The Leonberger is a giant dog breed originally from Germany. These dogs are calm, quiet and a little stubborn. Nevertheless, thanks to their great intelligence, they are also easy to train. These dogs were originally working dogs, however, nowadays they make great companion dogs for active people.
Are you thinking of adopting a Leonberger? In this AnimalWised breed sheet, we're going to explain everything you need to know about the Leonberger breed. Continue reading to learn more!
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The Leonberger dog breed originates from Leonberg, Germany. In the 1830s, Heinrich Essig, a dog breeder and seller and mayor of the town of Leonberg, Germany, claimed to have created the Leonberger. He claimed to have bred a Landseer Newfoundland and a St. Bernard multiple times and later crossed the offspring with a Pyrenean Mountain Dog. The first Leonberger clubs were established in 1891 by the caregivers of this breed. They became popular working dogs for farmers.
Unfortunately, during World War I, the breed nearly became extinct. Only five of the twenty-five surviving Leonbergers were of breeding quality. Thankfully, two Leonberger fans, Stadelmann and Josenhans, began a club committed to saving the Leonberger breed. Then, the German government took over the breeding program. After the war, it was reestablished by the Deutsche Club fur Leonberger Hunde.
In 1991, the Leonberger breed was recognized by the United Kennel Club and began growing its popularity in the United States. This dog is now an adored breed world-wide, thanks to their calm, active and intelligent nature.
The Leonberger is a large, muscular, and elegant dog with a balanced body type. The Leonberger is a giant-sized dog, weighing at 90-150 lbs. Females measure at 25.5 - 29-5 inches at the withers, while males measure 28 - 31.5 inches at the withers. The Leonberger's long, water-resistant double coat is straight and moderately soft. Their coat can be lion-yellow, golden to reddish-brown, with a black mask.
Their head is proportionate to their body. Their ears are moderately sized and they flop down the sides of their head. Their eyes are medium-sized, almond shaped, and colored dark brown. This breed also presents sexual dimorphism. The Leonberger possesses either a strongly masculine or elegantly feminine form, making gender immediately detectable.
Leonbergers are calm and quiet dogs that adore being with their guardians. These dogs shouldn't be left alone as they are very social and need lots of interaction with people. When left alone they may suffer from separation anxiety. Although they are very social, they do tend to be shy with strangers at first.
These dogs are tranquil and docile. They are not aggressive, especially when well socialized from a young age. Although these dogs are very intelligent, they are also quite stubborn so you will need some patience when it comes to their training.
Caring for these dogs will require time and dedication as they don't cope well with being left alone. They also need plenty of food and exercise as they are giant-sized dogs. Here are other key factors when it comes to caring for a Leonberger:
Although stubborn, these dogs are highly intelligent and will require training. You can begin by paper training them when they are puppies, and then gradually begin to train them basic commands. Remember to always train them through positive reinforcement. The most efficient training method is the clicker method. Learn more about it in our article about the clicker training method.
These dogs will need more exercise than just a couple of walks per day. That's why they're recommended for active people. Leonbergers love activities such as agility, carting, sledding, backpacking and even swimming. As adult dogs, Leonbergers need over 2 hours of exercise daily, but shouldn't be over-exercised as puppies when their bones and joints are still developing.
These dogs will need a healthy and balanced canine diet for large-sized dogs. There are some breed-specific formulas you should opt for when possible. A large breed diet will limit fat and protein so they do not grow too rapidly. Nevertheless, Leonberger puppies will grow to more than 100 pounds by their first birthday. Leonberger puppies should be fed several times a day and, as always, be provided with fresh water.
Adult Leonbergers should be fed twice a day to help prevent bloating and GVD. They should not be given a large meal once a day. You should also avoid vigorous exercise for an hour after a meal. If your dog is eating too fast, read our article about what to do if your dog is eating too fast. We should also keep in mind that Leonbergers have a high potential for weight gain. Therefore, we must be very careful when it comes to their diet and the importance of exercise.
Due to the amount of hair they have, these dogs will need brushing and combing two times a week. They don't require trimming. Other than that, you will need to make sure they have healthy dental hygiene. Learn more in our article about the different ways to clean a dog's teeth.
Leonbergers can be very healthy dogs when well cared for. Nevertheless, there are some hereditary health problems that can occur in the breed. They are the following:
- Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GVD)
- Hip Dysplasia
- Leonberger Polyneuropathy
Remember to always keep up with their vaccination and deworming schedule. You should also bring them to the veterinarian for regular check-ups to ensure they are healthy and that we can detect any issues early on.