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  • Temperament: Friendly, Gentle, Playful
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 95 of 192
  • Height: 28-31.5 inches (male), 25.5-29.5 inches (female)
  • Weight: 110-170 pounds (male), 90-140 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 7 years
  • Group: Working Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Leonberger standing in a grassy field
Two Leonberger dogs standing side by side, heads turned right
Young Leonberger standing in snow
Leonberger chasing a red ball in the snow
Leonberger

Find a Puppy: Leonberger

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

Don’t let his size and lion-like looks fool you; the Leonberger is a big bundle of love. Bred as farm dogs and family companions, Leonbergers are eager to please and, with their love of children, are wonderful family dogs. Because they respond so well to training, they also make excellent therapy dogs. Leonberger puppies grow up to be surprisingly graceful adult dogs, who will appreciate moderate exercise and some regular training. They are shedders, so you’ll want to brush that double coat regularly.

HEAD

The head, in its entirety, is deeper than it is broad, rectangular shaped. The length of muzzle to length of back skull is approximately equal, with no wrinkles, and cheeks are only slightly developed. Males have a strong masculine head while female heads express femininity.

BODY

Chest is broad, roomy, and deep, reaching at least to the level of the elbows, pronounced prosternum. Fore and rear quarters well muscled. Ribs are well-sprung, oval. Underline is only slightly tucked up. Loin is broad, compact, strong, well muscled. Croup is broad, relatively long, gently sloped, flowing smoothly into root of tail.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulder Angulation – Well laid-back and well muscled; the shoulder meets the upper arm at approximately a right angle allowing for excellent reach. Shoulder and upper arm rather long and about equal in length. Elbows – Close to body, neither in nor out when standing or gaiting. Forelegs – Well-boned, muscular, straight and parallel to each other. Pasterns – Strong, firm and straight when viewed from front, slightly sloping when viewed from side. Dewclaws – Usually present. Feet – Turn neither in nor out, rounded, tight, toes well arched (cat foot), pads always black.

COAT

Leonbergers have a medium to long, water resistant, double coat on the body and short fine hair on the muzzle and front of limbs. Outer coat is medium-soft to coarse and lies flat. It is straight, with some generalized wave permitted. Mature males carry a mane, which extends over neck and chest. The undercoat is soft and dense, although it may be less so in summer months or warmer climates. In spite of the double coat, the outline of the body is always recognizable. Leonbergers have distinct feathering on backside of forelegs and ample feathering on breeches and some ear feathering. Tail is very well furnished. Females are less likely to carry a coat as long as males and this disparity must not be a consideration when judged against the male. Natural appearance of the coat is essential to breed type.

HINDQUARTERS

Angulation – In balance with forequarters. The rear assembly is powerful, muscular and well-boned. Legs – Viewed from the rear, the legs are straight and parallel, with stifles and paws turned neither in nor out, placed widely enough apart to match a properly built body. Thighs – Upper and lower of equal length, slanting and strongly muscled. Stifles – Angle clearly defined. Hocks – Strong of bone, distinctly angled between lower thigh and rear pastern; well let down. Dewclaws – Rear dewclaws may be present. Feet – Turned neither in nor out, but may be slightly elongated compared to forefeet. Toes arched; pads always black.

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Leonberger

About the Leonberger

A huge and powerful dog, yes, but the Leonberger is also known for his aristocratic grace and elegance. A male can stand over 31 inches at the shoulder and weigh as much as a full-grown human. Females run smaller but are still a whole lot of dog. Breed hallmarks include a medium-long waterproof coat, lush triangular ears, a bushy tail, and a black facemask that frames kindly dark-brown eyes. A dramatic feature of the male’s coat is the lion-like mane around the neck and chest. A well-built Leo moves with an easy, elastic gait. A Leo is friendly but nobody’s fool. As watchdogs and all-around workers, they exhibit intelligence and sound judgment. Leos require lots of brushing, ample room for romping, and unlimited love.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Leonberger

Find a Puppy: Leonberger

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Leonberger Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Leonberger should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

Leonbergers shed a lot—and twice a year, they shed even more. A Leo should be brushed every day, especially in the areas of his body that tend to mat: the long hair behind the ears and on the backs of the legs. A more thorough grooming should be done once a week—and given the breed’s size, this will take a fair amount of time. Leos have a thick, full outer coat and a shorter, fluffier undercoat. A metal comb and an undercoat rake can be used to work out the undercoat, and a pin brush and a slicker brush will neaten up the outer coat. In addition, a Leo’s nailsshould be trimmed every other week.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Daily Brushing

EXERCISE

If you live in a city apartment or a house on a small, suburban lot, this may not be the breed for you. Adult Leonbergers are generally calm and subdued, but they still need to have some vigorous exercise once a day. Puppies and adolescents are active and exuberant. Adult dogs can benefit from jogging or hiking with their owner or keeping pace alongside a bicycle. A large yard with a tall, strong fence is the ideal place for a Leo to run around. Remember, these are working dogs. Drafting—that is, pulling a cart—and agility training are two good ways for a Leo to get the activity he or she needs.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

Leonbergers are very large and strong. In addition, puppies and adolescents have loads of energy and are extremely enthusiastic. With these facts in mind, proper training of the breed is essential. Leo puppies should be socialized by being gently exposed to a wide range of people, animals, and settings before the age of 20 weeks. Group obedience classes will help a Leo learn to be a well-mannered companion and canine citizen. A Leo is probably stronger than and may even outweigh his owner, and it is imperative that he learns to do what you want him to do.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Eager to Please

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Friendly

HEALTH

As with all canines, proper exercise and nutrition, routine vet exams, and parasite prevention are keys to a happy and healthy life. Large dogs such as Leos can experience bloat, where the stomach twists and gas is trapped inside. Bloat can quickly be fatal, and it is important to know its signs, such as drooling, restlessness, enlarged abdomen, and attempts to vomit. Owners of at-risk dogs can consider the preventative measure of having their dog’s stomach surgically tacked to the abdominal wall.

Required Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Exam (CERF)
  • Thyroid Evaluation
  • LPN1 DNA Test
  • LPN2 DNA Test
  • LEMP (Leukoencephalomyelopathy) DNA Test

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Leonberger
Leonberger
Leonberger
Leonberger
Leonberger
Leonberger
Leonberger

History

Unique among the big guys of the AKC Working Group, Leos were developed first and foremost as companions. The breed was the brainchild of Heinrich Essig, a 19th-century politician and entrepreneur of Leonberg, Germany. Utilizing Saint Bernards and Newfoundlands, among other large working breeds, Essig’s goal was to breed a majestic pet for European royalty—truly a dog fit for a king. He succeeded grandly, and such clients as Napoleon III, Tsar Alexander II, and the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) lined up to add this stately companion to their royal courts. Other famous Leonberger owners, aristocrats in spirit if not of blood, have included composers Richard Wagner and Sergei Rachmaninoff, and the Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi. Despite their regal beginnings, Leos have long been employed as versatile working dogs on farms, pastures, and waterfronts. They are surprisingly nimble and make excellent swimmers. A specialty of the breed is cart pulling, an activity that provides an enjoyable outlet for their prodigious strength.

Did You Know?

Leonbergers come from the town of Leonberg, in modern day Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany.
Heinrich Essig, the founder of the breed, was a town counselor of Leonberg, and legend has it that he wanted a dog that resembled the lion on the town crest.
Leonbergers have a double coat which requires regular brushing to help control the shedding, and is one of the few breeds in the AKC whose coat may not be altered or trimmed, except to "neaten the feet."
Leonbergers are most closely related to the St. Bernard and, to a lesser extent, to the Landseer Newfoundland and Pyrenean Mountain Dog.
Leonbergers are dimorphic, which means that males should look distinctly more masculine and larger than females.
Leonbergers have the potential to be outstanding therapy dogs.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

Don’t let his size and lion-like looks fool you; the Leonberger is a big bundle of love. Bred as farm dogs and family companions, Leonbergers are eager to please and, with their love of children, are wonderful family dogs. Because they respond so well to training, they also make excellent therapy dogs. Leonberger puppies grow up to be surprisingly graceful adult dogs, who will appreciate moderate exercise and some regular training. They are shedders, so you’ll want to brush that double coat regularly.

HEAD

The head, in its entirety, is deeper than it is broad, rectangular shaped. The length of muzzle to length of back skull is approximately equal, with no wrinkles, and cheeks are only slightly developed. Males have a strong masculine head while female heads express femininity.

BODY

Chest is broad, roomy, and deep, reaching at least to the level of the elbows, pronounced prosternum. Fore and rear quarters well muscled. Ribs are well-sprung, oval. Underline is only slightly tucked up. Loin is broad, compact, strong, well muscled. Croup is broad, relatively long, gently sloped, flowing smoothly into root of tail.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulder Angulation – Well laid-back and well muscled; the shoulder meets the upper arm at approximately a right angle allowing for excellent reach. Shoulder and upper arm rather long and about equal in length. Elbows – Close to body, neither in nor out when standing or gaiting. Forelegs – Well-boned, muscular, straight and parallel to each other. Pasterns – Strong, firm and straight when viewed from front, slightly sloping when viewed from side. Dewclaws – Usually present. Feet – Turn neither in nor out, rounded, tight, toes well arched (cat foot), pads always black.

COAT

Leonbergers have a medium to long, water resistant, double coat on the body and short fine hair on the muzzle and front of limbs. Outer coat is medium-soft to coarse and lies flat. It is straight, with some generalized wave permitted. Mature males carry a mane, which extends over neck and chest. The undercoat is soft and dense, although it may be less so in summer months or warmer climates. In spite of the double coat, the outline of the body is always recognizable. Leonbergers have distinct feathering on backside of forelegs and ample feathering on breeches and some ear feathering. Tail is very well furnished. Females are less likely to carry a coat as long as males and this disparity must not be a consideration when judged against the male. Natural appearance of the coat is essential to breed type.

HINDQUARTERS

Angulation – In balance with forequarters. The rear assembly is powerful, muscular and well-boned. Legs – Viewed from the rear, the legs are straight and parallel, with stifles and paws turned neither in nor out, placed widely enough apart to match a properly built body. Thighs – Upper and lower of equal length, slanting and strongly muscled. Stifles – Angle clearly defined. Hocks – Strong of bone, distinctly angled between lower thigh and rear pastern; well let down. Dewclaws – Rear dewclaws may be present. Feet – Turned neither in nor out, but may be slightly elongated compared to forefeet. Toes arched; pads always black.

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Leonberger

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Red Check Mark For Standard Color 140
Reddish Brown Check Mark For Standard Color 159
Sandy Check Mark For Standard Color 168
Yellow Check Mark For Standard Color 232

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Black Mask Check Mark For Standard Mark 004

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