Breed history

“The early history of the Leonberger is clouded and tumultuous, revolving around Heinrich Essig (1809-1889). Essig was a successful businessman specializing in animal trading. He was also a politician, an alderman and a prominent citizen of Leonberg, a town on the outskirts of Stuttgart in southern Germany. Essig and his family surrounded themselves with a variety of rare and exotic animals. In dogs, they preferred large and imposing breeds. He bought and sold dogs for a span of fifty years, trading sometimes 200 to 300 dogs a year at the height of his career. Through his marketing skill, Essig’s dogs found their way into the castles of royalty, most notably Empress Elizabeth of Austria, the Prince of Wales, Emperor Napoleon II, Garibaldi, the King of Belgium, Bismarck, King Umberto of Italy, and the Czar of Russia. “