The Leonberger Dog Breed Is A Gente Giant That Inspires Respect

Leonberger Dog

The Leonberger dog is big and powerful, but with a gentle nature and supreme patience with children. Their trade mark is their black face and a mane of hair (like a male lion) around its neck and upper chest. They move smoothly and without hurry, giving the dog a confident and regal air. They like water, and are excellent swimmers.

A fawn colored Leonberger dog walking across a green field.
Leonberger dog

Leonberger Dog Breed – Temperament

This is a very calm dog breed. They are confident and serene, and are extremely good with children of all ages. They were bred as companion dogs from the start, and so have all the traits you would want for a family dog.

They love being part of a family group, and form very strong bonds with household members. At the same time, they are not suspicious of strangers, and will welcome all visitors to your home. These dogs are happy to be friends with anyone!

Leonbergers also get on well with other dogs and pets, and are very unlikely to cause trouble at the dog park! They have a moderate energy level, being happy to play tug-of-war for a bit, and maybe chasing a frisbee; but after that they are happy to amble around at their own pace, and snooze away the afternoon.

However, due to their size, they are not best suited to apartment life, or in a small urban house on a small lot. They do better with a big fenced yard to run around in, with access to open spaces for a decent walk.

With their confident and calm nature, they tolerate change well, such as meeting new people, going to new places, changes in their daily schedule, and even moving house.

Leonbergers do not bark much. If they want to attract your attention, they will give a soft cough, followed by a slightly louder cough, until you go see what’s up. When they do bark, it is a deep, mellow and powerful bark that is sure to get anyone’s attention!

This is an intelligent dog breed, and they need a certain amount of mental stimulation and human company to be happy. Just being around their family and taking part in some simple games is enough to keep your Leonberger occupied.

An adult Leonberger dog with a Leonberger puppy sitting on a grass lawn in front of a garden wall on a sunny day.
Two Leonberger dogs

Leonberger Dog Breed – Breed History

It all started with the mayor of a town in Germany called Leonberg, in the 1830s. He was also a dog breeder, and the story goes that he wanted to develop a dog breed that resembled the lion on the town’s emblem. His name was Heinrich Essig.

He crossed a female Newfoundland with the forerunner of the St. Bernard, and later added the Pyrenean Mountain dog to the mix. The first official Leonberger dogs were registered in 1846.

Essig had an idea to create a majestic dog breed that would appeal to the wealthy upper classes and European royalty. In this regard he was successful, and there were many prominent Loenberger owners over the following years – such as Napoleon III, Tsar Alexander II, and the Prince of Wales. Other famous owners include Wagner and Rachmaninoff as well as Italian Garibaldi.

The Leonberger subsequently became a great general farm and pastoral dog, guarding flocks, and where its size and strength were used for pulling small carts. They have also been used as water rescue dogs, notably in Canada, along with the Newfoundland, the Labrador and the Golden Retriever.

The Leonberger dog breed is recognized by the AKC in the Working Group.


I hope you like brushing your dog, because the Leonberger has a lot of hair! They shed heavily twice a year, and moderately the rest of the time. They need to be brushed every day to prevent hair tangling and matting.

Leonbergers have a double coat; a short, fluffy undercoat, and a long coarse and shaggy top coat. Once a week they need a more thorough brushing through the entire coat. A metal comb will work on the undercoat, while a pin brush and a slicker brush will be needed for the topcoat.

The dogs claws should be checked each week, and trimmed if necessary to prevent painful splitting and cracking. The teeth should be brushed each day with a small, soft brush, and a dog-specific toothpaste (not a human toothpaste).

Vital Statistics;

Height;  28 to 31 inches (Male);  25 to 29 inches (Female)

Weight; 110 lbs to 170 lbs (Male); 90 lbs to 140 lbs (Female)

Lifespan;  7 years


Black muzzle with fawn and red coat.

An adult Leonberger dog walking across a green grass lawn in a park.
Leonberger dog

Ease of Training

The Leonberger dog breed is very intelligent and willing to please its owner, and is not difficult to train given some time and patience. However, training is very important, as this breed becomes very big very quickly, and will become a handful if training has been neglected.

Many Leonbergers will be heavier and stronger than their owners, so it is essential that they can be controlled. As puppies they should be gradually introduced to new sights, smells and people before the age of 20 weeks. After that we recommend puppy training classes as a start.

Around 8 months of age we recommend some one-on-one training with a professional dog trainer. This will show you how to continue to train your dog effectively, as well as establishing some basic commands.


The Leonberger has an imposing presence, and a deep bark. They are also watchful and vigilant. This means that they make good watchdogs, alerting their owners to anything they consider strange or a threat.

Their appearance will deter most would-be intruders, and the dog is smart enough to sense a stranger with ill intent. They also have the size and power to deter all but the most determined.

However they do not have the aggression of the Caucasian Shepherd, nor the agility and speed of the Belgian Malinois. The Leonberger will offer enough protection for most people, but they are not the best guard dogs if you are looking for something special.

Health Considerations

Like most breeds of large dog, Leonberger dogs may be prone to bloat, a potentially life-threatening condition where the stomach becomes twisted. One great way to reduce this risk is to use an anti-gulping bowl for feeding. This slows down the rate at which the dog can eat.

Accordingto the American breed association, there are some other conditions to be aware of;

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

We hope you enjoy our guide to the Leonberger dog breed. Please let us know if you think we have omitted anything important. Thank you!

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