The Leonberger is a large, strong and muscular dog. They have an unusual feature, webbed feet, which makes them good swimmers. They can be lion gold, red, reddish-brown, sandy (fawn or cream) and all combinations in between, with a black mask. Adult males measure 72-80cm and weigh 34-50kg. Adult females measure 65-75cm and weigh 30-50kg.
The Leonberger dog breed was created in the 1840s to resemble the lion of the Leonberg town crest. It is a cross between a Newfoundland and St Bernard, and a backcross to a Pyrenean Mountain Dog. They became very popular and many distinguished people owned them. However, during World War I they almost died out, as people could not afford to feed them. The handful of dogs that were left were bred from carefully until World War II when they were nearly all lost again. Today the Leonberger dog is still relatively rare but it is gaining in number and popularity.
Leonbergers should be easy-going, placid, loyal and even-tempered. They get on well with other pets and children and are playful. They learn quickly and, because of their large size, training is especially important and should be started as early as possible.
As with many breeds, Leonberger dogs can suffer from various hereditary eye disorders, and hip and elbow dysplasia (joint conditions that can be painful and lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.
As a puppy, this dog should not be over exercised or allowed up and down stairs. When the bones are properly developed then the exercise can be gradually increased. The adult Leonberger dog should have long walks and loves to run around and play. They also have a great love of water and like nothing better than a good swim. A couple of hours' daily exercise is advised for a fit adult.
Giant-breed dogs, as well as having giant appetites, benefit from a different balance of minerals and vitamins, supporting different joint and cartilage needs. Leonbergers are also prone to bloating and stomach problems; try feeding smaller, more frequent meals to help minimise the risk.
The Leonberger has a double coat, which consists of a fairly long, close top coat and a thick undercoat. There is a 'mane' of longer/thicker hair around the neck and chest, and feathering on the legs. The coat needs to be brushed two or three times a week to remove any dead and loose hair and keep it in good order.