The Leonberger history is not that old. In the 1830s a man named Heinrich Essig decided to cross a black and white Newfoundlad with a Saint Bernard and later with Pyrenean Mountain dog. The first dogs really called “Leonbergers” were born in 1846. The breeding goal was to create a lion like dog that would create a majestic pet for European royalty.
2) Noble dog
And indeed, the breeding goal was accomplished because the Leonberger became a pet of important rulers such as Napoleon III, King Edward VII, Tsar Alexander II, Otto von Bismarck or Umberto I of Italy. Other famous owners were for example Giusepe Garibaldi, Richard Wagner or Sergei Rachmaninoff.
The Leonberger is named after the city, where it was developed. It was the town of Leonberg. The Leonberger dogs were bred to resemble and mimic the lion in the Leonbergs coat of arms. And i would say that they do resemble the lions, at least a little bit.
Even though the Leonberger was favourite dog of many European rulers and aristocrats, not all of them were living with the royalty. At the end of the 19th century, the Leonberger was one of the favourite farm dog of German farmers, especially because of their watchdog and drafting abilities.. This is a versatile breed that was also working on waterfronts and pastures. They were also used to pull carts, as search dogs or in recent years as therapy dogs.
5) Almost extinct
The breed almost went extinct after the World War I and than once again after the Wolrd War II. After the first World War, it is belived that there were only 25 remaining purebred Leonbergers, but only 5 of them were suitable for further breeding. Those dogs were succesfully bred until the second world war, when the breed almost went extinct once again. The two men who are credited for reviving and saving the breed are mr. Karl Stadelmann and Otto Josenhans and all todays Leonbergers have ancestry tracing back to 8 Leonbergers that survived the second world war.
The Leonberger is a giant dog breed, but there are quite big size differences between the strongly masculine males and elegantly feminine females. The average male height is between 71-80 cm, which is 28-31 inches and weight is typically between 140-150 pounds, which is 64-68 kgs. The females height should be between 65-75 cm, which is 26-30 inch and weight should ideally be between 100-135 pounds, which is 45-61 kg.
7) Therapy dog
Today, the Leonberger is mostly used as family companion, which is mostly thanks to their gentle, loving, kind and playful temperament. They are such a great and emphatetic animals, that it is becoming more and more common for them to serve as therapy dogs. These dogs are very sensitive and in tune with our emotions and they can provide tons of affectione, release stress and make us happier.
The breeds hallmark is definitely its water resistant double coat. The long, profuse, outer coat is durable, relatively straight, lies flat, and fits close and some male Leonbergers have visible mane around their neck. You can find this breed in several colors and combinations of yellow, red, brown and sand. Foot pads, nose and lips should be in black color.
Just look at the thick doublecoat, of course that leonberger sheds a good deal. And you should be prepared for that, because frequent brushing to remove the dead hair and minimize the shedding and also to prevent matting and tangling is essential to keep the Leonbergers coat in top condition. Just like with all dogs, you should regularly check their eyes, ears and nails and clip them or clean them if needed.
The Leonberger is normally a healthy dog, but just like majority of giant dog breeds, their lifespan is quite short, only around 8 years. Just like all dogs, they can suffer from variety of health issues, the most common would be hip dysplasia, eye problems, inherited leonberger polyneuropathy or laryngeal paralysis.