Leonberger

The Leonberger is a breed of dog that has captivated the imagination of many and the hearts of dog lovers for their impressive majestic appearance, strong physicality, outgoing and friendly personality.

Here is a dog that seems to have been surrounded by one or two impressive men, who had a vision for this breed that nobody else seemed to have shared. That was until they surrounded themselves with the Leonberger. And like many other breeds, once you get past the physical impression, you are left with a dog that is the consummate family companion capable of protecting and loving.

Growing on many clubs popularity rankings, the Leonberger continues to gain momentum in dog lover circle. So what is that makes the Leonberger so impressive, lovable and popular? Here is everything that you need to know about the Leonberger.

History

Leonbergers can generate the interest of the entire room when they enter the picture. They are impressive yet elegant looking dog, that derives from the mountains, while being serviceable for labor and rescue purposes.

This breed’s history dates back to the mid 1800’s, when a man by the name of Heinrich Essig, who was an impressive man known for his business doings and animal trading, had a vision of an all-white large and imposing breed. Known for his marketing skills, Heinrich was an important man with a defined role as an alderman in the town Leonberg, Germany.

Throughout that time he began breeding dogs to create his ultimate vision, in which would eventually be named the Leonberger. He blended a female Landseer Newfoundland with a long coated Saint Bernard. Those puppies grew to be black and white with long coat. Later, he added a Pyrenean Mountain Dog to the fold which would result in a large dog with long coats that were white. These dogs, much like today’s Leonberger, had very appeasing temperaments.

It was 1846, that the first Leonberger was registered. Around that time, German artists used the Leonbergers as models for art shows. Eventually, thanks to Essig’s vision, the Leonbergers would end up in royal castle throughout the world, making them very popular and in-demand. They were part of show business in the U.S. and were registered with the AKC stud book from 1887-1902.

When the Leonberger father died in 1889, he left the breed without a standard. This caused a little controversy until early 1891, when the first Leonberger clubs were established.

Albert Kull was another man who surrounded the Leonberger with a vision. He fancied the breed and created a flourishing vision until the 1920’s, when World War One nearly eradicated the entire Leonberger population.

Again, the Leonberger would be surrounded by men who had a vision for keeping this breed alive and well. Otto Josenhans and Karl Stadelman were dedicated to rescue this dying breed, when they searched all of Germany for 25 total Leonbergers. It is said that only five of those dogs were suitable. By the late 1920’s, the Leonberger recovered in Germany and became prominent fixture in society thanks to the drive of the German men.

The International Union of Leonberger Clubs was started in 1975, where they meet up annually with several other Leonberger groups to preserve and protect the breed. The Leonberger Club of America was founded in 1987, and has been doing its steady work to preserve the breed as well. The Leonberger was registered in the American Kennel Club in 2010 and is ranked 95th most popular dog.

Size

The Leonberger is a large and muscular dog that can average around 30 inches in height as males, and 28 inches in height for females. The females tend to be more elegant in appearance and the average weight for a Leonberger will be approximately 110 pounds, while the males can balloon up to 140-150 pounds.

Personality & Temperament

Leonbergers are a gentle giant, as they are usually referred as. Because of that, they are very good around children, usually possessing a temperament that is tolerable. If taught right as a pup, the Leonberger will walk away from a confrontation or agitation from a child. They are also approachable with other dogs, although early socialization will be the key to the outcome.

You should be slightly weary with strangers, but if you breed them right at an early stage as puppies, the Leonberger is pleasant with people they don’t know.

They can tolerate noise, submissive to their owners, and are a breed that aims to be obedient to their masters. They are very well-trained, and easy to teach. They are very disciplined with people in the community or neighbors, you won’t have to worry about a vicious streak from a dog that is over protective and territorial.

They are very loyal to their family, with a high level of intelligence. They love the outdoors, as you can imagine being a mountain dog. You will also find that most Leonbergers are interested in water or swimming. They are very ambitious to be put to work, and you can teach them to pull carts, go for hikes, or camping.

Leonbergers aren’t the best breed for small corridors or apartments. They would much rather be in a big backyard than constrained by space. They do have slight dealings with separation but fare better than most breeds. Of course, they do like attention and affection while returning it as well. They do respond well to commands but not ridicule. Be firm but not unfair with this dog, as it can be easily discouraged.

Health

Leonbergers aren’t a breed that is going to live a long while. As a matter of fact, most surveys from the UK, U.S. and Canadian clubs agree that the average lifespan of Leos is around 7 years old. That is four years less than the average purebred dog. The Leonberger Club says males can live up to 6.5 years on average, and females 7.5 year, which gives you the average of 7 years.

Leonbergers can have their difficulties with obesity if you do not feed them appropriately with a healthy diet.

Bone cancer is one of the highest killers for a Leonberger breed. The USA/Canada Leonberger Club of America survey claims 37 percent of the breed died from cancer. 12 percent was old age and 9 percent from cardiac arrest. The results were even worse in 2004’s UK Kennel Club Survey, where it found 45 percent of Leonbergers died mostly from cancer, 11 percent from cardiac and 8.5 percent unknown causes.

Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated 2100 Leonbergers and out of those dog’s x rayed for dysplasia issues, 14 percent were hampered from elbow dysplasia and only 4 percent from elbow issues.

Leonbergers seem to be fine with their eyes, considering only 3 percent will suffer from cataracts.

Always be sure you collect the right documentation from a reputable breeder, as well as take your Leonberger to the veterinarian annually or as needed. They should always be up to date on shots.

Care

At an early age for your Leonberger pup, you will want to get them out to see new things and places. The Leonberger Club of America says that the window for socialization on a Leonberger is around five months. During that five month window, it is important that you introduce your puppy to other dogs, other people, and a variety of other places.

You should always keep an eye out around smaller children. The reason is simple, the Leonberger can grow into a massive 140 pounds of big dog. That can easily topple a smaller child. While this would most likely be on accident, your Leonberger wouldn’t know that it is doing your smaller child any wrong. Leonberger breeds are typically very gentle, but if they get playing, it is something to keep an eye on.

Bathing your Leonberger may be a little fun as they can get a little dirty and muddy with their thick and wavy coats. They do like to play and shed, so grooming will essential to keep a home clean. It is recommended that you bathe upon necessity, so if they are muddy, feel free. Otherwise, the Leonberger has quite the natural odor repellent coat, that will smell naturally graceful. If you do bathe them once every three months use a towel to dry them off. Clipping nails to prevent overgrowth, destruction of carpet and furniture should be done 4-8 weeks.

Training a Leonberger puppy should consistent and outdoors. They should have their own space to run around and be comfortable. When they get older, you’ll strive to keep them in shape, as they do have issues with being active.

The Leonberger isn’t your typical obedience dog, in the sense that, it’ll do some trick but only to make its master happy. They can also adapt to any surrounding just as long as their family integrates and involves them in with it.

Feeding

The International Leonberger Union claims that you shouldn’t feed a Leonberger puppy food that promotes rapid growth. Remember, this is a breed that can grow large on their own accord and really don’t require diet generosity.

Puppies around 8-12 weeks old will require 3-4 meals per 24 hours. When they grow to be 3-6 months, you can reduce that to 3 meals. Once they are six month to a year, you can reduce it one more meal to two. From a year and on, you should feed your Leonberger one good meal a day. It doesn’t have to be at once, you can always break them up into two smaller meals.

It’s always best to keep the table food or scraps at a minimum with this large breed, and they do require plenty of hydration, so be sure to always load up the water bowl with fresh and clean water.

Coat

With the Leonberger, there is a lot of things happening with its overall appearance. For its muzzle or mask, you’ll typically find him with a black muzzle that is short and fine hair. The fine hair also follows on the breed’s legs as well.

The Leonberger is a double coated breed. The entire body of hair on a Leonberger is waterproof. His body hair is mostly coarse. The outer coat is long, typically straight or flat, and will be snug to the flesh.

When male Leonberger breeds get older, they will develop a lion-like mane around their necks. This is what gave them the majestic appearance that people in Germany admired back in the 1800’s.

They do have bushy tails and feathery ears. The undercoat is usually soft to the touch and dense.

With regards to the coat color, the acceptable coat standard for the Leonberger is red-brown, red, lion-yellow and sand. The Leonberger lips, nose, and foot should always have a black surface to it.

With this breed, you will be required to groom or brush them 2-3 times a week depending on the length. They do shed quite a bit in the winter as well. Thoroughly comb their coats for mats or knots.

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Fun Facts

  • Leonberger is very popular with royalty. They’ve lived with Napoleon the 2nd, Elizabeth the Empress of Austria-Hungary, Otto Von Bismarck, Emperor Napoleon the 3rd, and Umberto 1 of Italy, according to Wikipedia.
  • Three Leonberger dogs played “Buck” in the Disney movie, “The Call of the Wild.”
  • They’ve been featured on many stamps in different countries.
  • The Leonberger was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2010 as an official breed.
  • They’ve been used for water rescue missions, that have actually saved people’s lives and can swim fairly well.

Closing Words

The Leonberger was a man’s vision, and another man’s determination to see that this breed would exist and make a great companion pet. That vision and determination prevailed, and because of it, the Leonberger is one of the most loving and compassionate large breed dogs out there today.

Give them a mission and the Leonberger can do it, Give them the keys to your family’s trust and love, and they will dedicate their life to the cause by showering your famly with love and affection.

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