We originate from Leonberg in Germany. In 1840 the mayor of the town wanted a dog to be bred to resemble the lion on the town crest. Newfoundland and St Bernard, and a backcross to a Pyrenean Mountain dog were the dogs used to breed us. We became very popular and many distinguished people owned us. Sadly, during World War I we almost died out (along with many other dog breeds) as people could not afford to feed us. The handful of dogs that were left were used to build our numbers up until we were decimated again following World War II. Even today we are relatively rare but gaining in numbers and popularity. Around the beginning of the 20th Century, we were imported by the Government of Canada for use as water rescue dogs.
What do I look like?
As a cross between a St Bernard and a Newfoundland, it is somewhat inevitable that we are on the large side of big! We have a medium length coat, which varies in texture from soft to hard and should be wavy rather than curly. Colours are yellow / golden to red-brown. Our muzzle, which is broad and square, will always be dark, with a black nose. Our ears are large and pendulous with good feathering. Our body is strong and muscular all over, from our deep chest to well boned legs and webbed feet. Our tail is long and carried at half-mast. Leonbergers are great movers – we have an efficient, elastic and effortless gait that belies our size and power.
What do I need from you?
We like to live our life at a sedentary pace so are well suited to equally chilled owners. We love the outdoor life and with our webbed feet make very keen swimmers. Regular access to country walks would be great. Naturally we have a hearty appetite so need good-sized portions! As puppies we should not be over exercised or allowed free running up and down stairs. Only when our bones are properly developed should exercise be gradually increased. We shed fur very heavily so a good brushing every week is needed to keep us in fine shape. However when the undercoat is being shed we will require daily combing or brushing for the duration of the moult. Regular use of a drag comb is highly effective. We should never be shaved.
What I will give in return
We are an easy going and friendly dog. As a family dog, temperament is one of our most important and distinguishing characteristics. The Leonberger could be described as self-assured, robust, loyal, intelligent, playful, and kindly. We can be taken anywhere without difficulty and adjust easily to a variety of circumstances, including the introduction of other dogs. We are also pretty insensitive to noise, submissive to family members and very friendly towards children. Despite our laid-back approach to life, we make a great guard dog – our sheer size and stature make an imposing figure and we do have a good ear for intruders.
How big will I get?
Up to 26in-32in (66cm-81cm) in height and a whopping 75lb-110lb (34kg-50kg) in weight.
How long should I be around for?
A Leonberger’s average lifespan is between 7 to 11 years, sometimes longer.
How big is our litter?
Litters are quite varied – anything from 6 to as many as 14!
We have a strong Royal connection having been owned by Emperors Napoleon II and III, Empress Elizabeth of Austria-Hungary, the Prince of Wales, Otto Von Bismarck, and Umberto I of Italy.
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Kings of Leon
Disclaimer: the views expressed on this page and any comments below are only a guide to typical traits and views on the breed. Individual circumstance and traits will always vary so we can be in no way responsible for any of the information provided.