Leonberger Dog

The Leonberger is an ancient dog breed originating in Germany, where it has been historically trained to perform surveillance and protection functions. However, its serene temperament and particularly gentle with children have boosted its popularity as a family dog ​​beyond its native country and, today, we can find specimens of this breed on all continents.

If you are interested in adopting a furry dog ​​of this breed, or you simply like to explore the canine universe, keep reading this AnimalWised sheet and discover much more about the characteristics of the Leonberger , its behavior , what the education and care it needs should be like. to enjoy a good quality of life.

Origin of the leonberger

As we said, this breed of dog was created in German lands, more specifically in the town of Leonberg, in Baden-Württemberg , which is today the third state in Germany in terms of both territorial extension and demographic density. Likewise, we are talking about a fairly old breed, whose origins date back to the 30s and 40s of the 19th century , when the council of said town, Heinrich Essig, had intentions of developing a new “class” of dogs whose appearance resembled the maximum that of a lion (that’s where the name of these furry animals comes from!). Regarding this, he discovers in this other post Dogs that look like lions .

To fulfill his purpose, the Heinrich Essig began by crossing a black and white Newfoundland female with a male of the Saint Bernard breed known by the name “Barry”, but later he would also include a Pyrenean mountain dog to get closer to the desired aesthetic result. Finally, after carrying out several selective crossings, the first specimens called “leonberger” were born around the year 1846 and quickly began to be required in other towns in the Baden-Württemberg region, where in the same 19th century they gained quite a bit of popularity as farm dogs.

However, its popularity and even its survival were severely affected by the effects of the two World Wars in Europe, and it has taken years of work by specialized breeders to restore the Leonberger to its well-deserved recognition as an excellent guard and companion dog .

In the 1950s, the breed gained official recognition from the world’s largest canine federation, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), which included it in Section 2.2 (molossoids, mountain-type dogs) of the extensive Group 2, where they meet all pinscher, schnauzer, molossian, mountain dogs and Swiss cattle dogs. Likewise, the world population of Leonberger dogs began to reverse the downward trend starting in the 1970s, when a sustained increase in the birth of litters began to be recorded year after year. And according to data published on the Worldwide Independent Leonberger Databases website , since 2018, around 4,000 individuals have been born each year.

Characteristics of the Leonberger

It is an imposing dog, of giant size and well-developed muscles, but it shows a very harmonious body structure and an elegance that we perceive with the naked eye. The height at the withers in males is 75-76 cm, but variations from 72 to 80 cm are acceptable, and the weight should be between 35 and 50 kg. In females, the ideal measurement is 70 cm, with a range between 65 and 75 cm being accepted; The weight is between 30 and 50 kg. It is one of the largest dogs in the world .

The head of the Leonberger dog is deeper than wide and is visibly longer than round. The skull is slightly arched seen both from the front and in profile, and the stop (naso-frontal depression) is moderately marked, but at the same time very noticeable. This breed also has a very distinguished feature known as the “ ram nose ” and is characterized by a fairly long snout , but not pointed, and a broad, slightly arched but not sunken nose, which culminates in a black truffle.

The Leonberger’s eyes are medium-sized, oval, and their color can vary from light brown to dark brown or coffee. The ears are also medium, fleshy and pendulous, set high and placed not far back. In turn, the mouth of these dogs stands out for the black, adherent lips that protect powerful jaws with a complete scissor bite.

Leonberger Colors

The fairly long coat , smooth or slightly wavy and with good volume due to the abundant undercoat , is one of the most characteristic features of the Leonberger. Visible feathers are visible on the lower limbs, while the hind limbs reveal well-marked “pants.” In addition, male individuals usually develop a significant mane in the chest and neck region.

The tail , which the Leonberger usually hangs in a straight line when at rest, being able to bend it slightly without exceeding the line of the back when in movement, is also covered by abundant hair. The eyes, on the other hand, should not be covered by fur.

Regarding the colors of the Leonberger, the FCI standard defines as acceptable the typical lion-colored yellow , red , reddish brown , sand or cream color and all their combinations, always with the characteristic black mask. The hairs are also allowed to have black tips, but the black color cannot be predominant. And although they are not desirable, a thin white stripe or a small white spot on the chest, as well as a small number of white hairs on their fingers, may be acceptable. Combinations of black with tan, black silver or deer are not allowed.

What is the Leonberger puppy like?

If you are concerned about whether a Leonberger puppy is authentic, you can pay attention to the colors accepted in this breed (which we mentioned above) and it will help you to know that the FCI considers the following traits as not accepted :

  • Brown truffles and/or pads.
  • Excessive depigmentation on the lips.
  • Eyes without shades of brown/brown or coffee.
  • Tail curled or carried very high.
  • Absence of face mask.
  • Much predominance of white color in the coat.

In general, they are furry cubs , which even look like small lions, active and large in size . If the Leonberger puppy you adopted turns out to be a mixed breed, absolutely nothing happens! In any case, you will have an excellent companion at your side, who will give you the best of himself every day and will present the behavioral traits that we will mention in the next section. Therefore, being purebred or not is not what is truly important, but rather being able to meet the dog’s needs so that he is happy.

Childhood is a critical period of physical, cognitive, sensory and social development for all dogs, and it is the most recommended time to begin their socialization and education in general to promote good coexistence with other individuals and greater adaptability to diversity. of stimuli and environments. Speaking specifically of Leonberger puppies, it is essential to pay attention to their physical activity and diet both to ensure that their bones and muscles develop correctly, something that is essential to prevent osteoarticular diseases common in these dogs, and to combat overweight, which is a risk factor for multiple pathologies and that easily affects gluttonous and robust dogs such as the Leonberger.

Leonberger character

Although the Leonberger dog has gained a lot of popularity as a companion animal and can be a great companion for children, it is important to keep in mind that this breed was not created solely for this purpose, but has been historically trained to perform guard duties. and surveillance. So, although the character of the Leonberger is calm and denotes a lot of self-confidence , we must not stop socializing them from when they are puppies to prevent behavioral problems associated with territoriality and the protection of resources .

Excessive shyness, as well as insecurity and aggressiveness, are considered by the FCI as disqualifying faults and usually indicate problems in the process of raising and educating the Leonberger, as well as systematic exposure to counterproductive educational methods, such as confinement and punishments. physical, and other types of animal abuse .

Leonberger Care

As we mentioned, a correct socialization process will be key for the Leonberger dog to learn to coexist harmoniously with other individuals and a diversity of stimuli and environments, preventing insecure, possessive or even aggressive behavior. Therefore, it is one of the first precautions that we must apply. But this is not the only critical factor in the education of the Leonberger, since it is highly recommended to teach it at least the basic commands of obedience from an early age, which constitute the first step in dog training and allow a better development of its skills. physical and cognitive, in addition to promoting more balanced behavior inside and outside the home. However, we will talk about it in the next section.

Although it is not a particularly energetic or athletic dog, the Leonberger needs to practice moderate physical exercise on a regular basis to maintain a healthy weight and prevent overweight and obesity, which tend to have a high incidence in dogs of its characteristics. Daily walks, combined with mental stimulation and an enriched environment, are also essential to combat symptoms of stress and boredom, as well as behavioral problems associated with destructiveness and aggressiveness. At ExpertoAnimal we provide you with some ideas for games, stimuli and activities that will enrich your best friend’s daily life: ” All about environmental enrichment in dogs .”

Last but not least, it is worth remembering that maintaining the Leonberger’s coat requires time and dedication on the part of its guardians. It is important to maintain a good brushing routine, which can be daily during shedding periods, to avoid the formation of knots and the accumulation of dead hairs and impurities in the coat. Here we offer you some Recommendations to properly brush your dog’s hair , and we remember the importance of using brushes appropriate to the type of coat of each dog. Do not also forget that excessive baths harm the health of your best friend, as they contribute to the elimination of the layer of natural fat that covers and protects its skin and coat, so baths should only be given when the animal is really dirty and always using personal hygiene products for canine use.

Leonberger Education

Despite its naturally calm character, the Leonberger can be quite stubborn and somewhat difficult to train . This, added to their large size and physical strength, can make their educational process and daily management somewhat complex for beginners or people with little experience in raising large dogs. Likewise, with patience and the correct use of positive reinforcement , it is totally possible to train a Leonberger dog and teach it the basic rules of behavior for a good coexistence in the home, but it is crucial that you start educating your furry dog ​​from the moment it arrives. home, preferably while he is still a puppy, but the same rule applies to adult dogs. If you’re not sure how to get started, take a look at our article on How to Train a Puppy .

It is also essential to begin the socialization of the Leonberger dog in its first months of life and preferably before it reaches three or four months of age, since during this critical period the recognition of friendly species occurs. You can start by introducing your puppy to other trusted dogs and animals, that you know are healthy, vaccinated and dewormed, until you complete the mandatory vaccinations and you can start walking him on the street to interact with a greater variety of individuals. Likewise, if you have decided to adopt an adult Leonberger or if you have not had the opportunity to socialize your best friend at the most opportune time, at AnimalWised we offer you some socialization tips for adult dogs .

Now concentrating on the training of the Leonberger, which is not the same as education, you must follow a progressive logic to train your dog , starting with the most basic commands and working on them one by one in short sessions of 10 to 15 minutes a day, until that your furry friend is able to assimilate and reproduce them in a fluid way. To help you, we have prepared this Introduction to dog training .

Leonberger Dog Health

When it receives a balanced diet and adequate preventive medicine, the Leonberger becomes a strong and very resistant dog that can enjoy a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years .

However, there is a degenerative disease that has a great incidence in this breed and even bears its name. We are referring to the ancestral polyneuropathy of Leonberger’s palsy , which affects the peripheral nervous system and whose main symptoms include:

  • Muscular weakness.
  • Progressive fatigue (mainly in the hind limbs).
  • Hoarseness.
  • Cough.
  • Difficulties swallowing.

Furthermore, like all large dogs, the Leonberger has a certain genetic predisposition to develop osteoarticular diseases , especially hip and elbow dysplasia, and a significant tendency to canine hypothyroidism and entropion has been reported .

Finally, promoting good eating habits is essential to prevent life-threatening health problems, such as gastric torsion , which is directly related to gluttonous behavior, which is very common in both the Leonberger dog and its direct ancestors, that is, the Newfoundland. , the Saint Bernard and the Pyrenean mountain dog.

Where to adopt a Leonberger?

The abandonment of pets and street overpopulation are very serious problems that affect even the most developed countries, and contrary to what many think, there are a large number of purebred dogs that are collected from the streets every month. Therefore, if you would like to share your home with a Leonberger, you have the opportunity not only to fulfill your wish, but also to help a furry dog ​​who so badly needs a home and the love of a person who loves him. So, before going to a breeder, we suggest that you contact shelters or animal shelters located near your home to find out which dogs are available for adoption. And if you have questions about the adoption process and the requirements to carry it out, we invite you to read the following article: ” How to adopt a dog? “.

However, if you choose to go to a breeder, although at ExpertoAnimal we do not encourage the sale and purchase of animals , we recommend that you make all the necessary inquiries to ensure that the establishment is duly registered with the corresponding authorities and complies with the health, hygiene and regulations. ethics required for the dignified breeding of dogs. Also, remember to check in advance if the establishment is committed to allowing the puppies to remain with their mother and siblings until completing the weaning period , since premature separation usually causes learning difficulties and behavioral problems in adulthood.

Finally, keep in mind that Leonberger mix dogs can also be excellent life companions. So, do not discard them because they are not “pure breed”, because when adopting the most important thing is the characteristics of the dog and our lifestyle, not its aesthetics.

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