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Leonberger Dog: Is This Breed Right for Your Family?

By    |   Wednesday, 21 Jan 2015 08:22 PM

The Leonberger dog is a gentle giant, and although its large size may be intimidating its friendly personality makes the breed a great family dog, according to the American Kennel Club.

If you’re considering a Leonberger dog for your family, you can take heart from these words on the AKC website: “Calm, gentle and sweet, the Leonberger excels as a multipurpose working dog, but its most important task is being a reliable family companion. They are friendly dogs that are willing to please, making them excellent therapy dogs.”

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One consideration is the breed’s large size, which might make it a challenge for people who live in small homes, apartments, or in areas where it’s difficult for the Leonberger to get moderate amounts of exercise. A full-grown Leonberger stands between 25.5 inches to 35.5 inches tall at the shoulder, the AKC said.

That tall frame is also covered thickly with hair, so any family bringing a Leonberger into their home can expect to brush the dog on a frequent basis, the AKC said.

When considering a Leonberger, it’s helpful to know the breed’s history. Established in the 1800s in Germany, Leonbergers were popular but almost died out during World War I, according to the Leonberger Club of America. It wasn’t until the mid-1970s that the breed came to America, and soon after the club that maintains an independent registry, honors a code of ethics, and aligns with the international organization that sets breeding regulations was born, the website said.

A volunteer organization called LeoPALS works with Leonberger owners and with shelters to help place dogs that are given up and works to rescue dogs in bad situations. In giving advice about this much-loved breed, LeoPALS offers some reasons why this gentle giant might not be right for your family.

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Three reasons to consider are:

  • 1. Their size. Leonbergers grow to 100 to 150 pounds, and if they aren’t properly trained, LeoPALS said they can be dangerous. “Bad behaviors such as food guarding, leash pulling, jumping up on people, growling, barking, and chewing are very serious problems when they are exhibited by dogs that are the size and weight of an average person,” the organization said.
    “Therefore, Leonberger owners have a responsibility to train their Leonberger to be well-behaved at all times. This training cannot be neglected, and it is costly and time-consuming. Leonberger owners must commit the time and money that is required in producing a well-behaved, well-socialized Leonberger.”
  • 2. They shed. A lot. It will require constant brushing and vacuuming to keep up on the amount of hair this dog leaves in the house.
  • 3. Big or not, your Leonberger probably won’t guard your house.  “In fact, they are more likely to escort a thief to your flat screen television and your jewelry box than prevent a thief from entering your home,” LeoPALS said. “However, if you fail to socialize your Leo from an early age, you may encounter some kinds of aggression, including dog-to-dog.”
However, if you do take the plunge and adopt a Leonberger, you can explore the idea of training it as a therapy dog, participating in things like drafting (training the dog to pull a small cart) or agility training, the Leonberger Club of America said.

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The Leonberger dog is a gentle giant, and although its large size may be intimidating its friendly personality makes the breed a great family dog, according to the American Kennel Club.
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Wednesday, 21 Jan 2015 08:22 PM
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