Let's talk Leonbergers

Playful? Docile? Cuddly? The Leonberger is all this and more. Even at 170 pounds (77kg), this giant breed is quite gentle, such is their instinctively elegant manner. They were bred mostly from Newfoundlands and St. Bernards, both giant breeds also known for their graceful demeanours. In spite of their size, Leonbergers are quite adroit and move with a skillful gait. This sweet-natured dog savours as much time with their family as they can get.

Official name: Leonberger

Other names: Leonberger Dog

Origins: Germany

Close-up of Leonberger looking at camera in black and white

 

 Drooling tendencies  High  Warm weather?  Very low
 Shedding level  Very high  Suited to apartment living ?  Very low
 Energy Level *  Medium  Family Pet? *  High
 Compatibility with other pets  Medium  Can stay alone? *  

* We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behavior. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.

All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company. However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 

Inline Image 15
Illustration of Leonberger
Male
72 - 80 cm Height
50 - 77 kg Weight
Female
65 - 75 cm Height
40 - 63 kg Weight

 

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 8 months
 Adult age  8 months to 2 years
 Mature age  2 to 5 years
 Senior age  From 5 years

 

Side view of Leonberger standing in long dry grass

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Get to know the Leonberger

All you need to know about the breed

There is so much to say about the lovely Leonberger dog: Bred to be guardians, they are homebodies, family oriented, lovers of swimming (!), and long walks. A better mix of canine characteristics could hardly be found. So protective is their nature too at times that the Leonberger will routinely walk the house to ensure everyone is safe and sound and all is right on the homefront.

This giant breed can be compared to others of his girth, with their large limbs and hulking body as well as long luscious fur. What makes the Leonberger stand out? The lion-esque mane that rings their face, a super physical aspect that, along with their kind eyes, charms all who cross their path. They tend to keep to themselves - they are fairly quiet - but despite their gentleness and docility, the Leonberger has a deep bark, which, along with one glance at their size, will keep any would-be intruders at bay.

The Leonberger breed doesn’t reach full maturity until they are three years of age. This is typically a very robust dog but care should be taken to ensure they are kept as healthy as possible given their size; put otherwise, they are a lot of dog to tend to! Two things the Leonberger definitely needs: attention and tenderness, which they will gladly return in spades.

Two Leonberger puppies sitting on stone steps

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2 facts about Leonbergers

1. Interior motives

The Leonberger hardly seems the kind of dog who would like to spend time within four walls but they are actually a very laid-back breed. Being by the side of their family is their biggest concern - as is keeping them safe.

2. Doing laps

Like all breeds, the Leonberger definitely needs exercise and there is one activity they really like: swimming! They truly enjoy paddling around a pool or lake, and the buoyancy of the water is actually the best fit for their very large limbs since the breed is prone to suffer from joint issues or arthritis as they age. Break out the fins and dive in with your dog!

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History of the breed

Germany is famous for the German Shepherd, the German Shorthaired Pointer, and the Dachshund, but the Leonberger is one of the country’s best breeds yet not as well known.

They were developed in the mid-1800s by Heinrich Essig, a city councillor in Leonberg, Germany who aimed to create a new breed resembling a lion, depicted on the city’s coat of arms. He cross-bred a female Newfoundland with a male St. Bernard to produce the profuse and regal Leonberger breed, introducing other working breeds as well over the years.

Essig’s goal was also to develop the Leonberger for royalty, and the breed quickly caught on, with such patrons as King Edward VII, Tsar Alexander II, and Napoleon III.

As with many European breeds, World War II wreaked havoc on the numbers of Leonbergers, so much so that only 25 were known to exist afterwards, and only five fit for breeding.

The Leonberger was officially recognised by the Fédération Cynologique in 1955.

Leonberger sitting looking at camera in black and white

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Leonbergers

1. Ears

Ears set high, medium-sized, thick, hanging alongside head.

2. Head

Slightly domed, impressive head framed by lion-like fur.

3. Body

Immense body, composed of large limbs, broad, deep chest.

4. Coat

Thick, double, water-resistant coat, furry outer coat, soft, dense undercoat.

5. Tail

Fluffy tail, hangs loose, slightly curved when active.

Leonberger lying on rocky outcrop

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Leonberger
Three Leonbergers running on grass towards camera

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Caring for your Leonberger

Grooming, training and exercise tips

Long, full, thick, and dense, the Leonberger’s double coat is all of this and more so grooming will be a pretty consistent task - daily is recommended since there is a lot of ground to cover! The Leonberger sheds, and does so most during the moulting season twice a year. Use a metal comb and undercoat rake to tend to the shorter, fluffier undercoat is best as well as a pin brush and slicker brush for the furry, thicker outercoat. Nails should be trimmed every other week to keep this large breed on balance. The Leonberger‘s size definitely means they should keep active but they don’t require a huge amount of exercise. Not to say that they don’t need room to roam: This is definitely not an apartment dog. And the exercise they enjoy most: swimming! Leonbergers have a natural affinity for the water. Training this giant breed needs to start early and socialising them with family and friends is best to develop them correctly. When Leonbergers are puppies and adults, they are bouncy and gregarious, so take care with them around toddlers and small children. With an adult male growing to as large as 150 pounds (68kg), it’s critical that the Leonberger is trained to know their place in the family unit. And the reverse is also true.

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All about Leonbergers

Giant breeds are not all hard to handle - actually many, like the Leonberger, are quite affectionate and docile dogs. But knowing how to tackle their girth, especially if one has never owned a dog, is another thing entirely. This is a lot of canine, and the factor to consider with the Leonberger is their stubborn streak. They can easily gain the upper hand if training is not consistent and thorough from a young age.

Underneath that very thick coat lies the heart of a mushball. The Leonberger enjoys a good snuggle tremendously and is quite affectionate. They crave tenderness and will give a lot in return. And despite their size, the Leonberger is very much an indoor dog, always looking after his flock, so naturally gravitates toward nuzzling with their owner - or any member of the family for that matter.

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/