27 July 2023

Let's talk about... Leonbergers: what are they?

  • Leonbergers are large and majestic dogs with a rich history originating in Leonberg, Germany.
  • Leonbergers were originally bred to resemble the lion on the town crest of Leonberg, hence their lion-like appearance.
  • They were initially bred as working and companion dogs, known for their strength and gentle nature.
  • Leonbergers have a striking appearance with their thick, water-resistant double coat and impressive size.
  • Males typically stand at a height of 72-80 cm, while females are slightly smaller at 65-75 cm.
  • They weigh between 45-77 kg.
  • The average life expectancy for Leonbergers is around 8-9 years.
Leonberger  Exercise Needs 4/5 Grooming Ease 3/5 Trainability 4/5

What is the temperament of Leonbergers like?

  • Leonbergers are known for their friendly and gentle nature.
  • They are loyal, intelligent, and devoted to their families.
  • They are generally good-natured and patient, making them great family pets.
  • Leonbergers are known for their love of children and their ability to get along well with other animals when properly socialised.
  • They have a calm and steady temperament but can be protective of their family and home.
  • They are often described as "gentle giants" due to their kind and patient demeanour.
  • Early socialisation and consistent training are essential to help them develop good manners and ensure they grow up to be well-adjusted dogs.
Caesar, the Leonberger

How much exercise do Leonbergers need?

  • Leonbergers are a large and active breed that requires daily exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated.
  • They benefit from approximately 1 to 2 hours of exercise each day.
  • This can include activities such as long walks, jogging, swimming, and interactive play sessions.
  • They are strong dogs and enjoy activities that engage their muscles and provide mental challenges.
  • For Leonberger puppies, exercise should be approached with caution.
  • Their growing bodies are more susceptible to injuries and joint issues.
  • Short, controlled play sessions and gentle walks are suitable for young puppies.
  • As they grow older, the exercise duration and intensity can gradually increase.
  • It's important to note that while exercise is crucial, it's equally important to avoid excessive high-impact activities that may put strain on their developing joints.
  • Leonbergers should not be on full exercise until around 18-24 months old.
  • Your vet can advise on the exercise needs of your individual pooch.
Doris, the Leonberger

Do Leonbergers need a lot of grooming?

  • Leonbergers have a thick double coat that requires regular grooming to maintain its health and appearance.
  • Their coats consist of a waterproof outer layer and a dense undercoat.
  • They shed moderately throughout the year and experience heavier shedding twice a year during seasonal coat changes.
  • To keep their coats in good condition, Leonbergers should be brushed at least once or twice a week.
  • Regular brushing helps remove loose hair, prevent matting, and keeps their coat clean.
  • During shedding seasons, more frequent brushing may be necessary to manage the increased hair loss.
  • In addition to regular brushing, Leonbergers require occasional bathing to keep their coats clean and free from dirt or debris.
  • Like any dog, regular tooth brushing with a dog-specific toothpaste twice daily is ideal. If you can’t manage that often, just do it as often as you can.
Gimli, the Leonberger

Are Leonbergers easy to train?

  • Leonbergers are intelligent and eager to please, making them generally receptive to training.
  • They are known to be highly trainable and excel in various activities such as obedience, agility, and water rescue work.
  • However, due to their size and strength, it's important to start training and socialisation from an early age.
  • Consistency, positive reinforcement, and reward-based training methods work best with Leonbergers.
  • They respond well to praise, treats, and affection as motivation.
  • Early socialisation is crucial to expose them to different people, animals, and environments, helping them develop into well-rounded and confident dogs.
  • It's recommended to enrol them in puppy training classes and continue their training throughout their lives to maintain good behaviour and obedience.
Loki, the Leonberger

What do Leonbergers eat?

  • Leonbergers should be fed a high-quality dog food that is appropriate for their size, age, and activity level.
  • Choose a balanced diet that provides essential nutrients to support their growth and overall health.
  • The amount of food and feeding frequency will depend on factors such as age, metabolism, and individual needs.
  • For Leonberger puppies, it's important to feed them a puppy-specific diet that meets their nutritional requirements for growth and development.
  • Puppies typically require 3-4 meals a day, gradually transitioning to a twice daily feeding schedule as they mature.
  • As Leonbergers reach adulthood, it's recommended to transition them to an adult dog food that is formulated for large or giant breeds.
  • Monitor their weight and adjust the portion sizes accordingly to prevent obesity.
  • Your vet can advise on the best diet for your individual dog.

Are Leonbergers healthy?

Leonbergers are generally a healthy breed, but like all dogs, they may be prone to certain health conditions. Some potential health concerns in Leonbergers include:

Bones and Joints

  • Elbow Dysplasia - this condition is where there is an issue with how the bones fit together at the elbow joint
  • Hip Dysplasia - a condition where the thigh bone and pelvis do not sit together properly at the hip joint, which can lead to discomfort and arthritis
  • Panosteitis - a painful, inflammatory condition of the long bones of the leg
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) - an inflammatory condition where cartilage detaches from the bone and can enter into the joint cavity and cause discomfort


  • Cataracts - a common cause of blindness due to a clouding of the lens of the eye
  • Ectropion - with this condition the eyelid rolls out, which can expose the eye to dryness
  • Entropion - this is where the eyelids roll in, causing eyelashes to rub onto the surface of the eye


  • Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) - this occurs when the stomach twists and gas and contents get trapped inside. It is a very serious condition and a vet should be contacted immediately!


  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) - a disease of the heart muscle causing the heart ventricles to get larger, which can lead to heart failure

This list of health concerns is not exhaustive, so if you have any concerns about the health of your Leonberger or want to discuss further if this breed is right for you, consult with your veterinarian.

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Information on this page should never replace advice given by your veterinarian. Potential health issues presented are given as a guide only and are not meant to be comprehensive. If you ever have any concerns about your dog's health, contact your local vet.

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