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Leonberger: a giant of the canine world

Leonberger: un gigante del mundo canino

Lobo Azul |

There are furry friends of different sizes, from the smallest teacups to those that can be considered giants. In between these extremes there is a diversity of breeds that can satisfy everyone's tastes. However, it is not only important that you consider your tastes, but also the needs of the type of animal you choose. If you like giant dogs and space is not a problem, you may want to get to know the Leonberger breed , animals considered a perfect company for adventure.
  • Size : Giant
  • Weight : Between 41 to 75.
  • Hair type : Medium, long and dense.
  • Character : Faithful, docile and affectionate.
  • Health : Predisposition to suffer gastric torsion, hip dysplasia and others.
  • Life expectancy : Between 8 and 9 years.

Why choose a giant dog

Giant dogs are excellent for security , since their size gives them enough presence to command respect, which they themselves know how to notice. Their size also makes them brave. However, this does not mean that they are aggressive if they do not sense danger; on the contrary, they are excellent "babysitters", patient and gentle with children.
The strength that accompanies their size makes these breeds ideal for rescue work or other jobs that require physical strength. Another characteristic associated with its size is resistance, given by the strength of its muscles , its coat and the presence of body fat. As giant dogs we find breeds such as Newfoundland , Saint Bernard , Rottweiler , Mastiffs, Dogos and, among others, the Leonberger breed, of course.

What is the origin of the Leonberger breed

It is not known for sure what the geographical origin of this breed is. There are those who maintain that it is originally from the German city of Leonberg , but there are also those who claim that its origin is Swiss, from a city called Löwenberg . A third idea proposes that the name leonberger does not respond to a place name, but to the fawn color of its coat. Its biological origin is not very certain either, although the most accepted is that it descends from the Tibet Doge crossed with the Saint Bernard and Newfoundland breeds. The first Leonberger standard was established in 1895. However, the breed almost disappeared during the two world wars due to the expense of its maintenance, although a few specimens were kept by some breeders and were able to preserve it. The Leonberger breed has always been considered prestigious and was used as a pet of high society figures, a taste that is being recovered little by little.

Physical characteristics of the Leonberger breed

As we already mentioned, this breed is considered among the giants. Its height can reach 80 cm in males and slightly less in females, with a weight of around 60 kg. It is considered a strong, muscular dog, with short legs, corpulent, but elegant. It is considered among the molosser dogs that have, in addition to corpulence, a rounded skull, drooping ears and a short jaw. Molosser dog breeds are used in guard and rescue work, due to their physical strength. In addition, the furry Leonbergers specifically are considered excellent companions on excursions .


These animals have a golden, red, reddish, sand-colored fawn coat, or any combination of these colors, with a dark mask that covers the snout and reaches the eyes. They have a double layer of hair that allows them to insulate themselves from the cold. The outer layer is dense, long, semi-wavy or smooth and with variable texture, while the inner layer is dense and tight. At maturity, males develop a noticeable mane that covers their neck and chest, which is not seen in females. The Leonberger's tail is of considerable length and is covered by dense fur like the rest of the body.


The head of the hairy Leonberger is narrow, deep and strong. The eyes are dark brown. The naso-frontal depression is well marked and has black lips. The Leonberger's ears, another of its distinctive characteristics, are set high on the head, although they then hang down, remaining close to the head.

Temperament of Leonberger dogs

It is considered a faithful and docile breed , affectionate and sweet with children. He makes strangers see his courage and determination to defend, but he is not an initially aggressive dog . It is a protective, curious dog that enjoys the outdoors sniffing everywhere. Sometimes he is playful, although shy in the presence of other animals, with whom he always has a correct attitude. Another great quality of the Leonberger breed is that they do not bother with barking or snoring when they sleep, which makes it pleasant and easy to enjoy their company.


As they are docile dogs, their training can be quite easy. However, the vitality of the Leonberger breed makes it necessary to channel it from a very young age. Its great intelligence makes it easy to learn basic commands. It is also important to teach them to socialize with other animals since, as we said, they are considered shy dogs. His calm nature responds best to commands given gently but firmly. They demonstrate calmness, security and self-confidence in dangerous situations, which is why Leonbergers are considered the easiest dogs to train for rescue work, not only on land, but also in water due to their taste for it and their ease. to swim.

Caring for Leonberger dogs

Leonbergers are animals that require a lot of space to move and exercise in order to maintain their muscles, which is why they are ideal in country houses or houses with a large garden. Although they are active in general, sometimes they need to be motivated to run and play, in order to avoid a sedentary lifestyle that can lead to obesity. Ideally, they should take three walks a day or allow them to run for a certain distance. One exercise they love is swimming, which is a wonderful way to encourage exercise. Playing with them can also be a good way to keep them in shape. However, while they are puppies, they should not over-exercise, since their playful condition can lead them to suffer irreparable damage to their bones and joints. Although they are animals with abundant and long fur, Leonbergers adapt easily to any type of climate. In hot and humid climates, their hydration should be taken care of and they should be offered places to take shelter during the hours of greatest heat and solar radiation.


Furry Leonbergers make excellent pets because they enjoy it too. This is an important condition to take into account if you have opted for them. A Leonberger cannot stand loneliness for long, nor can he be tied down by his need for constant activity.


Such a distinctive feature of the Leonberger breed as its coat requires careful attention. Their long, dense fur tends to tangle easily, so it is advisable to brush them regularly , even up to 2 or 3 times a week to remove dead and loose hair. During the two annual shedding seasons, it is recommended to brush it daily. Brushing is essential for Leonbergers because failure to do so can cause skin problems. The possible presence of lesions due to fleas, ticks or mites should be carefully checked, as the Leonberger's dense coat can make them difficult to detect. They should be bathed every six to eight weeks and special attention should be paid to their nails, eyes and teeth. It is also important to check your ears daily, as they are prone to infections.


As large animals, the loving Leonbergers have a lot of appetite, so they require larger amounts of food but without overdoing it, as they can suffer from obesity. The diet must be balanced, maintaining sufficient doses of vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients for the maintenance of bones and cartilage. Due to the tendency of Leonbergers to suffer from gastric torsion, it is advisable to offer them small portions more frequently to reduce the risks. Likewise, care should be taken to ensure that they do not ingest large amounts of water in a single drink to avoid these gastric complications.

Possible health conditions

canine gastric torsion

Perhaps the biggest health problem that the Leonberger breed presents , as a giant dog breed, is the predisposition to suffer gastric torsion . It is not a hereditary condition and can become serious if the necessary care is not taken. It can occur if you are not careful to avoid exercise just before or after eating, as well as not drinking excessive amounts of water after exercising. This condition causes a twisting of the stomach on its longitudinal axis, leading to its blockage, the animal exhibits excessive salivation and shows a desire to vomit without being able to do so. He should be taken immediately to the vet to free the stomach.

Hip dysplasia

Another injury that can affect Leonbergers is hip dysplasia. It occurs when these dogs are subjected to strong exercises that can loosen the connection between the head of the femur and the cavity where it enters the hip. It is an innate condition that generates susceptibility to suffering from the malformation, which can be alleviated with surgery. Being a hereditary disease, parents with dysplasia will be more likely to have puppies that also have this condition.


This endocrine disease, related to low thyroid hormone production, can cause Leonberger dogs to experience symptoms of lethargy, depression, weight gain, and a need for warm places. Hypothyroidism is also related to skin problems, such as excessive dandruff due to dryness or excessive hair loss. However, it is a disease that is easy to control, as long as our friend is offered a good quality of life.

Problems related to eyes and vision

Entropion is common in the Leonberger breed. This is a condition in which the eyelid turns inward, causing the eyelashes to irritate the eyeball, which can lead to major problems. Leonberger dogs can also suffer from progressive retinal atrophy or deterioration leading to blindness in adults. Finally, Leonbergers are prone to developing cataracts. The loss of transparency in the lens of the eye can lead to blindness in these dogs if it is not treated surgically.

Ancestral polyneuropathy of Leonberger's palsy

This degenerative disease of the peripheral nervous system is quite common in Leonbergers, as its name indicates. This disease causes muscle weakness and progressive fatigue, mainly in the hind legs. Nervous degeneration also affects the laryngeal nerve, producing hoarseness, which manifests itself in changes in the way of barking, wheezing and coughing after ingesting food or water.

Have you already decided on a Leonberger?

If, based on what you have read, you are willing to put a Leonberger in your life, follow these tips to ensure that your choice of breed is accompanied by the choice of a good specimen:
  • Find your partner with a true connoisseur of the breed, who can answer all your questions and gives you the security of following up on the puppy once he or she is another member of the family. It is good to do some type of research to see if other breeders recommend him or there are references about his work.
  • Make sure he has all his permits and that he gives you all the papers of your new partner in order.
  • Ask for guarantees about the health of the specimen you chose: veterinary card, chip, updated vaccinations, record of deworming and visits to the veterinarian.
  • Ask everything you want to know about the Leonberger's health, because as we have seen, it can have some serious complications.
If you have already decided on a huge, furry and adorable Leonberger, remember to provide him with all the necessary care, attention and company he needs, as it is certain that he will do so with you as the most faithful and affectionate of friends .
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