Breed Profile: Leonberger

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The Leonberger dog breed originates from Leonberg, Germany. In the mid-1800s, a gentleman named Heinrich Essig claimed to have bred a Landseer Newfoundland and a St. Bernard multiple times and later crossed the offspring with a Pyrenean Mountain Dog. Over the years, it is now believed that other dog breeds were crossed with early Leonbergers. However, no written records remain.

The first Leonberger clubs were established by owners of the breed in 1891.

The breed nearly became extinct during World War I but was saved by a group of enthusiasts. The Leonberger first appeared in the US in the early 1900s but faded during the Great Depression. Over the years, the numbers of Leonbergers increased in Europe and, later, in the US. The Leonberger Club of America was formed in 1987, but the breed was not officially admitted to the AKC working group until 2009.


  • Weight: 120-170 pounds
  • Height: 25.5-31.5 inches at the shoulder


lion–yellow, golden, red, reddish brown, sandy, or yellow-brown (all colors with a black mask)

Health Problems

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:​

About the Breed

The Leonberger, or Leo, is a giant dog with a hard-working spirit and a gentle disposition. The breed is intelligent, noble and very loyal. Leonbergers make excellent working dogs but are also calm and affectionate companions. This breed can be a drooler, so many owners will keep a "slobber cloth" handy.

The Leonberger has a medium to long coat that is thick, straight and water-resistant. This breed sheds moderately, but more in Spring and Fall. Leos need routine grooming, specifically hair-brushing once or twice a week.

Leonbergers have a strong drive to work and protect. They need daily exercise to keep them fit and happy. In addition, Leos will benefit from some type of "job," such as guarding the home or obedience competition. In general, these are usually very calm, loyal and loving companions. Leos are also highly intelligent dogs that respond very well to training. In fact, training and socialization are both essential for this breed.

The Leonberger is an affectionate and gentle dog breed that makes a delightful companion. This breed tends to be very intuitive about human emotions and forms a strong bond with its family. Typically, this breed gets along very well with children. These versatile dogs have a natural instinct to protect and assist people, making them wonderful service dogs and family pets.