I was lucky enough to spend time with some beautiful Leonbergers at Canadian Pet Expo and visiting patients at a hospital where they work as therapy dogs. I did not know much about the breed so decided to share my research below.
DOG BREED DESCRIPTION:
The Leonberger is a giant working breed. They can weigh up to 170 pounds. The AKC describes the Leonberger as “Friendly, Gentle and Playful”. The Leonberger is devoted to his people and wants to be with them all the time. The Leo, as he’s nicknamed, can be messy and destructive to live with. They can be sloppy when they eat and drink.
The Leonberger is a German dog breed, named after the town of Leonberg. It is believed that the Leonberger was developed as a grand and noble companion for royalty during the 1800’s by crossing a Landseer Newfoundland with a longhaired Saint Bernard and possibly a Pyrenean Mountain Dog . Napoleon III, Tsar Alexander II, and the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) were all owners. They were found to be excellent working dogs but became nearly extinct after WW2.
These days, the Leonberger is primarily a family companion or in the case of our friend Olie, a Therapy Dog.
Appearance and Grooming
They have a thick medium-long, waterproof double coat and shed heavily. They have lush triangular ears, a bushy tail, and a black facemask with big dark-brown eyes. Adult male Leonbergers have a lion-like mane on the neck and chest. They require lots of daily brushing and regular deep grooming and nail trims.
Like many giant breeds, the Leonberger may have a short lifespan of only seven to eight years. Large dogs such as Leos can experience bloat, where the stomach twists and gas is trapped inside.
Training and Activity
Leonbergers are very large and strong, probably stronger than and heavier than some owners. Early socialization and good obedience training is very important. They frequently love to play in mud and water, and they may be diggers and chasers. They are usually gentle with kids, but because of their large size, they should be supervised around toddlers so they don’t accidentally knock them over or scare them.
The Leonberger is highly active, even as an adult. Expect to give at least an hour of exercise daily and put in plenty of effort training. If you love the outdoors, they can make good hiking and jogging companions. They are a working breed. Ways to help get mental and physical exercise also include agility, carting, and obedience as well as water sports. They may not be the best breed for apartment living.
Personality: active, affectionate, alert, amiable, athletic, attentive, bright, devoted, energetic, friendly, gentle, good tempered, good-natured, kind, obedient, playful, responsive
Kid Friendly (1-5): 5
Activity Level (1-5): 5
Trainability (1-5): 4 Hair lengths: long
Shedding (1-5): 5
Jobs: dog sports, family pet, sporting, therapy dog
More about the Leonberger Dog Breed:
Olie’s story HERE
Tell us in the comments if you know any Leonbergers.
Scott Yaworski says
Great article and very accurate. I have a Leonberger that I adopted from a kill shelter. He is the most amazing dog and the center of the family. I have PTSD and he gets me out of bed in the morning, stays with me throughout the day and he’s just a like having a big teddy bear by your side all the time.
I think the article was well written and you definitely captured the bread.
Talent Hounds says
Thank you so much. We are so glad you have your big teddy bear- such an amazing breed. We did not know much about them until we met Olie. best Susie and Nicole.
Kathleen Szautner says
After 9 and 1/2 wonderful years of companionship, my loving Leonberger, Aslan, crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. He was my soulmate and the best dog I ever had, intelligent and mischievous. I have only praise for this beautiful breed.
Talent Hounds says
I am so sorry for your loss but what wonderful memories you must have of Aslan. XS