Leonberger

Type: Guardian Dog

Height: Males: 28 - 32 inches; Females: 25 - 30 inches.

Weight: 75 - 170 lbs.

Life Span: 7 - 15 years.

Litter Size: 6 - 14 puppies.

Country of Origin: Germany

Activity: Medium. Enjoys moderate activity and loves swimming.

Watch-dog: High. Leonbergers have good watchdog abilities.

Guard-dog: High. Leonbergers are friendly but very threatening-looking to strangers, as well as protective of their family and home.


Description: The Leonberger is a rather large, muscular yet graceful dog. If not for their black faces they would resemble a lion, which is what the original creator of the breed intended. Also called “the gentle lion dog,” the mane on the Leonberger is fully matured around the age of 3. They have a thick coat of medium length fur, and come in colors golden to red-brown, with a black mask. They are furry-looking dogs, making a cuddly companion. Leonbergers have always been bred as companions, making their personality very good as well. They are very intelligent and highly trainable and they absolutely adore children. They can sit and watch a play pen for hours, and love to swim in anything. They also have webbed feet from the Newfoundland, which makes them excellent swimmers. Some have been known to blow bubbles in their water bowls! Sophisticated on the outside and fun-loving on the inside, the Leonberger is an all-around attractive breed.

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Colors: Black mask with a light yellowish golden color to a red-brown colored coat. Lion colored. They can also have black patches on their chests and elsewhere.

Coat: Heavy, thick coat of medium length, with an under coat. Outer coat is medium soft and fairly long, but close to the body. It is shorter on the face and legs.

Temperament: Leonbergers are calm, gentle and lively. they are very friendly dogs, and love to be around children. They get along with other pets, and enjoy the company of people. Leonbergers are affectionate, have a working attitude, love water, and are playful. They should also be calm and quiet. They are protective of their families and homes, making them an excellent guard and watch dog.

With Children: Yes. They are very friendly and good with them. Children are possibly their most favorite people to be around.

With Pets: Yes. Usually does well with other pets (dogs, cats, etc.).

Special Skills: Very clever and loyal family pet, plus they have webbed feet for swimming. Also used as a water rescue dog.

Care and Training: Moderate exercise is needed with little but daily brushing. Leonbergers also require, like most breeds, regular trimming of excessive hair on the feet, ear cleaning and nail trimming. They are large dogs and so space is needed for exercise. Easily trained, the Leonberger's instruction should begin early in life to secure the dog to be obedient in his later, larger years.

Learning Rate: High. Leonbergers are very intelligent. Obedience - High. Leonbergers actually seem to enjoy obedience training. Problem Solving - High.

Special Needs: Attention, grooming, socialization and training.

Living Environment: Although large in size, the Leonberger will do better as a housedog, if given regular daily exercise and/or training. The best owner for this breed would be an active family living in a rural or suburban environment.

Health Issues: Unfortunately the Leonberger suffers from various health issues, including Addison’s disease, hypothyroidism, cancer, ectropion, entropion (inverted eyelids), hip dysplasia, osteosarcoma, OCD and bloat. Bloat is a health issue common to most dogs, being the second largest killer of all dogs. But Leonbergers can be particularly susceptible to it because of their deep chests. Bloat is also known as twisted stomach or gastric torsion.

History: The Leonberger is the symbol of pride to the town of Leonberg in southern Germany. In the 1840s Herr Alderman Heinrich Essig, the Mayor of Leonberg, wanted to create a breed that manifested the same appearance as the lion which appeared on the Imperial Coat of Arms in the Town Hall of Leonberg. He set out to do so by crossing the Newfoundland, Landseer, St. Bernard and Pyrenean Mountain Dog. The breed has been bred since 1846. Some believe that the breed descends from the Tibetan Mastiff. When first exhibited, the Leonberger was not accepted by the judges as a breed, simply as a mixture of other dogs, which is what it was. But Essig did succeed in creating a rather handsome breed, which went on to be accepted by the public and involved in the World Wars. Unfortunately, existing in a warring country, starvation and the enemies of Germany was what almost made them extinct. After World War I the breed had only 5 remaining survivors. After careful nurturing and help from breeders, the Leonberger was on its way to recovery. After the second World War the breed was nearly decimated again. Only eight remained this time, and it took about 25 years for the breed to be stable in numbers again. It is still considered a rare breed today, but its numbers are up. In 1949 the breed was given a standard to judge by, and clear distinctions were made between the Leonberger and Saint Bernard.

First Registered by the AKC: 2010

AKC Group: Working Group

Class: Sheep/Cattle Dog

Registries: UKC (Guardian Dog), FCI (Group 2), ANKC (Group 6), CKC (Working), KC(UK) (Working), NZKC (Utility)