The Leonberger is a giant sized watch dog. This is a breed which has been bred specifically to resemble a lion. It does look like one, we have to give it that, and even its deep bark can be compared with a lion’s roar. In fact, this dog originates from Germany and a town called Leonberg. The name of the city is directly given to the dog and it serves as a signature dog of the city. Because of its size and nature, people often refer to this breed as “the Gentle Giant” or the “Gentle Lion.”
Leonberger History & Origins
The origin of the Leonberger breed is quite interesting. The most interesting origin story is that the dog was bred by Heinrich Essig around the 1830s. As the major of Leonberg, German town in Baden-Württemberg, he aimed to develop a breed which would be enormous in size but also have a good personality. There are some other stories which say that this dog was made to resemble the crest of the city which featured a lion.
The dog actually has some characteristics which resemble the lion but most people think that this reason is not true. Heinrich Essig claims that he crossbred a female Landseer Newfoundland with a male Great St. Bernard Hospice and Monastery. The result was an enormous white coated hound which style was very popular back then. The dog became a part of many royal courts and was frequently seen around Europe. There are some claims that before this the Leonberger dog already existed in its current shape and form and that Essig was lying.
Nevertheless, later on the dog was crossbred with a Pyrenean Mountain Dog and during the 20th century they also added a Newfoundland dog. The result is something much closer which we have today and a dog with a much darker coat and a mask on its face. The use varied along the years but the dog was quite useful in farm work as it helped pulled heavy freight and was also very loyal and obedient. The dogs are also used in rescue missions today which is just one of their purposes as the Leonberger has shown that it is quote a capable dog.
Characteristics & Temperament
The Leonberger is probably one of the more obedient and friendly dog breeds in the world. Do not let its look deceive you as this is not at all an aggressive dog. It is a disciplined and self-assured dog. It is very fond of people and other animals as well and will also work well with your children. It is also very composed with passersby, but it will protect the home and its territory from strangers and people who want to do harm to its owner.
It will do anything to oblige to its family and make them happy. The Leonberger is quite an intelligent and playful dog, so it can be easy to train it. But you will have to socialize it as much as you can at first. Also exercise is important, the big dog needs a lot of room to move so it will be very useful for the development of the dog if you allow it to have space.
Leonberger Appearance, Colors, Size
We already mentioned the appearance of a Leonberger and they are quite large dogs. These mountain dogs can grow to be 71–80 cm tall for males and 65–75 cm for females and they still look very gracious. The males can weight about 54–77 kg while females Leonbergers go to 45–61 kg. They are robust and muscular but have a balanced body. They usually have a dark mask on their face which is one of the characteristics of the day.
They carry a water-resistant double coat. This comes in handy in various sort of dangerous situations and different weather conditions. They use this to their advantage and so have the owners for a number of years already. The hair is short and very fine on the muzzle and their limbs while the long and durable coat covers their bodies. There are various acceptable color variations for this dog and some of them include lion-yellow, red, red-brown, and sand.
The health of a Leonberger dog is not so much problematic as they have an average lifespan. They can live up to be 7 years old, which is quite usual for large dog breeds. The dog has some illnesses and conditions which are also usual in large dog breeds with Hip dysplasia being one of them. There are also a number of inherited conditions which they may come by such as heart conditions, /polyneuropathy, osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, osteochondrosis dissecans, allergies, digestive disorders, cataracts, entropion/ectropion eyelids, progressive retinal atrophy, perianal fistulas, and thyroid disorders. But some of them can be addressed on time and will probably not cause much problems for your dog, so try to take care of it as much as you can.
Grooming & Shedding
A Leonberger sheds moderately and has two major shedding periods which come twice a year. During those periods you will have to brush your dog more than often. Regularly, it is necessary to brush the coat of your dog once a day, due to its long fur. Also they might get dirty after a walk so it is a good idea to do it immediately afterwards. All in all, these dogs do not require so much grooming but it does not hurt to do some.
Leonberger Price and Breeders
A dog as large as a Leonberger will not come cheap. This type of a dog will cost about 2,000 dollars and it will mostly depend on the parents of the dog and its history. But luckily there are numerous breeders in Germany, Canada and UK. This dog has at one point been facing extinction during the WWI but not its breed is doing so much better and they are once again in no danger.
Today, various rescue groups, shelters and kennels will provide you with an opportunity to rescue a Leonberger. This has become a very popular way of finding a suitable dog for you without the fuss of paying too much for it. If you are really thinking of doing this you might as well look for your dog with Bluebonnet Leos or Stony Creek Leonbergers for an opportunity to get one.