Leonberger Breeders, Breed Clubs and Rescue
The Leonberger comes from the German town of Leonberg where he was created by the then Mayor, Heinrich Essig; his intention was to create a dog to match the lion appearing on the town’s crest. He obtained a St Bernard dog from the St Bernard Hospice in Switzerland and mated him to a Landseer (black and white) Newfoundland. Later he back-crossed to a Pyrenean Mountain Dog.
In 1846 the first litter that exhibited the characteristics he was striving for was born. They made their public debut in 1860 to great public acclaim and many of the crowned heads of Europe were to own Leonbergers. The two World Wars caused immense problems for the breed and it was saved from the brink of extinction by a group of enthusiasts.
There is a true story of a British soldier, serving in Austria who saw a starving Leonberger on a farm and knowing that he was going to be killed by the farmer traded 10 bars of soap for the dog and brought him back to England.
During the period that the breed was being developed he always demonstrated superb temperament; he is an excellent family dog, wonderful with children and an eager participant in all family activities. In some parts of Europe he is known as “the children’s dog”.
From the Newfoundland he acquired webbed feet and an affinity for water, and the Breed Club organises working tests for them as water dogs. They are also natural carting dogs and there are tests for skills in this, too. He is surprisingly good, for his size, at agility, too. He is a strong and powerful dog, standing at 80cm, with plenty of bone and a coat in shades or yellow to red-brown, preferably with a black mask. The coat is fairly long, lying flat to the body over a thick undercoat with a distinct mane.
Rescue and Rehoming
The Club has an active Rescue and Welfare division.