Dog breeds: the Leonberger dog characteristics and behavior

The Leonberger Dog is a giant dog that results from the mixing of the Saint Bernard, the Great Pyrenees, and the Newfie. He's an energetic working dog.

The Leonberger Dog is a giant dog that results from the mixing of the Saint Bernard, the Great Pyrenees, and the Newfie.  This jumbo pet requires a lot of energy, space, exercise, and an owner willing to provide the care he requires.  Place this watchdog in your yard and no burglar will even dare try to break in.


This giant dog breed gets his name from Leonberg, a city in Baden-Württemberg in Germany.  There is no written evidence of the origin of the Leonberger dog but it is said that in 1846 Heinrich Essig bred a St. Bernard male with a Landseer Newfoundland female and crossed them for four generations. Then he outcrossed with a Pyrenean Mountain dog and crossed back again with a St. Bernard.

The first Leonberger clubs were created after Essig’s death in 1889.  World War I destroyed all written evidence but in 1922/23 a breeding program involving 6 males and 6 females was started.  This breeding continued during and after WWII. The AKC officially recognized this breed in 2010.

Physical characteristics

The Leonberger is a giant, strong, and muscular dog with a double coat.  This elegant dog has a balanced body and an intimidating presence.  Despite his size, he is surprisingly agile, true to his origins as a family and working dog.  The head is well balanced in proportion to the size of his body and ends in a beautiful black mask.

Males stand at an average 30 inches and weigh 140 to 150 lbs.  Females can be 28 in tall in average with a weight around 115 lbs.


This is a working dog that likes to get all dirty and messy.  He is a friendly dog that loves to be with his people.  Spending all day unattended in the backyard will not make him happy.  He is very intelligent and well suited for rescue missions and as a therapy dog.

Due to his size, he should not be left alone with children.  He is highly sensitive and will get in the middle of any family fight, so you’d better keep your disagreements in private.

Caring for a Leonberger dog

Before bringing in home a Leonberger home, consider his size.  This dog needs a family with a big yard and house and an SUV.  He is definitively not suited for apartment life.  As a working dog he is, he is very energetic and requires at least one hour of daily exercise.  If you are a neat freak, move on to the next breed as this pet is a shedder.


You will need to be patient when training this dog.  He is very intelligent but also opinionated.  Use early socialization and firm training.

Fun facts

  • This is the only dog whose AKC standards do not allow the coat to be altered or trimmed, except to “neaten the feet.”
  • Leonbergers are dimorphic; males look larger and more masculine than females.
  • They can be outstanding therapy dogs.

Large dogs like the Leonberger can be challenging to take care of.  But here in Dogalize we have information and resources to help you take care of any size dogs.  Visit us to learn more.