Other names: Leonberg, Chien de Leonberg, Leo
The Leonberger, known as the Leo, is mainly a guard dog as well as being a very sweet companion dog. Very loyal, extremely attached to and patient with children, this mountain dog is generally calm and outgoing. They can, however, become very dangerous if there is a threat to their family or property.
Key facts about the Leonberger
Life expectancy :
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Origins and history
There are several theories surrounding the Leonberger’s origins, but it seems that this breed is rather recent: in 1846, the councillor Henri Essig de Leonberg (hence the name of the breed), would have crossed his own Newfoundland with Saint Bernards and Mountain dogs from the Pyrenees, thus creating a new breed. The breed was officially recognised by the FCI in 1955.
Physical characteristics of the Leonberger
Female : Between 26 and 30 in
Male : Between 28 and 31 in
Female : Between 99 and 121 lb
Male : Between 121 and 143 lb
The coat can be many shades of fawn: light, red or dark. They can also be a sandy colour or any other shade between fawn and sand. The muzzle is black.
Type of coat
The hair is long.
The fur is straight, with a slight wave allowed by the official standard. The undercoat is dense. They have a beautiful mane all around their neck and chest.
Their eyes range from light to dark brown.
The Leonberger is a large dog, a “giant” with a muscular but elegant and well-proportioned body and a lively temperament. The head is moderately arched, with a skull that is lower and narrower than that of a Saint Bernard, the breed from which the Leonberger originates from. The head seems deeper and wider. The skin doesn’t form into wrinkles on the face. The muzzle is slightly deep: never pointed. The stop is moderate. The chamfer is slightly hooked. The ears are high-set, drooping and flattened to the sides of the head. Their legs are strong and robust, of a solid frame and well-aligned. The tail is carried half-hanging, never coiled above the back.
Good to know
Breeders encounter a lot of problems at the time of reproduction: females sometimes have problems being pregnant, and birth is sometimes difficult.
Of a kind nature, the Leo, so called by lovers of this breed, is a friendly companion and gentle towards their loved ones.
Their temperament is described as being “average”, meaning that this dog is never over the top. This is also demonstrated when playing, neither too much nor too little.
These dogs are as impressive as they are placid. Quiet, this breed is certainly the most balanced of their kind.
They are a very versatile dog who prove their intelligence through their innate searching skills (avalanche dog, tracking, man trailing etc.). Indeed, their memory and ability to learn are remarkable assets and especially very useful in certain situations.
The Leonberger is not a predator, they also often get along well with other animals.
Fearful / wary of strangers
Although they are balanced, calm and placid, the Leo may be ready with a quick response if their family is being threatened. In fact, they are sometimes suspicious of strangers, but this is more so that they can take the time to analyse the situation.
Their natural assertiveness and exceptional self-control allow them to never become aggressive or frightening.
The owners of Leonbergers generally consider these dogs to be glued to their owner. And indeed, they need to feel fully integrated in the family and they do not like being excluded. However, they do know how to keep their distance when necessary due to their brilliant temperament.
Behaviour of the Leonberger
Although very attached to their loved ones, the Leo does not mind the absence of their owner, as long as they have been taught from an early age to be alone in a progressive and positive way.
Easy to train / obedience
This dog, although baring similar resemblance to a lion, is clearly not the most difficult dog to train. Indeed, they are docile and have beautiful natural learning capabilities. This should be exploited as soon as the puppy arrives home in order to prevent them from adopting bad habits.
Although they are by no means aggressive, their training should not be neglected. Without early education and socialisation, this dog weighing up to 154 lbs can be dangerous.
This dog can bark, but never without reason.
Tendency to run away
Even if there is no fence, the Leo is not a runaway dog: they prefer to sit at their observation point to watch out for the slightest disturbance.
Very calm and able to be left alone, this Molosser is absolutely not destructive. They know how to stay calm when their owners aren’t around, especially if they’re used to it from a young age.
Greedy / Gluttony
Like all giant-sized dogs, the Leonberger eats a lot. It’s important to ensure that they don’t gain weight because this dog should in no way become overweight.
The Leo is not considered a watchdog in the strict sense of the word. They are certainly very protective, but they aren’t very boisterous. Although they may scare some, they remain quite loveable in general, other than if provoked.
They are a guard dog that really “keep” their house and are always on the lookout, very suspicious of strangers. But here, the Leonberger knows the difference between an intruder and a guest. They can keep an incredible composure and never go mad.
Moreover, the great wisdom of this dog encourages them to pursue an intruder without attacking them or being aggressive.
The dog possesses all the qualities of a good family dog: balanced, gentle, loyal, affectionate, protective, calm etc. They are practically perfect… it is more their size that should be considered when thinking about adopting. Owners must be ready to integrate an unusual dog into their home.
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Leonberger in a flat
Although very large, the Leo does not need much space to be happy; they will be as long as they are with their owners. They can therefore cope with city life, even living in an apartment.
However, they still prefer a peaceful life in the countryside, they don’t even need a huge garden, just to be able to wander in and out at their leisure and guard the house when they see fit.
Need for exercise / Sporty
As soon as they stop growing, this teddy bear of a dog needs exercise. Without being the sportiest of Molassers, they love swimming and can even accompany owners on a run.
Be careful, they are not advised to practise defence sports, such as ring sports. They can, however, excel in other disciplines such as agility, tracking, yoking or obedience.
Travelling / easy to transport
Although they are very sociable and like to follow their owners around, their very imposing size is not the most suitable for journeys.
However, the Leonberger puppy must absolutely comprehend every aspect of social life. It’s therefore necessary to make them experience many positive encounters when they’re young by encouraging them to discover many new situations that will become normalised.
Leonberger and cats
Absolutely not predatory at all, the Leo puppy can easily adapt to the presence of a cat. However, be careful with their reactions, which can sometimes be a little too abrupt for a cat.
Leonberger and dogs
Of a sociable and balanced nature, this dog needs a high-quality socialisation from the first months of their life in order to communicate efficiently with other animals. Without regular positive encounters with other dogs, further interactions may be tricky.
Leonberger and children
They make excellent family dogs who love the company of children. They are gentle and extremely patient with kids.
Leonberger and the elderly
Their placid temperament allows them to live with active seniors. Be careful though, for this to happen well, socialisation and training of this young Molosser should be carried out very seriously.
The price of a Leonberger varies according to the origin, age and sex. A pedigree costs £1,220 on average.
Regarding the average budget needed to meet the needs of a dog this size, it costs around. £60 a month.
Although their coat is almost “self-cleaning”, Leo’s should be brushed at least once a week to avoid knots from forming and to maintain the beauty and protective qualities of their fur.
The hanging ears of this fantastic swimmer should have a close eye kept on them, especially if they bathe frequently.
Contrary to the density of their fur, the Leonberger does not actually lose that much hair. On the other hand, during the two annual moulting periods, hair loss is significant! Daily brushing is necessary.
Nutrition of the Leonberger
Big dogs have a delicate growth period and therefore a determining diet. During this dog’s first years, it’s very important to ensure their diet is adapted to enable good physical development.
The best diet is homemade meals, but for time and organisation reasons, it’s sometimes easier to offer this dog an industrial diet.
Fortunately, nowadays there are many brands that produce high-quality biscuits made with sensible ingredients.
Two meals a day, eaten in a calm environment, are needed to reduce the risk of an upset stomach. In the same logic, the dog must never be able to access food on their own, except from having a constant water bowl.
Health of the Leonberger
The life expectancy of this breed is estimated at around 9 years.
Strong / robust
They are very robust and probably the most resistant “giant-sized” dog to disease.
It is important to provide a large bowl of fresh water and a shady area (or a cool house) when it’s hot because this dog does not deal well with heat.
Their thick and dense undercoat gives this dog good protection from the cold. The Leonberger also loves the snow. However, it’s advised that this dog avoids prolonged exposure to the rain.
Tendency to put on weight
Despite the density of their coat, the dog’s form should always be recognisable through their fur. They should not be allowed to put on weight even if it’s sometimes difficult to resist them, especially when they beg for food as puppies.
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy
- Hip dysplasia
- Dilation syndrome
- Torsion of the stomach