Group: Working Group
– Males: 28 to 31 ½ inches (72-80 cm).
– Females: 25 ½ inches to 29 ½ inches (65-75 cm).
– Males: Average is over 132 lbs (60 kg).
– Females: About 105 lbs (48 kg).
The Leonberger is said to have been developed in Leonberg, Germany, by crossing a Newfoundland with a Saint Bernard and then adding other giant breeds, including the Great Pyrenees. The goal was to develop a powerful dog to use for draft work or as a flock guardian. The breed was stabilized by the end of the 19th century and recognized in several European countries.
The Leonberger is an obedient, good-natured and fearless dog. A wonderful family companion, he is well known for his friendliness toward children. Leonbergers are seen participating in many dog sports and activities including agility, obedience, carting, water rescue and herding. Their gentle nature also makes them good candidates to work as Therapy dogs.
In appearance, the Leonberger, considered a giant breed, is impressive and elegant. He has a long, medium soft to coarse double coat that may be straight or have a slight wave. Especially thick around the neck and chest, he has the appearance of having a lion-like mane. He is usually lion yellow with a black mask. He may also be red, reddish brown or sandy colours.
The Leonberger does not suffer from many of the illnesses found in many of the giant breeds due in part from the very strict breeding guidelines set out by Leonberger Clubs and because of conscientious breeders working on preserving the health of the breed. However, like all giant breeds, certain health issues may be of concern. These include:
- Hip Dysplasia — This disease is found in almost all large breeds of dogs, and the Leonberger is no exception. This is a hereditary disorder and all breeding stock should be x-rayed.
- Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD) — OCD is found in large breed dogs that experience rapid growth. It is recommended that dogs be x-rayed for this disorder before breeding.
- Panosteitis (Pano) — Also referred to as “growing pains” and generally a problem in rapid growing giant breed males. It is believed that food too rich in protein and calcium may provoke the onset of the problem.
- Addison’s Disease — This disease has been diagnosed in both European and American Leonbergers. This is a serious hormonal disorder of the adrenal glands and, if undiagnosed, can lead to death. If diagnosed correctly, however, it can be successfully managed with medication.
- Osteosarcoma — Osteosarcoma is a destructive tumor state which spreads rapidly to other organs, particularly the lungs. Bone Cancer is a frequent cause of death in giant breeds, including the Leonberger.
- Bloat — As with all giant breed dogs, the occurrence of Bloat or Gastric Torsion is a real possibility in the Leonberger. If you are not familiar with this condition, it is absolutely necessary to learn about it and know the symptoms — This is a real emergency and a life threatening condition that requires immediate Veterinary attention. See First Aid for Bloat for an article describing some of the things you can do if you are faced with this situation.
- Hypothyroidism — A condition characterized by low levels of thyroid hormone.
If you are considering the adoption of a Leonberger puppy, or any breed, it is very important to be selective in choosing a responsible and reputable breeder. Ensure that the prospective puppy’s parents have all health clearances. Breeding of any dog should not be done until after they have been proven to be free of evidence of significant hereditary diseases. As part of the Leonberger Club of America (LCA) required breeding practices, members breeding dogs must have been assigned a CHIC (Canine Health Information Center) number and have OFA, Penn-Hip, or foreign-equivalent, passing hips. (For more information on selecting a breeder, see the articles on the General Information page.)
Additional Health Resources:
- Leonberger Health Foundation — The Leonberger Health Foundation works closely with the Health, Research, and Education Committee of the Leonberger Club of America to identify health concerns in the Leonberger breed.
- Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) – Leonberger Breed Requirements
- Health and Nutrition — Growing section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website which includes information on several health and nutrition related issues.
- AKC Canine Health Foundation — Working towards developing scientific advances in canine health.
- OFA – Companion Animal Eye Registry (CAER)
- Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)
- Ontario Veterinary College (OVC)
- University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHip)
- HealthGene — HealthGene Corporation is the leading provider of veterinary DNA diagnostic services in Canada.
- Labgenvet — Laboratory of Veterinary Genetics is a Canadian diagnostic laboratory that offers a comprehensive service of DNA tests for veterinary genetic diseases.
The Leonberger coat varies in length and thickness. Moderate shedding is seen year round and “molting” usually twice a year with season changes. Leonbergers with a very thick undercoat and long feathers and mane do require more maintenance than those with a shorter, less dense coat. The Leonberger coat is waterproof and, in order to keep the coat looking its best, some daily brushing is recommended.
- Grooming — This section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website includes tips, articles and information covering all aspects of dog grooming along with a listing of Groomers from across Canada.
As with all dogs, early socialization and obedience training, through positive reinforcement, is recommended for the Leonberger breed.
- Training — For training information, see this growing section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website for tips, articles, as well as listings of training centres across Canada.
- Leonberger Dogs Database — Includes pedigrees of over 60,000 dogs.
- Worldwide Independent Leonberger Database
- Clubs, Sports & Activities — This section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website covers several sports and activities and also includes listings of non-breed specific Dog Clubs from across Canada.
- Working Dogs — The Working Dogs section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website provides information and listings of organizations that are involved in various dog jobs, such as Guide Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Police Dogs, Protection Dogs, and much more.
*NOTE 1: CHIC – The Canine Health Information Center “is a database of consolidated health screening results from multiple sources. Co-sponsored by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Health Foundation, CHIC works with parent clubs to identify health screening protocols appropriate for individual breeds. Dogs tested in accordance with the parent club established requirements, that have their results registered and made available in the public domain are issued CHIC numbers.” To learn more, visit: www.caninehealthinfo.org
*NOTE 2: The Fédération Cynologique International (FCI) is the World Canine Organization, which includes 91 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI recognizes 344 breeds, with each being the “property” of a specific country. The “owner” countries write the standards of these breeds in co-operation with the Standards and Scientific Commissions of the FCI, and the translation and updating are carried out by the FCI. The FCI is not a breed registry nor does it issue pedigrees.