Physical characteristics

Leonbergers, or Leos as they are often referred to, are very large, majestic dogs which are classified as ‘molossoid’, or working dogs. They are very powerful and elegant, with females standing 26 – 29 inches at the withers and weighing in at over 100 pounds. Males are usually considerably larger, standing 28 – 31 inches and weighing, on average, around 140 pounds, although they have been known to reach in excess of 180 pounds on occasion. In addition, the Leonberger male’s thick mane creates a lion-like impression, although it takes several years to develop to its full glory. Their luxurious waterproof double coat is gently wavy to straight and can range from light sand or cream to a rich mahogany with black tips. This is accentuated by a black mask that ideally extends above the eyebrows, framing dark almond-shaped eyes that have a characteristic kind expression. As a breed, they are very loyal outgoing dogs, lovingly nicknamed “gentle giants” by those who have the pleasure of knowing them. While popular throughout Europe, Leos are still considered relatively rare in North America, where they have only been successfully imported and bred since 1971.

Capable of adapting to various tasks, Leonbergers are more agile than many other giant breed dogs, which adds to their versatility. They are adept at backpacking, running, agility and, because they have webbing between the toes, swimming. And they work as enthusiastically as they play, excelling in tracking, carting, therapy work as well as other tasks involving great strength and agility. In fact, some German and Italian Search-And-Rescue teams use the Leonberger in their work, since the breed has a reputation as a great water-rescue dog. And when not working, they are equally content to recline quietly with their families in front of the living room hearth.

Leos make fine family companions who are well known for being very affectionate and patient with children and, if properly socialized and raised with them, good with other family pets.