History - The most common creation story for Leonbergers centres around Mr. Heinrich Essig the mayor of Leonberg. Leonberg being a small town close to Stuttgart in Germany. Its reported that he created the Leonberger in the 1840ís to resemble the towns crest, a lion. The breed is said to be created from a crossbetween a Newfoundland, some of the black-white tapped Newfoundlands, later better known as the Landseer-dog a St Bernard, and a backcross to a Pyrenean Mountain dog. Though to in order to develop the colour seen in Leonbergers today it seems likely another breed may also have been used also. The first Leonberger was born in 1846 and named after the town.
They became very popular and many distinguished people owned them, including Emperor Napoleon II and the King of Belgium. The breed was decimated by World War I and the handful of remaining dogs were carefully bred, only to be nearly wiped out again by the Second World War. Even today the Leonberger is rare but it is gaining in both numbers and popularity.
General Character - The Leonberger is an easy-going, placid breed. Neither shy nor aggressive, it is distinguished by his friendliness towards children. As a companion he is agreeable, obedient and fearless in all situations in life and can be taken anywhere without difficulty. The Leonberger is an intelligent dog and due to its large size training should be started as early as possible.
Appearance - The Leonberger can be lion yellow, red, reddish brown, also sandy (fawn/cream), all with a black mask. Usually the hair on the underside of the tail, mane and front legs is a shade or two lighter than the rest. Some have white on the chest or on the toes.
The Leonbergers coat is long and close fitting with a thick undercoat. Males in particular have a mane on the neck and chest with feathering on front and hind legs. The coat needs regular brushing to remove any loose hair and ensure it remains tangle free.
They are a large, strong, muscular dog. Males in particular are powerful and strong. At the withers dogs stand 72cm to 80cm (28.75 in to 32in) and bitches 65cm to 75cm (26in to 30in).