Leonberger: History, Temperament, Care, Training & more

Leonberger Dog Breed Information

Level of Energy    
Exercise Needs    
Level of Affection  
Climate Tolerance    
Good With Children  
Tolerance of Animals  
Suitable as Watch Dog   

Leonberger Dog – Just The Facts

  • AKC Popularity:  98
  • AKC Breed Group: Working
  • Size of Male:  130-170 lbs., 28-31.5 in.
  • Size of Female:  100-130 lbs., 25-29.5 in.
  • Color:  Lion–yellow, golden to red and red–brown, also sand colored (cream, pale yellow) and all combinations thereof, always with a black mask. All colors may have black tips on the outer coat.
  • Average Lifespan:  8-9 years
  • Breed Origin:  Leonberg, Germany
  • Purpose:  Livestock guardian, search and rescue

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General Description

The Leonberger Dog is known for being calm, gentle, and sweet. He was developed to be a livestock guardian and multi-purpose working dog, excelling at search and rescue, but today he is best known as wonderful family companion that is friendly and happy to please. They make good therapy dogs.

Origin and History

The Leonberger Dog takes his name from Leonberg, Germany, where the dogs were developed by their breeder, Heinrich Essing. Essing wanted to create a breed that looked like a lion and he succeeded. He crossed Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, and Great Pyrenees dogs to produce the breed.

This impressive dog breed has long been favored by royalty and has been owned by Napoleon II of France, Empress Elizabeth of Austria, England’s Prince of Wales in the 19th century, Chancellor Bismarck, and the Italian King Umberto.

This dog breed was nearly wiped out during World War II. The breed had to be re-established from the few remaining dogs in 1945, but today the breed is once again popular in Europe.

First imported into the U.S. in 1971, this large dog breed is today used for guarding livestock, search and rescue, water rescue, tracking and obedience work. They are primarily a family companion. The breed was recognized by the AKC in 2010.

Leonberger Temperament

The Leonberger is a member of the large Mastiff family of dogs and they are very like these dogs in temperament. They are brave and affectionate, loving toward their family, stable, and calm. They are extremely intelligent dogs and very loyal, as you would expect in a mastiff-type dog.

They are also friendly dogs. They make very good pets for children and have great patience. They get along well with other dogs and they also do well with dog training. They make a wonderful family dog.

Care, Grooming, Diet & Exercise

Living Environment – This breed is not the best apartment dog due to his very large size. They are calm and well-mannered indoors, however, and make good house dogs, especially if they have their own yard for some exercise. Due to their heavy coats they prefer to live in cooler climates.

Grooming – These dogs have a heavy coat and they need to be brushed at least weekly. They shed heavily when the seasons change and should be brushed on a daily basis at this time to prevent hair from falling everywhere.

Be sure to clean the ears regularly to avoid canine ear infections. This breed can be prone to hot spots because of its dense fur, so be sure to check for mats when you groom.

Diet & Exercise – As a giant breed the Leonberger should be fed a diet that is appropriate for very large dogs. Feed a puppy food for giant breed puppies to slow growth. Fast growth in puppies can contribute to later problems with joints and bones.

Health – As with many large dog breeds, these dogs can be subject to canine hip dysplasia and other musculo-skeletal problems. The breed may also have problems with their eyelids.

Like many giant breeds, these dogs have a relatively short lifespan. You should have your vet begin doing annual geriatric bloodwork on your dog when he is about 6 years old.

Leonberger Trainability

These are very intelligent dogs and they are highly trainable. They do well at obedience, tracking, search and rescue, water rescue, and other endeavors that require dog training.

They enjoy pleasing their owners and they like doing things with you. They are an active breed and very graceful and agile for their size. You should have no trouble training your Leonberger and your dog should enjoy it. Positive dog training methods are recommended for these dogs as they do not respond well to harsh training.