Boasting a muscular frame, a family-friendly attitude, and an energetic nature, the Leonberger dog breed is adored by many. If you are looking for a fluffy canine friend to add to your family, a Leonberger may be what you are looking for.
28 – 31 inches
120 – 170 pounds
8 – 9 years
Mahogany, Red, Sandy, Yellow
Active families, big households
Friendly, welcomes training, affectionate
Since being imported to the United States in the early 1970s, Leonbergers have proved to be adept in water rescue, tracking, guarding livestock, and most importantly, being a friendly addition to any household.
Before you consider welcoming a Leonberger into your home, you should consider the commitment that you are bound to make. Leonbergers tend to live around 8 to 9 years, but since they are a bigger breed, they can be more prone to potential health issues, and therefore will live a shorter lifespan. Therefore, if you plan to introduce this fluffy friend into your household and your life, be prepared to shoulder the intense responsibility that comes with raising one.
If you do bring home a Leonberger, be prepared to have a friendly, energetic, and affectionate dog wanting to play with you every day. Read the Leonberger’s care guide carefully to know how to properly take care of your pup so it grows into a happy and healthy dog.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Leonberger
If the physical attributes are not enough to identify them, any Leonberger will be quick to show you through its attitude. Leonbergers are commonly known for their gentle nature despite its large stature. The ruffled, lion-like appearance may give off intimidating vibes to some, but to most, a Leonberger is incredibly playful. They are especially gentle with smaller children and know how much they would be able to tolerate. In addition, the Leonberger’s friendly nature will also transition to friends and visitors. If it sees that you had a bad day or need someone to cuddle with, they will make themselves available. However, what can be a friendly appearance to family can be a warning sign to potential intruders or strangers.
As previously mentioned, Leonbergers have a history of guarding. Therefore, they will be quick to announce their presence if they suspect danger, and their protective streak will come in if it feels there is a threat looming. One consequence of a Leonberger friendly disposition is the fact that it hates being alone and requires constant companionship. This may not be the breed of dog for you if your other commitments require you to be away from your house for extended periods at a time. They do not tolerate solitude very well.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
The Leonberger is a perfect accompanying pet for any household, as it welcomes love and affection, whether it be adults or children. Despite the maintenance that is needed to facilitate proper development, Leonbergers welcome families of all sizes. There just needs to be proper consideration as to what environment it will be raised in.
Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?
Whether or not Leonbergers get along with other pets highly hinges upon how much their socialization skills are allowed to develop, especially from an early age. If there is proper training from their earlier years, they will be more than friendly and playful with other breeds. However, if they are not given sufficient stimulation, they may not be nearly as welcoming to other breeds and may deem them as a threat.
Things to Know When Owning a Leonberger Dog:
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
You will need an accurate measurement of how much your Leonberg weighs because it will determine how much they will need. In addition, energy levels, size and age play several factors into their nutrition as well. Typically, an average Leonberger will eat five to seven cups of kibble a day. Monitoring how much they eat is also important because they are prone to putting on weight fast and can lead to weight-related concerns. Gastric torsion is a condition that commonly affects large breeds in which the stomach twists. Small, frequent meals are recommended to avert this potential scenario.
To maintain a healthy lifestyle, the Leonberger will require around an hour of exercise a day. A brief walk in your local neighborhood or a nearby park should be sufficient. It is recommended that you do alternate exercises and provide some measure of variety so that boredom does not sink in. A Leonberger is liable to present with destructive behavior if there isn’t sufficient stimulation.
Another thing to consider in regard to the exercise requirements of a Leonberger is the space that you are living in. As you can imagine, a big dog with sizable exercise requirements requires a good deal of space. An apartment building is not ideal, but if the space is large enough, then it can work. To maximize this breed’s exercise, a large space with a private yard is the ideal environment.
Leonbergers tolerate training very well because they tend to be eager to please their owners. Not only does it present an opportunity to please their owner, but it is another chance to spend quality time. It is preferred to start their training when they are young, because it will be easier for them to respond to positive reinforcement as they grow. Praise, head scratches and treats have proven to be effective motivators. However, you can find your own creative ways to show your Leonberger that they are doing a good job.
Coinciding with training, Leonbergers tend to chase things quite a bit, so it may also be a good idea to introduce him to various environments that contain other dogs, humans, and other maintenance routines such as grooming. You will likely get an obedient breed the younger you start introducing them to these things. Arguably the most important part of their training regimen would have to be their leash. A fully grown Leonberger can weigh as much as 170 pounds, so for your safety and for theirs, you should teach them how to walk in a polite manner on a leash.
Finally, you will want to pay special attention to the Leonberger’s coat, as it is high maintenance and requires commitment. If their coat is neglected, it may cause significant matting and give the breed a disheveled look and chronic pain. Sporting a thick double coat, the Leonberger will shed quite easily throughout the year. This coat helps regulate its temperature, keeping it warm during the winter and cool during the summer. However, throughout the year, the Leonberger will require a daily brushing regimen. A metal comb will be needed for the undercoat, while a slicker brush is recommended for the topcoat. Another requirement for maintaining a healthy coat is an undercoat rake. Two common matting areas that get neglected include the back of its legs and behind the ears. Aside from coat management, the Leonberger will also require a weekly dental cleaning and a bath every six to eight weeks. You will also want to be mindful of bacterial infections in their ears, which can be wiped with a cotton bud and ear cleaning solution. Their nails will also need to get trimmed at least twice monthly. To make all these various commitments easier for the Leonberger to adapt to, it is ideal to get used to a grooming schedule from a young age.
Health and Conditions
In terms of potential health issues to look after, Leonbergers are typically healthy. However, because of their giant stature, their lifespan is shorter than your average breed. The average lifespan for a Leonberger is approximately 9 years, which is considerably lower than smaller dogs. Therefore, maintaining a proper exercise regimen along with proper maintenance with grooming, veterinarian visits and obedience training is crucial to maximize your short years with this breed. There are certain conditions that you may want to preemptively prepare for, however.
You must be aware of a condition known as Leonberger Polyneuropathy, an inherited neuromuscular disease that is triggered by a weakening of nerve fibers within the body. If you notice they cannot tolerate exercise, walk unevenly, or show some difficulty breathing, those are red flags that should be addressed because it can be fatal in some cases.
One specific issue that is uniform across all large dog breeds is joint dysplasia, specifically with the hips and elbows. Uneven growth can develop because of their bones growing too quickly. You should investigate this further if you observe your Leonberger struggling to stand or climb stairs without discomfort. Another issue with Leonbergers are eye conditions such as age-related cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy. Watery eyes, redness, and increased itching are potentially indicative of this issue.
Male vs Female
Leonbergers are known for being dimorphic, which means that you can discern a female from a male. Usually, male dogs are known to have more masculine features, with the typical discerning characteristic being their increased weight. An average male Leonberger can weigh around 132 pounds while a female Leonberger can weigh around 105 pounds. In addition, a male’s mane will be more pronounced with a bigger head as well. You will certainly be able to see these differences first-hand if you observe them up close. Whatever the case may be, the differences between a male and a female do not differ too much from human beings.
3 Little-Known Facts About the Leonberger
1. Leonbergers Have a Royal Lineage
There are various characteristics that distinguish the Leonberger from its counterparts. For one, it is a working dog with physical attributes that are conducive to an active lifestyle. Boasting rectangular heads, firm necks, and feathered legs, one can identify this breed upon closer inspection. There are subtle differences between males and females. For one, a male’s mane will be more pronounced than a female. In addition, males tend to have larger heads. You will also be able to identify webbed feet and bushy tails.
2. World War 1 Nearly Eliminated All of Them
People often forget that the ravages of war extend to animals. To prevent total extinction, Otto Josenhans and Karl Stadelmann rounded up the remaining 25 Leonbergers that were present at the time of the war. Out of those 25, only five of the dogs were in any condition to be bred. After that, a small group in 1922 formed a breeding program and four years later in 1926, 360 Leonbergers were present and saved from extinction.
3. Average Sized Litters
Leonbergers are not known to produce a lot of puppies at a time, with typical litters clocking it at 6 on average. It was thought a record was set in 2009 when a Leonberger produced 18 puppies. This came as a shock when Ariel, the name of the Leonberger, previously produced a littler of 4 puppies. Even with an ultrasound, the family were unable to confirm how many puppies she produced the second go around. All that was known was that it was at least ten. This huge litter of puppies kept the family very occupied.
As you can see, taking care of a Leonberger requires a commitment for the sake of its health. From a consistent exercise routine to a daily brushing regimen, there will be a lot that needs to be maintained for a healthy lifespan. However, if these duties are not too stringent, then the Leonberger will make the perfect addition to any household. Various dog lovers have often cited that adopting this breed will leave any family household happy because of its playful, friendly nature. You should always be mindful of potential health issues and the environment that you have to accommodate such a large dog. However, sooner or later, you will see that a Leonberger is one of the sweetest, kindest dogs that can grace any house. They will adore all members of the house, never cease to smother you with love and affection, and will provide you with plenty of memories to last a lifetime.
Featured Image Credit: sesheta, Pixabay