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I miss my good-natured giant dog, a Leonberger
I have had a few dogs in my family during the years, and the last one was a Leonberger who’s name was Duvasgardens Prince Rosco. It is always sad when a dog dies, and since this dog was very special to me, I will always remember him and he will always be missed.
Unfortunately, he suffered from a neurological disease, "Inherited polyneuropathy, that is special for this breed. He died one year ago at the age of 7 ½ year. And yet this puppy was selected by us after careful investigation long before he was born. We selected both breeder and parent stock generations back very carefully. But you cant get any assurances when it comes to breeding and diseases. But anyway, we had the good fortune to know him and to have him in our lives for 7 lovely years and I am so happy for that.
There is something very special with a big dog like the Leonberger and I will try to describe them for you.
A Leonbergers character
A Leonberger is a companion dog, with the following character:
- Assertiveness and superior composure
- Moderately temperament, which include playfulness
- Readiness to submit to the owner
- Good learning ability and attention
Apart from this, the breed loves children, (if they treat them kindly and with respect, as with all dogs) and some Leonbergers have some guard instinct. The breed should be neither shy nor aggressive.
Some of the properties may seem difficult to reconcile in the same individual but of course the personality will varies between individuals. Some Leonberger guard more than others, but you should be aware that the characteristic might be there. My dog guarded the property and stood mainly in the way and barked when someone unknown entered. Others have told me about when their Leonberger has become like a roaring lion and I have read about the opposite as well, Leonbergers that haven’t guarded at all.
The assertiveness and superior composure means that the breed sometimes can get the idea to decide things for itself, such as which way to go or whom to greet. At the same time these dogs are easy to teach and they like to cooperate. The complexity is accomplished with their sensitivity to signals from the owner. As you can see, this breed is impossible to describe!
The best description I can come up with is that they are good-natured giants with humour!
And they "talk" to their owners or other loved people when you come home or others visit, or when they just feels like it. They are talking with a sound that is between a whimper and a howl, in a most unusual way. My dog talked while he gently chew or nibbled with his front teeth on any of my clothing. These moments are the one I miss the most! Most dogs do not like hugs, but this one did! He would always wait until I have taken of my coat when I got home and then I had to be prepared for 70 kg dog that came into full swing, be sure to have good balance and kind of "capture" him for a moment of "talking".
This is what you can expect from a Leonberger, but what are the requirements of you?
What should you provide to a dog like the Leonberger?
A good upbringing
You must be prepared for that this is a giant dog that needs some proper upbringing. Because of there size you can not steer them through the leash unless you are really strong, it is better to ensure that they learn the right behaviour from the beginning. And they are easy to learn if you just take it gentle. There is the contradiction again, they are large but jet delicate, you do not need to be hard against them. It will only result in them losing confidence in you, and their confidence is very precious and something to value very highly.
A Leonberger is a very big dog! The height for male dogs is 72-80 cm, with ideal height 76 cm, for bitches the height is 65-75 cm, ideal height is 70 cm. The weight of these dogs is about 45-55 kilos for bitches and 70-80 kilos for males. My Leonberger weighed 72 kg and was not among the biggest. But it was quite enough. So you must have the necessary space, both indoors and outdoors. Even if they are calm indoors, they want to be near you most of the time, which means that you must be able to get past this giants when they lie down on the floor and supervises the family.
Time and patient to take care of their fur!
Leonberger is a breed with a lot of fur that requires relatively much care. You have to brush the Leonberger coat at least once a week and then it should be done properly. Apart from this, pins and other object easily stick to the coat during walks and this objects should be removed immediately after, otherwise it would be harder to remove because the fur felts around such objects. Areas to be extra observant of is behind the ears that readily felts themselves and their "pants".
When they shed the coat I recommend that you brush the dog daily outdoors. There are a lot of fur because when they shed they lose all the under wool. You can pick big large wads with your fingers. But the best way is to bath them and after drying them, brush trough the coat. But then you need a special bathroom or place to bath the dog because it will be very much coat and water all over the room! Some Leonberger owners use the fur to make yarn and knit sweaters, cardigans etc. In order to managed this kind of fur you need some different types of brushes, combs and scissors. Apart from this you need to cut the coat that grows between the dogs toes. If you do not cut of this coat the fur felts together and trap dirt and moister. Then the dog can have problems with fungal and bacterial infections of the paw.
Some Leonberger have also very fluffy fur on their ears that may need to be torn away, which is done by fingers.
According to breed standard the colour of a Leonberger is lion yellow, red, reddish brown, also sandy-colored (pale yellow, creamy white) and all combinations, but they shall always have a black mask.
A good vacuum cleaner!
No matter how well you manage the dogs fur, it will still be a lot of fur and a lot of gravel on the floors so you should have a good vacuum cleaner! Sand and gravel sticks to the fur on the paws and belly and fells off when the dog has dried.
Enough time for a dog
This is the same for all dogs. You must provide the dog with enough mental activity and physical exercise in order to keep the dog fit and balanced. They need at least 2 hours of walking per day plus mental activity and problem solving. Leonberger loves snow and doesn't mind low temperature. But this isn't a dog that should be kept outdoor, because it needs your companion. That is vital for a Leonberger and they are very social. If you want a big dog only for guard you should choose another breed!
A rather large wallet!
These dogs eat relatively big amount of food. In addition is the cost for insurance for a Leonberger rather high, because of their health issues.
Unfortunately, there are some health problems with Leonberger. One of them is health problems related to hip dysplasia. It is hip dysplasia which is the most common cause of arthritis in the hips of the dogs. Eyelid problems are not uncommon in the breed. It also has a number of other health problems such as various types of heart disease and various types of tumors which are sometimes referred to be more common as causes of death in the breed than they are average for all breeds.
More recently, it has also been noted that Leon Berger can get a neurological disease, "Inherited polyneuropathy, that is special for this breed, which has been reported in several countries.
The breed’s history
The breed history started in the city Leonberg, in southern Germany, in the end of 1830 by the german Heinrich Essig. This man devoted 50 years of his life to the breeding of dogs. The dogs that were breed by Essig includes Newfoundland, Landseer, Great Dane, Tibetan Mastiff, Bulldog and the hunting dogs of different breeds.
The facts that can be read about this race at the time of the mid-1800s is that it created and inherited the properties that Heinrich Essig desired, namely the size, power and an excellent track properties from the St. Bernard, and good nature, full allegiance to their family / owners, mobility, exelent swimmers with remarkable endurance in water from Newfoundland and the vigilance and good vision from the Pyrenees. In 1846 a litter was born that received the breed name, Leonberger, which came to resemble the lion in the city arms of Leonberg. Whether coincidence or not, is not yet clear.
So, if a Leonberger is the right breed for you, I congratulate you, because they are marvellous, loving and will bring much joy to you.