Noble, powerful, and gentle are the best descriptors of the
Leonberger breed. Ideal Leos resemble one's childhood image of Nana
in Peter Pan: big, soft, warm, protective companions, perfect for
nestling into or clutching if you are a toddler. Leos are sometimes
affectionately referred to as "lean-on-bergers" because of their
tendency to lean against their loved ones. Amendable, intelligent
and fearless companion; distinguished by his friendliness. Self-assured
and playful. Neither timid nor aggressive.
for: Most people/families
Dogs 72-80 cms at withers.
Bitches 65-72 cms at withers.
Females around 45 - 46 kg (100 pounds)
Males are usually considerably larger weighing as much as
82kg (180 pounds), although most are in the 64kg (140 pound)
Lion gold, red, reddish brown, sandy (fawn or cream) and all
combinations in between, always with a black mask. Black hair tips
are permitted. Black must not dominate basic colour. Lighter colour
on underside of tail, mane, feathering on front legs and breeches
on hindlegs normal, but must not be pronounced. A small white patch
or stripe on the chest and white hair on the toes tolerated.
Medium soft to hard, fairly long, lying close to body despite
good undercoat. Slightly wavy but never curled. Very evident mane
at throat and chest.
Appearance: Large sized body. Dome shaped head,
should not be wrinkled, medium size, dark almond-shaped eyes. Well
feathered, pendant shaped ears hang to the side of the head. Tail
long & bushy. Web-footed.
or Leos, as their friends know them, are loyal, outgoing "lions"
who originated in the mid-nineteenth century in Leonberg, Germany.
These wonderful, weatherproof family dogs are arguably the oldest
of the German pure breeds. Although fairly well known in France,
Germany and Scandinavia, they are considered uncommon in most other
countries. One of the giant breeds, the Leonberger is powerful and
They are enthusiastic participants
in most family endeavors and are adept at hiking, backpacking, running,
swimming, and socializing at human gatherings. And they work as
enthusiastically as they play: Throughout the world, Leos have demonstrated
success in such activities as water rescue, tracking, agility, carting,
therapy, and other tasks involving great strength and agility coupled
with gentleness. However, they are also content to recline quietly
with their families in front of the living room hearth.
Guido Perosino, the founder of the Italian Leonberger club, notes
in his 1998 book, The Leonberger:
"... the most interesting characteristic of the Leonberger is his
lack of specialization. Although his is the body, the strength and
the muscle of a typical working dog, the fact that he has been selectively
bred for the balanced temperament of a house dog. . Rather than
for any precise working task, has gifted him with a versatility
almost unique on the present canine scene. The Leonberger adapts
himself well and often spontaneously to various uses; he seems to
know instinctively what is expected of him."
Leonbergers have been compared to those other famous German imports,
the Porsche and the Mercedes-Benz. They come from Schwabia and they
are dependable, classy, stable, agile, elegant and powerful!
Above all, Leonbergers need to be an integral part of their human's
family "pack." They will happily adapt to a wide variety of living
situations, ranging from apartments to estates, as long as they
are loved and included in activities.
As puppies they require excellent training and consistent, frequent
socialization activities. As adults they require frequent and consistent
What to feed a Leonberger is the subject of long and frequent debates.
There are as many opinions as there are nations and Leonberger households!
Two things are always agreed upon though: 1) Leonbergers should
be fed premium quality food whether commercially prepared or prepared
in the home. 2) Leonberger puppies should not be fed a diet that
encourages rapid growth. Good breeders help guide new owners in
the selection of foods. And, all owners should check with their
veterinarian and with many of the carefully written books on canine
nutrition to determine what is best for their dog and their household.
(the dog and your home)
Leonbergers can be messy, and must be considered "high maintenance"
dogs from the perspective of housekeeping. Although they don't drool
as a rule, they will occasionally drool when stressed or after drinking
(usually with their heads and front paws as far as possible in the
water.). Any water bowl is fair game for pawing and spilling!
Leo coats are slow to dry. Huge, muddy paw prints are a given during
the rainy season. Leonberger coats vary in length and thickness.
They shed moderately year round and they "molt" with dramatic season
changes, usually twice a year. If you have one with a very thick
undercoat and long feathers and mane your grooming activities will
be more demanding than if you have one with a more compact coat.
All Leo's coats are waterproof and very wear resistant. To keep
these coats shining and elegant, as well as to keep clothes and
furniture in acceptable condition requires at least some brushing
on a daily basis. Bathing a giant dog, regardless of coat thickness,
requires lots of patience, water, shampoo and towels. A high-powered
professional hair dryer can help.
It's worth noting that grooming, beyond brushing, toenail clipping,
and a little trimming to even the fur on toe tips, is not allowed
for the conformation ring in Europe. The natural look of a real
working dog that does real work is the sought-after ideal.
Leos are not natural obedience and agility zealots; however, they
are so loyal and conforming to their family's culture and expectations
that they tend to participate in obedience exercises in order to
please. Because they are so calm and stable, they perform well even
when their handlers are stressed. They usually excel in come and
like Down, Stay! Achieving a perfectly executed Sit and Finish is
another story. Leos are known in obedience classes for their casual
approach to sitting. The sitting part is not a problem, but sitting
up straight is not a priority for a dog that prefers to be laid
back and relaxed. Retrieving is also not a favorite activity. Chasing
a ball, a toy, or a stick is great fun, but bringing it back is
such a bother! There are Leos with obedience and agility titles,
but these don't come as easily as they do in other breeds.
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