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Leonberger: The Ultimate Guide

By Kerry
Updated on

There are so many different dog breeds to choose from that it can be a bit overwhelming to decide which one to get. One of the breeds that you might have your eye on is the Leonberger, which is a stunning and loving breed that has lots of different traits and characteristics.

The Leonberger breed is a very large breed of dog with German origin, and they have a lively nature that will keep you entertained. They have the sweetest expressions that are impossible to resist, and they have lots of qualities that make them the perfect companion.


However, there is lots to learn about them before you go ahead and bring one into your family.

We have created the ultimate guide to Leonberger dogs, so you can find out exactly what you could expect if you do decide to get one. We are going to look at both the benefits and the challenges that they may bring, so you can be truly prepared for everything that this breed has to offer. 

Leonberger Key Facts

Before we get into everything that you need to know about the Leonberger breed, there are some things that you should know about them first. It is really important to be aware of their exercise needs, average lifespan, and monthly costs before you get too attached to the breed. We will tell you what you need to know about this below.

Average Lifespan

On average, the Leonberger breed will live for around 8 or 9 years. This is shorter than some other breeds, but it is still a long time to commit to any furry companion. 

Minimum Exercise (Per Day)

When these dogs reach adulthood, they are going to need lots of exercise to burn off all of their excess energy. You will need to exercise them for at least 2 hours daily to ensure they remain happy and healthy. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to lots of daily exercise for your dog, this might not be the right breed for you.

Something else you need to know is that you will need to ensure that they are not getting too much exercise when they are puppies. This is when their bones and joints will still develop, and too much exercise can do more harm than good.

Overall, these dogs are a big commitment to their exercise requirements, which is why they are often better suited to people with a lot of free time.

Coat Length

These dogs have a thick and full outer coat as well as a shorter and fluffier undercoat. The texture of their coat can be anywhere from medium-soft to rough. The color of their coats is usually either golden yellow, red brown, or somewhere in between.

Minimum Cost (Per Month)

You can expect to pay a minimum of $80 per month to care for a Leonberger, and it is essential to make sure that you have at least this amount spare at the end of every month.

When you bring a dog into your life, there is nothing more important than being able to give the dog the life that they need, and this comes at a higher cost for Leonberger dogs. This cost will include things like their food, insurance, other essentials, toys, treats, and more, so you will need to be able to budget for these ongoing costs.


These dogs are known for their lion-esque appearance, especially the males. They are proportionately built and balanced and have a large rectangle-shaped head with medium-sized oval eyes. They have tight lips and medium sized ears that are triangular in shape and drop down.

Leonbergers have relatively long tails that hang down when they are relaxed. When they are alert, their tail will raise, but never higher than the spine. They have large paws that are rounded, right, and arched. They are often described as cat-like and have a free-flowing gait that makes them look effortlessly powerful when in motion.

Something that you might not have known about this breed is that they are dimorphic, which means that the males and females are really easy to tell apart. The males are typically substantially built and they carry a lion-like mane around their neck and chest. Females do not have a mane, and they are usually unmistakably feminine in appearance.


Leonbergers are known for being particularly large dogs, which means that they will need a lot more space than some other breeds. 

Average Height

The average height of a male Leonberger is between 71 and 80 cm, and the average height of a female Leonberger is between 65 and 75 cm. 

Average Weight

Male Leonberger dogs typically weigh between 100 and 150 pounds, whereas female Leonbergers usually weigh between 90 and 140 pounds.


The Leonberger is a gentle giant at heart, and despite their size, they are both elegant and gracious in both their manner and movement. They are not aggressive, but they are playful with adults and children. However, they also know their strength and will match their playmate. 

These dogs are huge fans of cuddling, and sometimes forget their size when they want to cuddle up on your lap. You shouldn’t be surprised if they try to climb into bed with you at night or onto the sofa for movie night.

This is a very affectionate breed that is both loving and loyal. However, this also means that they develop strong bonds with their families and just hate being alone. 

When these dogs are not cuddling up to you and being affectionate, they are looking for fun. They will play outside in the yard for hours with you if you are willing, and they love to go swimming either at home or in public. These dogs love to swim so much that getting them out of the water can be difficult.

Apartment Living

Unfortunately, this is not the right breed of dog for you if you live in an apartment. Leonbergers are large dogs that need lots of space to roam around.

They typically have high energy levels and can’t run around in an apartment. It is also ideal for them to have a good-sized backyard to run around in when they get a sudden burst of energy.

Good for Novice Owners

Leonberger dogs are very eager to please and they are great at following commands, which is why they are a suitable breed for first time dog owners. However, you will still need to do your research, as this will ensure that you are as prepared as possible to look after them.

Sensitivity Level

Leonbergers are very sensitive souls that take almost everything to heart, so you will need to avoid harsh tones with them. They can also be very sensitive to your emotions and try to cheer you up when you are feeling down.

Tolerates Being Alone

As Leonbergers are so loving and affectionate, they love to be in the company of others. While this is a great trait for many reasons, it also means they do not tolerate being left alone very well.

They get attached to their owners after developing strong connections to them, and they don’t like to be left in their own company for too long because of this.

Tolerates Cold Weather

The Leonberger can tolerate the cold weather well as they have a thick double-coat that will help to keep them warm throughout the winter.

Tolerates Hot Weather

They are also quite tolerant of hot weather as their coat helps them to regulate their temperature better, keeping them cooler throughout the warmer months.

Affectionate With Family

If you are looking for an affectionate and devoted furry companion, this is the right breed. These dogs are super loving and affectionate and will show you their affection in many different ways.


Leonbergers are well-suited to families of all different shapes and sizes, including those with children, as they are so gentle and loving.

They are actually particularly fond of children, and they will often choose to snuggle up to the little ones if they have a choice of people to sit with. This is just one of the many things that makes them a wonderful family pet.

Dog Friendly

Leonbergers are just as friendly with other dogs and animals as they are with people. They are highly likely to accept dogs, cats, and other animals into the family with slow and controlled introductions. However, the same cannot be said for outsiders that are not a part of the family.

Some Leonbergers are known for having a particularly high prey drive, which means that they will chase and bark at anything that comes close to them. This is another reason why it is important to have an enclosed yard that they cannot escape from.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Due to the fact that they are so outgoing in their personalities, they will usually warm up to people very quickly. This makes them great with strangers, and they shouldn’t take long to get used to new people.

Health And Grooming


Now that you are well-informed about the Leonberger breed’s appearance, personality, and temperament, it is time to get into everything you need to know about their health and grooming requirements. They can be quite high maintenance when it comes to grooming, but you can find out more about this below.


Leonbergers do shed quite a lot, and twice a year they shed even more. This is why these dogs need to be brushed every day, especially in the areas of the body that tend to mat.

These areas include the long hair behind the ears and on the backs of the legs. More thorough grooming should be done once a week, and due to the breed’s size, this will take some time.


These dogs have tight lips, which means that they do not tend to drool very much, if at all.


The Leonberger’s coat will require quite a bit of attention in order to keep it looking and feeling its best. You will need to commit to this, as these dogs will require daily brushing. Otherwise, their fur can start to mat, which can lead to various problems and even pain.

These dogs will shed heavily throughout the year and even more during the shedding seasons. So, if you are not a fan of having dog fur all around the house, this may not be the right breed for you.

Leonbergers also have a super thick double coat. Their undercoat is short, fluffy, and dense, and their outer coat is long, straight, and thick. This coat combination will help to keep them warm in the winter and cooler in the summer.

However, throughout the year, they will need to be brushed every day. You can use a metal comb to tackle the undercoat, and a pin brush or slicker brush for the top coat. 

You are also likely to spend longer brushing your dog during the shedding seasons, and an undercoat rake is really helpful for helping to manage their coat. You will need to ensure that you pay close attention to the areas of the fur prone to mating.

Thankfully, bathtime will be really easy with the Leonberger as they absolutely love water. They will need to be bathed once every 6 to 8 weeks with a gentle dog shampoo. Make sure that you rinse and dry off your dog properly to avoid skin issues.

Another grooming requirement that requires close attention is cleaning their teeth, which needs to be done at least once a week with a dog toothpaste. You will also need to check their ears for signs of a bacterial infection, including strong odors.

You can wipe their ears using a cotton ball or bud and an ear cleaning solution. Lots of Leonbergers will also need to have their nails trimmed around once a month if they do not naturally grind down.

You should try getting them used to their grooming schedule from a young age to make it much easier.

General Health

All purebred dogs are more prone to particular health concerns than others, and Leonbergers are no exception to this. Some Leos will suffer from one or more of these health issues, and some will suffer from other concerns altogether or none at all.

However, being aware of some of the most common health problems with Leonbergers is really important, as you can keep an eye out for signs and symptoms.

Common Health Problems

Some of the most common health problems that Leonbergers experience are:

  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
  • Eye Conditions
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Leonberger Polyneuropathy
  • Leukoencephalomyelopathy

Potential For Weight Gain

Leonbergers will easily pile on the pounds if you allow them to, which can lead to various different weight-related problems. This is why it is so important to not overfeed your dog.


Training a Leonberger dog can be challenging at times, but more often than not they are easy to train and they pick up new things well. These dogs are very eager to please, and they typically respond well to positive reinforcement in their training.


Leonbergers are very intelligent and willing to learn, but they can sometimes adopt a stubbornness that gets in the way of their training. They often won’t do something if they don’t want to, no matter how much you try and persuade them to.

Potential to Bite

They can sometimes develop a biting habit when they are puppies, but they can get over this with the right training. If left unchecked, they could develop biting habits as adults.

Tendency To Bark Or Howl

These dogs have a loud and booming bark, and they will bark whenever there are visitors to the home. They will also bark if they see something that they are unfamiliar with, or if they perceive something as a threat.


Leonergers were first bred in the 19th century and were even owned by the likes of Napoleon III, Tsar Alexander, and King Edward VII. They were originally only taken on by rich families, but over time, they were employed on farms across Europe and in waterside towns, assisting with water rescue.


The average cost of a Leonberger puppy from a reputable breed is around $2000.

Leonberger Fun Facts

  • These dogs get on really well with other people and animals
  • Leonbergers need lots of daily exercise
  • They have a very high prey drive
  • This is a highly affectionate dog breed

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.