The Leonberger is a giant dog breed that came to life by crossbreeding the Newfoundland, the Great Pyrenees, and the St. Bernard. If these dogs receive enough physical exercise and mental stimulation, they will be the best possible giant pets you can have. They seem rather graceful and beautiful when in conformation shows but their true nature is playful. They love getting muddy and dirty. These dogs absolutely love swimming and that fact isn’t really surprising as they are a descendant of Newfoundland.
The Leonbergers are dogs that have a surprisingly high level of energy. Giant dog breeds are usually calm and a bit lazy, but these dogs are a lot more active. This does not mean they are active as some smaller Terriers but are untypically active in terms of giant breeds.
They have a deep and scary bark which makes them incredible watchdogs that will drive off any potential intruder. They shed year-round but twice a year, during shedding season, the shedding is extreme. They have a thick, double coat that is a result of genetic inheritance of the breeds these dogs came from.
25,5-31,5 in (65-80 cm)
120-170 lb (54-77 kg)
These dogs most likely came to life in the middle of the 19th century in Germany and that makes them a relatively “new” breed. They are originally from Germany and most of these dogs can still be found in their native country. The father of the breed is a former major of the German city of Leonberg. His aim was to create a dog breed that had lion-like features and some say that he wanted to do that because a lion is the official animal of the city.
Dog Breed Characteristics
The Leonberger is not the oldest breed in the world but is registered and accepted by most of the world’s cynology associations. Most of these associations have a standard in place but here we will explore the FCI’s standard for this breed. This standard places these dogs in Group 2 (Pinscher and Schnauzer, Molossoid breeds, Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs), Section 2.2 (Molossoid breeds, Mountain type). They are described as being strong and muscular, yet very elegant. There is a required size for these dogs and it is 28,5 - 31,5 in (72 - 80 cm) for the males and 25,5 - 29,5 in (65 - 75 cm) for the females.
These dogs have been registered by the FCI on the 17th of February 1955.
These dogs are a fairly new official member of the American Kennel Club. This Club is the governing cynology association in the United States of America and is in charge of all registered purebred dogs that come from there. The required size for these dogs by this standard is 28 - 31,5 in (70 - 80 cm) for the male dogs and 25,5 - 29,5 in (65 - 75 cm) for the female dogs.
They have been accepted by the AKC in 2010.
Leonberger has a long double coat that is weather resistant. They should be brushed at least a few times a week to keep the amount of hair under control because these dogs shed a lot. During shedding season (twice a year) Leonbergers will shed massively and during that period daily brushing is required.
Leonberger coat colors:
- Lion yellow
- Golden to red
They will also need other basic care; brush their teeth at least three times a week. Check their ears for signs of infection and redness, bathe them when needed, and trim their nails if they don’t wear them down naturally.
Leonberger dogs are medium active and they will need a proper amount of daily activities to be happy. Playing with his owner in the house, chasing the ball, or just long walks can all do the trick and keep this dog satisfied. If you provide him with enough daily activities you don’t have to worry that your dog will miss behaving.
All puppies high energy and you must be careful not to over-exercise your small puppy because their joints and bones are still developing and you could easily hurt them by exercising them.
Like any other dog breed, the Leonberger requires early socialization. It is essential to ensure that your dog doesn’t become shy or aggressive. Expose your dog to many different people, dogs, sights, and situations to secure a well-rounded dog. They can adapt to any environment as long as you secure them with plenty of physical and mental activity.
Expose your dog to different things like strangers, sights, sounds, other dogs, and environments. Socialization is the best way to make sure your dog grows up to be a stable, confident, well-balanced dog.
Leonberger and kids
Leonberger are excellent family dogs that will get along with every family member including children. Take note that kids need to be taught how to properly play and interact with a dog so Leonberger can enjoy their company. If they are raised together from an early age they will be playing parting and they will enjoy spending time together.
They are best suited for older children but only because of the fact that they could easily knock over a small child during play because of their massive size.
Children should never be left alone with any dog, no matter what breed it might be. You should make sure that your children understand how to approach dogs of this breed and understand how to interact and play with them properly.
Leonberger and other animals
These dogs can get along well with other dogs and can enjoy their company if they are raised together from puppy age. Introducing dogs to a grown-up Leonberger can be a bit of a problem bit with the right socialization most of the dogs will get along.
The Leonberger is generally considered a healthy breed, but they are prone to some health issues and concerns like any other dog breed. These dogs have an average lifespan of 8-10 years.
When getting any breed, the breeder must show you health tests that they have done for their breeding dogs. Dogs must be adequately tested because taking a chance and hoping that the puppy’s parents are healthy is a risk no one should ever take. Only healthy dogs should be bred because that is the only way to assure that bloodlines will remain healthy and without any problems. Health problems associated with this breed are;
- Hip dysplasia - Genetic problem affecting hips resulting from an improperly formed hip joint.
- Gastric Torsion - Also known as bloat. A dangerous condition that causes the stomach to twist (torsion).
Before you start looking for Leonberger breeders, make sure you have thoroughly researched this breed and you are sure you can provide them the lifestyle they need to have in order to remain happy and healthy. These dogs prefer being close to their family and need to have enough space to play and explore. If you decide to go for this breed, make sure you buy a dog from a registered and reputable breeder that takes care not only of the physical beauty and characteristics of their dogs but also takes proper care of their mental health and character.
This dog breed is not for everyone and we advise you that you make your research before you go after Leonberger.
Buying a dog from a responsible breeder will cost you more money, but you can be sure that you will get a healthy puppy. When you bring your new puppy home start with the training and socialization immediately. By doing so, you will end up with a well-behaved dog whom you can trust.
If you are unsure whether this is the breed for you, check out this FREE GUIDE that will help you decide which dog breed is right for you.
World Dog Finder team