The Mighty Leonberger: #1 Guide to This Lion Dog Breed

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The Mighty Leonberger Dog- #1 Guide to This Lion Dog BreedLooking for a massive lion-like dog that is big in size, sensitivity, and smarts? The Leonberger, aka Leos, are powerhouses in all areas. They are big in appearance, personality, and their capacity to become your closest companion. When well trained and socialized, Leos are known as big gentle giants.

But, they are not for everyone though! These big pups need to live with human companions who have plenty of time and space for them in their lives, as well as their homes.

A Dog That Looks Like a Lion? More Like a Giant Teddy Bear!

This is one cuddly canine that will appeal to lovers of big cats, big dogs, and their favorite old teddy bear alike! Leos give love back as much as they get.

They are very playful, friendly and affectionate with those they share their lives with.

A Brief History of this Lion Dog Breed

The Leonberger originates from Deutschland. It was first bred in Germany in the mid-1800s. Their name comes from the town where Henrich Essig, the first breeder, lived – the town of Leonberg in Germany.

Essig is said to have set out to breed a lion-like dog to match the lion in the Leonberg town’s crest or coat-of-arms. Three big dog breeds contributed to the gene pool – long-haired Saint Bernard’s, Newfoundland’s and Great Pyrenees or Pyrenean Mountain.

The result was this mighty, massive and lovable lion-like Lionberger breed.  Although originally bred as a regal pet for royalty and the rich and famous, the Leo has also been used as a working dog due to their strength, agility, and ability to swim very well.

The Appearance of Leonberger Dogs

Leos are dimorphic – males have more masculine features, and females a more feminine appearance. Leos bodies are built strong and muscular.

Their fur is medium to long length, and a gorgeously thick double coat.  Adult males carry more of the mane around their chest and neck that gives them the lion-like appearance. They have a black mask on their face.

The range of coat colors may include lion-yellow, creamy and yellow sandy colors, golden-red and red-brown.

Average Size and Weight!

As adults, Leos can weigh the same, and stand at half the height of their human companions!  Their size and weight ranges are:

  • Males: Adult males usually range in height from 28-31.5 inches (71-80 cm) to the top of their shoulder, and weigh between 110-170 pounds (50-77 kg)
  • Females:  Adult females usually range from 25.5-29.5 inches (65-75 cm) to the top of their shoulder and weigh between 90-140 pounds (41-63 kg).

A Leonberger Full Grown is a Lot of Doggo!

As you can imagine with a pup of this size, as Leos grow they are a lot of dog to handle!

Especially as young puppies and in their adolescent years, Leos can be playful, boisterous and have a ton of energy to burn. Leos also like to stand close by their companions, and that means literally as close as they can!

It’s not uncommon for the Leo family dog to be referred to as the “Lean-on-Berger” – so be prepared to be able to train and handle that weight!

Putting it Into Perspective: Leonberger Size Comparison

To give you an idea of how big these guys actually are, compare them to other larger dog breeds you may consider. Let’s say the Saint Bernard – another of the giant breeds and part of their gene pool.

Then the Labrador Retriever, the German Shepherd, and the Irish Setter, all popular.

  • The tallest of them all: Male Leos can stand to 31.5 inches tall (that’s over two and a half feet) to their shoulder – add on more for their proud heads! In comparison, St Bernard’s are usually up to 30 inches, Labradors up to 23.5 inches, German Shepherds up to 26 inches and Irish Setters up to 27 inches.
  • Double the body mass: Again at the upper range, male Leos can weigh up to 170 pounds. In comparison, Saint Bernard’s can weigh up to 180 pounds, Labradors up to 80 pounds, German Shepherds up to 90 pounds and Irish Setters up to 70 pounds.

Temperament and Personality

Leonberger puppies for sale on white couch

Leonbergers have been described as sensible, gentle, serene and friendly – but nobody’s fool!

They will be loving, loyal and a bundle of love with their family, but may be wary and suspicious of people and other animals they don’t know. They are confident and strong-willed as well as being strongly built, so they need to be cared for with people who can match that.

They don’t like being left alone for long periods, and like plenty of outdoor activities.

Training and Early Socialization are a Must for These Dogs!

Because Leos are strong-minded and grow pretty darn big, early training and socialization are essential.

That way they learn and understand what acceptable behavior is while they are small. Training with positive reinforcement needs to begin while they are very young with you, other animals and other people.

You’ll need to continue right through their first few “teenage” years while they push the boundaries!

Warning: They Might Just Love You to Death!

That’s right, these big beauties are right up there on the affection level ratings!

They may be big outdoorsy types, but they will also want to snuggle up with you on the couch. Or in front of it, or on top of your feet – get the picture?

Remember they have a nickname of being the “lean-on-berger” and will want to spend as much time loving you as they possibly can.

On a slightly more serious note, because of their size and weight, they can topple you or younger children in their enthusiasm to be with you. So care (and training) is needed!

How Long do They Live? Leonberger Lifespan!

Like most big dog breeds, Leos usually have a shorter expected lifespan than smaller breeds.  This dog’s life expectancy averages at around 7-8 years.

Giant Dog Breed List of Potential Health Issues

Leos that are well cared for and get enough exercise are generally pretty healthy dogs. However, they can be susceptible to a few serious health problems. These include those associated with very large dogs and the recessive genes in purebred dogs. Some to be aware of are:

  • Bloat/gastric torsion
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Eye diseases
  • Cancer
  • Neurological problems including Charcot-Marie-tooth CMT and Leonberger polyneuropathy, a type of laryngeal paralysis.
  • Addison’s disease
  • Hypothyroidism

5 Tips to Caring for Leonbergers!

  1. Have prior experience training and caring for large dogs before you consider bringing a Leo into your life. Learn everything you can about how to train and socialize them. They’re not a good choice for a first-time dog owner.
  2. Have lots of space – inside and out! These aren’t pups for apartments or confined suburban homes. They will bump into your furniture, your fences, and your plantings!
  3. Have an active lifestyle to match your Leo. These dogs will love going on hikes and doing outdoor activities with you.
  4. Get a good brush. Their luscious locks do usually need regular daily grooming and they do shed hair.
  5. Be good company. Leos don’t like being left alone for long periods or being shut out in the yard.

Leonberger full grown looking out over a field

Leonberger Puppies for Sale!

If you’re looking to buy a Leo puppy, always look for a reputable breeder. They should provide the appropriate pedigree papers and health documentation. Good places to start looking for Leonberger breeders are those listed with the American Kennel Club or the Leonberger Club of America.

Just use the drop-down menus to look for Leonberger dog breeders in your area.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their breeding program, and the history of the parents of their puppies. Ask if you can visit their premises to see the parents, and the conditions their dogs are raised in.

Leonberger Puppy Price

The cost of Leo puppies from breeders ranges from around $1,200 up to $5,000 each in the United States.

Adopt, Don’t Shop! Ask an Animal Shelter About Leonberger Rescues!

There can be many advantages in looking for Leonbergers for adoption from a shelter or rescue groups.

Leonbergers for adoption can be very rewarding. You know you are giving a dog a second chance. You are also likely to be able to find out a little more about the dog’s personality and health history.

The Leonberger Club of America also has a rescue network to help Leos that, for many reasons, may be in positions where they need new homes.

The Leonberger is a great choice for lovers of large breeds of dogs that have a soft spot for big softies! This big breed has enough stranger-danger awareness and a big deep bark to scare off intruders.

But they have a big heart and mind that they will devote to their companions in life.

Common Questions

Are Male and Female Leonbergers The Same Size?

How Often Should You Groom a Leonberger?

Are Leonbergers a Good Breed for New Dog Owners?

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