(Nicknames: Leo or Gentle Lion)
This Mountain dog comes with a generous double coat, the Leonberger is a large, muscular, and elegant dog with balanced body type, medium temperament, and dramatic presence. The head is held proudly, adorned with a striking black mask, and projects the breed’s distinct expression of intelligence, pride, and kindliness. Remaining true to their early roots as a capable family and Working dog, the surprisingly agile Leonberger is sound and coordinated, with both strength in bearing and elegance in movement.
A dimorphic breed, the Leonberger possesses either a strongly masculine or elegantly feminine form, making gender immediately discernible. When properly trained and socialized, the Leonberger is vigilant, loyal, and confident in all situations. Robust, adaptable, obedient, intelligent, playful, and kindly, the Leonberger is an appropriate family companion for modern living conditions.
Were accepted into the AKC in 2010 and are a member of the Working Group.
The gentle character and even temperament of the Leonberger is of utmost importance for fulfilling their role as a family companion. The Leonberger is self–assured and calm, with a steady, playful demeanor. He is willing to please and possesses a good capacity for learning. The Leonberger exhibits a marked friendliness towards children and is at ease in all situations, never showing fear, shyness or aggression.
Quarrelsomeness or hostility towards people or dogs in normal situations, or an unwarranted show of timidity or nervousness, is not in keeping with Leonberger character and shall be penalized to the extent that it is effectively eliminated from competition.
Weekly brushing is needed. The ears must be kept clean and the teeth cleaned when needed. Bathe only when necessary. Some de-matting is required to avoid hotspots. Wetness and damp-wet weather conditions are responsible for the hot spots. 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.
This 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's goal was to create a breed that would closely resemble the look of a lion. Leonbergers have been owned by many royal families including Napoleon II of France, Empress Elizabeth of Austria, the Prince of Wales, Emperor Napoleon II, Bismarck, and Italian King Umberto.
In the nineteenth century many Leonbergers were imported to Russia. Like many breeds, the world wars almost brought it to extinction. 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 his popularity in Europe. The official standard was set in 1949. The first Leonberger was imported to the United States in 1971. This versatile breed has been successful for guarding livestock, search and rescue, obedience, water-rescue, tracking and as a family companion.
The Leonberger does not respond very well to harsh training-methods; training requires patience. Owners need to be firm, but calm, confident and consistent. Proper human to canine communication is essential. Socialize and train early, as this puppy will become a very large adult.
As in all giant breeds, they are prone to hip dysplasia, and other skeletal diseases/disorders. Also eyelid defects and bone disease.