Also Known As:
Jumbo Dogs, Leos, Lion Dogs
Area of Origin:
Gentle, Playful, Friendly, Good-Natured
Tibetan Mastiff, Newfoundland, Great Pyrenees, St. Bernard, Kuvasz
Best Breed For:
Families with a yard and the time to exercise the dog. Leos are sensitive dogs, though, and don’t like being around family arguments.
They’re a giant breed, so early training is a must. They love to please their owners and are responsive to patient, consistent, and positive training.
They’re not small dogs, so take the Leo’s size into consideration before you bring them home. They’re better suited to homes with a yard.
There’s no written record of the origins of the Leonberger, but it’s said that Leos were first bred in the German city of Leonberg, near Stuttgart, in the mid-1800’s. Local businessman and politician Heinrich Essig crossed a Newfoundland with a St. Bernard for four generations and then crossed that breed with a Pyrenean Mountain Dog (aka the Great Pyrenees). DNA samples for modern Leonbergers show that other breeds made their way into the mix at some point along the way, but the initial trifecta of a Newfoundland, a St. Bernard and Pyrenean Mountain Dog was the foundation for the loveable and graceful Leo we know today.
Good To Know
Leonbergers are dimorphic, which means that the male dogs look distinctly more masculine and are much larger than their female counterparts. Leonbergers have a deep bark and can be mouthy and energetic, so early socialization and training are important to raising a well-mannered pup. According to the Leonberger Club of America, the socialization window closes at 20 weeks, so it’s important to introduce the puppy to new places and people.
Health & Care
Height: 25” to 31” at the shoulder
Weight: 120 to 170 pounds
Lifespan: 10 to 12 years
Prone to: Hip dysplasia and eye disease. If it’s possible, find out about the health of your pup’s parents. Leos also have very healthy appetites and are prone to weight gain.
Grooming: The Leon’s double coats requires at least a weekly brushing, but daily brushing will keep their shedding to a minimum. Like all double coated dogs, the Leo sheds a bit year-round and more intensely twice a year, which is called blowing the coat.
Leonbergers are so jumbo-sized and lionesque they sometimes look like they’re straight out of Narnia. Even though they’re big (and love to eat, which means they can get quite heavy), they’re agile, graceful and surprisingly light on their feet. Leos were never bred as specialized dogs, so they’re well-rounded in just about everything—intelligent, gentle and sensitive family dogs. They do need a good amount of space, exercise and grooming. They’re giant, lovable companions who have the most fun when they’re hanging with their families. As a bonus, their deep, low bark and big size make them intimidating watch dogs.
Featured Image: Coco the Norwegian Leo