May 5, 2013

Meet the Breed: The Leonberger

Overview:

  • Height: Males 29" - 31", females 27" - 29"
  • Weight: Males 130 - 170 pounds, females 100 - 130 pounds
  • Historical function: companion, farm and draft work
  • Modern function: companion, farm work
  • AKC classification: working

Physical Characteristics:

The Leonberger is a large dog with an imposing appearance. It was bred to resemble a lion. The body is muscular, sturdy yet elegant in appearance. The large size is enhanced with a full double coat that is medium to long. The coat has water-resistant properties. Coat colors include yellow, golden, red, brown, sand, or cream, often with mixed colors with darker tips, but always with a dark mask. Males and females look quite different from each other, with the males being larger and having more of a mane. The females are more slight and refined looking. 

History of the Breed:

The Leonberger was developed in 1846 by German breeder Heinrich Essing in Leonberg. By crossing the St Bernard, the Great Pyrenees, and the St. Bernard, he was attempting to create a breed that would resemble the town's crest featuring a lion. The breed was nearly decimated by the world wars. Today's breed can trace its roots to the remaining eight dogs left after WWII. The breed has regained its popularity in Europe but still remains rare in the U.S. The first Leonbergers were imported to the U.S. in 1971. 

Temperament:

The Leonberger has a lively, friendly personality. It is very loyal, patient and makes an excellent family companion with children and other pets. Very even tempered, not prone to being startled. Brave and intelligent, the Leonberger is a gentle giant, tolerating even ill-mannered children.

  • Best suited for: Most families with room for a large dog who can accommodate daily brushings.
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog prefers cooler climates.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Heavy shedder, especially seasonally. Must be brushed daily and monitored for mats to keep hot spots from forming.
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk, though does not require a large amount of exercise.
  • Life expectancy: 7 years.
  • Health concerns: May be prone to bloat. Vigilant efforts to control hip dysplasia in this breed have reduced occurrences to 10%.

Breed Club Links: Leonberger Club of America

BaxterBoo.com Perfect Pairings: Furminator for Giant Long-haired Dogs 

Have any stories about a Leonberger? Please share!

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

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