The Leonberger is a dog of German origin, impressive in size and elegant in appearance, with a long coat of brilliant lion-red color and a typical black mask covering its face. The Leonberger is well known in many countries, while in some others it is still considered a rare breed.
The first official documentation of the breed dates back to the first half of the nineteenth century, when the alderman, Mr. Heinrich Essig, of the Swabian town of Leonberg, near Stuttgart, gave this name to a breed of dogs that he had begun to select in his own kennel.
Since then, there have been many events that have accompanied the development of the breed, which has experienced periods of great popularity as well as controversy. The fact is that the Leonberger has always been appreciated by many for its physical and morphological qualities. A breed with ancient roots that found more and more admirers after the end of the Second World War.
The Leonberger should be a dog of decent substance, yet elegant in movement and gentle in nature. The Leonberger is large and strong, with a distinct sexual dimorphism. Females are typically 65-75 cm (25 1/2 – 29 1/2 inches) at the withers and weigh approximately 48 kg (105 lbs). Males are typically 72-80 cm (28 – 31 1/2 inches) at the withers with an average weight of over 60 kg (132 lbs). They are double coated and come in many shades of yellow-brown (from a sand color to dark reddish brown) and often have black tips to their guard hairs. The most distinctive feature is a black face mask.
The Leonberger is classified by the FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale) in Group 2 (Pinscher and Schnauzer – Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs), Section 2.2, Molossians, Mountain Type Dogs.
The Leonberger is not a typical working dog, bred for a specific purpose. However, over time, due to its impressive size, it has been used as a farm guard and for pulling light loads.
Today’s Leonberger is best described as a family companion, a loving dog dedicated to the family, perfect for life with children, able to have fun and exercise with his human companions and other dogs.
Leonbergers enjoy hiking, swimming, and gatherings of family and friends. Leonbergers have earned working titles in obedience, water rescue, agility, carting, and herding, and seem to have a natural ability as therapy dogs. Leonbergers can be trained to do almost anything, as long as you have patience and a sense of humor! They are happiest as part of a family that includes the Leonberger in daily activities.