Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Leonbergers are great big huge dogs that got invented in Germany.  They are what is called a giant breed of dog, and they are one of the three breeds that were recognized by the AKC this year.

The man who invented the Leonberger breed was named Heinrich Essig, and he lived in the town of Leonberg, which is in southwestern Germany.  There is a legend that the reason for Herr Essig to make this new kind of dog is because he wanted a dog that looked like the lion in the town's crest.  I don't know if this is a true legend or not, but I hope it is not, because this seems like a really dumb reason to invent a whole new breed of dog.

Anyway, all of this happened in the 1830s, and what Herr Essig did was he crossed a Landseer Newfoundland female with a male St. Bernard type of dog.  Then a few years later, he added in some Pyrenean mountain dog, and the result was some big dogs with mostly white coats.  But later on, other dogs were mixed in to make the coats darker and give the dogs a black mask.

The first dogs that were officially registered as Leonbergers  were born in 1846.  And by the end of the 19th century, a lot of them were living on family farms, where people liked how good the dogs were at guarding their livestock and doing work, like for instance pulling carts.

Twice the breed almost died out, and the first time was during World War I, when lots of Leonberger breeders got killed or had to run away and leave their dogs behind.  There were only five Leonberger dogs that survived the war, but people started breeding them again until World War II came along.  And then the same thing happened with the dogs being abandoned.  The Leonbergers that are around today all have the same eight ancestors, which were the dogs that made it through the war.

Anyway, Leonbergers, like I said, are really big dogs, and by "big" I mean that the boys weigh 140-150 pounds, and the girls weigh between 100 and 135 pounds.  You have to brush them at least once a week because they have a double coat that sheds a bunch.  And during the time of year when the undercoat is shedding, you have to brush your Leonberger every day.  The coats are water-resistant, which is a good feature in a dog who likes to go swimming.  And the male Leonbergers have a thick sort of mane around their necks because of the fact that they were bred to look like lions.

Leonbergers are very nice dogs, and they can put up with noisy children and other annoying stuff without biting anybody.  They are loyal and smart and obedient and playful.  Also they make good watch dogs.  They love their families, and they like to go on outings.  They are calm and don't get freaked out by strange situations, so you can take them all sorts of places, and they will be friendly and happy there.  They especially like to go swimming or hiking.

Sadly, the giant breeds of dogs don't have long lives like some of the small breeds.  Leonbergers only live to be about 7 years old, which is the exact age that I am!  Of course, some of them live longer than that, but others don't even make it to 7.  A lot of Leonbergers get cancer or Addison's disease.  They can also have bloat or hip dysplasia, which other large dogs get, too.

Anyway, if you like great big dogs, you might like to have a Leonberger.  But Mom says she thinks we should just stick with smaller, less hairy dogs here at our house!


  1. WOW...that's a large dog, and a breed I don't think I've heard of before! I usually learn of breeds when I watch the "Westminster Dog Show." Do you watch that? I always watch with hopes that the Hungarian Vizsla will win the "Sporting" category at least once. Thanks for the info, and I also think a big dog like that, deserves a long (big) name!

    Below I'm going to allow Dodi to say hello and sign-off - I thought I'd get him use to writing.

    HI..ohboy,ohboy,ohboy...uh oh I'm getting the "look" from my mom, I'm suppose to only say hi.
    Love - your cat friend, Dodi

  2. Dear Aunt Patty and Dodi,
    Yes, we watch the Westminster show every year unless there is some other Important TV Show on at the same time! At least we try to watch the Hound group to see the basenji. We always want the basenji to win, but if that doesn't happen, we want the Vizsla to win!

    Dodi, you should write to me more often. I can tell that you are a nice cat with lots of good things to say!
    Love, Piper

  3. Thank you Piper for the information. We haven't heard of this big dog before, and he sure is big. Mom wouldn't want one around either because of all the hair.

    Your friends, Jenna,Zak,Dannii

  4. Leonberger has been my favorite breed of dog for several years now. Thanks for this site, and the news flash that they'd been AKC recognized. Didn't know this bit of info before, but not I'm off the the AKC website to read more!

  5. i am frm dallas. and i work in a hospital (baylor)...i was pretty tired and not felling good at work.and i was walking around a cornor hall way and i ran in to a huge happy looking lion dog ( the dogs happyness changed my hole day around.leonberger is a beautiful dog.my day ended veary good..thanks to a great dog with the happyest face that really made my day ...thanks leonberger"s

  6. Okay, I think they are the perfect kinds of dogs to keep- but my heart breaks to hear that they die after a short time...
    Your sad friend, Tas

  7. Woah that dog must be VERY patient to have a child on it!

  8. I don't know why big dogs have shorter lives than small dogs, but it doesn't seem fair. Horses and elephants are even bigger than Leonbergers or Great Danes, but they live a long time. None of this makes sense to me!

    Also, I think it would hurt that dog to have a child sitting on it in that particular spot, so yeah, that dog must be very, very patient!


  9. I had a beautiful Leonberger Girl named Shana in the 1990ies. She was 110 lbs. and the gentlest sweetest girl ever. SHe never even showed her teeth towards any human being. KIds, no matter how annoying she just walked away when it became too much for her.
    she lived to be 10 years old and I miss her every day!!

    1. What a sweet girl she must have been! It's sad that dogs have such short lives!

    2. I am so sorry you lost your girl. I have just spayed a three year old female and we are looking for her a great home. Are you interested?

  10. Hi Piper, my name is Moose and I am a Leonberger. I live with Scott Kroll in Joplin Missouri. He's a great guy, just not as tolerant of children as I am. I go to nursing homes, hospitals and sometimes even schools. I love to make people smile. My Mom says I am a chick magnet. Well Scott says I gota go for now. Thanks for this place to chat, maybe you and me could meet up some day cause i like little fellows to

    1. Dear Moose,
      You sound like a great guy, and I'll bet you are very handsome, too, even if you are not a basenji! I think you are really tolerant if you go to nursing homes and places like that. I am not really into doing that kind of thing because it makes me nervous. I don't try to bite people, like a couple of my brothers do when they are nervous, but I'm just more of a homebody. If you live in Joplin, we don't live too far apart. I hope you didn't get your house smashed in that tornado!
      Your friend, Piper

    2. Hey Piper Buddy,
      Yea Dad says I am handsome, but he says that about a lot of dogs he meets so I don't know about all that. I went to a nursing home a week ago Sunday. There sure is a lot of friendly people in there and they all want to pet me. I let them cause it makes them feel better and I love all the attention. You know now that I think of it, they say I am handsome to. Maybe there is an angle I can work there!!
      The tornado missed our place, Thank God. Mom and Dad have the pet boarding business here at our home and they took in over 100 dogs and cats to help out those poor families, some were here 7 months.
      I better go for now. Keep your nose to the wind and keep your tail wagging

    3. hi Piper .. my name is Bella and I am a red and white Border Collie ... my Mum and I ... my Dad a d my 4 big brothers live in Auckland New Zealand .. we live on the slopes of an extinct volcano .. One Tree Hill .. known also as Maungakiekie .I have lovely friend called Saxon . he is a Leonberger and my Mum googled Leonberger to show my Auntie and they were very interested to read what you had written. Thanks. My mum is called Roberta ... I have a cousin in Australia .. Brisbane . she is the sa.e colour as me .. her name is Sherry ... we have never met. thanks again.. Bella

    4. Dear Bella,
      Thanks for writing the comment on Piper's blog. I am sad to say that Piper had to go to the Rainbow Bridge a couple of weeks ago, so I have taken over the writing of her blog. I am a chihuahua named Dorrie. Anyway, this is the first time I have written to anybody in New Zealand, so that is very exciting. I'm glad your mum and auntie liked what Piper wrote about Leonbergers. I am a little bit afraid of big dogs because I am so little, but I'm sure your friend Saxon is very nice. And you're very nice, too. Thanks again for writing!
      Sincerely, Dorrie

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