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lion yellow, red, reddish brown, also sandy (pale yellow, cream coloured) and all combinations in between, always with a black mask
very large
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Pros Cons
  • strong dog with great stamina
  • excellent watchdog
  • gets on well with children
  • even-tempered
  • giant size of a dog
  • more active than other giants
  • sheds heavily twice a year
  • short lifespan

Leonberger is an impressively big German dog with lion-like appearance. Thanks to its intimidating size it makes a fearless and trustworthy guard dog but in present days it primarily serves as a family dog. Sadly enough, the dog has really short lifespan ranging from 6 to 8 years.

The inventor of the Leonberger was a German breeder Heinrich Essig, whose plan was to create a dog with the look of a lion. In 1846 in Leonberg (Germany) he used the Saint Bernard, the Landseer, the Newfoundland and the Pyrenean Mountain Dog to get the dog of remarkable size and appearance. It’s highly probable that local dogs of farmers and butchers participated in the development of the Leonberger. Herr Essig died in the 1889 and his nephew took over the job of refining the breed. He gradually achieved black mask and the tawny colour, which are distinguishable in the breed’s standard today.

Eventually the Leonberger became a super trendy breed. A pair of dogs performed in theatres travelling throughout the United States and the breed memebers were showed at the Westmister Kennel Club events. The Leonberger also acquired many affluent and famous fanciers and was owned by Empress Elisabeth of Austria, the Prince of Wales, Napoleon II, King of Italia Umberto and Bismarck.

The breed has suffered a devastating loss in its population as the result of the World War I with only 25 specimens survived. The concerned breeders chose 5 the most suitable dogs and initiated the re-establishment of the Leonberger’s population. The World War II delivered the next blow and the breed once again appeared on the brink of extinction. In 1945 some Germans sought out a few lasting dogs and managed to restore the former position of the breed.

The Leonberger has been used with outstanding results as a stock guardian, search and rescue dog (and water rescue dog as well), tracking dog and as a family pet. The official standard was written in 1949. American Kennel Club (AKC) recognised the Leonberger in 2010.

The Leonberger is a calm and even-tempered giant that will be a desirable company for all family members. Its steady demeanour makes it suitable for living at home while its imposing size will scare off any intruder from your house. The dog naturally asserts and supports its territorial rights so it’s an exceptional watchdog without predisposition to needless barking and unreasonable alarms.

On the whole the Leonberger is friendly with strangers who are not trying to trespass its domain. The only precaution is that the ill-mannered dog can knock over the unknown person by jumping on him wishing to say hello.

This magnificent creature has unprecedented patience and can be trusted with a child, even with the most mischievous one. When the dog is displeased by harsh play it would rather prefer to walk away than display any sign of aggression.

When not provoked to aggressive response the Leonberger tolerates the strange dog and will greatly enjoy living with other canine animal of matching size and energy level. Small home pets as well as house cats can live in the same household with the dog providing they have been reared together. Nonetheless it wouldn’t be wise since the huge dog is able to traumatize or even kill them only by accident.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

- canine hip dysplasia;
- osteochondritis dessicans;
- eosinophilic panosteitis;
- Addison's disease;
- osteosarcoma;
- skeletal diseases;
- eye problems
- gastric torsion.

The grooming process of the Leonberger won’t cause too much trouble. Its gorgeous coat should be brushed every week. The dog is pretty messy meaning it loves getting wet and dirty so get prepared to do the cleaning more often than usually. After every walk it will be useful to work out tangles or matts on the Leonberger’s legs, tail and ears otherwise it can become much more difficult if put off for the later.

The Leonberger is a seasonal shedder and it’s going to shed intensely twice a year. Brush your dog once a day during these periods which will help to cut down on the amount of hair found all around your house.

Thanks to its steadfast temperament and willingness to please the training of the Leonberger is a pure delight. Consistency and correct techniques are main requirements of getting best results in working with the dog. Negative reinforcement isn’t an acceptable method to get adequate results, but calm and assertive handler will open the dog’s potential to the fullest.

The crucial role in upbringing of the Leonberger plays early training and socialisation. Obedience training should be started as early as possible since the big dog means big problems.

The socialisation should be initiated well before the puppy is four month old and continue into the adulthood. The puppy should be exhibited to the wide variety of sounds, people, animals and situations in order to become polite and well-behaved member of society in the future.

The Leonberger requires average amount of exercise. The daily walk of an hour long will suffice to maintain the dog in a good shape and health. Under condition that the dog gets its share of daily exercises it will stay calm and relaxed in home environment. However, before adopting the Leonberger it’s worth to know that it is more energetic than many other giant breeds.

The Leonberger will become an eager participant of any outdoor activities, for instance hiking or jogging. This dog especially likes swimming and also can be trained to drag a sled or a cart. If your intention is to make a sled dog out of the Leonberger you should wait until it turns 18 months.