Leonberger – Gentle Giant With High Energy Level

Leonberger is a friendly, playful, and gentle dog weighing between 90 to 150 pounds. Read on to discover everything that you should know about this loving breed.

Leonberger is a vast and powerful dog. At first, you might think for this breed that you are actually looking at Caucasian Shepherd Dog or Estrela Mountain Dog, but after a few minutes, you will realize that this dog is actually very different from others.

Not only that this dog is a real giant, but he has aristocratic grace and elegance.

Learn more about this fantastic bread and discover if a giant Leonberger is a dog for you!

Quick Facts

Real name: Leonberger
Other names: Leo, Gentle Lion, Gentle Giant
Origin: Germany
Breed type: Working Dogs
Weight: Males: 120–170 lb (54–77 kg): average 140–150 lb (64–68 kg), Females: 100–135 lb (45–61 kg): average 115 lb (52 kg) (22 to 24 pounds)
Height: Male: 71–80 cm (28–31 in): average 75 cm (30 in), Female: 65–75 cm (26–30 in): average 70 cm (28 in)
Lifespan: 7 – 10 years
Color: Lion-yellow, red, red-brown, sand, brown, tan, black, white, or silver.
Coat: Medium to long soft coat

Leonberger – History

The giant Leonberger is originally from Germany. This giant dog was bred to work. Even today, they are working dogs in some parts of the world when they are no full-time family pets.

This breed is a product of other, also large and working dogs, such as Newfoundlands and Saint Bernards. At the time, famous breeder, Heinrich Essig, was both a politician and entrepreneur, who was also a huge dog lover.

At one moment, he decided to breed a dog that can only be described as majestic so that it can serve the European royalty. This dog was bred to fit a king.

Eventually, Essig hit his goal and had extremely famous buyers. European royalties were crazy about this giant breed, so it comes as no surprise that Essig sold Leonberger puppies to Napoleon III, Tsar Alexander II, and the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), and so on.

Although this dog had extremely royal beginnings during the history they were mostly used as working dogs on farms and even waterfronts.

Considering their size they are extremely good swimmers. Surprisingly, this breed comes with an interesting specialty – cart pulling. After all, this shouldn’t come as no surprise since they need a vigorous exercise to wear them off.

Leonberger – Physical Appearance

The giant Leonberger is actually a huge bundle of joy and love, so don’t be fooled by his size. Since they were bred to work, they are easy to please, and they love spending time with their family members, especially children.

Overall, the huge Leonberger is a great family dog. Interestingly, they respond to training extremely well, which makes them today fantastic therapy dogs.

They will appreciate regular training and moderate exercise from their puppyhood to their adult days.

For a large dog breed, Leonberger has a head that’s deeper than it is broad, even rectangular shaped. You can also separate males from females by merely looking at their heads – males have a strong masculine head, while females heads are more gentle, softer on the eye, and express femininity.

The chest is deep and broad, while the ribs are oval. Shoulders are always muscled, while elbows are close to the body.

As expected for working and large dogs, Leonbergers have a medium to long, water-resistant coat. Their coat is always straight and soft, while the undercoat is dense and soft. Their tail is also well furnished.

Fast Fact: This dog breed barely survived the World War II. The breed nearly became extinct because at the time, only 25 Leonbergers existed, and only five of them were of breeding quality.

Leonberger – Personality

Leonbergers are extremely social big dogs. According to Leonbergers owners, they are always willing to say hello to anyone visiting.

They might bark slightly just to inform the owner that someone is around, but they won’t harm them. Still, although they are quiet and calm dogs, they are not lethargic.

They always prefer to be with their guardians, and they won’t react well to the kennel. They love being outdoors, and for them, a simple walk won’t do. They will make you train with them.

Since they are highly trainable and intelligent, they tend to be stubborn. While puppies , they are more open to strangers, while they might become reserved toward strangers as they mature.

If you are searching for a family dog, and you are not a first-time dog owner, you can’t go wrong with giant Leonbergers.

They are true family dogs, since they are nor aggressive neither shy. This dog would guff around and even be ready to jump into your lap because sometimes they don’t know just how big they really are.

Living With Leonberger

Leonbergers are huge people-pleasers, and they thrive on interaction with people.

Overall, they are good with other pets if properly socialized, but they can show high aggressiveness toward other dogs. So, if you already have a pet in your home, talk with a professional about bringing Leonberger into this environment.

Due to their size, the best environment for them is a house with a biog backyard. If you are an enormous apartment that might work as well, but you must be willing to clean the floor or vacuum every day because Leonberger sheds a lot.

They are not droolers, and they require brushing and combing two times a week. Because they are huge people-pleasers, Leonbergers love activity where they might work together with their human.

They are also often seen in sports such as carting, agility, swimming, backpacking, and sledding. Not only that, they are great swimmers, but they love water.

So, if you are looking for a big guardian dog who will join you on your hiking and swimming adventures, the giant Leonberger just might be your fit.

Sadly, this breed has a short life span of usually 7 to 10 years.

Leonberger Health

All dogs have the lesser of higher potential to develop specific genetic health problems, just like humans do. So, if you are getting a puppy from a breeder who doesn’t offer a medical certificate on a puppy, you should simply walk away.

When buying a dog, you must always have written evidence that your future furry friend is healthy. Responsible breeders take this certificate as standard and will always be honest about the dog’s health, so even if there is an issue, you get to decide if you want that specific dog or not.

Leonbergers come with a line of potential problems that can be a huge concern. First of all, this breed can experience bloat that can be fatal. Also, if you don’t monitor a dog’s diet properly, your Leo can easily become obese.

To prevent this condition, always provide your dog with the recommended food size.

Required Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Exam (CERF)
  • Thyroid Evaluation
  • LPN1 DNA Test
  • LPN2 DNA Test
  • LEMP (Leukoencephalomyelopathy) DNA Test

Leonberger Grooming

Do you think that Leonberger sheds a lot? Well, you are not wrong. This amazing breed requires a lot of time when it comes to grooming. Since Leonberger has a double coat, you will have to work twice harder to keep his coat shiny and healthy.

Brushing two times per week is a minimum, and ideally, you should brush your Leonberger every day, especially behind the ears, because they tend to mat a lot there.

If your Leonberger spends time outdoors, make sure to keep him away from the wet and muddy areas, because this breed is a massive lover of mischief, and nothing makes them happier but being dirty and wet.

Avoid bathing, like with any other breed, unless it’s mandatory. If you need help when it comes to grooming, take your Leonberger to a professional groomer and learn how often you should groom your dog.

Always brush your dog outside, and be prepared for daily shedding. Brushing your Leonberger always includes ears, legs, and tail to remove tangles, prevent them, or to dust off debris.

If you can’t spare daily time to do this, don’t get a Leonberger.

Check ears and eyes weekly. Always provide food that is grateful for gums and teeth.

Of course, if you feel any strong and unusual breath, contact your veterinarian.

Leonberger Training

Just like with any other dog breed, early training and early socialization are the keys to well-behaved Leonberger.

Since they are physically strong and massive, it’s essential to teach children how to behave around a dog and never to leave them alone with your Leonberger, especially toddlers.

For a large dog breed, Leonbergers are rather active. Interestingly, they are active even as puppies and have loads of energy.

Simply said, they easily get excited about anything. They are highly enthusiastic. With this knowledge on the mind, make sure that you create interesting and active training sessions.

Expose puppy Leonberger to a wide range of people, other animals, and different environment settings before they are the age of 20 weeks.

If you feel that you might need help in this area, you can always contact professionals and go with your Leonberger through obedience and training classes.

Group classes might help strong Leonberger to be a good canine citizen. Good to know: Leonberger is usually stronger than his owner, so discipline is imperative.

Always use only a positive reinforcement approach when it comes to training this colossal dog.

The Bottom Line

The Leonberger is a big and sweet dog, ready to spend every minute of his life with his family. He is loyal and easily trainable, as long as the proper environment is provided.

To have a well-behaved Leonberger, you must provide plenty of early socialization, to have a genuinely well-behaved dog. Although they are massive, this breed the activity level is significantly high.

So, this breed can easily be your hiking partner.

Sadly, this breed comes with a short lifespan, so if you welcome this Leon-hearted dog into your home, make sure that you spend as much time as possible with your Leonberger.