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 there any major difference between the two breeds? Can anyone provide insight based on personal experience with both breeds?
I've found the 2 breeds to have very similar personalities, in that the variation within the breeds is more than the variation between the breeds. If I *had* to make a distinction (so the answer isn't completely boring), I'd say that I've seen more Leonbergers that are athletic and high energy, and I've seen more Leonbergers that have an aggressive streak in them.
Leo's were bred not to drool, and most don't. Most Newfies drool a lot. Both breeds shed like crazy, so if dog hair bothers you, don't bother. Our Leo is territorial about the yard, but not he's not so aggressive that you have to worry about him getting out and biting someone or attacking another dog. I don't know how strong the guarding instinct is in a Newfie, but as a Leo was created from not only a Newfie and Saint Bernard, but a Great Pyrenees, I'd have to believe the Leo would have a stronger guarding instinct.
I have a leo/retriever cross and he is beautiful with a very gentle nature, but he does shed hair like its going out of fashion. He will stand and be vaccumed with a dog brush attachment but he still leaves enough around the floor to knit with ...
Newfies drool, Leos do not. Newfies are likely not going to protect their property or livestock but might protect their family. Leos protect property, livestock, and their family. Both dogs are subject to blowing coat, hip dysplasia, and other giant breed disorders. Both breeds love water but the Leo is the consummate water dog. A Leo pup plays in its water bowl all the time. Expect a messy household with water and dog hair everywhere. Don't forget the muddy paws and dirty coat. Although the Leo is wash and wear - the dirt falls off after they are dry, the Newfie is not and requires more grooming and care. Newfies have longer coats and therefore more tangles. Both breeds like to wipe their faces on furniture and/or walls. Newfies are considered a 'nanny dog' and great with children. Leos are too. Either dog could have aggression problems if not properly bred. Make sure you get to know the breeder and their dogs. Note the dogs' dispositions and make sure there is not a problem.
I've owned both breeds over the years. Both are very similar in both their temprement and love of family. The biggest difference is a Leonberger is much, much more active than a Newfoundland. Newfoundland's as they mature get pretty aloof about almost everything. They have a take it or leave it attitude while a Leonberger has a "Lets do it" attitude. Plus one big thing is Leonbergers do not drool. Some Newfoundland's don't drool either ( too much) but these are hard to find. Most Newfoundland's that were bred from Dutch parents drool much less. This is due to years of breeding their jowl pockets have actually been almost eliminated so their saliva is not filling up a pocket then eliminated by shaking their head.
Leonberger's were bred to be " Family Guardians" not aggressive. Because Leos are so "extremely" attached to everyone ( both humans and other pets ) in their family and they take their job of guardian very seriously. This is evident when strangers come to the house or property. These dogs have an almost uncanny ability to know when any type of danger arises. They will usually place themselves between their family member at an angle enough to keep the stranger away from the person they are guarding. Their size alone is usually enough of a deterent for anyone.