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 :
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.