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This large breed of German dog is a noble looking animal and is named for the town Leonburg. It is reputed to have been bred to have the look of the lion on the town crest.
The ancestors of this breed are thought to be the St Bernard and the Newfoundland. The first dogs registered with the name Leonberger appeared in the 1840's and were used as strong, multipurpose farm dogs, who could withstand the cold temperatures of the high mountains. Whether they were actually bred to look like the lion on the towns crest may just be the stuff of legends, however, they quickly became popular due to their solid, steady nature, watchdog tendencies and brute strength for pulling carts and general draft work.
Interestingly, with their Newfoundland heritage, they are excellent swimmers and are used in countries including Italy and Canada as surf and sea lifesaving dogs.
Average height to withers: Males up to 29-30 inches, with females up to 27 inches.
Average weight: 54-77kg for males and 45-60kg for females.
This is a big dog! Heavy but not too bulky, the Leonberger cuts and impressive silhouette and combine strength with stamina. Well muscled without being to heavy in the frame and bone, this dog has a deep chest containing a big heart and set of lungs to enable it to work effectively without tiring.
The large head of this breed is in perfect proportion to its body and displays definite masculine or feminine characteristics. The face is usually covered by a black mask, with dark and kind eyes and a large black nose. The ears hang level with the mouth and are set on the side of the head.
For its size, the Leonberger is an elegant dog and the legs, back and rump all blend pleasingly into the body. The tail is very long and reaches the hock of the hind legs. The thick coat is double and water resistant, able to withstand very cold and harsh temperatures in and out of water. Mature males dogs display a stunning ruff of a mane around its neck and chest giving the lion like appearance that refers to the lion on the towns crest? Extensive feathering is found on the tail, belly and legs. IN colour, the Leonberger exhibits yellow sand colours as well as the more usual red brown.
Solid, steady and safe. This dog is a perfect family pet being a first class companion and having an unusual patience with children and other animals. They are self disciplined, alert, intelligent, loyal and obliging and are capable of considerable loyalty. Being an adaptable dog, the Leonberger is at home in many environments but due to its sheer size is suited to a home that can accommodate its extra large needs! While it can become a couch potato of it is allowed to, this dog has stamina rarely seen in a dog and can go all day if necessary. It loves nothing more than a comfy bed and will provide affection on tap to a family who loves it.
It is easy to train and while it can be a little stubborn; generally this dog wants nothing more than to please its family. A naturally social dog, it will of course benefit from early introductions to other animals but can live happily with a variety of other pets, even being a guardian to some.
Like many larger dogs, the Leonberger has a shorter life expectancy than other smaller breeds. On average they live until around 8 years of age. They are more prone to some cancers than other breeds and can fall ill to bloat. This build up of gas can commonly affect many larger breeds and can be fatal. The best way to avoid it is to feed smaller meals more often, provide water on a stand to raise the height of the head while drinking and no to exercise it for at least an hour after eating.
The owner of this large dog must be prepared for the increased costs always associated with bigger dogs - larger vet's bills, increased insurance and feed costs, bigger bowls and beds which always cost more money. Do not consider getting this breed unless you have the means to commit to its needs. The coat sheds on a regular basis and is always heavy. Daily grooming during these periods will go a long way to helping the dog maintain the health of the coat and the state of your upholstery! While the thick coat may seem to warm for the summer months, it can insulate it against extreme heat and as such it should not be shaved. It is wise though to limit exercise during the heat of the day and always provide access to fresh water and shade.