Leonberger – Gentle Giant With High Energy Level

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
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.
Dog Breed Group:
Working Dogs
25 to 31 inches tall at the shoulder
120 to 170 pounds
Life Span:
10 to 12 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

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 lion-like 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.

Good to know: Today, this large size dog is considered to be one of the best mountain rescue dogs.

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.

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