Wednesday, August 1, 2012


   When one thinks of the description of "Sweet, large, and a gentle giant", the Leonberger may come to mind.  It's a combination of elegance and power.  According to the AKC, its closest relative is the St. Bernard.  They are "dimorphic", meaning that males look distinctly more masculine and bigger than the females.  He is muscular and very big.  Males are described to carry "lion-like manes".  The breed standard describes the Leonberger's head to be "rectangular shaped" &; "deeper than it is broad".  Its body is has a broad and deep chest and its forequarters and hindquarters are well-muscled.  As for its colors, it ranges from lion yellow, red, reddish-brown, sandy, and all combinations in-between.  He also sports a black face.

   At around the 1830's, Heinrich Essig, the Town Councillor of Leonberg, Germany bred a dog with a female Newfoundland that was black and white and a St. Bernard from the monastery hospice.  Other large breeds were added to the mix, such as the Great Pyrenees.  Heinrich Essig was aiming for a powerful dog that could be used for draft work and a flock guardian.  It is rumored that Essig also went for a lion-like appearance as the town crest for Leonberg had a lion rearing up on its legs.  Earlier Leonbergers were born 1846 and a short time later, Leonbergers were sold as status symbols from Leonberg.  During the World Wars, the Leonberger was almost lost.  But today, there are plenty of Leonbergers to go around.

   Due to strict breeding guidelines set by Leonberger clubs the breed doesn't have as many health issues as one may think it would.  However, it is advised that you watch out for panosteitis, osteosarcoma, Addison's disease, and hypothyroidism.  Leonbergers are also prone bloat, which happens when the breed is running with a full stomach and the stomach flops over.  This can be fatal if not treated right away.  To prevent this, don't let a Leonberger run on a full stomach.  Wait 20-30 minutes to let it digest the food.  Adult Leonbergers need 40 minutes to an hour of exercise daily.  This can be made up of long walks with opportunity for the dog to run and play.  Puppies need limited exercise during the growth stage, when the bones will start to develop and the exercise time can gradually increase.  It has a fairly long coat that will shed.  Brush and groom the coat once every week to remove loose and dead hair.  A brave and loyal dog that isn't aggressive, the breed makes a great pet for families.  It mostly gets along with other pets, but due to its large size, the Leonberger should be supervised around small children.  It is a gentle giant and is obedient, having a great learning capacity and being able to remember things easily.  In fact, they have great potential as seeing-eye dogs.

   Overall, the Leonberger is a large dog that does need space, but makes up for it in intelligence, loyalty, and being obedient.  Great with families and only needing weekly brushing and grooming, it isn't as high maintenance as other large dogs.  With responsibilities taken, he can be a great pet for just about anybody.  The Leonberger could be the your next best friend.

1 comment:

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