The first true Leonberger is said to have come into being around 1846, named after the town of Leonberg. It was from the town of Leonberg that Heinrich Essig the creator of the Leonberger originated. The emblem of Leonberg was a Lion, Heinrich Essig wanted a dog that looked like the town emblem. For many years, owners of Leonbergers in the town were exempt from paying dog licence fees.
The Leonberger was produced by crossing St Bernards, Pyrenean and Newfoundlands, it is also thought that Essig added Swiss Mountain Dogs and Wallis Sheepdogs.
The earliest report of a Leonberger in Britain is 1865.
The Leonberger is a Giant Breed with a very Gentle laid back disposition. The Leonberger is strong and muscular yet elegant. Confident and calm, yet still lively. They are intelligent and fearless companions.
Their temperament should be self assured and playful. Neither timid or aggressive.
They have a double coat, medium soft to harsh, fairly long and close fitting. Never with a parting. Mane on neck and chest especially in the males. Distinct feathering on front legs and ample breeches on hind legs.
The Leonberger is good at both water rescue and carting, with competitions in both disciplines around the country.
Leos are also good at Agility and obedience. A lot of Leos also work as P.A.T dogs (Pets as Therapy).
They need socialising with both humans and animals from a young age.
Leonbergers are an over all healthy breed.
Hip and elbow dysplasia should be tested for in all breeding stock. Eyes should also be tested against hereditary cataract.
Anal Furunculosis and Polyneuropathy are also problems in some lines. (mode of inheritance in these problems has not yet been 100% established).
Their life expectancy approximately 10 years.