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 Photo of Leonberger
Photo: courtesy of Philip King-Cherne

Leonberger Books

Group: Working - Breed Standard


Heinrich Essig, a dog breeder and seller from Leonberg in southwestern Germany, originally bred the Leonberger from the Newfoundland, Saint Bernard, and Pyrenean Mountain Dog in the early 1800s. The popular legend is that it was bred to resemble the coat-of-arms animal of Leonberg, the lion, but in fact the earliest Leonbergers were predominantly white and the coloring of today's Leonbergers, brown with a black mask, was developed during the 19th century, probably by introducing other breeds into the mix.


Height at withers: Dogs 72-80cms (28½ ins); Bitches 65-75cms (25½ ins).

The Leonberger is a large, strong, muscular yet elegant dog. He is distinguished by his balanced build and confident calmness, yet with quite lively temperament. Males, in particular, are powerful and strong. Unlike most large breeds, they have a dry mouth and do not drool very much. However, Leonbergers are notoriously sloppy water drinkers. The Leonberger has a medium length soft to coarse double coat that is very water resistant. Males often have particular thick fur on the neck and chest creating the appearance of a mane. There is distinct feathering on the backs of the front legs and and thighs. Coat color can range from lion yellow, red, reddish brown, and sandy. Black hair tips are permitted, but black must not determine the dog's basic color. All Leonbergers have a black mask. The Leonberger sheds very heavily.


The Leonberger can make an excellent companion with a loving temperament. They are good with children and are happy to play ball with the whole family. They get along well with other pets if they are taught from an early age how to behave around them. They are sociable dogs that love other dogs and water.


The Leonberger should be walked often, starting with about 20 minutes a day as a puppy and working up as the dog grows. They are not good apartment dogs; they at least need a big back yard where they can run around.


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Last link added: 18 Jan, 2006