For anyone considering taking one of these wonderful Giants in to their home, please be aware that this is a dog classified in the Molossoid breeds, mountain type and require long term committment and understanding of the breed specifics. The Leonberger is one of the oldest breeds originating in Germany.
The Leonbergers love to be worked and enjoy water and draught work along with many other activities, they make exeptional Pet's As Therapy dogs, they are so very sensitive and most love to do therapy work. Their laid back temperament and love of children makes them the perfect addition to any family as the perfect companion dog.
They are very intelligent and need to be at the heart of a family, being involved in day to day life. They do not thrive well being away from the family or being left alone for long periods of time. Full time working families would not be suitable for this breed of dog.
While there are many pro factors to have a Leonberger, there are also some cons to be considered as well:
Do you like big coated lion like dogs?
Do you like hair in your food, on your clothes and almost everywhere?
Do you like big muddy paws all over your floors?
Do you like water, especially all over your kitchen floor?
Do you like long daily walks?
Do you like to committ to weekly training school sessions?
Do you like dog grooming and lots of it?
Do you like cleaning, because there will be lots of it to do?
Do you like to never have clean patio doors ever again?
10. Do you like to share your sofa; bed; car; with a loveable Giant, who will be constantly by your side and who will give you his heart for as long as it beats?
Only if you answer yes to any of these questions, is the Leonberger the dog for you!
Whilst not the perfect dog for everyone, they are a true mix of canine strength and elegance at it's best.
The Leonberger is a friendly character who makes a great family pet, very distinguished in his manner and child friendliness. As a companion he is agreeable, obedient and fearless in all situations of life. The Leonberger although a working breed, was not bred for one purpose alone.
"The most interesting characteristic of The Leonberger is his lack of specialization. Although he is in body, the strength and the muscle of a typical working dog, the fact that he has been selectively bred for the balanced temperament of a house dog....rather than any precise working task, has gifted him with a versitility almost unique on the present canine scene. The Leonberger adapts himself well and often, spontaneously to various uses; he seems to know instinctively what is expected of him"
Above quote by Guido Perosino, Italian author of The Leonberger, International Judge and expert in the field of Leonbergers.
The story began in the early years of the 19th century in Germany, a small rural town called Leonberg, a flourishing market town 20km from Stuttgart in Wuttemberg in the foothills of the black forest. Heinrich Essig was born in 1809, he is the creator of the breed and turned out to be the modern day "entrepreneur".
He was an animal lover, a showman and a very clever merchant. The Saint Bernard and The Newfoundland were prestigious dogs of that day, he wanted a dog to rival these popular breeds and to promote the town in which he lived along with creating a breed which closely resembled the look of a lion in the town's crest.
He crossed a Landseer Newfoundland with a long haired Saint Bernard owned by monks at the St Bernard monastry. He in-bred these dogs and then outcrossed to another dog in his kennels the White Pyrenean Mountain Dog, another popular dog of that time. The Leonberger emerged from this in 1846, this lion like dog who resembled the lion in the Leonberg town crest met with great success and soon became in demand. His marketing genious created widespread popularization of the breed. He had ardent loyalists who paid great sums and defended him publicly against the outraged breeders of the Saint Bernard & Newfoundland following his new creation. By this time he was a town councilor who took great advantage of his superior position, his dogs were sold in to the castles of royalty, most notably, Empress Elizabeth of Austria, the Prince of Wales, Emperor Napoleon II, Garibaldi, the King of Belgium, Bismarck, King Umberto of Italy and the Czar of Russia. They were exported worldwide to the wealthy who desired large and fashionable dogs.
In the nineteenth century, many Leonbergers were imported to Russia.
Like many breeds, the end of the wars almost brought it to extinction, by the end of world war II as little as 30 dogs remained. In 1945, several Germans gathered some of the remaining Leonbergers and re established the breed.
Essig died in 1889 without ever defining a standard for the breed.
There is a remarkable story of how the breed first arrived in England UK after world war II.
"Dave Gower, Wilson and the ten bars of soap"
An excellent trilogy of books written by Metha Stramer is highly recommended.
Volume 1 " A turbulent past" 1846 - 1945
Volume 2 " A second beginning" 1945 - 1978
Volume 3 Not yet published from 1978 -present day
"The Leonberger" by Angela White is also a great read.
Large, strong, muscular yet elegant. Confident, calm and lively. Males in particular should be powerful and strong.
Amenable, intelligent and fearless companion; distinguished by his friendliness.
Self-assured and playful. Neither timid nor aggressive.
Head and Skull
Head in balance with body and limbs. Strong but not heavy, elongated rather than stocky. Proportion of muzzle to skull equal. No wrinkles. Skull in profile and seen from the front slightly arched. The back part of the skull not substantially broader than at the eyes. Medium stop. Nose black. Cheeks only moderately developed, muzzle moderately tapered but never snipey. Nasal bridge of even breadth and slightly arched (roman nose).
Neither deep set nor protruding, of medium size. Oval in shape with kind expression. Medium to dark brown in colour. Eyelids close fitting, showing no haw.
Set on high and not too far back, pendant, medium sized, hanging close to the side of the head, fleshy with rounded tips, well feathered.
Strong jaws with perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, level bite tolerated. Teeth evenly placed and vertical in the jaw, with complete dentition. No constriction of the canines in the lower jaw. Lips close fitting, black, corner of lips closed.
Strong, flowing into the withers in a slight arch, without throatiness. Moderately long, no dewlap.
Shoulders well laid, elbows close fitting. Forelegs straight, well boned and not too close. Shoulder and upper arm long, sloping and well muscled. Pasterns strong, firm and straight when seen from front, almost vertical seen from side.
Height at the withers to length of body in ratio of 9 to 10 (measured from point of shoulder to point of buttock). Depth of chest approximately 50% of height at withers, which should be pronounced, especially in males. Moderate forechest. Chest broad, deep, reaching at least to the elbows. Oval, not barrel chested. Back firm and straight with broad loins, strong and well muscled. Moderately sloping croup with relatively long, broad rump, gently rounded. Rump never higher than withers. Slight tuck up.
Legs set not too close together and parallel when seen from rear. Well muscled, long, slanting upper thigh. Moderate bend of stifle. Hocks strong, angle between lower thigh and rear pastern well defined, turned neither in nor out. Dewclaws should be removed.
Tight and rounded with well arched toes. Front feet pointing directly forwards. Pads black.
Well furnished, straight, reaching at least to hock. On the move, tail slightly curved, not carried above level of back. Never forming a ring.
Ground covering, even movement in all gaits maintaining a level topline. Extending well in front with good drive from hindquarters. Seen from front and behind, legs move in a straight line when walking or trotting.
Medium soft to hard, fairly long, lying close to body despite good undercoat. Slightly wavy but never curled. Very evident mane at throat and chest.
Lion gold, red, reddish brown, sandy (fawn or cream) and all combinations in between, always with a black mask. Black hair tips are permitted. Black must not dominate basic colour. Lighter colour on underside of tail, mane, feathering on front legs and breeches on hindlegs normal, but must not be pronounced. A small white patch or stripe on the chest and white hair on the toes tolerated.
Height at withers: Dogs 72-80cms (28¼-31½ ins); Bitches 65-75cms (25½ -29½ ins).
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.