The Leonberger is a very large breed, proud and majestic in appearance, with a characteristic black mask. The females will be slightly smaller. The skull is domed. The medium-sized, pendant ears flank kind and gentle brown eyes. The face will have a black mask, which should not extend above the eyebrows in show dogs, and the nose and lips are black. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. Unlike most large breeds, the Leonberger has a dry mouth, and therefore doesn't drool. The powerful neck will have no dewlap. The coat is long and rough-looking, with colors that vary from tawny to reddish-brown. Black-tipped hair on the outer coat is acceptable in show dogs, as is a small white star on the chest, or white on the tips of the paws. Males have a larger mane than the females, and can take up to four years to develop. Both the front and rear legs are feathered, and the rear dewclaws should be removed. The tail is set low, and long, reaching at least to the hocks, and bushy. The feet of the Leonberger have black pads, and webbing between the toes which helps in swimming. The coat is water-proof.
The Leonberger, like most giant dogs, is usually calm and confident, kind and gentle, and considered to have a sweet expression. They are intelligent and friendly, and are very patient, even with children. Rather than showing aggression, the Leonberger normally walks away from misbehaving children. Obedience training is important, but the trainer must be patient - harsh training methods do not work with this breed. The Leonberger is considered agile for its size. They get along with other dogs, but must be well-socialized, as early as possible.
Leonbergers get unusually attached to their family and do not enjoy being left alone. Although large, they are very adaptable and therefore they fit in easily to an active family life.
The Leonberger is known to sometimes become arrogant when it realizes its size in comparison to other dogs. It's sometimes said it will get a 'why should I bother' attitude but will always respond to commands if properly trained. The Leonberger is agile, fast and energetic for a breed of its size and enjoys tasks. The Leonberger is protective of its family and its size alone will often detour an intruders. Often this breed is more protective of females and children than males.
The Leonberger is known to be especially strong willed until it reaches the age of 12-16 months. It may occasionally challeng its owner for the dominate role. The Leonberger should be trained with positive, consistent training methods to achieve a desired temperament in adulthood. This breed is family oriented and desires the attention and affection from owners.
The Leonberger is prone to hip dysplasia, as well as other skeletal diseases/disorders. Eyelid defects and bone disease have also been reported.. Well cared for, the Leonberger lives about 9 years.
The Leonberger is prone to bloat. Most live to 11 years old at the very oldest.
The Leonberger was established in 1846 by German breeder Heinrich Essing, by cross-breeding a Newfoundland, St. Bernard, and the Great Pyrenees. Legend has it that he was attempting to create a breed that would resemble the Leonberg town crest. Many royal families owned the breed. It was used for guarding livestock and tracking purposes, as well as water rescue. After the end of World War I, not a lot of the breed were left...and although the breed was re-established it was almost destroyed again during the privations of World War II. German breeders re-established it again, however, and the official standard was set in 1949. The first Leonberger was brought to the United States in 1971 - currently there are almost one thousand dogs registered.
During the 1920's a man named Mr. Wolf imported his Leonbergers to the USA from Germany. In 1927, he bred the first litter in the United States under the Kennel name Berkeley-Kimmel. Mr. Wolf lived and died in Newark, New Jersey. There are currently 2,800 to 3,000 Leonbergers in Britain, excluding the Republic of Ireland. Leonbergers were almost exterminated during the World Wars, with only 5 left in the UK after WW1 and just 8 after WW2. Although not recognized by the American Kennel Club, they are recognized in the UK and Europe.
As of January 1, 2010, the Leonberger is recognized by the American Kennel Club.
The Leonberger sheds heavily during season, and should be brushed and combed daily, but other than that time, weekly brushing is fine. Always check behind the ears, the tail, and the feathering on the legs for mats. The ears must be kept clean to avoid ear infections, and teeth should also be brushed on a regular basis. Bathe only when necessary.
The Leonberger is most comfortable in cool climates, and can live inside or outside, but prefers to be with its humans. They can be kept in apartments, as they are relatively lazy, but will do best in a large yard. They are keen swimmers, and once old enough, can be trained to pull carts or sleds.
The Leonberger is known to grow very quickly but does not fully mature until at least two years of age and sometimes later for males. An average Leonberger will weight 100 pounds at one year. Its bones will still be soft at this age and stressful training and work should be avoided. Carting, agility, weight pulling is normally started at 18 months old.
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Leonberger Q&AAsk a Question
- Where can I get a Leonberger.
I am looking to get a Leonberger within the next 6 to 8 months. I will be moving back to Missouri. Could anyone tell me if there is a breed within the USA? I have been doing my research on these dog, the one question I have,...Asked by Anonymous - 0 answers
- I am researching what kind of dog I want and I have narrowed it down to two: a newfie or a ...
I am researching what kind of dog I want and I have narrowed it down to two: a newfie or a leonberger. From what I have read, their personalities seem very similar but I like the build and coat of a leo just a little bit more. Is...Asked by Anonymous - 6 answers
- I would like to know the average weight for a 5 month old Leo puppy. My puppy was sick ...
I would like to know the average weight for a 5 month old Leo puppy. My puppy was sick with parvo and spent a week at the vet's. He got through it very well. I am wondering, though, if he is underweight for his age. He seems...Asked by Anonymous - 5 answers
- My extra-large one-year-old Leo male recently developed a large pocket of fluid on his ...
My extra-large one-year-old Leo male recently developed a large pocket of fluid on his elbow from laying on the hard floor. Its about the size of a goose egg, but you dont notice it to look at him, and it doesnt seem to bother him....Asked by Anonymous - 1 answers