The Leonberger breed originated in Leonberg, a small town in South-Western Germany in the early 1800s. Heinrich Essig, wishing to produce a dog resembling the lion on the Imperial Coat of Arms of the town hall of Leonberg, Germany, used the Landseer, Newfoundland, St. Bernard, and Pyrenean Mountain Dog to create this distinguished breed. (See picture: right) World Wars I and II almost rendered the breed extinct; however, because of the dedication of Herr Stadelmann and Herr Otto Josenhans, the breed survived.
The Leonberger is a strong, muscular, yet elegant dog whose body structure was originally built as a working dog but today serves as a great companion.
Today, the Leonberger is still generally rare, but is increasing in popularity.
Learn more about Leos Care
Leonberger Care Requirements: First, ask yourself “is a Leonberger the right dog for me?” Due to their size and strength, they are not the dog for everyone. They require time, dedication, money, grooming, and training to ensure a well-behaved 100+ lb dog! They are not a dog that can be put in the backyard and left to their own devices. Leonbergers need to be an integral part of their humans family “pack.” They will happily adapt to a wide variety of living situations as long as they are loved and included in activities. They love to play “games” such as ‘Hide-and-go-seek’. If you do not share your home with your pet, you are better off with another breed.
As puppies they respond well to excellent training and consistent, frequent socialization activities. As adults they benefit from daily exercise and they thrive on play sessions with other dogs. Adequate exercise will prevent many health problems as well as behavioral issues that can occur when dogs are bored and have no outlet for their energy (such as excessive barking, charging fences, jumping up on people, digging or chewing inappropriately, etc.)
Leonbergers should be fed premium quality food whether commercially prepared or prepared in the home (To learn more about an all-raw diet and the benefits of feeding raw please visit: www.caninerawdiet.com www.barfworld.com) Leonberger puppies should not be fed a diet that encourages rapid growth. Good breeders help guide new owners in the selection of foods. Owners may want to check with their veterinarian and with many of the carefully written books on canine nutrition to determine what is best for their dog and their household.
Leonbergers have long fur, can be messy, and may be considered “high maintenance” dogs from the perspective of housekeeping. Although they don’t drool as a rule, typically they may occasionally drool before eating or after drinking (usually with their heads and front paws as far as possible in the water). Any water bowl is fair game for pawing and spilling! Leonberger coats are slow to dry. Huge, muddy paw prints are a given during the rainy season. Leonbergers shed mainly twice a year (in large quantities called “blowing their coats”). If you have one with a very thick undercoat, long “feathers” (the pants of the hindquarters) and mane, your grooming activities will be more demanding than if you have one with a more compact coat. All Leonbergers coats are waterproof and very wear resistant. To keep these coats shiny and elegant, as well as to keep clothes and furniture in acceptable condition requires at least some brushing on a daily basis. Bathing a giant dog, regardless of coat thickness, requires lots of patience, water, shampoo and towels. Professional grooming works well.
Leonbergers are not natural obedience and agility zealots; however, they are so loyal and conforming to their family’s culture and expectations that they tend to participate in obedience exercises in order to please. Because they are so calm and stable, they perform well even when their handlers are stressed. They usually excel in commands like “Down, Stay”, achieving a perfectly executed “Sit, Stay” is another story. Leonbergers are known in obedience classes for their casual approach to sitting. The sitting part is not a problem, but sitting up straight is not a priority for a dog that prefers to be laid back and relaxed. Retrieving is also not a favorite activity. Chasing a ball, a toy, or a stick is great fun, but bringing it back is such a bother! There are Leonbergers with obedience and agility titles, but these don’t come as easily as they do for smaller dogs.