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About The Breed

DESCRIPTION – This is a very large, majestic dog with a characteristic black mask.  Males have a majestic male head and the females should have a somewhat smaller more feminine head.  The black mask should not extend above the eyebrows; the mask can be up to the eyes or above the eyes, but never complete the head.  The nose and lips are black.  It is important that the brown eyes have a gentle, kindly expression.  The hanging ears are medium-sized.  The rough-looking waterproof coat is tawny to reddish-brown and may have black tipped hair on the outer coat.  A small white star on the chest and a little white on the tip of the paws are permitted.  Leonberger thick mane creates a lion-like expression.  The front and rear legs are feathered.  Rear dewclaws should be removed.  The tail is bushy and set low, reaching at least to the hocks, and the feet have black pads.  The Leonberger has webbing between the toes to aid in swimming.

ORIGIN – The breed was established in 1846 in Leonberg, Germany in the region of Wurttemberg by the German breeder Heinrich Essing from a crossing of the Newfoundland, St. Bernard, and the Great Pyrenees.  Heinrich Essing was attempting to create a breed that would closely resemble the lion in the town crest.  The Leonberger’s tawny coloration and thick mane are evidence of his success.  Many royal families have owned Leonbergers, including Empress Elizabeth of Austria, Napoleon II of France, the Prince of Wales, Emperor Napoleon II, Bismarck, and Italian King Umberto.  Many Leonbergers were imported to Russia in the nineteenth century.  However the two world wars almost destroyed the breed.  It was very difficult to feed the huge breed when food was scarce.  By the end of World War II, only a few dogs remained.  In 1945, several Germans gathered some of the few remaining Leonbergers and re-established the breed.  Today the Leonberger has regained its popularity in Europe.  The first Leonberger was imported to the United States in 1971, and there are currently close to one thousand registered today.  This versatile breed has been successful in many endeavors.  The Leonberger has been used for guarding livestock, obedience and tracking.  The breed is also used in Germany for search and rescue and has a reputation as a great water-rescue dog.  The Leonberger’s warm gentle personality makes him a fine family companion dog.  The official standard was set in 1949.

TEMPERAMENT – The Leonberger has a lively nature and is steady and affectionate.  It has a sweet expression.  Loving and steadfast, stable and calm, the Leonberger just loves everyone.  Their intelligence is extraordinary; their loyalty and love for their families is unparalleled.  They have a friendly personality.  Most are considered highly trustworthy and have incredible patience of showing any aggression, the Leonberger simple walks away.  Serious, intelligent and brave, the Leonberger wants to please, and responds well to training.  The Leonberger can get along with other dogs.  Socialize early and well, as this puppy will become a very large adult!  The Leonberger is more agile than many other giant breeds.

EXERCISE – This breed does not need a lot of exercise, however, they do need to be taken on a daily walk.  They love to be included in all family outings and are very adaptable to most any environment.  They LOVE to swim, hike and be trained to pull carts and sleds.  If you plan to have your Leo pull carts or hike, one has to wait until the dog is grown.  It is not recommended before the dog is about 18 months old.

GROOMING– Weekly brushing is needed.  The ears must be kept clean and the teeth cleaned when needed.  Bathe only when necessary.  Check behind ears, feathering on legs, and tail for mats.  The Leonberger is a seasonally heavy shedder, during this time the dog should be brushed and combed daily.

HEIGHT

  • Males 29 – 31 inches

  • Bitches 27 – 29 inches

WEIGHT

  • Males 130 – 170 pounds

  • Bitches 100 – 130 pounds

LIFE EXPECTANCY

  • 8-9 years

*** All information from the Leonberger Club of America and Dog Breed Info websites ***

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