Leonberger—also known as Leo, Gentle Lion or Gentle Giant—is a giant dog breed. The name comes from the city of Leonberg in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is sometimes referred to as the Leonberger German Mountain Dog!
Leonbergers are loving, loyal and dedicated companions, but due to their size not everyone wants to take home a 100-pound plus pet. For those that do, they will enjoy a rambunctious puppy until they are a harder working adults who loves to spend time with each member of the family.
Leonbergers are not aggressive animals and are proud, strong and powerful. Great with kids and other pets as a friendly, gentle and playful animal, Leonbergers may take up all the room in an owner’s heart as much as their side of the couch. Make sure to scroll down to the bottom and look into Leonberger rescues. Here is a cool video of a Leonberger water rescue:
Originally the Leonberger were kept as farm dogs. They pulled carts and did other tasks as needed. In the 20th Century, they became water rescue dogs, and they still continue to live in that role today.
In the 1830s a dog breeder named Heinrich Essig claims to have created the Leonberger by crossing a male dog that would later create the Saint Bernard breed along with a female Landseer Newfoundland. Later down the line, Essig claims to have added a Pyrenean Mountain dog to the mix, which created the large dog with long white coats.
This may just be a story since the claim is still disputed. The reason for this is due to a description that claims animals the looked like Leonbergers were owned by Austrian Prince Franz Metternich, of Wolfberg in 1585.
The more modern look of a Leonberger, which includes darker coats and black masks, came later in the 20th century. This happened when other breeds, such as the Newfoundland, were reintroduced to the genetic pool. The reintroduction was due to the loss of Leonbergers during World War I, and even though the breed started to thrive again, it was lost once more during World War II. Leonbergers were used to pull ammunition carts during these wars.
Interestingly, all Leonberger today can be traced back to the only eight survivors of World War II.
The Leonberger is considered a giant-sized dog. The average height of a male Leonberger is 28 to 31.5 inches, while a female is between 25.5 to 29.5 inches in height. The weight average for a male Leonberger is 120 to 170 pounds. On the other hand, the Leonberger female averages 100 to 135 pounds. As you can see the size comparison isn't that great between the males and the females. This is the size when it is full grown.
The Leonberger is a family dog first above all else. They are a confident and friendly breed. They generally do not have a barking problem to sudden noises and are submissive to family members. They are soft toward children, passerbys, and are happy to protect its family and home.
Leonbergers are loyal and playful and intelligent as well. They can easily go anywhere the family goes without any problems with behavior. They even do well with other pets such as dogs too.
The lifespan of a Leonberger is four years less than that of other purebred breeds. Leonberger live, on average, to seven years old in the United States. There have been documented instances where a Leonberger has lived to be as old as 13.
From a health standpoint, Leonbergers are generally healthy animals. Although most large breeds fall privy to hip dysplasia, most breeders have worked to reduce this risk in the gene pool, but it is still possible.
There are other inherited desires such as certain types of cancer. Other conditions include Gastric Dilatation Volvulus and polyneuropathy also exist. The best advice is to make sure to keep up with all veterinarian visits as need to ensure a healthy Leonberger.
The double coat of a Leonberger is water resistant, straight and moderately soft. Leonbergers need to be brushed at least once per week unless outdoor activities come home (i.e. stray leaves or other debris). They shed in moderation and have the usual heavier shedding twice per year.
Due to their size, Leonbergers can be expensive because of the foods, possible medications and other treatments. They need high-quality large breed diet foods.
Nails should be trimmed regularly and an occasional bath keeps the coat of a Leonberger in good condition. They need early socialization to ensure their many positive characteristics come through strong, and regular daily exercise is the most ideal. They enjoy spending time with family from puppyhood to adulthood.
Leonberger Rescue. This is a site dedicated to rescue dogs. Fortunately, there are a handful of rescues out there that you can look into. Here are links to many rescues. Please check your local area for other rescues near you or to learn more about this breed. You also might find some Leonberger puppies for adoption. You might even notice that going away from Leonberger breeders, tends to give you a more affordable Leonberger price as rescues aren't in it for the money!