BBS Breed Spotlight: Leonberger

With the look of a lion and the heart of a teddy bear, the Leonberger is a true family companion. This dogs looks might fool you once, but once the kindness of the Leonberger shines, you’ll be a fan for life. thinks you’ll fall in love quite easily. Read more about the Leonberger in the BBS Breed Spotlight!

History & Background: Leonberg, Germany is both the native city and namesake of the Leonberger breed. This dog was the product of the breeding a Landseer Newfoundland and a Saint Bernard predecessor, the “barry” by a prominent citizen of Leonberg, Heinrich Essig in the 1930s. Essig was very fond collecting animals and it’s even thought the dog was bred to resemble the coat of arms of the German town, which was the lion.

This dog was kept as farm dog and excelled as a watchdog and a draft worker. Famous owners of the Leonberger include Napoleon II, the Prince of Wales and other royalty. During the World Wars, this breed suffered greatly and only 5 survived WWI. Again during WWII this breed was almost lost into obscurity. In both wars this dog was used to pull ammunition carts, but was a service that almost cost this dog’s lineage. The modern Leonberger can trace it’s line back to the 8 dogs that survived the wars. Today the Leonberger is still used as a working dog in rescue saving missions.

Height: Males: 28 to 31.5 inches; Females: 25.5 to 29.5 inches

Weight: Males: 120 to 170 pounds; Females: 100 to 135 pounds

Coat: As with many working dogs, the coat is highly functional. The Leonberger has a very abundant, water-resistant, double coat. Shorter hair appears on the muzzle and limbs. The long, heavy coat is highly durable, straight, close-fitting and flat. The outer coat is medium length and soft to coarse in texture. Undercoat is soft and dense, but is less abundant in summer months. Leonbergers have a mane which stretches from around the neck to the chest. This dog sports feathering on the back of legs and ears and the tail is well covered in hair.

Color: Leonbergers have colorings of lion-yellow, golden-red, red-brown, sand colored or any combination. All colors can have black tips on the outer coat. Coat colors usually feature a lighter shade of undercoat and feathering that blends into main body color. This dog has a black mask, dark brown eyes and a black nose.

Appearance: This large breed dog has an imposing appearance but a gentle disposition. The expression shows intelligence, confidence and kindness. Even though this dog is very large, Leonbergers are agile and elegant in their movement. This breed has a rectangular build and has plenty of substance. The head is broad, square in shape and is held high. The pendant-shaped ears hang close to the head and the tips are level with the inside corners of the mouth. The muzzle is somewhat long. A muscular neck and level, strong back flow into a broad chest and well-sprung, oval ribs. When relaxed the tail hangs down and when alert, the tail is held high, level with the back.

Temperament: A kind animal, the Leonberger is calm, steady yet playful. As a family companion, this dog is friendly with all ages, at ease in all situations and never shows fear, shyness or aggression.

Health & Grooming: As a large dog, Leonbegers can be prone to large dog health problems such as bone and joint problems and hip dysplasia. However, because many breeders are very selective in their screening, these bone and joing issues are kept out of the gene pool. Heart problems, Inherited Leonberger Paralysis/Polyneuropathy, allergies, digestive disorders, PRA and thyroid disorders are just some of the issues a Leonberger might have to deal with. This breed usually lives an average of 7 years.

Weekly brushing is a must for Leonbergers. Ear and teeth cleanings must be regular as well. Bathing should only be done when necessary. Mats in the coat paired with damp or wet conditions can cause hotspots. Watch for matting behind the ears, feathering on legs and tail. During the changing season, the Leonberger can be a heavy shedder.

Product Suggestions: Leonbergers love to swim, so why not make your Leo’s swim even more fun with the Ruff Dawg Stick Toy? The Stick is a rubbery twist on an old classic. Made completely out of 100% non-toxic superior-grade rubber, the Ruff Dawg’s Stick is tough, and tear resistant. Throw the Stick dog toy and watch your dog fetch it while getting plenty of exercise, even at the pool, because this stick floats!

Best Bully Sticks Bison Femur Bone is a great match for the Leonberger! This dog bone is extremely large. Weighing up to 4 1/2 lb, this bone is between 14 and 20 inches in length with two large knuckles at each end.

Do you own or know a Leonberger? Tell us your favorite Leo story in the comments section!

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