, and I think this blog is Exhibit A to my dogs being one of those very topics! And if I’m being honest, dog-walk-small-talk (say that ten times fast) is far less painful than “chilly out there, eh?”

Moses and Alma definitely mean I talk to more strangers (and neighbours) than I normally would, but your comfort zone won’t expand if you don’t push it from time to time.

And now any extroverts reading know that if they plan to train, like big dogs, and can handle the drool… well, then a Newf might just be the perfect dog for you!

Curious about what your Meyers Briggs results might be? This test is free and not too shabby. Once you have your results, you can search lots of resources for information (, for example, is pretty detailed).

About ThatJenK
Writing from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 90% pictures of my dogs; 10% miscellaneous opinions nobody asked for.

28 Responses to Newfoundland Dogs & The Introvert

  1. Those tests are always so interesting. We took them at work several years ago. I remember one coworker, who was bossy always, shaking her finger at everyone and saying ” I am not a red!!” Pfftt.

    • thatjenk says:

      Haha! Sometimes those assessments can be scary accurate! But I don’t mind red being my second-highest – it’s the closest extroverted part I’ve got and frankly that’s very useful at work.

  2. This post made me laugh. The test put me as an introvert.
    I’ve been trying to be better and more open to talking with people when I’m walking the dogs…but sometimes I do come home and bitch about it 🙂

  3. I’ve often reflected on my choice of dog and what it means for my personality type and energy. I’m an ENTJ. And when I’m not teaching home buyer classes, I work at home. Alone. Plus I write two blogs.

    It doesn’t take long for me to see my energy levels plummet because I’m spending too much time alone (probably the way you feel when you’re forced to socialize too long).

    After having 3 reactive dogs in a row, having Honey the happy golden retriever has been a good fit for extroverted me.

    Unlike with Newfoundlands, nearly every dog lover has had a golden retriever or known someone with a golden retriever. They expect Honey to be friendly and they come over to share golden retriever stories and get a little love.

    When I work alone too long, I just fall apart and have trouble getting myself to want to go outside (even though I know I’ll feel better with a little company). Luckily, Honey forces me to get out of the house and interact with people so I can get my energy back up.

    Great post. I really enjoyed thinking about how our dogs work with or defeat our natural personalities.

    • thatjenk says:

      Thanks! I always find it interesting to read things like “how you know you’re an extrovert” or “things extroverts don’t like” (Buzzfeed has a few funny lists lately) and how they just completely baffle me! I mean… I understand the concept, but desiring a lot of socializing is a foreign feeling for sure. I often find myself wanting to hang out or catch up with specific people, but seeking interaction for its own sake (or to energize) is definitely not my preference.

    • thatjenk says:

      Also – thanks for the FB share!

  4. Elizabeth K says:

    “Studies” also show that most corgi owners are extroverts, which initially, being an innie, offended me (like they were saying introverts shouldn’t get corgis). (Note: I also take things too personally sometimes.) Anyway, it’s all about the novelty of the dog out in public, right? I, frankly, just don’t go out with mine unless I’m feeling the need to talk to people. And, trust me, the times I’ve been to BlogPaws, they’ve been a tremendous ice-breaker.

    We all contribute to society in our own unique ways, though, right? Imagine if everyone was an introvert, or vice versa? Now that would be hell!

    Nice post! Better than some related articles I’ve seen in magazines, even. 🙂

    • thatjenk says:

      I think I’ve read somewhere that most dog owners in general are extroverts (and then cat owners are introverts), but I’m skeptical of the legitimacy of that. Plus, we have both, so how would that factor in?
      I’m sure BlogPaws is an awesome way to learn a lot and meet all the cool people behind the blogs, but the thought of it alone makes me uncomfortable!

  5. Jessica says:

    My husband has had to take several of these tests for work. The person who administered his Meyers-Briggs had never seen someone so strongly I. I’m much more middle of the road, slightly to one side or the other depending on my mood when I take the test.

    People *want* to talk to me about Silas (“Wow, look at those ears! Do you know what kind of dog he is?”), but he doesn’t always let them. I actually have to be really careful with my feelings about talking to strangers, because if I get nervous Silas is a lot more likely to bark at them.

    • thatjenk says:

      I may or may not have seriously considered figuring out how to get Moses to bark or growl on command (and it would be a subtle command like “easy”) for the sole purpose of deterring dog walk chatter…
      I know an anxious dog is something to be overcome and helped, but as a pretty strong introvert, I can’t help but see the silver lining of your situation 🙂

  6. dawn says:

    Fellow INTJ and I can totally commiserate. Fortunately no one is interested in Jack Russells (they think they know them already), but I do find it hard to talk small talk to strangers about dogs in general. If you want to discuss diet, clicker training, etc I will joyfully talk to you for hours though. Even so my pets have played a big part in me interacting with the world a lot more.

  7. Mel says:

    I’m laughing. I was a leadership development consultant for many years and have taken all those tests and was not surprised by my Myers-Briggs, DISC or Enneagram either. I’m ENFJ BTW. 🙂

    I never really thought about it before, but honestly I would have guessed a Newf was a perfect dog for an introvert. I never considered the fact that having one would lead to all sorts of questions. Duh! Of course!

    Despite being an extrovert, I think the drool might be a bigger issue in my case.

    • thatjenk says:

      Haha! You’re not wrong – Newfs are great for introverts too because they fit very nicely in a quiet lifestyle. I can spend an afternoon in reading, and both Moses and Alma are content to snooze at my feet – neither of them are demanding for action or attention. But, given that dog walks are a necessity for any owner, introverts should be fairly warned about the attention to be received 🙂
      But whether you’re an E or an I, you do need to be okay with some slobber!

  8. I always rate as a super strong I and J, but it seems like every time I take the test I switch between S & N, and T&F. Sometimes I’m an INFJ, sometimes an ISTJ. Guess it depends on my mood – but anyway, no matter the mood I’m ALWAYS an I. As an “I”, I found it a little difficult having an outgoing friendly dog (our previous dog) who then also became a tripawd. That attracts some attention as well! Now we have Rita, who hates strangers, so she saves me from having to talk to our neighbors when we are out on walks. 🙂

  9. Kristine says:

    I’ve done the MB tests before, a million times, and I am almost always an ISTJ. I am also a supportive coordinator. 😉 While I am an introvert I am also incredibly shy and so conversations with strangers give me hives in both regards. My husband is even more of an introvert than I am but there is not one ounce of shyness in his personality. Thank goodness. Otherwise we’d never be able to order pizza. 😉

    I am interested in these blocks. I have never seen them before!

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  11. 2browndawgs says:

    Very interesting. Moderate tendency toward being an introvert. I would say that is about right. I bet you hear it all walking the Newfs. 🙂

  12. Thanks for this post – loved it. Wish all the people who have told me at some point to ‘smile’ could read and understand. I could have written this exact post – probably not as elegantly, but you get what I mean 😉 Taking a few of these images (esp INTJ one) for pinterest. Just took MB recently for work…100% on I – didn’t know that was possible!

  13. tess says:

    Yes, this is sooooo my sister, her dogs arent quite as big, and explains a lot!

  14. Vicki says:

    We have Buddy and Bea (Irish Spotted & Landseer) and yes! they definitely spawn questions, speculation, and conversation. My husband is an Introvert as well, but when it comes to our newfs, he’ll chat with anyone. They have made a difference in our lives, but especially his. He now knows the unselfish love of a dog; a first in his life and he’s better for it.

  15. jeremypiercemft says:

    Great information and explanation of introvert and extrovert! Very well done. Have you read the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain? It is very good! Thanks for taking the time to be both thorough and hilarious!

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