|Leonberger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
However, the good looks and personality of the dog won over the hearts of many and it soon became popular not only in Germany but throughout Europe. The dog has the webfoot typical of the Newfoundland and the burly good humor of both the Newf and the Saint, while the Pyrenean Mountain dog contributed some herding and guarding instinct. The Leonberger very nearly became extinct during the World Wars. Great Britain and the United States imported dogs of the German strain and continued to breed this distinctly different dog. It has since become registered by all of the European Kennel clubs. Registry in the American Kennel Club has begun with the first step being recognition by the F.S.S. (Foundation Stud Service) of the A.K.C.
The Leonberger is a fairly healthy dog, the only consideration being that there may be a tendency to hip and elbow dysplasia. The United States Leonberger club recognizes that this is a breed that should be x-rayed before breeding and most of the breeders involved with this unique dog work hard at making sure that their puppies are sold on contracts to spay or neuter a pet dog.
The Leonberger indeed has the appearance of a lion to a certain extent. It is a large dog, weighing in at 80 to 150 pounds. The face has a distinguished looking black mask and the hairs of the body often have a black tip to the ends. The color is fawn to light golden to deep red. The coat is double in nature with a dense undercoat, however, it is a coat which does lie close to the body and should not be groomed to the appearance of a "stand-off" coat such as the Chow chow. The tail is long, extending to the top of the hock and is carried at "half mast" when moving. The breed sports a mane around the neck and the top of the back, although it is not as outstanding as the mane of an actual lion.
Truly the character of this dog is rather like that of a lion, being regal and somewhat aloof in nature, preferring his family "pack" to all others but accepting of strangers when properly introduced. He is gentle and congenial but makes a good watchdog, with a deep and resounding bark to warn of intruders. Strong enough to pull a cart and with the swimming characteristic of the Newfoundland, this is a versatile and enjoyable dog that brings faithfulness and a true working dog's sense of loyalty to his people.