When you invite a dog to join your family you want it to stay for a long time in good health, and you want it, even in its old days, still to be vital. The general rule is that bigger dogs have a shorter life-span, and the Leonberger is no exception. However when we look at other giant breeds we feel quite optimistic and proud that the Leonberger does not suffer from wide spread illnesses like many giant breeds. A life-span of over ten years is not unheared of for Leonbergers, and a few even live into their teens.
The national Leonberger clubs have breeding regulations, adopted to circumstances and kennel club rules in their country. Health related requirements are generally an important part of those breeding rules. In nearly all countries a stud book is kept by the national kennel club, which issues a pedigrees (certificate of descent) for all purebred dogs, independent of compliance to the breed clubs breeding regulations. Therefore, before buying a puppy, one should always check with the national breed club to assure that the litter confirms to the breeding rules.
If you are considering getting a dog, health and temperament should be your top considerations. For Leonbergers, you must be very sure that you obtain your dog from a breeder and not from a commercial dog trading establishment (puppy mill). Make sure that the breeder is a member of their country’s Leonberger Club and is on the current list of approved breeders. That is your only assurance that the strict breeding standards imposed by most Leonberger clubs have been followed. It must be clear that there is never a 100 % guarantee that your dog will never be ill or live to be ten years old, but your chances are much better if you get a puppy from a breeder that is meeting the health standards of the national breed club.
Most FCI affiliated Kennel Clubs do not require more than the AKC in the way of breeding standards, but most of the national clubs are diligent in requiring adherence to very precise guidelines developed to minimize genetic flaws and diseases. Although, in most countries, law forbids clubs to fix a price for puppies, many clubs recommend a price. Most breeders stick to that price. If a breeder asks a price out of line for his country (either much lower or much higher) you should be careful and try to find out why that breeder is not using the breed club rules and guidelines. It is always a good idea to visit several breeders.