The Leonberger, as its name may suggest, is a robust dog originating from Germany. Its thick coat and dense mane was, according to legend, meant to mimic the lion. In fact, this imposing breed is considered one of the best guard dogs.
The most discernible characteristic on the Leonberger is the black fur surrounding its face which resembles a mask. The Leonberger also has a thick double-fur coat and a large muscular body that appears very balanced and proportional.
Gender is easy to discern due to the either extremely masculine form or gentle, elegant form that the female Leonbergers possess. Males typically range from 28 inches to 31.5 inches in height and weigh 120 to 170 pounds. Females are slightly smaller ranging from 25.5 inches to 29.5 inches in height and weigh 100 to 135 pounds.
Coat colors appear in great varieties, ranging from red to yellow to sand. Some coats may have black tips, which may add depth to the overall coat color.
Personality and Temperament
The Leonberger is said to be the perfect companion for families and children in the modern era. With its balanced and controlled trot, it is obedient, easily trained, and not often bothered by loud noises. Additionally, the Leonberger is distinguished by its intelligence, playfulness, loyalty, and ability to adapt to different situations.
With its thick double-fur coat, the Leonberger sheds immensely. So much so, in fact, that it requires brushing at least once a week and daily when the undercoat is being shed. The Leonberger’s coat, however, plays an important role in its body temperature regulation and should never be shaved.
Since the Leonberger is a social dog, daily walks, training, and play time are crucial to the emotional health of this breed.
The Leonberger, which has a lifespan of about 7 years, is generally considered a healthy breed. Despite this, it is known to suffer from certain conditions such as cancer, hip dysplasia, and bloat (or the twisting of the stomach), which can be avoided by feeding twice a day instead of one large meal.
Other diseases which may occur but are not commonly associated with the Leonberger include heart problems, cataracts, and thyroid problems.
History and Background
The Leonberger came about in the 1830s when Heinrich Essig, a dog breeder from Leonberg, crossed a female Landseer with a “barry” breed, which would later become the St. Bernard breed. The first dogs registered as Leonbergers were born in 1846. According to legend, they were bred to resemble the lion on the Leonberg coat-of-arms.
Many royals, including Napoleon II, Prince of Wales, and Emperor Napoleon III, were said to have owned Leonbergers. They have also been used in Canada as rescue dogs. However, the breed was negatively affected in World War I and World War II, since many of the dogs were left alone after their owners were killed or fled. It is said that the breed today is traced back to a mere eight dogs who survived World War II.