Leonbergers originated in Leonberg, Germany in the 1840’s. They were initially bred by Herr Heinrich Essig to resemble the lion on the town crest of Leonberg. He succeeded in producing a giant dog breed with the good looks, nobility, majesty and power of a lion. Underneath that power, they are big, fuzzy bundles of love, warmth, and kindness. They draw you in with their soulful eyes and have the ability to touch lives, heal hearts, and simply make anywhere a happier and better place just with their presence. Leonbergers thrive on being a part of the family, no matter what size family you have. Once you welcome a Leo into your family, you will find that you have a loving, steadfast companion that watches over everyone.
Leonbergers have many endearing quirks. For example, if they want to get your attention, you will get “the paw”, or they will butt you will their large, cold nose. You will frequently find them sitting next to you, leaning in for a nice scritch (hence the nickname “Lean-on-berger”). They love to take walks, but the walks take forever because everyone stops you! You will lose count of the number of times you answer “what kind of dog is that?”. Leonbergers think that they are lap dogs and will affectionately crawl into your lap (very effectively changing your focus from whatever you were doing before). They are known for singing like a Wookie, and having very expressive voices. They like to slather you with wet, sloppy kisses. When the weather is cold, they love to be outdoors. If it’s snowing outside, forget about even trying to get them to come in. When the weather is hot, they will be inside worshipping your air conditioning vents.
Leonbergers are not for everyone. They are wonderful, loving dogs, known as “Gentle Giants,” but their size and strength make them not appropriate for every dog lover or every home. If you are considering a Leonberger, you should consider these realities. Leonbergers can be messy. They love mud and their huge paws track it everywhere. Their large feet (and large “puddles”) can ruin a yard remarkably quickly. They love water. They like to play in their water bowls (dunking their heads and coming up dripping, or completely dumping the bowl). They shed. A lot. You would be able to knit a sweater from the amount of dog hair your floors accumulate. Like with most purebred breeds, there are inherited health risks, and like most giant-breed dogs their average lifespan is shorter than that of smaller breeds. They remain relatively rare, so can be hard to find (with long wait lists) and they have a high price tag. They move furniture when they get the “zoomies” in the house. You know that you’ve fallen hard for them when all of these things become endearing quirks and the shorter life span and health risks are a burden you acknowledge and accept.
The big hearts and gentle spirits of our Leonbergers have changed our lives, and our children’s lives. They’ve made us better people, drawn us closer to each other, introduced us to dear friends and enriched our lives more than we can express.
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LCA Registered Breeder
Leonberger Club of America