The Leonberger is a true gentle giant among the big dog breeds. These large dogs are extremely sensitive to their families and enjoy spending time with kids. Their thick coats add to the appearance of an imposing yet beautiful breed, but underneath these dogs are just big softies! If you are looking for a playful and patient companion, the Leonberger is a great choice. Read on to learn more about the Leonberger.

Description of the Leonberger

Though members of the working group, the Leonberger’s breeding was specifically to be a companion. They do have plenty of strength and are excellent working dogs, but it is their love of family, loyalty, and friendship that makes these dogs so special.

This breed originated in Leonberg, Germany, hence the name. Heinrich Essig, a politician from the 19th century, created this unique breed, by combining Newfoundlands, St. Bernards, and other big working dogs. The Leonberger was especially popular among royalty and artists.

Despite being very large, this dog is the picture of grace. Their smooth gait comes from a very muscular and balanced body, and the males have a large “lion’s mane” around their regal head. Both female and males have the characteristic black mask around the eyes

One of the signature attributes of the Leonberger is their luscious coat. This thick double coat is long and water resistant, lying flat against the body. They come in colors of lion-yellow, gold, red, brown, and sand.

Life Expectancy and Size

Unfortunately, as one of the larger breeds, the Leonberger only lives an average of seven years. But working with a reputable breeder can help you get the healthiest puppy possible and increase the chances of your puppy living a happy and long life.

There is no denying the Leonberger is a big dog. Males stand 28 – 31.5 inches tall and weigh 110 – 170 pounds, as big as a full-grown human! Females are a bit smaller, standing 25.5 – 29.5 inches tall and weighing 90 – 140 pounds.

Protective Ability

Loyalty is at the core of these dogs and the Leonberger is a watchful and protective breed. They are even-keeled but will always make sure their family is safe.


The Leonberger is a highly trainable and responsive dog. Combine this with their gentle and patient nature and you have an excellent recipe for a service dog or therapy dog. They are quite popular for this choice, but no matter what your dog will be doing it is important that he is well trained.

Positive rewards-based training methods are the best way to work with these sensitive dogs. They love their owners and respond best to things like treats and games. The Leonberger is already excited to learn but adding a bit of additional motivation will make training that much easier.

Early socialization is also very important for this breed. This will help your dog grow into a well-mannered and unruffled adult that responds appropriately to all manner of situations.

Canine sports are great for training this breed. This provides them with mental and physical stimulation and allows them to bond with you, their favorite person ever!

Energy Level

Though they are often calm inside, the Leonberger needs plenty of daily exercise and space to move around. Apartments or homes with small yards are often not enough to allow this big breed enough room to really move.

Sedentary families will find that a Leonberger can live happily with them if he receives plenty of outlets for his energy. A big fenced in backyard and canine sports are a great way to get him moving. But you will have to be willing to partake in your dog’s activities. Even if you are not the type to take him on a run, throwing the ball around for him or training him in agility will make him happier than you just letting him out in the backyard alone.

What Living with a Leonberger is Like

This is an all-around kind breed.

These dogs are first and foremost excellent companions, especially with kids. Their patient and easy-going nature means they do well in almost any home that will provide him with plenty of opportunities to love and be loved.

The Leonberger can also make a great working dog. Either be ready to provide your dog with some energy outlets or give him a job to do because these tough pups know how to work!

Care of the Leonberger

This breed is quite adaptable as long as they get enough space to move and plenty of affection. They are people-oriented dogs and do not do well if left alone or not included.

Environmental Needs

These thick furred dogs do best in colder climates. Their water resistant and durable coat protects them from snow and rain, keeping them warm and dry on frigid nights. Warm climates can be a challenge for this breed so be sure to provide your Leonberger with a cool place to relax when it is hot out.

Exercise Needs

While they may appear docile and relaxed inside, these big working dogs need at least one episode of vigorous exercise every day. Whether this is a long walk or jog, canine sports, or plenty of backyard playtime, be sure to get them active and make sure they get to spend this time with you. The Leonberger is a highly social dog and loves to bond with you.

Shedding and Grooming

The coat of the Leonberger takes a fair bit of grooming to keep it healthy and clean. Daily brushing, with a more thorough brush once a week, is a must to keep mats from forming and remove loose hairs. These dogs go through a big shed once or twice a year so expect even more maintenance around these times.

This breed sheds heavily.

Trim your dog’s nails every other week to avoid discomfort and be sure to keep his ears clean.

Ideal Home Environment

The Leonberger does best in a loving home where he can be a real member of the family. These dogs are especially fond of children and love to play an active role in a child’s life. They are friendly, playful, and loving, which is a great choice for most anyone. This breed is watchful and protective of his family, but always collected and even-tempered.

Be sure you can provide your Leonberger with enough space to move around. A big fenced in yard is a plus for this breed.

Health Concerns

Regular check-ups, along with working with a reputable breeder, are some of the best ways to ensure the health of your Leonberger. Some of the issues these big dogs are prone to are orthopedic conditions, eye problems, and bloat.

Behavior Problems

These loving breeds bond closely with their humans and don’t do well if left alone for long periods of time. Be sure to provide them with proper socialization and plenty of daily interaction to help prevent separation anxiety.